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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.

How to Avoid the Noid: Google’s New Popup Penalty

In efforts further enhance the online experiences of today’s mobile shoppers, Google activated their latest rule to mobile-specific website ranking. The Intrusive Interstitials Penalty, also known as the “Popup Penalty” was initiated on January 10th, 2017. Interstitials are simply a fancy word for “popups,” or any ad format that interrupts the user’s experience or access to content – an annoyance that has become all too familiar to smartphone and tablet users.

Reputable website providers and marketing companies will always remain compliant with Google’s search algorithms and ranking requirements. AutoHook works with both dealers and OEMs to drive incremental sales and showroom traffic through test drive incentive offers that are nonintrusive and that do not interrupt the user’s interaction with a page’s content. We’d like all of our clients to rest assured our solutions are NOT in violation of any aspect of Google’s mobile Popup Penalty for the following reasons:

1.     AutoHook incentives cover only a small portion of the screen and are designed to integrate seamlessly into mobile websites

2.     Customers do not have to take action to close or dismiss the offer

3.     Our test drive incentives do not interrupt, block, or clutter the visual or content-related experience of mobile car shoppers

4.     AutoHook’s technology is always run through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to ensure optimal conversion rates throughout the mobile environment

Mobile best practices are at the utmost forefront of our platform's development and design, stated Joe Conrad, Program Manager for AutoHook. “We remain diligent in maintaining a proactive approach to our mobile strategy in order to stay in front of anticipated changes in the space.”

Google initiated this algorithmic change in order to penalize any website or technology provider that does not adhere to the new rule. According to Google, “Pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.” Ranking lower down the page in search results, especially on mobile, can drastically affect both your website traffic and your overall business.

So how do you know if your site is in violation? Below is the list Google provided of all interstitials that could be potentially problematic to the user:

  • Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

Google also gave us visual examples of ads or offers that violate the Popup Penalty:

There are three types of interstitials that do not violate this rule, and thus would not be ranked lower in search results. Google listed the following types of popup banners or overlays that they do allow, and that will not be negatively affected:

  1. Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
  2. Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
  3. Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.

Google’s mentality when it comes to ad and website ranking is incredibly simple. Relevancy gets rewarded, and any disconnects in messaging from one page to the next will not be tolerated (at least not for long). We are proud to say that AutoHook is, and always will be compliant with Google’s website ranking standards.

If you have any concerns regarding your mobile site ranking, you can test it here with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

 

 

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.

10 Most Memorable Quotes from the J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable

The 11th Annual J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable

AutoHook was honored to attend the 2016 J.D. Power Automotive Marketing routable at the Bellagio, Las Vegas. From Tuesday, October 25th - Thursday, October 27th, we had the privilege of networking with some of the most brilliant leaders in our industry. Things can get a little chaotic between fast-paced sessions and panel discussions, meetings, parties, and catching up with all our friends, clients, and partners.

We've taken the liberty to bring you the 10 very best, most memorable quotes of 2016 - straight from the mouths of automotive's smartest minds themselves. 

1. “Don’t start with the big data, start with the business needs first. Identify them and then work backwards. I hear too much of let’s get big data let’s get DMPs in the room, but we need to start with the business needs first.” 

- Dean Evans | Chief Marketing Officer, Hyundai Motor America

2. “If there’s ever any hope of attributing all these touch points along the shopping journey, you’ve got to have some place where all the data rolls up and you can analyze it as one set.”

- Erik Lukas | Retail Digital Operations Manager, Subaru of America

3. “There’s no silver bullet when it comes to KPIs. Big Data has become a muse for creativity.” 

- Trace Przybylowicz | Autos Lead: Industry Relations, Facebook

4. “The challenge for tier 3 in this big data game is getting some team spirit going where dealers will actually share with the OE and the OE will share with the dealers, and then you’ve got really powerful stuff you can use. Then you can really start to understand who your consumer is and what their actions are.”

Kelly McNearney | Senior Automotive Retail Strategist, Google

5. “A discussion that seems to be both prevalent and imminent is around DMPs. Data management platforms are almost replacing that ‘big data’ term.” 

- David Metter | President, AutoHook powered by Urban Science

6. “A DMP can really give you a full view of who your customer is and how to personalize that experience – that’s the holy grail – making sure your marketing investments are put in the right place.” 

Jenny Watson | Digital & Performance Marketing Expert

7. “Because everyone is online shopping at the dealer’s site, the dealers have a wealth, almost a paralyzing wealth of information. Using that to understand and to empower their marketing - online marketing efforts in particular - can make them much more efficient and vastly more powerful in what they do.”

Jason Knight | COO & Co-Founder, Lotlinx

8. “Unfortunately too many businesses today do focus just on the transaction and not the experience. We assume people don’t want to be there so we treat them that way. The truth is, people don’t come back if it’s not a great experience. If it’s just a transaction, how is that a great experience?”

Beau Boeckmann | President, Galpin Motors

9. “With big data comes big challenges in verifying consumer data. We need free from fraud, viewable consumer content and data.” 

- Mark Pearlstein | Chief Revenue Officer, DoubleVerify

10. “55% of advertisers consider themselves beginners in mobile advertising – that’s alarming.”

Christian Fuller | Chief Relationship Officer, Search Optics

 Pictured (left to right): Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson

Pictured (left to right): Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson

 Pictured: Christian Fuller

Pictured: Christian Fuller

 Pictured: Beau Boeckmann

Pictured: Beau Boeckmann

 Pictured (left to right): Joe Gumm, Bert Boeckmann, Beau Boeckmann, and Bridget Fitzpatrick

Pictured (left to right): Joe Gumm, Bert Boeckmann, Beau Boeckmann, and Bridget Fitzpatrick

 Pictured (left to right): Jeremy Anspach, Trace Przybylowicz, Myles Rose, Miran Maric

Pictured (left to right): Jeremy Anspach, Trace Przybylowicz, Myles Rose, Miran Maric

 Pictured (left to right): Andy Jacobson, Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, and Mark Pearlstein

Pictured (left to right): Andy Jacobson, Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, and Mark Pearlstein

 Pictured (left to right): Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson, & David Metter

Pictured (left to right): Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson, & David Metter

 Pictured (left to right): Jenny Watson and David Metter

Pictured (left to right): Jenny Watson and David Metter

The Mobile Tipping Point

By David Metter

For those of you who have never heard of the phrase tipping point, there are a lot of variations in terms of a definition - depending on who’s asking. To physicists, the tipping point is when an object gains enough nuclear material to sustain a chain reaction at a constant rate. To computing geeks/experts, “The tipping point is the critical point in an evolving situation that leads to a new and irreversible development.” To a “car guy” it could be when a customer walks into your showroom five minutes before closing time on a Saturday. We have all had a few of those. According to TechTarget, marketers define the tipping point as “a threshold that, once reached, will result in additional sales.”

No matter how you look at it, the concept is so profound that it will forever define the current state of mobile marketing in both the physical and digital automotive worlds. One of the reasons mobile has caused such upheaval in our society is because both smartphones and tablets are so incredibly personal to each individual user. In fact, Tune dictates the smartphone as the single most personal device, ever. “Because of that, it is the everything device: the communicating, the gaming, the learning, the buying, the reading, the watching, the tracking, the remote controlling device.”

Consumers are now spending more time playing on these intelligent little microcomputers than they spend watching television. In a recent eBook from Tune Marketing, they provide insights into the international mobile economy, showing mobile usage trends to be nearly equivalent in most countries. Globally, in 2015 alone, 800 million people bought their first smartphone. It is predicted that by 2020, there will be 6.5 billion smartphone users. That’s 6.5 billion people to market to. It’s also 6.5 billion opportunities to make a connection, or 6.5 billion chances to get buried in mobile white noise – depending on how you look at it.

The mobile tipping point is not just starting to make its way through the airwaves. It has arrived, and I cannot stress that enough. These short but abundant interactions are what Google refers to as “Micro-Moments.” Mobile touch points in the consumer’s journey have become so powerful, that they will actually interrupt a person from following through with a given task. Google says 91% of smartphone users turn to their phones for ideas right in the middle of a task. Talk about a distracted generation!

Mobile has become a tipping point because it has the power to claim our attention at any given time and place. Mobile takes no mercy, and it doesn’t apologize for being rude when it interrupts your dinner, your date, your family time, or your purchase decisions.

The most important fact to remember is that while mobile usage is continuously increasing, the time consumers spend during each micro-moment is actually decreasing, meaning your chances of making an impact are smaller, and your window of opportunity is much shorter.

During this Sunday’s Super Bowl 50, Google leveraged Adometry TV Attribution technology and found 82% of game-driven ad searches were to no one’s surprise, conducted on a mobile device (a 12% increase since last year’s game). Furthermore, out of the ten brands that drove the highest search volumes, five of them were either OEMs or vehicle brands – so as an industry, we have to be doing something right!

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. My friends, the mobile tipping point is here.  

Check out our Mobile eBook for more ways to master mobile in the year ahead. 

Join The Dark Side of Mobile

by David Metter

More than fifty percent of car shoppers are viewing dealership websites with their mobile devices, so having a mobile marketing strategy to connect with them is not only recommended, but critical for future survival. The benefits of "going mobile" are many and well documented, including the ability to make relevant offers to a specific target market, and the ability to identify and communicate with customers that are geo-physically close to your location.

Yet there is a dark side to mobile technology that auto dealers can't ignore. When customers are in your showroom and using their mobile devices, chances are they aren't checking email. Chances are, they're checking prices and offers at other dealerships. In fact, 62 percent of customers who use smartphones on your lot will visit another dealership within 24 hours.

This phenomenon -- called "showrooming" -- is on the rise, helped out by apps that allow car shoppers to scan a barcode or VIN and instantly see:

·      How much other car shoppers in the same area paid for the same make and model

·      How much your competition is charging for the same vehicle

When I talk about showrooming to dealers, I am reminded of a similar time back in the early days of the Internet. During that time, some dealers immediately realized the Internet was the future of car-shopping and raced to be early adopters, posting online ads and posting photos of inventory on their websites. Other dealers staunchly opposed the idea of all that transparency; their attitude was "in order to view my inventory, the customer has to come to my store."

In retrospect, this attitude seems pretty silly, but it was very real at the time. Today I often get a similar reaction from dealers when I tell them the best way to deal with showrooming is not to fight it, but to embrace it. Best Buy is one big-box retailer that initially tried to fight showrooming by blocking cell phone and wifi signals in its stores. The attempt failed dismally and eventually, Best Buy embraced showrooming by offering to price-match its competition and boosting its ecommerce presence. This strategy has worked.

Auto dealers can also make showrooming work for them instead of against them.  

If they jump in now, they'll be similar to those trend-setters in the early days of the Internet who were well prepared as more consumers went down that path.

Here are a few steps that dealers can take to help them conquer the dark side of showrooming:

Ensure Your Entire Online Shopping Experience is Responsive.

Most dealers trust their website vendors to make their dealership website responsive. But sometimes extensions and other third-party add-ons can render in a way that disrupts the flow or function of a mobile page. The only way to know for sure what a customer's experience will be is to use your own mobile device to do everything a customer does, including: inventory search, getting a trade-in price, calculating payments, filling out a lead form and using online chat.

Ideally this process will be done on more than one mobile device. In fact, it may be a good idea to hold a sales meeting and lead the entire sales team through this process on their mobile devices. At the end of the meeting, all glitches should be identified and as a bonus, the salespeople will have a greater understanding of how half their customers are interacting with the dealership.

Check Out the Competition.

Now use your mobile devices to check out the car-shopping experience on your main competitors' websites. Note both their shortcomings and their strong points, and compare it to your own mobile car-shopping experience. Is there anything you think works that you'd like to add to your website? The goal is to offer the best mobile online shopping experience in town.

I would have an app for existing customers - and I would use it as a service application and for customer retention. I fly Delta and I use their app all the time - I use Spotify. A car-buying app - I am not going to use that every single day. Am I going to use it as a conquest car-buying application - I love apps for the right reasons. I have a strong opinion on executing on mobile apps.

Communicate With Mobile Customers.

Car shoppers using mobile devices rarely fill out lead forms, but they will chat and they will text. So learn to communicate with them using their preferred methods. Using a reliable vendor for these services is highly preferred over letting your salespeople send personal, informal texts. In general, if you want to own your messaging, keep it consistent and stay in compliance, a vendor is a better choice.

Draw Customers to Your Showroom.

Once you are in communication with your mobile customers, give them a reason to visit your dealership. Remember, these car shoppers are performing low-funnel activities like viewing inventory and researching pricing, so your messaging should be low-funnel too.

Avoid high-level messaging stating how great your dealership is or why you should shop there. Low-funnel messaging gives car shoppers a specific reason to visit your dealership today, and provides the answers and information those shoppers are looking for, such as:

1.    Maps. Display your address and a map, and clickable directions from your customers' current location.

2.    Offers. Give away a free visor or a gift-card just for coming in to take a test drive. 

3.    Incentives. Display special lease prices, cash-back bonuses and other offers. Offers can be customized to an individual's browsing history.

4.    Pricing. Car shoppers want to know pricing and one way or another, they'll find it eventually. Why not be the dealership that gives it to them?

A very wise Jedi-trainer once said, "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to suffering."

Showrooming may be the dark side of mobile but if Yoda's words are right, auto dealers who fear it may suffer from its ill effects; while those who embrace showrooming will learn to master it, and prosper.

# # #

About the Author:

David brings a wealth of automotive knowledge and experience to AutoHook powered by Urban Science, both from a dealer and service provider perspective.  As President of AutoHook, David leads strategy, product, sales, and marketing for the industry leading provider.  As the co-architect of the product suite, he works with OEMs, agencies, vendor partners, and dealers to increase lead conversion, showroom visits, sales attribution, and brand Loyalty & Conquest rate.       

Prior to starting AutoHook, David served more than six years as Chief Marketing Officer for MileOne Automotive, a large, privately held automotive dealership group. At MileOne, he built an industry-leading marketing organization, leveraging technology and the internet to increase market share, while dramatically decreasing advertising spend per vehicle sold.  David previously headed sales for Autobase for nearly 5 years, where he helped grow the company from a small start-up to the leading automotive CRM software vendor.  He began his career on showroom floor.  As an early adopter of technology, he built a prospecting and follow-up system that helped him rise to become one of the top Chrysler salesmen in the country and moved his way up, eventually to General Manager of a dealership. 

David is regarded as one of the foremost experts in the automotive marketing and e-commerce space and is a frequent speaker at industry events including Digital Dealer, the Global Automotive Conference, NADA, 20 Groups, and JD Powers Automotive Internet Roundtable. 

A Primer on Mobile Wallets and How Dealers Can Benefit From Them

By David Metter

If you have a smartphone, chances are you have Apple Wallet (formerly Passbook) or Google Wallet. These applications are mobile wallets that store, among other things, applications like Apple Pay that enable people to purchase things with their phones. Of course, it's very unlikely that anybody is going to purchase their vehicle by swiping their mobile device. For that reason, many dealers dismiss the notion that they need to know anything about mobile wallets.

However, mobile wallets are used for a lot more than just purchasing things. A mobile wallet is the digital equivalent to the physical wallets we carry in our pockets and purses. They can be used to store many things including drivers' licenses, social security cards, payment cards, login data for websites and loyalty cards. Mobile wallets are also used to store gift cards, coupons and authentication codes for boarding passes, public transport tickets, movie and sporting event tickets, and house and car keys.

For dealerships, the "keys" to getting your brand inside of a consumer's mobile wallet include loyalty cards, mobile advertising, coupons and special offers. The good news is, once you're in there you're likely to stay there, and your digital passcode can be easily updated so you can send customers push notifications offering them new coupons and specials.

Although mobile wallet usage is not yet mainstream, familiarity and usage have doubled since 2013, according to a recent study published by market research and consulting firm Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB). Fifteen percent of respondents reported using a mobile wallet in the first half of 2015 and an additional 22 percent said they're likely to use it in the coming six months. If that's true, over one-third of consumers are now using their mobile wallets, at least on occasion.

This growing usage presents significant marketing opportunities for dealerships. Mobile wallets provide the perfect post-click destination for coupons, gift cards and incentives. Here are several ways that dealerships can leverage mobile wallets to ensure that your brand stays top-of-mind with consumers:

Digital Advertising

Early in 2015, Honda promoted its nationwide Honda Dream Garage Sales Event through a mobile wallet ad campaign that invited consumers to tap a banner ad and save the event to Apple’s Passbook (now Wallet) or Google Wallet. The mobile ads ran on ESPN.com, Allrecipes.com and the Washington Times. Once consumers stored the event, Honda sent reminders to them as the event date got closer. Individual dealerships could easily replicate this strategy.  

Normal mobile ad campaigns can be forgotten soon after they are over. Mobile wallet marketing campaigns can be instantly updated to stay relevant to your customers' needs. Once your dealership has a digital passcode or "pass" into a customer's wallet, it's easy to push out reminders for a new promotion, much like Starbucks does.

Social Media and Mobile Apps

According to research firm Forrester, smartphone owners spend 80 percent of their time in five apps: Facebook, Maps, YouTube, Pandora and Gmail. For dealerships that advertise on Facebook, the growing adoption of mobile wallets will almost certainly result in higher click-through and redemption rates of Facebook ads. Here's why:

When a consumer is sitting at home or at work and surfing Facebook, they may see your dealership's coupon or offer, but may decide not to redeem it because they don't anticipate an immediate need, or they may forget about it as they continue to read their friends' updates. That consumer may remember later on, but the thought of having to go back to find and retrieve the offer or coupon is sometimes just enough of a deterrent that it doesn't happen.

When a consumer is checking Facebook with their mobile device, storing coupons and offers is a snap: just click on the ad or offer, click on a button that says "Add" and their mobile wallet stores the coupon or offer for future use. This makes it easy to store and organize a nearly endless supply of coupons and offers.

According to Vibes, a mobile wallet-marketing firm, 70 percent of consumers will save an offer to a mobile wallet when presented with the option and these offers have a 64 percent higher conversion rate over static mobile web coupons.

Location Targeting/Geo-Fencing

When a consumer stores a coupon, offer or event in their mobile wallet, your dealership has the ability to "ping" that customer when they enter a pre-defined area near your store. So if they stored information about your sales event and then drive by your dealership on the day of the event, they will receive a notification reminding them about the event. Or, if a consumer has stored a service coupon your dealership can send them a push notification reminding them about the coupon when that customer is within a one-mile radius of your store.

Loyalty Cards

This summer Apple confirmed it is bringing loyalty programs to Apple Pay, starting with retailers like Kohl's, Walgreens, JCPenney and Dunkin' Donuts. Could auto manufacturers be far behind? The ability to link a stored loyalty card to a local dealership's coupon, combined with the ability to notify customers about new offers, may create the "perfect storm" of incentives that will drive customers to your store.

Last year about this time, 2015 was being hailed as the year of the "mobile tsunami."  I predict the next wave in 2016 will be the "mobile wallet tsunami." Innovative dealerships will be experimenting with digital advertising campaigns, social media ads and loyalty card programs. The goal is to get into the consumer's mobile wallet, which in effect gives your dealership permission to continue sending that consumer offers, coupons and gift card incentives.

A word of warning: this privilege should not be abused by sending out a continuous stream of push notifications and sales messaging. Instead, the mobile wallet should be viewed as a vehicle for building a long-term relationship with the customers that literally opened their wallet to let your dealership brand in.

Mobile Shoppers are Serious. Here's How to Connect With Them.

By David Metter

If your dealership has a mobile website, you are probably aware that 30 to 50 percent of your total website traffic are mobile users. You also know these mobile users are performing actions with their smartphones that are aligned with serious shopping behavior. In a recent study, Edmunds.com found that mobile users on its website engage in these five relevant behaviors: they shop, they view inventory, they click on ads, they submit leads and their page views rival those of wired shoppers.

Your mobile marketing strategy should include ways to connect with and convert mobile users as they engage in these key shopping behaviors. An effective strategy goes beyond having a responsive website. Many marketing tactics that work well for customers using desktops and laptops don't work with your mobile customers. It all comes down to how mobile shoppers use their phones. 

1. Shopping

According to the Edmunds.com study, 79 percent of mobile users are shopping, defined as viewing at least one vehicle. On dealership websites, mobile shopping activities include researching and comparing prices, reading reviews and calculating payments. It's important to keep in mind that although the average American spends three hours on their smartphone every day, the window of time you have to connect with these users is smaller than it is with your wired customers. Does your mobile website provide information on pricing, rebates and other special offers? Are your payment calculators and review pages mobile optimized? The more activities mobile shoppers can do on your site, the more time they will spend there.

2. Viewing Inventory

Mobile visitors view approximately nine percent more inventory pages than their counterparts using desktops and laptops. Are your vehicle display pages (VDPs) mobile-optimized? Mobile users watch a lot of videos; can your inventory videos be viewed on smartphones? Every mobile VDP should include a clear call to action right next to the product details, and text should be large enough to be viewed on a smaller screen.

3. Clicking on Ads

Edmunds.com found that mobile users are 2.5 times more likely to click on ads than wired site visitors, and they perform key shopping activities on the sites they click through to. This high level of ad engagement presents an opportunity for dealerships to convert shoppers into leads into showroom visitors. Mobile ads should provide a specific reason for shoppers to click through, such as a special offer or immediate incentive to come in and take a test drive--especially if they are in the vicinity.

4. Submitting Leads

The Edmunds.com study reveals a rapid growth in mobile lead submissions and their data shows these mobile leads close at the same rate as, or even better than, traditional leads. Higher lead counts are attributed to mobile optimization of lead forms and the ability to submit leads via text or "click to call" buttons.

To increase mobile lead submissions, create messages that give mobile users a reason to click or text now. Examples might include a "no pressure price quote," "easy payment quotes," or a gift card (similar to mobile advertising incentives). When it comes to mobile leads, it's also very important to have a process in place where the leads get an instant response. If a mobile shopper doesn't get the information they're looking for from your mobile website--quickly--they will move on. Next!

5. Viewing Pages

Even though mobile users spent less time on Edmunds.com than wired shoppers, they viewed as many or more pages during that time. What this tells me is that mobile users are looking for the same information and their shopping process is similar to shoppers using desktop and laptop computers. The smaller screens make it easier and faster to see whether information is available. The takeaway here is to ensure all relevant information and calls to action on your mobile pages are "above the fold" so mobile users don't have to scroll down to find what they're looking for.

The age of mobile is no longer just around the corner; it's here, and 30 to 50 percent of your potential customers are using mobile devices to shop for their next vehicle. Make it easy for them to connect and engage with your dealership, and you can easily convert these serious shoppers into leads and sales.

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Six Fast & Furious Tips on Mobile Marketing for Auto Dealers

Our marketing universe is quickly becoming untethered as smartphones and tablets gain a broader share of web access to information and entertainment.  The mobile marketing world is still new to many dealers and we’re experiencing a learning curve about how to market, manage, and leverage this new landscape.  Here are 6 Quick Info Insights to help dealers get a quick course in Mobile 101.

1.     Mobile is Exploding

29% of web traffic page views are from mobile phones and tablets, and 71% from desktop or laptop computers.  Remember, smartphones are just mini-computers and shoppers are using them to obtain information on product availability via a streamlined process. Photos, videos, and pricing info need to be easily accessible on mobile platforms.  Dealership window stickers offering QR or Barcodes that provide more information than is shown on vehicle stickers helps connect shoppers to the dealership and provides a way for dealers to track these prospects.

With mobile users spending more than two hours a day on their devices, dealers have ample opportunities to connect with and advertise to these consumers and potential buyers. Remember, these mobile viewers are down the funnel in their car buying decision-making.  Make sure that you are prepared to convert them. 

http://www.slideshare.net/wearesocialsg/social-digital-mobile-in-the-americas? (Slide 209)

The rule for mobile:  Make it simple for shoppers to connect with auto dealership team members, either via an instant call process or text messaging.

2.     What your Competition is doing in the Mobile Space

Dealers who have been operating in the mobile space for a while have focused on text messaging as a primary way to engage mobile shoppers.  The response time is quicker, and more users (68%+) use text messaging regularly on their cell phones.

Dealers in the digital ad space still purchase keywords, and Google, Yahoo and other network mobile ads are also gaining traction. This is helping to establish brands and drive traffic to dealership sites.   Ads on social media channels are also gaining traction. However, it’s important to have a laser focus on the ad and not a generic vehicle ad with a payment.  Promote a specific event and offer a “call to action” or incentive to drive more traffic from ads.

3.     Mobile website or App: The choice is Yours

This is not an either/or proposition, as you can have both a mobile-friendly website and an app. With fast 3G or 4G data networks both sites or apps work fine. Since many mobile users delete “one-time shopping” apps after the task is completed, a dealership app should provide other functionality for the customer after a purchase is completed.  This could mean offering online service appointment scheduling, coupon updates and offers, etc. 

Virtually all the major website providers offer mobile solutions that meet the needs of the dealership and online shoppers.  Navigation on smartphones should be simple and provide visitors with an easy “click to call” button to contact sales or service teams, view inventory, or get simple directions. 

When considering building an “app,” remember developers have to create three separate apps for iPhone, Android and Windows phone users.  In addition to the cost of app development consider the changing platforms, required tech upgrades to accommodate changes in the various operating systems, and the cost of a project manager on the team to guide all these initiatives.  

4.     Social Media Channels Drive Mobile Traffic

154 million Americans are active monthly on social channels using mobile devices. And through these social channels consumers are finding their way to businesses where they buy products and services.  

Every social channel offers ad programs and content posting opportunities where you can engage channel members.  Connecting with auto shoppers by posting videos, service advice and tips, updates on parts and accessories, is a great way to drive more showroom traffic and generate calls to the dealership. Be a good neighbor. Nothing turns a potential customer off more than having a load of ads shoved their way on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. When you provide value, prospects and customers recognize and appreciate those efforts, and very often they will share that content with their online friends. 

5.     Track Mobile Conversion Rates

Tracking conversion rates in auto retail means measuring how many visitors generated a lead, a sale, or further in-depth visits to the site.   You can track when a mobile visitor uses the click-to-call or text feature from within the mobile site. And, once that info is in the CRM system, that prospect can be tracked to the end of engagement.  It’s also important to have detailed analytics for both the traditional and mobile websites to measure visits, page views and of course vehicle detail page (VDP) visits.   Many companies use Google Analytics. But if you do not want “big brother” watching, you might want to consider Clicky Web Analytics (getclicky.com), or the free W3 Counter Analytics (w3counter.com).  

6.     Use Incentives on Mobile Devices to Close the Sale

No matter how a shopper finds a dealership, consumers still respond to calls to action and incentives when considering or making buying decisions.  Be prepared and offer an incentive when a prospect is on the fence and deciding to visit your dealership versus dealership B. 

Coupons can easily be pushed to smartphones, tablets, and PCs offering gift cards, rebates, discounts, or other value added items.  Give your sales team an edge to closing the sale with an attractive incentive for your customers.  

Kia Motors Approves AutoHook's Mobile2Show

We have great news for Kia dealerships. As of today, Kia dealers using our approved Web2Show and Lead2Show solutions can now tap into our new mobile targeting and showrooming solution - Mobile2Show.  Kia dealers can even use their 2015 Dealer Advertising Support (DAS) funds to help cover the costs. If you're not already familiar with our Mobile2Show product, allow me...

Mobile2Show is the first true automotive showrooming solution tied to our award-winning attribution engine, which can directly attribute sales, and in most states, from other dealerships as well.

Mobile2Show targets your dealers competition in the mobile environment, both on your dealer’s site as well as other local and regional sites. From there it helps (you) dealers to conquest customers away from your competitor and into their showroom. Its responsive design enables the display of a call to action on mobile devices or your mobile site. Once the customer engages, the incentive is delivered by email or text message and the customer is connected to your dealership through the e-delivery of driving directions, or phone. Mobile2Show also integrates into Apple Passbook and Google Wallet.

Should the customer fail to visit the dealership’s website while showrooming, Our dynamic incentives enable Mobile2Show to target customers browsing on hundreds of other mobile websites and apps powered by Verve Mobile.  Each dealership and OEM can customize the targeting of customers based on geographic region and local Auto Intenders. Mobile2Show can also retarget consumers that showed interest in an earlier mobile visit, enabling dealers to reach the right customer at the right time with the right offer.

Visual video walk-through of Mobile2Show:

Our current Kia dealers clients using Web2Show and Lead2Show are receiving some amazing performance;  near doubling the average lead to show rate at 29%. Web2Show leads are closing at 15% with an overall cost per lead of $7.72.

Click here

to review our Kia Dealer Performance and analysis infographic. Remember, these results are without the New Mobile2Show feature.

Kia Performance Summary

Kia dealers can choose from among five AutoHook product packages, all of which are DAS eligible. Packages include AutoHook’s Mobile2Show, Web2Show and Lead2Show products.

Package #1 Web2Show

  • Web2Show Technology Implementation & Redemption Fee’s
  • Up to 15 Redemptions, per dealership

Package #2- Lead2Show 

  • Lead2Show Technology Implementation & Redemption Fee’s
  • Up to 10 Redemptions, per dealership

Package #3- Web2Show & Lead2Show 

  • 15 Web2Show Redemptions & 10 Lead2Show Redemptions, per dealership
  • CallSource Integration

NEW Package #4- Web2Show & Mobile2Show Bundle 

  • 15 Web2Show Redemptions of $25, per dealership
  • 10 Mobile2Show Redemptions of $50, per dealership

NEW Package #5- Web2Show, Lead2Show & Mobile2Show Bundle 

  • 15 Web2Show Redemptions of $25, per dealership
  • 10 Lead2Show Redemptions of $25, per dealership
  • 10 Mobile2Show Redemptions of $50, per dealership
  • CallSource Integration

Any dealer can have a mobile website and call it their "mobile strategy". But ask yourself, do you truly have a full mobile strategy that goes past a mobile website. A strategy that incorporates conversion, a way of engaging the mobile shopper and turning them into a show. With Mobile2Show, Kia dealer can have a true mobile strategy.

To schedule a demonstration any of the AutoHook Suite of Solutions, visit:  http://www6.hooklogic.com/autodemo. To find out more about the Kia Motors America program, give us a call at 855-lead-2-show (855-532-3274).