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CASE STUDY: Boucher Hyundai TRIPLES Sales Efficiency With AutoHook Incentives

In order to overcome the challenges and heightened competition of a flat market, Boucher Hyundai needed a way to protect their territory by increasing their market share, improving their sales efficiency, and reducing the incidence of lost sales to other dealers in their PMA.

SEE HOW WE DID IT! CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD.

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.  

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.

 

 

VDP Views are the Top KPI…and Other Data Myths

by David Metter

MYTH #1: VDP views are the metric that matters most. 

Since when did VDP views become more important than sales? This is not an attempt to downplay the importance of driving traffic to your VDPs. Reputable evidence exists around VDPs being one of the last digital destinations car shoppers touch before visiting a showroom. But are vehicle details page views receiving significantly more attention than they deserve? Are dealers working backwards? Are we losing sight of our one true goal…to sell more cars? 

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 “big data” exists in the first place – to help you generate more sales and service revenue. Dealers have more data at their fingertips than they realize, and it’s easy to get caught up trying to navigate and make sense of it all. Goals become blurred and dealers lose sight of the end game.

Allow me to remind you of the end game. When it comes to dealership operations, NOTHING is more important than increasing salesservice revenue, and customer retention – and I’m happy to take on anyone who’d like to challenge that statement.

I think our industry has completely overcomplicated the idea of big data. The role it plays is actually quite simple. When you break it down, VDP views are #5 on the “what to measure” list. Below is the infrastructure of the order in which you achieve your end game of more sales, closed service ROs, and repeat buyers.

1.    Sales Data: Securing accurate and timely sales match data is paramount. There is nothing more important. Leverage sales match data to see if a customer bought from you or somewhere else? What make and model did they choose? Was it your brand or a competitor’s brand? Monitor your pump in and pump out percent to hold onto sales in your PMA.

2.    Service Data: Measure your closed service repair orders – especially during the critical period from after a sale to the first recommended service appointment. This is where most dealers experience the biggest drop off in retention. Did the customer come to your store for their vehicle’s initial scheduled maintenance or to a competitor? Did they order replacement parts from you or somewhere else? How many people made a service appointment on your website? How many of those people actually showed up? What sales opportunities exist among your service customers?

3.    Showroom & Service Traffic: Next quantify, how many people physically came into your store or entered your service lane? The majority of people don’t have time to browse around multiple dealerships or visit your service center just for a quote. If they came to you, it’s for a reason. So make sure your staff is in the business of closing deals and ROs.

4.    Leads, Phone Calls, & Chats: When potential customers complete an action on your website, whether it’s submitting a lead form or picking up the phone to call you, that opens the door to potential sales. Metrics on your lead, call, and chat volumes are important to analyze, but it’s much more about quality than quantity. Instead of focusing your budget on more leads, calls and chats, focus on the actions that drive showroom visits.

5.    VDP Traffic: VDP views drive awareness, familiarity, and consideration. Although they can influence a customer to take further action, they do not directly result in sales.

MYTH #2: VDP traffic is the foundation for future sales. 

In what world does a VDP view hold more value than an actual human-to-human interaction? VDP views are not the foundation. Showroom traffic is. Correct me if I’m wrong, but last time I checked, getting people in the door and speaking to them face-to-face is the best way to get them in a vehicle so they can touch, see, feel, drive and experience it for themselves. Show rates are infinitely more impactful than any ad or page view could ever be. Our industry has become so brainwashed, people believe more time, energy, and money should be allocated to driving VDP views rather than using those resources to drive showroom traffic. It’s absolutely mind-boggling.

MYTH #3: Big data is very complex and requires experts to turn it into action.

Wrong. All too often, dealers allow outside vendors to come in and tell them what they should be measuring. Social marketers will tell you social metrics are most important. Paid search companies will tell you clicks and website traffic are the secret to more sales. Our industry is stuck in this maze of listening to incessant digital noise. But every dealership is different, and there is no one size fits all solution.  

My friends, it’s time to remove yourself from the maze and turn the volume of the noise ALLLL the way down so that you can actually hear the music. 

You and your staff are the ONLY people that should dictate what you need to measure. Take the data you already have and zero in on the metrics that involve sales, service ROs, and repeat customers. Data is simply a catalyst for determining and reaching your goals. Sales data shows you where you stand against competitors, but more importantly, how you stand against yourself historically. Sales data will tell you exactly where you are, and exactly where you need to go. 

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

Your Q4 Reality Check (1).png
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.

Part III: The Naked Truth Exposed [Online Buying]

Online Buying...Should We Do It?

by the AutoHook Marketing Team

This particular blog will cover arguably the most controversial topic inundating dealer forums like DealerRefresh and other automotive digital communities. This is the question of the moment, and perhaps the largest generator of both debate and uncertainty creeping up our industry’s horizon.

After AutoHook’s nation-wide survey conducted over the last three months, the top five digital marketing topics dealers currently struggle with were exposed:

  1. [Social]: Does Social sell cars?
  2. [Video]: Video, video, video…tell me more.
  3. [Paid Search, Retargeting & Budgeting]: What should we expect?
  4. [Online Buying]: Should we do it?
  5. [Data & Marketing Attribution]: Who has it and how do we get it?

The first three topics are covered in parts I & II of The Naked Truth Exposed Series. Check them out below:

THE QUESTION OF THE MOMENT: Should I make my vehicles available to buy directly on my website? Is it necessary if I already have a successful brick and mortar store?

So, what did AutoHook’s Naked Truth defenders have to say about online buying at Digital Dealer 21? First, let’s reintroduce our expert panelists and reveal what they shared on this undecided topic.

Alex Jefferson (eCommerce Director, Proctor Dealerships)

“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.”

The challenge with online buying is there are two very different perspectives on the topic: the consumer’s perspective, and the dealer’s perspective. Proctor Dealerships recently tested an integrated online buying model on their websites over a one-year time period. The tool gave customers the ability to formulate payments, value their trade-in, and complete most of the purchase process online - the overall goal, of course being to save the time consumers spend physically at the dealership. However, what Alex and his team found is that “people are lazy.” They don’t want to take the time (even in the comfort of their home) to navigate through this integrated, lengthy form.

Alex’s advice? What works best for his stores is integrating separate “get your price” buttons, trade-in tools, and finance or credit apps on their sites. It’s three separate forms, but they are quick and easy to fill out. This process also works better for non-tech-savvy customers, and it has been highly effective for Proctor stores specifically. A single buy online method may be too long and too time-consuming for a lot of people, and it can also negatively affect your conversion rates. As a rule of thumb, it's always best to keep online forms as short and straightforward as possible. The easier it is to complete, the higher your conversion rates will be. Alex tells our Naked Truth audience:

“I will tell you after a year of testing it, our lead volume went down by about 30-40%.”

On the contrary, DD21 interview between Chief Editor of DealerRefresh, Jeff Kershner, and CEO of Drive Motors, Aaron Krane disclosed opposing evidence.

DealerRefresh: What is the feedback like from dealership personnel at dealerships offering consumers this option?
Aaron Krane: Dealership staff love that customers who use online checkout will not only sell themselves but also upsell themselves, while the store is closed. That means orders through Drive Motors convert to a sale at over 10-times the rate of leads, and have a higher PVR than many stores’ averages. Moreover, in the words of one dealership, online checkout customers are “ecstatic.”

Kelly McNearney (Senior Automotive Retail Strategist, Google)

 “All I care about is online video.” 

Kelly allowed fellow panelists, Scott Empringham and Alex Jefferson to answer the bulk of this question. However, she made sure to emphasize the role video plays when it comes to showcasing your inventory digitally, as it can nurture the online buying process.

If (or when) buying online becomes mainstream, inventory-specific video will undoubtedly play a role in increasing “buy it now” conversion. Why? Because if customers can virtually touch, feel, see, experience, learn about, and test drive the vehicle in consideration, it’s possible they’ll obtain enough information on its specs and benefits to click that change-driving “buy it now” button.

During her 2-Minute Interview, live at #DD21 with Flash Point’s Scott Empringham, Kelly McNearney shared Google’s #1 tip to help dealers sell more cars, trucks, and SUVs right now. “If I was opening up a dealership today, the first thing I would do is start making YouTube videos, walkarounds, test drives, and features to show people the inventory on my lot.”

Customers aren’t visiting as many dealers as they used to. Google shows consumers visit 1-2 stores before making a purchase. People know what they want before walking into a dealership. New, inventory-focused video merchandising technologies will only further support that fact.

“People want to make decisions at home, on the couch.”

…And Kelly's right! When you think about it, people don’t want to feel pressure from a salesperson to make any life-altering decisions on the spot. A vehicle purchase is the second largest purchase consumers make after buying a home. There is a lot of emotion, stress, time, money, and energy that goes into their decision that dealers don’t always recognize or acknowledge.   

Scott Empringham (CEO/President, Flash Point Communications)

“I don’t think it’s a question of is it going to happen, it is happening. If you’ve got your fundamentals down, and that’s something you want to experiment with, I say go for it!”

Scott does caution if you haven’t first mastered the fundamentals (things like digital merchandising, relevant photos and videos, a high converting site, simple, high converting forms, etc.) jumping into online buying can be a waste.

Asbury Automotive Group for example, rolled out online buying across their stores, and other large progressive groups like AutoNation and Penske have done the same. Asbury is a Flash Point client with a huge digital marketing team, and they successfully participate in an online buying model today. However, the vast majority of Flash Point customers don’t necessarily have the resources Asbury and similar groups have to make this system work.

Brands like Honda, Toyota, Ford, Chevy – those are value-buy vehicles. People want and need to physically sit in the car to determine if it’s right for them. On the contrary, when it comes to aspirational brands like Maserati or Lamborghini, or someone who collects cars as a hobby, people would be more likely to buy these types of cars online. Obviously, Tesla has been doing it successfully for years.

At this time, the best answer experts can provide, when it comes to whether or not dealers need a buy it now button is…it depends. There are stores that have been successful with it, and there are stores that have not been successful with it. The key is to have your ducks in a row (or in other words, a website that converts at a high rate) before rolling out a nation-wide online buying program.

Bill Playford, VP & Partner of DealerKnows Consulting called out the topic in his June 2016 DealerRefresh article, Buy it NOW! The Button that Drives Change.

“I know this is giving some of you heart palpitations, but it’s once again that time to rethink the way we approach our customers. Not everyone will want to utilize a Buy It Now button. But, by not incorporating it into your process, you are disenfranchising a segment of your population who would click this and purchase almost 100% online.”

The key consideration with online buying, and with your dealer operations in general, is going above and beyond to make things convenient for your customers. Make your end model fast and easy. If you can manage one platform great! If not, do everything you can to make your process smoother on the customer's behalf. Build a loyal customer base now, because you never know - they could be buying their future car from you, right off your website.

A huge thank you goes out to DealerRefresh & Flash Point for capturing all the Naked Truth magic live on Facebook. Click here to watch the recording!

For additional resources or information from our panelists, visit DriveAutoHook.com/NakedTruth.

 

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.

How to Convert More Website Visitors Into Leads

How to Convert More Website Visitors Into Leads

by David Metter

What's the best way to generate more leads from your website? Contrary to popular opinion, the answer isn't to "get more website traffic." Although a comprehensive digital marketing strategy is key to driving appropriate traffic levels to your website, unless those visitors convert into leads, that's money down the drain.

Before you spend more on search engine and digital advertising, focus on website conversion. Think about it: if you could double your website conversion rates, you could sell twice as many cars without spending another penny on advertising!

If you're thinking that website conversion is the sole responsibility of your website provider, think again! The dealership is actually responsibility for several key elements to conversion, including:

Content: People buy from businesses they like and trust. Content allows you to own your branding and showcase your strengths. Does your website content give customers a reason to like and trust you? Does it clearly state your value proposition (why buy from you?) Or does it read like many other cookie-cutter dealership websites?

Social Proof: This could be included under content, but it's so important it deserves its own category. Car shoppers want to know if you're trustworthy. The best way to do assure them you are is to litter your website with customer testimonials and plenty of quotes from (and links to) your online reviews.

Phone Ups: Believe it or not, your phone number is one of the biggest lead generation tools on your website. Make sure your website vendor includes your phone number in large font on every page. Make it stand out. Even more important, make sure your internal phone-answering process is flawless. You're paying for every phone call, so have every call answered quickly, by a human being, and don't leave callers on hold or transfer them to voice mail.

Chat: Does your chat window pop up the second a visitor lands on your website? Chat best practices include waiting a minute or two before approaching a visitor to see if they need help. Train your chat representatives to inform visitors about your latest offers, specials and incentives. They should also include URL links to other areas of your site to entice visitors to stay longer.

Lead Forms: Think of all the technology advancements that have been incorporated into dealership websites in the last ten years. Now think of your lead forms. They haven't changed much, which is why they don't perform well. Customers are conditioned to ignore them and most forms ask for too much information. To increase lead form conversion, reduce the number of field forms required to no more than three. Also be sure your lead forms answer the "What's In It For Me?" (WIIFM) question. Don't expect your website visitors to hand over their email address for free; what will you give them in return? Offering free content, a coupon or an incentive of some kind will help increase conversion rates.

Additionally, be sure your website vendor places all lead forms "above the fold" and incorporate borders, colors and other design elements to make them stand out.

Mobile Website: Last but not least, if you don't have a mobile, responsive website by now, make this your first priority! More than 50 percent of car shoppers are using their mobile devices to view dealer websites, including inventory pages. If you're not mobile, this is probably the easiest and fastest way to double your website traffic AND conversion rates.

Additional Resources for Website Conversion Include: 

 eBook: 25 Website 'Must-Haves' for Driving Traffic, Leads and Sales - Hubspot

eBook: Conversion Marketing: Convert Website Visitors Into Buyers - Bryan Heathman

eBook: Marketing Attribution: The Auto Dealer's Digital Roadmap From Awareness to Sale - AutoHook

Webinar: Tips & Tricks to Engage Customers and Turn Shoppers Into Sales - DealerOn

Webinar How to Target and Convert More Online Car Shoppers - DealerOn

Videos: Converting More Leads from your Auto Dealer Website - Dealer Playbook interview with Tim Paige of Lead Pages

Conversion Optimization Blog: http://conversionxl.com/blog/ 

 

 

Don't Rely on Your Website Provider to Increase Conversion Rates. Be a Game Changer.

By: David Metter

According to Dataium's most recent benchmark study, the average number of monthly unique visitors to a dealership's website is 6,509. Of those, an average 1.7 percent submit a lead form. Combine that with an average half percent conversion rate for chat, along with phone calls and walk-ins (which are harder to track), and the average website conversion rate for most dealerships falls in the two to four percent range. Yet, there are dealerships that are converting upwards of eight percent on a regular basis. That's DOUBLE the average.

Why the big disparity?

Dealers spend a lot of money on SEO/SEM, and the reason why is clear: more visitors = more leads. Yet SEO/SEM is just one part of the equation. An equally important factor in the equation is conversion rate optimization (CRO). For some reason, many dealers spend a tiny fraction of their SEO/SEM spend on CRO. Maybe because they believe CRO is the sole responsibility of their website provider, and there's not much they can do about it.

This mistaken belief could be costing your dealership thousands of dollars every month. It is true that your website vendor can do a lot to increase conversion rates. It is also true that your dealership can do a lot to increase conversion rates. Dealerships with conversion rates higher than six percent aren't doing it by accident. They have taken ownership of their CRO. As a result, they are outperforming their competitors.  How do they do this?  Instead of playing the same old game, the progressive dealerships CHANGE THE GAME.

Who is responsible for what?

You can say that your website provider is responsible for the design and technical elements of conversion but ultimately you are in control of your own destiny.

Shake things up on your site including:

· Change the design elements on the website; i.e. colors, ease of 

navigation, headlines and font options

· Change the design and usability of inventory pages

· Change the conversion tool design and placement; i.e. chat forms, email submission forms, phone numbers 

· Change the call to action button design and placement

· Optimize your site and all the above design elements for mobile devices

Your dealership is responsible for the majority of the messaging that is proven to convert, including:

· Brand messaging

· Creating a value proposition and unique differentiator; i.e. why buy from you?

· Social proof: customer testimonials and reputation/review management

· Messaging that earns and builds your customers' trust and loyalty

· Providing website vendors with awesome images, videos and inventory descriptions

· Giving your customers a reason to stay on your website; i.e. a blog with 

educational and entertaining articles that help customers in their purchase process

· Really change the game by giving your customers an incentive to come in and take a test drive

Steps your dealership can take right now to increase conversion rates:

1) Set your bar higher. Since when is it okay to be average? If your website conversion rate is in the "average" range of two to four percent, set a new goal. Aim to double that conversion rate to four or eight percent, or to double the amount of leads you get, in six months to a year. Announce the goal and try to get buy-in for the support you will need to get there. Then go after the goal with tenacity.

2) Expect more from your website provider. Tell your website provider your goal is to double your conversion rate and ask them for suggestions. After all, they may think you're happy with average conversion rates. Ask them to try A/B testing on different conversion elements such as your email submission forms, call to action buttons, headline styles and more.

3) Take ownership of your content. Sure, most website providers will write copy for your website, social media platforms and even your blog. But they don't know your business like you do. People buy from businesses they like and trust. Does your website and social messaging give customers a reason to like and trust you?  Or does it look like many other cookie-cutter dealership websites? Before increasing the spend on your next SEM campaign, take a look at your website CRO. Is your dealership doing its part? Is your website provide doing theirs? Ultimately, the dealer is responsible for tracking and managing the CRO responsibilities of both parties. So set a new goal, aim high and you never know; this time next year your website conversion rate could be double what it is now.