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The Top 5 Things Dealers Are Saying About AutoHook

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At AutoHook, we believe the value of our solutions is most powerfully defined by the dealers that use them. We’ve been fortunate enough to have an arsenal of dealer testimonials we’ve collected across all brands over the last few years. Out of our current customer client base, we have a total of 150 real dealer testimonials.

Five common trends remain consistent after analyzing all the feedback we’ve received. So, we figured we’d share these top five trends and allow our dealers to do the talking for us when it comes to what AutoHook does for their stores…

1. AUTOHOOK LEADS CONVERT.

“I have been an AutoHook client since 2015 and I utilize their Web2Show and Lead2Show solutions at both my Kia and Buick GMC stores. Our AutoHook leads are by far my best lead source and practically close themselves, averaging around 25-35%. The biggest difficulty in the industry is getting someone to walk through your door – this is where AutoHook excels. With AutoHook’s solutions that are enhanced by Urban Science’s industry data, I am able to pull in customers from competitors’ backyards and gain market share where I otherwise would not be able to do so with ease. I look forward to continued results in the future and continuing my great relationship with my dedicated Client Services Specialist.”

-        John Speights | Digital Marketing Manager, Gay Family Auto Group

“We love AutoHook here at Gettel Nissan of Sarasota. Not only does it work well with the default settings, but we incorporate specific targeted offers to markets we see as high opportunity and bring those customers past our competition to come and see us. We also use Issue Rewards as a closing tool to help seal the deal. For 2018 thus far, we’ve seen a show rate of 55%. AutoHook continues to be a great way to convert people from our website into the showroom!”

-        Ashley Palasz | Internet Manger, Gettel Nissan of Sarasota

“Since beginning with AutoHook, our third-party lead conversion rate has increased dramatically. Our website conversions have also increased using their web overlay incentives. We’ve been very happy with the level of support we get from the team, and we’re looking forward to continuing our relationship and seeing more great enhancements come down the pipeline.”

-        Andrew DiFeo | Chairman, Hyundai National Dealer Council and General Manager, Hyundai of St. Augustine

2. AUTOHOOK INCREASES SHOWROOM VISITS.

“AutoHook has proven to convert our new inventory leads directly into showroom visits at a rate of 53.88%. The redemption process is seamless, and the interactive reporting allows for instant proactive follow-up. We’ve been able to attribute multiple sales to the AutoHook Lansing LMA Campaign and look forward to future results.”

-        Dan Dowker | Internet Business Manager, Shaheen Chevrolet

“I utilized AutoHook’s Web2Show at my previous dealership and liked it so much that I signed my Ford store up when I moved locations. There are many dealerships in our area, so the competition is always going to be high. We know the biggest struggle in the industry is getting a customer to visit your showroom, but this is where AutoHook far exceeds anyone else – we have the data to prove that a customer visited us because of Web2Show’s test drive incentive. We are excited to see what the future holds for David Stanley Ford and AutoHook!”

- Kenneth Starlin | Digital Marketing Director, David Stanley Ford of Midwest City

“Oxmoor Chrysler had a huge first quarter of 2018 and AutoHook played a pivotal role in our success by bringing customers into our showroom. Using Web2Show for our website traffic and Lead2Show for our 3rd party leads has proven to be a combo that really works well together. Things are going great and we look forward to continued success with AutoHook in the future.”

-        Shawna Johnson | Internet Sales Director, Oxmoor Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

“We recently started AutoHook’s Web2Show solution to target specific models on our website. We had a customer come in this past weekend, take a test drive, and then purchased a new 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC. We have been successful in using the solution for service promotions as well, promoting $25 for our Happy Hour service campaign from 3-5pm daily. We look forward to utilizing their geo-targeting and other customization options in the future.”

-        Amy Rothenberger | Director of Marketing and E-Commerce, Dream Automotive Group

“Fuccillo Chevrolet of Nelliston recently participated in the Albany LMA AutoHook Test Drive Campaign and after seeing the results, we decided to become a subscription-based client of AutoHook after the campaign concluded. Being able to attribute showroom visitors directly from AutoHook allows us to adjust our internal processes and handle the Web2Show leads accordingly. I'm excited to continue this and close more sales!”

-        Heidi Schmidt | BDC Manager, Fuccillo Chevrolet

"We have discovered that not only is the AutoHook technology an important part of our website strategy but is also very effective in our Event Marketing Campaigns, Microsite Campaigns and Permission Based Marketing. We use it to attract clients to our showrooms and to anchor appointments… perhaps, one of the best things we have done in a long line of eBusiness strategies over the past few years!"

-        Shawn kNIFFin | Marketing and Technology Director, Germain Motor Company

3. AUTOHOOK ATTRIBUTES THEIR SOLUTIONS DIRECTLY TO SALES.

“During a slow month, we decided to aggressively target specific models of opportunity on our website using AutoHook. Since then, we have seen considerable amounts of traffic from those custom offers and can attribute sales directly to those customers visiting us to test drive one of those specific models of opportunity. The best part about AutoHook is being able to tailor it to best suit my dealership’s needs on a real-time basis.”

-        Antoine Thomas | General Sales Manager, Gettel Toyota

“Here at Gettel Acura, AutoHook’s Web2Show solution is a tool we truly trust. Our team diligently follows up with these leads and we set appointments at a very high rate. Over the last four months, our show rate for these customers is roughly 60%. Not only do these leads generate traffic on our showroom floor, they are in-market shoppers looking to purchase a vehicle with us. We are able to attribute a consistent volume of sales to these leads on a monthly basis.”

-        Ray Kahn | Business Development Manager, Gettel Acura

4. AUTOHOOK PROVIDES US WITH ACTIONABLE DATA.

“I went over my first presentation of AutoHook’s Traffic Conversion Analysis (TCA) today and to say that I am extremely excited and impressed would be an understatement. The breadth of data that is available via the Urban Science® DataHub™ is truly remarkable; TCA takes it to an entirely different level – especially considering this is my CRM data. From TCA, I was able to identify new areas of opportunities for our stores and I learned that a same-brand dealership located 35 minutes away was our top source of defections; without TCA, I would have never known this. I look forward to putting the extensive, invaluable data to great use moving forward and having a successful 2018.”

-        Michael Strasburger | Marketing Manager, Planet Automotive Group

“We are utilizing AutoHook's Web2Show, Lead2Show and Traffic Conversion Analysis (TCA). We are just scratching the surface with TCA by deep diving into our lost opportunities. Once we have identified the lost opportunities in our own CRM data by model, zip code, lead source and individual salesperson, we can create targeted offers to drive customers into the showroom and gain back market share. There is no other suite of solutions available that can identify these problems and provide the resolution so seamlessly.”

-        Patrick Kyes | General Manager, Morrie’s Automotive Group

"We entered into our first meeting with AutoHook searching for answers. After reviewing our initial Traffic Conversion Analysis (TCA), we left our meeting with a detailed game plan. From the moment we hung up the phone, we got to work implementing new strategies in areas we were able to determine specific weaknesses. We are extremely confident these changes will undoubtedly grow sales in 2018. We look forward to reviewing our analysis on a monthly basis in order to consistently stay ahead of the competition."

-        Joshua Clinton | General Manager, Gunther Kia of Fort Lauderdale

5. AUTOHOOK IMPROVES DEALERSHIP SALES OPERATIONS.

“The insights that AutoHook’s Traffic Conversion Analysis (TCA) provides allows me to determine which lead sources are the most successful as well as validates my decisions to cut ties with underperforming lead sources. I can see areas of opportunity for individual models all the way down to a specific trim level. I can continue to evaluate my salespeople by looking at their individual performance and use that as a very effective training tool. TCA is a groundbreaking solution that I look forward to continuing to aid in the success of my dealerships.”

-        Jim Henne | General Manager, Performance Toyota Volvo

“After seeing our first run of AutoHook’s Traffic Conversion Analysis (TCA), I am engaged and excited for more. This has allowed me to evaluate the performance of my third-party lead sources, identify the salespeople with the greatest opportunity to improve, as well as use the model performance to determine appropriate inventory levels. To top that off, I can use AutoHook incentive solutions to target specific areas of opportunity by lead source, model and geography to win back market share.”

-        Stephen Markham | General Manager, North Park Subaru at Dominion

 

Want to share your dealership’s success story? Email our dealer support team at DealerSupport@UrbanScience.com. For a limited time, dealers that submit a written testimonial will receive a $25 Amazon gift card or a $50 Amazon gift card for a video testimonial!

 

AutoHook Announces Direct to Mobile Delivery of Test Drive Incentives to Drive More Buyers to Dealer Showrooms

DETROIT, March 19, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- AutoHook, the automotive industry's frontrunner in driving proven, incremental showroom traffic to dealerships, has taken their private test drive incentive offers to the next level by integrating direct SMS delivery into their incentive redemption process.

AutoHook's latest initiative will significantly improve deliverability rates of test drive offers to online vehicle shoppers. Their ability to successfully send redemption codes via text message will help dealers reach already-engaged customers on a much broader, faster and more reliable channel than email delivery alone.

"We know our original redemption system works very well, as it's been proven to significantly increase exclusive leads and showroom visits that we know convert to sales," says David Metter, president of AutoHook powered by Urban Science. "Having the ability to successfully deliver our incentives directly into consumers' hands via text message has always been the vision, as it will offer dealers and OEMs an even more accurate and sustainable distribution method of reward codes while eliminating all instances of email deliverability obstructions."

A text message containing a unique coupon code will be sent to a customer's mobile phone after they elect to receive a reward via AutoHook's incentive lead form, redeemable only by visiting a participating dealership's showroom. Incentive lead form overlays appear throughout several channels across the web including both mobile and desktop dealer websites, third party lead sites, manufacturer sites, social channels and more.

Direct to mobile delivery enables dealers to provide a faster, more convenient way for their customers to redeem test drive rewards in their showroom. Once the customer receives their reward code, they can then send it directly to their Apple Wallet or Google Pay for instant access upon arrival at the dealership.

About AutoHook powered by Urban Science
Based in Detroit and a subsidiary of Urban Science, AutoHook uses scientifically proven sales and defection insights to drive incremental dealer showroom traffic and attribute sales in near real-time. With a complete view of traffic opportunity, AutoHook's private incentive offers convert leads at a low cost-per-sale for dealers and automotive manufacturers. For more information, visit DriveAutoHook.com or call (855) 532-3274.

MEDIA CONTACT: Lindsay Waller, 313.262.3510, lawaller@urbanscience.com

SOURCE AutoHook powered by Urban Science

*Click here to read the press release originally published on PR Newswire.

10 WAYS TO BOOST SOCIAL CONVERSION WITH AUTOHOOK INCENTIVES

A How to Guide for Dealers

Why Social? Marketing 101 says if you want to effectively reach your customers you have to be where they are, or “in the right place at the right time.” Social media represents the most widely utilized communication channel in existence. Salesforce reported 66% of all Internet usage occurs on social sites. Facebook takes the cake as the most widely used platform with 80% of Americans using it on a regular basis (talk about being where your customers are).

Why AutoHook Incentives? That’s an easy one. In order for a customer to redeem an AutoHook incentive, they have to physically walk into a dealership. We all know the chances of selling a vehicle drastically increase when you’re able to get shoppers off the Internet and into your store. But what AutoHook does that’s even more important than driving more showroom visits (yes there are more important things), is we use the most up-to-date sales match reporting to prove exactly which incentive offers resulted in a sale.  

Below are 10 ways to boost the revenue driving opportunities already available to you as an AutoHook customer. Simply reach out to your AutoHook Client Service Specialist (CSS) to implement any of the examples listed below. They will help you set up campaigns and make sure these efforts convert into sales or service appointments.

1. PLUG INCENTIVES INTO YOUR EXISTING SOCIAL CAMPAIGNS

Plugging in an incentive into any social campaign is very simple to do. All AutoHook needs to know is the URL of the landing page you want to drive traffic to - whether it’s a specific vehicle, model, service offer, or special. We then provide you with a trackable link you can drop into any Facebook or social campaign. We attach a unique identifier to every offer so we can prove sales attribution for your store. Furthermore, we source out every link separately so that you can differentiate which specific AutoHook campaign converted into a showroom visit or sale in your CRM.

  • Customize Time Frame & Offer Amount: All we need from you is the landing page you’d like to promote, the value of the incentive you’d like to offer and the time frame in which you’d like the campaign to run.
  • Ex: Boost your new vehicle specials with a $50 offer.

2. USE YOUR CRM DATA TO CREATE CUSTOM AUDIENCES

We know no two dealers and no two markets are the same. Therefore, we don’t believe in one-size-fits-all solutions. Despite what vendors try to tell you, no one knows your pain points better than you. The most valuable data you have at your fingertips is your own customer data. Use this to pull targeted lists that address your unique needs and then work with a Client Service Specialist (CSS) to implement the campaign on social.

Here are a few examples to get the wheels turning:

  • Pull a list of customers who are in equity and provide an incentive for them to get into a new vehicle for the same monthly cost.
  • Consolidate a list of all active leads across all your 3rd party sources and retarget those individuals all in one place.
  • Use equity-mining software such as AutoAlert to identify all customers in your market who have upcoming contracts ending on a lease or purchase.
  • Target customers who visited your service drive but did not purchase from you.

3. ELIMINATE WASTED TIME & MONEY

Wouldn’t it help to know which leads in your CRM have already purchased so you don’t waste time and money trying to sell them? A high percentage of car buyers are only in market for a relatively short period of time. Through near real time sales data from Urban Science, AutoHook can help you identify which customers are no longer in market for a vehicle. No one (not even the OEMs) has access to this data within DAYS after sales transactions occur (rather weeks or months). Work with your CSS to create a suppression list of all the customers currently in your CRM that have already purchased a vehicle elsewhere.   

4. INCREASE CUSTOMER RETENTION

This is a HUGE and often undervalued aspect of the car business. Retention is half the battle. We know 30% of people will defect to a different brand after their lease is up. Use an incentive to ensure they come back to your store to test drive the newest model or any other vehicle they might be interested in. Mine your CRM data to find consumers who are “in equity” or who have a lease coming to term in the next 3-6 months.

5. TARGET UNDERPERFORMING MODELS

Real Dealer Case Study: Germain Ford of Beavercreek

  • Using the data found within the MarketMaster tool and Urban Science’s shared sales database, AutoHook identified specific areas of opportunity for Germain Ford of Beavercreek to grow their market share by targeting the top three models they were losing to competitors (including the Ford Focus, Fusion, and Edge). We then implemented a $50 test-drive incentive on all Focus, Fusion and Edge VDPs and SRPs, while running social campaigns to drive traffic to those pages. The result was a 47% reduction in overall lost sales (pump-in). Click here to see the complete case study.

Can’t move a VIN off your lot? Try increasing the dollar amount of the test-drive incentive.

6. TARGET UNDERPERFORMING AREAS

Utilizing Market Master, AutoHook can help you identify the zip codes in which you’re losing the most sales opportunities. We can also show you the areas with the highest levels of pump-in sales and increase the incentive offer to come in for a test-drive in those underperforming areas. This will help you take back market share from the top brand competitors in your market.

Never heard of Market Master? A lot of dealers don’t know this powerful revenue driver exists. Market Master is an Urban Science tool that uses near real-time sales data to identify the biggest areas of opportunity within your market. It’s typically located within your dealer portal through your OEM (currently available for Ford, FCA, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, and Nissan). 

7. CONQUEST TOP COMPETING BRANDS

Go after the models you know you’re losing to competitive brands in your market. Tailor the creative and messaging in your social ads to express why your brand is the better choice. For example, “Before you go back into a new Ford F150 here’s a $50 Visa Gift Card to come in and test drive the Dodge Ram at Hometown Chrysler.”

8. PLUG INTO VIDEO PRE-ROLL

Custom links can be embedded directly into your video ads on Facebook. Need to move more of a certain model, try offering $25-50 just for coming in to test-drive the featured vehicle. Chances are, if they’re watching the video, they’re already interested.

9. SECURE MORE FIXED OPS APPOINTMENTS

Running service specials? Why not promote them on social to get more exposure? Use incentives in your service and parts campaigns on social sites. Here are a few examples:

  • Schedule a service appointment and get a $25 Visa gift card.
  • Buy 4 tires get a $50 Visa Gift Card.
  • Get a $10 Amazon Gift Card just for getting your oil changed with us.

10. BOOST HOLIDAY SPECIALS

Memorial Day is coming up! Lift the performance of your limited time holiday offers with a $25 gift incentive (or an amount of your choice). Dealers spend countless amounts of money to get customers in the door. Why not spend another $25 to ensure the sale? This same idea can be deployed throughout the year to increase sales around the holidays and give wings to your current specials and holiday sales events. 

To conclude, the opportunities in which you can leverage AutoHook to boost the performance of your social campaigns are limitless. Plus you have the attribution reporting that goes along with it, so you know we’re delivering results in the form of sales and service revenue.

In January of 2017, AutoHook opened up our API so that other best in class technology vendors could tie in our incentive offers to their own existing solutions. SOCIALDEALER is the latest partner to join in our open API initiative. Current and future clients of SOCIALDEALER will see even higher form fill conversion rates on social due to their integration with AutoHook’s API. To learn more about the new capabilities of this partnership, click here.

5 Reasons to Attend PCG’s Automotive Engagement Conference

1. The Mission…

QUALITY > QUANTITY

Unlike any other conference in digital history, the Automotive Engagement Conference began as a collective mission to expose all digital entities guilty of not delivering QUALITY, measurable solutions to dealers. It all began as a dream, or more so, it began when industry leaders started waking up to a big problem. Study after study found evidence of dealerships paying for website traffic that consisted of BOTS – not humans – not actual people that were capable of purchasing a car, let alone converting into a showroom visit. The unfortunate reality is all too often digital advertising sources are charging dealers big bucks for clicks and impressions that did not engage with their website or the content and lead forms within it.

Orbee, an automotive software company that specializes in identifying bad website traffic, determined up to 60% of dealerships’ paid traffic, and up to 80% of their overall website traffic is coming from non-humans (or bots). Furthermore, Orbee’s late 2016 Automotive Website Traffic Quality Report stated, “Bot traffic is a $7 billion problem for the advertising industry and with dealership digital marketing budgets averaging $30-50K per month, the automotive industry must address this issue to prevent massive waste in digital adverting spend.”

Last year, Brian Pasch, host of the AEC Tour, began the PCG Engagement Project in efforts to measure the quality of traffic coming to dealer websites. “Once dealership managers understand the impact of not measuring engagement – their advertising blind spot — they will act to get their website(s) configured to start tracking engagement,” said Pasch.

Pasch’s mission to expose these “sharks” along with the rate of waste occurring under the radar was something AutoHook ethically HAD to get involved with. The AEC Tour isn’t your ordinary pay-to-play conference where vendors spend thousands of dollars just to get their product in front of dealers around the country. This is a movement. This is a collective mission to hold ALL automotive agencies and vendors accountable for providing their dealer clients with accurate reporting that shows their solutions deliver actual human traffic, capable of converting into a sale.

2. The Experts…

PCG has hand-picked the companies and presenters listed below because of the simple fact that their solutions are all proven to increase consumer engagement, and most importantly, increase sales from all lead opportunities. 

LEARN FROM AWARD-WINNING AUTOMOTIVE MAR-TECH EXPERTS

 

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3. The Content…

Dealers will learn proven methods to:

  • Accurately measure their website’s engagement metrics to further increase conversion rates and ELIMINATE areas of waste in their marketing spend.

  • Leverage marketing automation tools to create relevant advertising optimized by consumer engagement.
  • Improve their online communications strategies to increase conversions: leads, calls, chats, and text messages.
  • Lead their dealership in a digital age and protect your store from Digital Sharks!

AutoHook President, David Metter, will be presenting:

“99 Problems but the Data Ain’t 1” – Check out the teaser video below.

4. The Value…

+ $300 WORTH IN MATERIALS

+ AWESOME SWAG BAGS AND FREE PRIZES!

5. AutoHook Will Cover Half Your Ticket…

Tickets for the event cost only $50. Have you ever attended a conference for just $50? When you visit AutoHook at a city near you, we’ll reimburse you for half your ticket cost with a $25 Visa Card.

ARE YOU IN THE DARK? The Dark Truth About Bot Traffic

by David Metter

Sometime in the 1890’s, marketing pioneer John Wanamaker coined the famous phrase, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Personally, I have always hated this phrase. My old boss and mentor would say it to me all of the time. However, advertisers have lived within the confines of this mindset ever since. Even today, dealerships just “accept” that some of their advertising will work and some won’t. As a former CMO and a current “Urban Scientist,” I find this entire concept to be demeaning to marketers. This is 2017. We have the science, technology, and tools to make decisions based on prescriptive, data-based confidence rather than “going with your gut” or experimenting with different solutions. You should never be in the dark when it comes to 50% of your budget.

The same concept applies to your website traffic and the conversion of that traffic. Transparent vendors don’t just tell you how many clicks and visits you received, but whether or not those visits converted or engaged with your website. They should also be the ones alerting you of any suspicious activity. If an ad source is generating a significant amount of traffic, but none of that traffic is filling out a form or interacting with your site’s content, you’re most likely paying for bot (non-human) traffic. This is a huge problem for an industry that spends billions of dollars on paid search.

As of January 2017, Incapsula studied 100,000 domains and found 51.8% of website traffic came from bots. Orbee is an automotive software company that analyzes the quality of dealer website traffic and specializes in identifying bots. Orbee determined up to 60% of dealerships’ paid traffic, and up to 80% of their overall website traffic is coming from non-humans. That’s extremely alarming, and it’s concerning for several reasons. First, robots don’t buy cars. Second, dealers are paying for traffic that is incapable of converting. Traffic that converts is the only type worth paying for.  

 Source: Incapsula

Source: Incapsula

In a recent episode of CBT News’ Auto Marketing Now, Brian Pasch, Founder of PCG Companies stated, “Most dealers have Google Analytics installed, most dealers are getting reports about website traffic, but to be truthful many of those reports are coming from the companies who are selling them advertising.” What this means for dealers and OEMs, is they have to face the fact that their vendors and ad agencies may only be sharing one piece of the story.

Website visits are important, as your traffic patterns can be a great indicator of how to stock your inventory or prepare for future market conditions. However, when your Google Analytics are not showing engagement click actions, there is a need to dig deeper. The average dealer doesn’t get reports from their advertising vendors on cost per engagement. Dealer principals and managers don’t have the time to dig deep into their analytics and look for instances of fraudulent activity. As a result, advertisers can take advantage and get away with charging dealers for traffic coming from bot clicks with zero intent to buy.

In their August 2016 Research Report, PCG identified several automotive marketing companies that were generating “highly irregular” traffic and strongly felt dealers were being misled about their ROI. Brian Pasch wrote, “Automotive leaders are now investing in intelligent website analytics and bot detection software. Orbee is leading that charge by providing bot detection for all online marketing investments.”

VistaDash is also a great tool that combines all sales and marketing data from multiple vendors and sources into one dashboard to immediately identify instances of wasted spend. VistaDash is the only independent data dashboard that scores and measures your website traffic engagement.

With all the new technologies and third party vendors entering the market, dealers need partners that will alert them of any instances of bot or fraudulent traffic. Across all verticals, automotive is the second-largest spender in digital advertising, so you have to know your tools. Know who your tools are coming from. Know how they work, why they work, and the data that sits within them. Choose to know where your money is going. Choose vendors that take strong security measures and will go out of their way to inform you of any suspicious activity.    

 

Note: The AutoHook platform has strong security measures in place in order to catch suspicious activity pertaining to our virtual incentives. If we recognize any behavior that is out of the ordinary, we will reach out to our OEM, agency, or dealer directly in order to further investigate and resolve any issues.  

Top 12 Auto Marketing Trends of 2016

A YEAR IN REVIEW: a look back at the top automotive marketing trends of 2016...and a sneak peek into 2017

Much like the state of the automotive industry over the last year, AutoHook, powered by Urban Science has withstood and conquered unprecedented change throughout 2016. As experts in digital adaptation, AutoHook is consistently on the forefront of the latest trends in digital marketing and data solutions. Below is our recap of the top 12 headlines from the last 12 months in the automotive space. You'll also get a snapshot of how to "disrupt before you get disrupted" as we kick off 2017.

Google's Senior Vice President, Amit Singhal, announces mobile searches have officially surpassed desktop over the summer of 2015.

1. THE MOBILE TIPPING POINT

We all knew it was coming, but the speed at which mobile usage has overtaken desktop has been exceptionally faster than any other digital shift in our history. As featured in AutoHook's February article conveniently titled, The Mobile Tipping Point, "There’s no denying it. Mobile has forever changed the way marketers interact and reach consumers. We’re all slaves to it. The swiping, the scrolling, the click-to-call-ing, the convenience. In so many ways the mobile experience dictates not only where our marketing should be, but also the entire advancement of communication as we know it."

Epic flooding at the Ford Dealership in Republic Missouri after 24 hours of heavy rain. Video footage courtesy of CarScoops.com

2.  NATURAL DISASTERS STRIKE DEALERSHIPS ACROSS THE U.S.

 

Mississippi River Flooding

The residents of Missouri and Illinois had a rough start to 2016 after the detrimental flooding of the Mississippi River and other waterways spanning the two states. In some areas, more than two feet of rain graced the Midwest with its presence, resulting in over 25 deaths and thousands forced from their homes in freezing temperatures. (As featured in How Dealerships Can Stay Afloat in the Aftermath of Natural Disasters).

  Timbrook Kia and Timbrook Buick/GMC in Cumberland, Md., received 28 inches of snow, according to the dealer.  Photo credit: DINA WILSON. Originally featured in  Automotive News

Timbrook Kia and Timbrook Buick/GMC in Cumberland, Md., received 28 inches of snow, according to the dealer. Photo credit: DINA WILSON. Originally featured in Automotive News

Winter Storm Jonas Hits East Coast

Automotive News reported the “Jonas Effect” forced Toyota to temporarily close 200 of its dealerships. Herb Gordon Volvo, in Silver Spring, Maryland experienced a roof collapse due to the overly dense snow. Forbes noted auto sales were better than expected in January despite the harsh weather conditions. "Sales actually managed a small increase in January according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

“It’s not just hurricanes. Any natural disaster, such as an earthquake, can cripple a dealership. There need to be provisions for natural disasters in areas susceptible to them.”  - Mitch Phillips, Global Director of Data, Urban Science
 Image courtesy of  ColumbusAgency.com

Image courtesy of ColumbusAgency.com

 

3. GOOGLE'S SERP CHANGE

Google has bulletproof adaptation skills. They seek out disturbances within the digital space and adjust accordingly. Due to the fact that mobile searches have now surpassed desktop, Google altered the layout of their search engine results pages (SERPs) to better align with mobile’s responsive design. In February 2016 they stopped displaying paid ads on the right side of SERPs. (Content originally featured in AutoHook's latest eBook, Adapt or Die: The Auto Dealer's Digital Adaptation Survival Guide).

 

 

4. RISING PAID SEARCH COMPETITION

What does this mean for dealers? For starters, a huge potential for increased SEM costs and more competition for top ad ranking. Search Engine Land analyzed the results of Google’s most recent adaptability demonstration: “Looking at the median change from February 8 through March 16 (2016) for a sample of advertisers year over year, we find that first-page minimum bids continue to increase steadily since the removal of right rail text ads.”

 

5. THE CLICK-TO-CONVERSION SHIFT

"If you start with conversion first and foremost, the thousands of dollars you spend driving traffic to your site each month will actually be validated. eMarketer reported $61.5 billion will be spent on search and display alone in 2016. If the majority of your digital ad budget goes into SEM and banner ads that drive shoppers to your website, but you don’t first ensure your site has the ability to convert at a high rate, you are willingly throwing money in the garbage. It’s like throwing a pitch to home plate without a catcher. It just doesn’t make any sense." - David Metter, President, AutoHook Powered by Urban Science

6. OMNICHANNEL MARKETING BECOMES A MUST-HAVE APPROACH

Omnichannel shoppers are the most valuable to your business. When both your dealership's in-store and digital efforts communicate and work together, it creates an ideal shopping environment resulting in customer loyalty. IBM’s recent whitepaper states, “The most sophisticated retailers are enabling customers to convert on any channel. After all, shoppers who buy in-store and online have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel.”

 Google's Kelly McNearney talks video at #DD21.  Click to watch.

Google's Kelly McNearney talks video at #DD21. Click to watch.

7. VIDEO, VIDEO, VIDEO...& MORE VIDEO

Scott Empringham, CEO of Flash Point Communications joined AutoHook's panel "The Naked Truth" at Digital Dealer 21 this past August. His advice? Video is the #1 driver of consideration for new vehicles. Scott recommends dealers create 90-second videos just using their iPhone to post on social channels. “If you’re looking for a vehicle, you probably want a good look at the vehicle. Include shots of the vehicle’s exterior, interior, features and benefits.” 90-second videos have been enormously successful for Flash Point and their clients.

Fellow panelist, Kelly McNearney, Google's Senior Automotive Strategist could not agree more! Kelly says, “All I care about is online video. It’s great because you don’t need to customize your content for each individual channel, you can run the same video across platforms.” 

 

8. ONLINE BUYING: ARE WE THERE YET?

The article, 5 Reasons Online Buying is NOT Everyone's Reality highlights the results of DealerSocket's 2016 Dealership Action Report. “While there is a segment of car shoppers who want to buy vehicles online in an Amazon-like experience, a new report indicates dealers may be overestimating how strong consumer demand for this capability really is.”

 

 

  Lindsay Kwaselow  ,   April Rain ,  Kevin Frye  and  Julie Frye at #DD21 Exhibit Hall

Lindsay KwaselowApril Rain, Kevin Frye and Julie Frye at #DD21 Exhibit Hall

9. DEALERS AGREE, PAID SOCIAL ADS DO IN FACT SELL CARS

In 2016, the industry determined that social ads really do sell cars, and we heard it straight from dealers themselves! In Part I of our Naked Truth Exposed series, Alex Jefferson, eCommerce Director of Proctor Dealerships said, "Social media DOES in fact sell cars. Social outlets give us the power to build quality relationships, which then translate into quality website traffic. As long as your website converts, BOOM you can sell cars through social!"

Kevin Frye, eCommerce Director of the Jeff Wyler Automotive Family also presented at #DD21 with his session, Have You Lost Your Mind? The Demise of Common Sense in Automotive. Frye asked the question, “Can you track ROI with social media?” In his DealerRefresh recap he confirmed, "The answer is yes! I excited many dealers a few conferences back when I showed how they could build attribution models and see for themselves how they could track a return for their social media efforts."

Scott Empringham, also reminds dealers to hold their social media companies accountable. In his October blog, Empringham states, "While traditional media offer varying levels of accountability, social media (especially Facebook) is off the charts regarding accountability and transparency. In fact, it’s more accountable than the previous champion, direct mail, with only 20% of the cost."

 

10. DATA SHARING ACROSS ALL AUTOMOTIVE TIERS

 * Content featured in the October 2016 edition of  AutoSuccess Magazine  

* Content featured in the October 2016 edition of AutoSuccess Magazine 

AutoHook is doing our part to build one, solidified automotive railroad system by opening our API, and the sales validation data that comes with it, to all vendors – free of charge. In an industry where everyone charges to be connected, we want to be the player not to charge so that we can make stronger connections.

By adopting Apple’s open app approach, we can then simplify and unravel a very complicated subject. A subject that is perhaps the one absolute in an industry inundated with ambiguous topics like “big data” and “attribution.” Backed by near-real-time sales data from Urban Science, AutoHook has actually built an attribution engine that validates without a doubt that our solutions led directly to a sale. Sharing this type of knowledge is the one thing that could change this industry for the better. Having access to both accurate and up-to-date sales attribution data will make every decision this industry makes smarter, every solution more efficient, and every dollar we spend go further. Now THAT is something to get excited about!

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11. DMPS TAKE CENTER STAGE

During the Fall of 2016, DMPs gained escalating attention among the automotive marketing elite. In the November blog, What You Need to Know About DMPs, we learned the biggest uses for these data management platforms, including more accurate sales attribution metrics, more opportunities for personalization and one-to-one marketing, and that DMPs are an ideal tool in terms of audience targeting and segmentation. 

12. ATTRIBUTION CLAIMS ITS THRONE

In the August 2016 blog titled, AT LAST: Attribution Claims its Throne, David Metter, President of AutoHook powered by Urban Science writes...

"Mark my words - 2017 is going to be THE YEAR OF ATTRIBUTION. eMarketer admitted companies have been slow to adopt proper attribution methods due to a number of obstacles, however they estimate over 50% of American businesses will make multichannel attribution a priority for their marketing efforts in the year ahead."

FUTURE FOCUS: 2017 Trends

CROSS-CHANNEL ATTRIBUTION

What is the point of marketing if you can't prove it resulted in a sale? There’s no argument that with everything our industry is capable of measuring, it all comes down to physical transactions between customers and dealers, specifically units sold and closed service ROs. That’s what you measure before anything else. That’s the reason the concept of attribution exists in the first place – to help you generate more sales and service revenue. Learn more in David Metter's December blog, VDP Views are the Top KPI...and Other Data Myths.

According to The Marketer's Guide to Cross-Channel Attribution, "Marketers need to be measuring every campaign, regardless of channel, against the same goals they set out to achieve at the start of the year. These tend to sound a lot more like increasing lifetime value and average order value, and driving repeat purchases and customer loyalty, rather than increasing open rates or click rates, reach or visits. But this is only possible through cross-channel and cross-device attribution."

EQUITY MINING

If you're not doing it already, equity mining software should be the first thing dealers put into play in 2017. If you're not familiar with the term, Automotive News explains it as, "Equity-mining software, sometimes called data-mining software, enables dealerships to spot current customers who are in a good position to get out of the vehicle they have and into a new one for about the same monthly payment." AutoAlert has one of the industry's best data mining tools that uses advanced algorithms and analytics to reveal online trends and consumer behavior in order to provide actionable, in-market consumer intelligence. Equity mining could be the difference between being a part of the noise or being the first one to speak up when the time is right. 

ONE-TO-ONE MARKETING

Personalized marketing campaigns based on a consumer's previous actions and their digital footprint are increasingly becoming the most effective, if not the only way to impact buyers at the right time. Custom-built, targeted messages with a personalized touch elicit fiercer engagement rates. People don't just want personalized messages, they now expect them and are most likely to respond to an ad or message exclusively crafted for them.

How else can you break through layers upon layers of digital ads screaming, "Look at me! Look at me!" People want personal. If your marketing initiatives don't take this into consideration, you will fall flat on consumers ears and invisible to their very short (and shrinking) attention spans.

Your Q4 Reality Check: 5 Reasons Online Buying is NOT Everyone’s Reality

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by David Metter

People buy everything online these days. Or do they? In reality, there are some items people simply prefer to touch, see, feel, taste, smell, or drive before they consider signing on the dotted line or forking over their credit card. Several automotive leaders have recently come out in the media claiming a vehicle is still in so many ways, one of those items.

Online car buying models have been a ubiquitous topic of conversation over the past year – one that has made many in our industry uneasy about what to expect in the future as companies like Carvana, Drive Motors, and Vroom claim their place in the market.

We’re now in the fourth quarter of 2016, the time when we line up our budgets for the year ahead. Which technologies will thrive and which will die? Will the option to offer a complete online buying method for our new and used vehicles become necessary? According to DealerSocket, “There’s a false sense of urgency to take car buying online.” If you were to ask me, I’d say the vast majority of consumers are still not ready for it.

In a recent article from Automotive News, they highlight the results of DealerSocket's 2016 Dealership Action Report. “While there is a segment of car shoppers who want to buy vehicles online in an Amazon-like experience, a new report indicates dealers may be overestimating how strong consumer demand for this capability really is.”

Actual responses are shown below:

Without a doubt, there are items consumers prefer to purchase online, things like books, electronics, or your go-to cologne. It’s also true that there is a current market of buyers that want the ability to purchase a vehicle online. However, relatively speaking, that number is still small - small enough that we can all take a big deep breath and let go of worries about completely changing our buying models and the way we market our inventory.

When it comes to big-ticket items, people overwhelmingly still choose to visit actual brick-and-mortar stores. A new eMarketer study revealed it’s not just the large items. When it comes to packaged goods or groceries, the market is not budging despite having the option for online grocery shopping and at home delivery. eMarketer emphasized several valid reasons why 90% of internet users still prefer to do their grocery shopping in-store. These same reasons for opting out of online buying can be directly applied to the car business.

If your dealership is contemplating integrating an online sales platform in 2017, make sure you consider the following five facts before taking on this monster:

1.    When people are ready to buy, the ability to purchase immediately in-store is still very desirable as there is comfort in seeing, touching and testing products (or vehicles) in person.

2.    Completing a lengthy online purchase request may be too time-consuming for customers to follow through with the entire process.

This past August, Alex Jefferson, eCommerce director of Proctor Dealerships said, “Where online buying is going I don’t necessarily know, but I do know that it did personally have an adverse effect on us when we integrated with the tool. I will tell you after a year of testing it, our lead volume went down by about 30-40%.”

3.    Less tech-savvy customers or older generations who have the dealership experience ingrained in their mindset may struggle with the concept or dismiss it altogether.

4.     Consumer income levels largely dictate their level of interest in whether or not they would prefer to buy a vehicle online.

“Half of surveyed consumers earning $100,000 to $149,000 annually would like to bypass the dealership and buy vehicles online, DealerSocket said. In contrast, 29 percent of people making $25,000 to $49,000 said they'd like to buy vehicles online.”

5.    Online buying models may be better suited for luxury or high-end electric vehicles only – one of the reasons Tesla has been successful selling almost exclusively online.

Forbes explained why a direct sales model works for Tesla. “Since electric vehicles do not need as much regular service and the company does not offer financing schemes, a dealership model would put pressure on its margins.”

Marylou Hastert, DealerSocket's Director of Product Marketing advises dealerships, “Stores should prepare for the digitization of car buying, but not at the expense of in-store processes.” Simply put, an online buying model may not be right for your dealership. It could even be harmful to your conversion rates, which dealerships have reported over the last year.

My expert opinion? Get your fundamentals down first before heading full-speed down the click-to-buy road. Online buying has been effective with some of the larger dealer groups, but they have already conquered the essentials. After you have mastered the art of securing a high-converting website and high converting forms across devices, and once your inventory is immaculately merchandised with video walkarounds, photos, and custom comments, THEN and only then should you experiment with an integrated online buying model.