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automotive sales

The Top 5 Benefits of Using Test Drive Incentives

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Contrary to popular belief, vehicle purchase decisions are still being made at physical dealerships, most likely following a test drive – NOT exclusively online. By using targeted test drive offers on your website, third-party sites and across channels, Dealers can positively disrupt a customer shopping online just long enough to influence them by giving them a reason to visit your showroom instead of your competitors’. Test drive incentives are one of the most cost-effective marketing tactics, consistently delivering buyers into Dealer showrooms and in the drivers’ seat of a vehicle. Below are the top five benefits of using test drive incentives at your dealership.

1.      Drive High Intent to Buy Showroom Traffic

Convert your highest intent-to-buy website traffic and third-party site traffic into showroom visits with highly targeted, private test drive incentive offers, redeemable only by test driving a vehicle at your dealership. By presenting customers browsing your inventory online with a $25-$75 incentive to test drive one of your vehicles, you’re giving them a reason to visit your store over the competition. We know shoppers viewing specific inventory pages online are lower down in the purchase funnel, therefore using incentives only further increases your likelihood of converting online traffic into showroom traffic.

2.      Execute Custom Incentive Campaigns Based on Your Greatest Areas of Opportunity

With science on your side, you can see whether the leads in your CRM ended up purchasing from you or someone else. Being able to see where, how and why you’re losing sales makes it easy for Dealers to make smarter decisions about how to spend finite, often unvalidated marketing dollars. Test drive incentive campaigns can be executed across all digital channels and customized in-flight to support each Dealer’s unique initiatives. Target underperforming models, ZIP codes or lead sources with higher value incentive offers to reduce your defection rates. In addition to your website visitors, send email incentive campaigns to re-engage all your third party leads and further combat defections and drive customers into your showroom.

3.      Increase Incremental Sales

New vehicle sales may start online, but they end at the dealership. The best digital marketing tools attribute all sales and showroom visits back to a single offer or campaign, so your ROI is never in question. Use trackable test drive incentives across channels as one of the most effective, cost-efficient ways to get customers in your showroom and behind the wheel, while properly attributing incremental sales directly back to an offer. Leads generated from these private offers consistently close at both a high rate and a low cost-per-sale.

4.      Increase New-to-Brand, Repeat Buyers

Car buyers today might be less brand loyal than ever before. CarMax says only 19.4% of their customers in 2017 purchased the same brand as their trade-in, while the remaining 80.6% bought a different brand. Our own studies show that across all OEMs, an average of 78% of buyers that submit an AutoHook test drive lead are new to the brand, meaning these are not repeat customers that would have come in anyways. If you’re able to provide your customers with a great initial buying experience when they come in to redeem their free gift card, the chance of them returning for a second or third purchase increases, thus improving your likelihood of gaining repeat, loyal buyers.

5.      Increase Lead Conversion

This one might be a given, but it had to go on the list. We know Dealers have the best chance of converting a lead to a closed sale when they can get the customer physically in front of them. Getting customers offline and into the showroom is the entire purpose of using test drive incentive offers.

Winning Means Knowing What You’re Losing

3 Steps to Reduce Lost Sales

by David Metter 

1. Use Data That Tells a Complete Story

The only way to know exactly where you stand in your market is to have a clear view of what you’re losing. The problem the automotive industry has faced for years now, is that both CRM and DMS data is one-sided, one-dimensional, and only shows your effectiveness against your own sales. But what about the sales of competing dealers or brands in your market? Wouldn’t it be easier to grow your market share if you knew what percentage of it you actually owned compared to your top competitors?

The other problem exists within the reporting provided by some third party vendors, as these reports only show you one side of the story – their side. In other words, what you’re winning. If you think about it, what is the most vital piece of information to have in terms of improving your dealership’s sales operations? Is it how many clicks your VDPs got or is it how many actual vehicles you sold…or didn’t sell? You be the judge.

2. Accurately Quantify Your Lost Sales Opportunities

What if you could know which dealerships you’re losing sales to? How many units per day or per month are you losing to competitors? How many of your customers purchased from competing dealers or brands in your market?

It is critical for dealers to not only look at their own data and sales and defection trends, but also the sales trends of their biggest competitors. Know where you stand. If you have a clear view of what and how much you’re losing, then you have a clear view of what you need to win back. 

3. Identify the Source of Lost Sales & Adjust Accordingly

There are several factors that play into each and every lost sale. What dealers need is the ability to recognize if sales are lost due to internal or external factors. For example, is there an internal problem with your sales staff or with a specific salesperson? Are your lost opportunities tied to a certain model? Or, is it an external problem such as one of your lead providers consistently delivering leads that are no longer in consideration? Look into your website traffic and the traffic providers you work with. Are these sources driving low-funnel buyers to your showroom, and can they prove it?

If you don’t know the answer to that question, it’s because you’re not seeing the full picture. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know the problem exists. Similarly, you can’t make smarter decisions with your marketing budget if you don’t know which sources are driving bad traffic or causing high defection rates. 

Now that we’ve identified all these potential problem areas, allow me to leave you with the light at the end of the tunnel. The good news is that the tools and data needed to complete the story of your market’s sales trends already exist. I know this because I’ve been on both sides of the equation. I’ve worked as the CMO of a large dealer group, and I’m currently on the vendor side of the car business. Therefore, I can say with confidence that attempting to grow your market share without a complete view of your market in today’s complex landscape is asinine. I can also say based on factual, proven stats that Urban Science has the fastest, most accurate sales match data in existence. So at the end of the day, you can go with your gut, or you can go with prescriptive science-based conviction. (I suggest the latter).

 

To learn more about identifying and eliminating lost sales, visit DriveAutoHook.com/TCA.

 

IS VENDOR INTEGRATION THE NEW INNOVATION?

A Tale That Proves 2 Technology Leaders are Better Than 1

By David Metter

Too many companies these days suffer as a result of being close-minded. They think innovation means constantly developing new solutions to better service dealers and OEMs. I’d like to challenge that mindset. What happened to sticking with what you’re best at? I’m not saying don’t dream big, but I am recommending you dream a little smarter. Too often vendors attempt to do things they’re never going to be good at. For example, I know AutoHook will never be great at social advertising. We could do it, and we could do a decent job, but what’s the point of doing anything if you don’t do it right?

Great solutions are a result of knowing what you’re best at and holding on tight to that. In my opinion, strategic partnerships might just be the new and improved form of innovation within the automotive space – and here’s why. AutoHook’s core competency is securing our private offer and incentive rail system within dealerships and directly proving the source that led to a sale or a new to brand buyer. We’re great at attribution reporting because of the data we have access to through Urban Science. We’re never going to be great at Facebook ads, but we know SOCIALDEALER is.

To provide some color, AutoHook opened up our API in January of 2017 so that reputable partners could access our redemption platform and proven attribution engine at no cost to them or their dealer clients. SOCIALDEALER is the latest company to join in our open API initiative to advance actionable data and simply deliver a higher ROI through these types of technology integrations.

SOCIALDEALER’s core competency is in converting customers through social media advertising. Now that they have tied into the redemption rail system AutoHook has already put into place, they can prove exactly which social campaigns resulted in an incremental sale or service appointment. Having the ability to tie in what we’re best at with what another vendor is best at and execute on that to sell and service more cars (and prove it)…now that, that is innovation.

By integrating with our private offer and attribution API, SOCIALDEALER can do more than just show conversions from their solutions to more showroom traffic. They can validate to their dealer clients if a vehicle was purchased as a direct result of their own existing ad platform. This open and unified approach presents countless opportunities for innovation that benefits all parties involved. Most importantly, it benefits the dealers and OEMs that no longer have to pay the integration fees vendors typically charge to work with other vendors.

Here’s a breakdown of how this whole open API thing works. SOCIALDEALER can now use AutoHook’s redemption rail system to serve inventory-specific test drive offers to highly targeted audiences on Facebook. For example, if a customer views a vehicle details page on a dealer’s website and later goes on Facebook to post a picture of their cat, SOCIALDEALER will then retarget that shopper and strategically plug in an AutoHook incentive to visit XYZ dealer to test-drive the vehicle they previously viewed or showed interest in. Through a vast network of data partners (yes more vendor integration) SOCIALDEALER will plug a test drive incentive offer directly into their Facebook ads AND with prepopulated form fields. All the customer has to do to redeem their incentive is hit submit and show up at the dealership. No one else in the space can do that.

We know conversion rates decrease when a customer is asked to fill out an online form with several fields of their personal information. Adding incentives to forms absolutely lifts conversion, but having the form already filled out with the customer's name and contact information, that’s just a no-brainer. That’s why this partnership defines innovation (along with all the other vendors in our API Partner Program).

Think about Salesforce and what happened after they decided to open up their interface and allow third party providers to integrate, for free. Their revenue grew exponentially and their adoption rates blew up. Now you can have video conference calls, send emails, post to social sites, and sign contracts all within Salesforce. Their AppExchange literally has 1,000 different apps available to their customers. That’s beyond valuable, and that’s exactly what being a little more open-minded can do for automotive. I mean heck, look what it did for Apple!

 

To learn more about AutoHook’s API Partner Program visit DriveAutoHook.com/Partners.

 

Part IV: The Naked Truth Exposed [EXECUTIVE EDITION] Big Data & Attribution

Big Data & Attribution…Who Has It & How Do We Get It?

by David Metter

There’s good news and bad news on this topic…but mostly good. The bad news is AutoHook’s panel of marketing experts had so many dealer-submitted issues to solve they didn’t have time to address data and attribution at Digital Dealer 21 (as this subject could take 50 minutes alone). The good news is I now have the opportunity to step in and shine my headlights upon the industry-wide struggle I’m most passionate about. This final piece of our Naked Truth Exposed series will represent the most momentous road block dealers face today: proving without a doubt the one source that led to a sale.

First, let me fill you in on a quick story about a guy named Dayn Riegel. Dayn is the eCommerce Director of Loganville Ford and he was AutoHook’s winner of our all expenses paid trip to DD21. Why would we invest so much money in a person we had never met? Because he asked the right question. In our nation-wide poll conducted over the spring and summer of 2016, Dayn submitted the following inquiry:

“The best marketing in the world can’t save a dealership from itself – it’s own greed, ineptitude or lack of drive…lack of willingness to succeed, and I don’t mean just talk about it, do something about it. So, my question is: With all the hype around SEO, SEM, PPC, Bing, etc., who is taking all the big data and marketing know-it-all and applying it? Exactly. Nobody really, truly is. Why not?”

Thank you Dayn for giving me the opportunity to take on this challenge. This question is the reason I do what I do, as I experienced the same problems during my time as CMO at MileOne Automotive. I know firsthand, one of the most common pain points for dealers exists in the gaps (or the disconnects in communication) that form when two vendors don’t properly work together. As competition rises in the digital space, and as more and more companies enter the game, these lapses in digital communication will only continue to grow - creating more cracks in our already distressed methods of attributing a sale to a single source.

During my time at MileOne, I was fortunate enough to have the resources, contacts, a great team, and insight to do something about this problem. One of our biggest strengths, and arguably the reason we had such a competitive edge was in our ability to see the unique advantages of two different vendors, and bring them together in a way that benefitted our needs. We quickly learned that combining the exclusive technologies of two (or even three) vendors made it easier for us to sell more cars. More importantly, we had the power to track the latter half of a specific customer’s buying process, which eventually led to the creation of AutoHook’s award-winning sales attribution engine.

People in general have a tendency to overcomplicate common sense concepts. But this isn’t rocket science. If you need green paint, you take some blue paint and some yellow paint and simply mix them together.

So how do we paint the automotive marketing landscape green? I can tell you since I’ve been on the other side (the vendor side) I’ve seen a need for these types of alliances to happen now more than ever. It’s monumental to think of how much we can accomplish if we open up our strengths to others to generate a mutual benefit. What I’m suggesting, is we need to change the focus from beating our competitors, to working in conjunction with competitors to accomplish a goal that guarantees success for all parties - and not just for vendors, but for dealers and OEMs as well.

As Dayn referenced, there is an undertone of greed throughout both dealer and vendor communities. Everyone wants to make more money. Everyone wants to be #1. Everyone wants to keep proprietary technology a secret. But let’s take a step back. Let me spell this out in the simplest way I possibly can. In order to solve the ambiguity that shadows big data and accurate attribution in our industry, we have to do one thing: change our mentality.

Here’s how. What if instead of keeping secrets, we shared knowledge and worked together? What if we connected the automotive universe and created one cohesive, more efficient railroad system? Wouldn’t this drastically reduce disconnects in our data and reporting? Right now, we are on the precipice of change. No one can argue that there is strength in numbers. We need to unite, rather than surround our solutions with egotistical walls, in order to reap the benefits of the bigger picture.

Going back to Dayn’s question of, “Who is taking all the big data and marketing know-it-all and applying it?” The answer is, WE ARE. AutoHook, powered by Urban Science has the fastest, most reliable sales attribution path data in the industry - 99.7% to be exact, and 95% of that data is updated daily. No one can compete with that! Furthermore, we know how to apply this data to prove our solutions directly led to a sale. So not only do we have the data and know what to do with it, but we’re willing to SHARE our AutoHook rail system and API technology with the entire industry…FOR FREE.

Imagine that, an open API that gives all automotive entities the power to finally attribute vehicle sales to a single campaign. What? Why? How can we do this? First of all, we know for a fact we have access to the most reliable and timely sales data from Urban Science. We also know that achieving accurate attribution is trifold.

First, the solution needs to execute. Second, it needs to be validated with performance reports that show concrete evidence of incremental sales and lift in conversion. This requires vendors to surpass irrelevant vanity metrics such as clicks, impressions, and site traffic. Is there any paid search company out there that can prove to a dealership that one of their search campaign clicks resulted in a sold vehicle? The answer, just as Dayn suggested, is absolutely not!

The third piece of our bulletproof attribution model is that it’s personalized and unique to each customer, further eliminating breakdowns in sales data. By assigning a unique code to every user, we can track all post-interaction behavior. How many people walked into your showroom as a direct result of our solution? Did they end up purchasing or not? What model did they purchase? Are they new to your brand? And what led them to your store?

What if the solution to this problem afflicting dealerships, OEMs, and vendors could be as simple as breaking down the walls that separate and limit us? What if we stopped nickel and diming dealers for every integration they request? The ideal solution for obtaining actionable data must be suited for omnichannel use, meaning available to all publishers and vendors across all types of media outlets, hence the concept of an open, free API.

My friends, this is the beginning of an era. This is how we provide the world with access to big data and the reporting needed to turn it into a story worth sharing. This is how our industry becomes more efficient, more streamlined, and more powerful. If we can patch the holes of automotive’s digital rail system, every vendor and dealership can finally validate the true ROI of their marketing investments.

Stay tuned for more to come on how AutoHook will be providing free API access to all.

If you missed part I, II, or III of our Naked Truth Exposed series, check them out below: