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big data

10 Key Takeaways from the DrivingSales Data Discussion of 2017

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by David Metter

I recently had the honor of co-moderating a dealer panel discussion at the DrivingSales Executive Summit. Together with fellow attribution frontrunner, Steve White, CEO & Founder of Clarivoy, and our dealer experts, Shaun Kniffin, Marketing & Technology Director of Germain Automotive Group and Ben Robertaccio, Marketing Director of the quickly-rising Morrie’s Automotive Group, we we’re fortunate to have a jam-packed room on the last day of the conference. I guess the panel title (or the speaker lineup) evoked some attention…

For anyone that missed it, I’ve compiled a list below of the top ten takeaways from THE DATA DOESN’T LIE: Shocking Discoveries in Automotive Attribution.

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1.    Sales Attribution > Traffic Attribution

As an industry, we need to entirely shift away from traffic attribution models and really zero-in on sales attribution – that’s where the good stuff is. Traffic attribution only gives you one slice of the pizza. It looks at the traffic that comes to your website and builds marketing strategies based on that alone. Roughly 75% of people that buy cars from you visit your website – so what are you doing to account for the other 25%? Traffic attribution doesn’t tie a sale to that site traffic, where sales attribution directly ties a car sold to the path that led to the sale. Furthermore, we have to factor in the reality that 71% of online users remain anonymous.

Ben Robertaccio, Marketing Director for Morrie’s Automotive Group says, “70% of people come into your dealership without first contacting you. Less than 10% contact you or convert through your website. If we don’t have data on the mass of our customer base, then we need to find better ways to understand them.”

2.    There are WAY too many KPIs to realistically keep track of.

Shaun Kniffin, Marketing & Technology Director for Germain Automotive Group shared their recent initiative to define the most important KPIs that exist within all the profit centers of a dealership. “Together we identified 127 KPIs as the key ones to follow. In digital marketing alone, we identified 27 critical KPIs. Our GMs all agree that between 4-16 of those 27 digital KPIs should be looked at on a daily basis.” But how many of them actually do it? Dealers are reported to death. They’re inundated with data and it’s often impossible to know where to start without enlisting the right help. 

3.    In a perfect world, EVERYONE’S data would reside in CRM.

It would be in the best interest of CRM companies to take into consideration what has made Salesforce so successful and apply that same business model to automotive. For just a minute, take yourself out of our industry. Put yourself in ANY other industry and ALL of the data resides within Salesforce. There are plugins within Salesforce that collectively make it better, more powerful, and virtually indispensable. Salesforce grew exponentially when they opened up those opportunities to make corporations that use Salesforce better. We don’t see that in automotive and that’s a very frustrating thing, and it should be more frustrating to you as a dealer because you are required to live and breathe within CRM every single day.

AutoHook’s data, Clarivoy’s data, everyone’s data should reside in CRM. If we know the behavioral traits specific to the customers in our CRM, our salespeople can simply look at their screen (just like you would in Salesforce) and immediately see every digital destination that customer has passed through. That’s what our salespeople need in order to have much more meaningful, efficient conversations with their customers. 

In a perfect world, there would be an independent 3rd party overseeing the validity of everyone’s data, as we know vendor reporting has the potential to be self-serving. But if we know we have clean, accurate data, then we as marketers can easily figure out how to help GMs make much better decisions with their budget. 

4. Google Analytics is a great tool…IF it’s set up correctly.   

Google Analytics has the potential to be a phenomenal tool, but it can also be complicated, involved and difficult to derive any real actionable insights from. How many GMs go into their GA dashboard every day? Not many. So how can we expect our managers to actually obtain any real value or insights from of GA alone?

Ben Robertaccio advises dealers to have their key goals and conversions set up properly in order to measure what’s actually happening - and that includes SRPs, VDPs, leads, chats, calls, texts, map views, etc. The best reports out there take GA data and feed in multiple other data sources to deliver a clear path towards correcting the flaws in your business.

A great tool is one that’s able to synthesize all the data and turn it into something dealers can actually use. Ben recommends AutoHook’s Traffic Conversion Analysis (TCA) powered by Urban Science data. “TCA feeds in CRM data, new vehicle registration data, our sales data, and what our competitors are selling, and it’s able to show me data like I’ve never seen it before. If we didn’t have TCA, we would have continued to spend, spend, spend, when it reality it was our process that was broken, and TCA was able to make that clear.” 

5. There needs to be massive consolidation of analytics tools in the market space.

Because of the intertype competition amongst tiers and players within the automotive vertical, we need to get to the point where dealers can know (or at least have a solid benchmark) of how many cars each vendor will help them sell per month.

Shaun Kniffin reminds us of the ugly truth that, “This industry has more snake oil than any other industry,” and he’s right! Additionally, there aren’t any real standards or benchmarks to let dealers know how they are doing at any given point because of the fact that every dealer and every market is so different. We need to push for more open data sharing, partnerships, and standardization amongst vendors and at all industry levels.

Ben Robertaccio makes another great point when he says, “I see this operational divide across industries: operations vs. marketing. We see it in every industry. But what we need to do is foster an environment where I show you results, you show me results and we work together.”

6. 3rd party listing sites like Cars.com & Autotrader are NOT lead generators.

Leads aren’t everything. Clarivoy Founder & CEO, Steve White says, “Don’t ignore the cumulative effect of the journey that took place to produce that lead.” People don’t just go to Cars.com and submit their information – it’s not that simple. Autotrader, Cars.com, CarGurus all those sites are not lead sources. Their responsibility is to expose your inventory on a grand scale.

Shaun Kniffin happened to be the very first Cars.com customer in Columbus, OH back in 2001. He says, “I’ve never looked at Cars.com as a lead source. A lot of GMs don’t understand how many VDP views these sites generate for their stores each month - it’s more activity than your Search Engine Marketing could produce in an entire year. It’s our job as educators to bring them to the forefront and say let’s put this into perspective – how do you replace all these VDPs? And that’s all part of multitouch attribution. Exposing that inventory is the #1 job of Trader, Cars, Gurus, etc.”

7. Using Last Click Attribution is a lot like…

Clarivoy CEO & Founder, Steve White, made the incredible analogy of comparing attribution to a hangover. “It’s a lot like blaming a hangover on that last beer you had. But in reality, it wasn’t just that last beer, it was the cumulative effect of the 10 other drinks you had before that. So that’s what you have to think about from an attribution perspective. There is a cumulative effect to all of your different marketing touchpoints.” Making really big decisions based on last click is just not the smart thing to do.

8. Dealers suffer from A.D.D. 

Which of course stands for, “Another Damn Dashboard.” Every vendor has their own dashboard. The last possible thing today’s dealers want is another report or system to log into. These dashboards have become nothing more than complex conundrums of numbers and statistics that lack meaning and more than anything, lack the ability to execute.

Kniffin says when it comes to their vendors, “I just want to know if you’re involved in the sale. I just want to know are you part of my math, are you part of my chemistry? Are you going to help me attribute more sales? As marketers all we want to know is how can we make these numbers better? How are you who manages my paid search going to make your numbers better and help us optimize our spend?” 

9. Hold Your Vendors to a Higher Standard

Ben Robertaccio emphasizes, “We all need to hold our vendors and our partners to a higher standard to make sure they are feeding into our analytics appropriately and ensuring the data they provide us with is pure and valid. In a utopian world, all our vendors would work together openly and all agree on how to measure things.”

10.  Don’t rely on your customers (or your CRM) to help with attribution.

If dealers were to ask their customers what their click path consisted of before coming in for a test drive, most people wouldn’t have a clue. The digital journey that takes place leading up to a sale is just that – a journey. It’s something that happens organically, over time, across devices, both at home and on the go.

Kniffin adds, “Single source attribution in CRM – THAT’S frustrating! We’ve challenged every one of the CRM companies out there, and it’s a crowded space, but the truth is, single source attribution does not help us develop a strong marketing strategy, period. And how much of that is really subjective data?”

Ben Robertaccio shares Kniffin’s frustration and follows it up with a good point, "Pretty regularly I don’t remember what I had for dinner the night before so how am I going to remember what traffic source influenced my purchase?”

 

Thanks to our friends at DealerRefresh, you can check out this panel discussion live from #DSES2017. Click here to watch The Data Doesn’t Lie: Shocking Discoveries in Automotive Attribution on Facebook Live.

AutoHook & Clarivoy Join Forces for the Most Action-Packed Dealer Panel of 2017

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THE DATA DOESN’T LIE: 

SHOCKING DISCOVERIES IN AUTOMOTIVE ATTRIBUTION

Co-Authored by David Metter of AutoHook powered by Urban Science, & Steve White of Clarivoy

An unprecedented occurrence has taken place as the automotive industry prepares for the upcoming DrivingSales Executive Summit, October 22nd - 24th, at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Two vendors, two of the industry’s most recognized names in proving sales attribution, have combined forces with marketing leaders from the nation’s top dealer groups to deliver the most unbiased, action-packed panel discussion in auto conference history.  

Before we reveal why this atypical panel lineup is worth attending, we first want to inform you of what this session is NOT going to be. This is NOT a reiteration of the importance of attribution when it comes to eliminating marketing waste. This is NOT a theoretical account of big data’s potential impact on improving your daily sales operations. This is a collaborative, all boots on the ground ATTACK on the two topics that have been plaguing dealerships for far too long: big data and attribution.

AutoHook Co-Founder & President, David Metter, and Clarivoy CEO & Founder, Steve White, will be co-moderating a dealer panel that will leave attendees with a multi-dimensional, crystal clear picture of how successful dealers are already using big data and advanced attribution models to do the only thing that matters to them: sell more cars.

Attendees will get a first-hand account from Marketing Directors at the nation’s leading dealer groups about how they are taking action and selling cars using data they already have available combined with technology that they’ve already implemented.

Both AutoHook and Clarivoy have differentiated themselves in the industry for their unrivaled ability to define the path that resulted in a vehicle sale. However, these two companies go about solving attribution problems from two different angles and perspectives. But, what they both always agree on is that the dealer’s perspective is the one that matters most. Dealers are not, nor should they ever be expected to be data analysts or mathematicians. It should never be a dealership’s responsibility to scrutinize the 20 different vendor reports they receive in a typical month and find trends that point to success or failure in their marketing and sales operations. It should never be the dealer’s job to assign fractionalized credit to the multiple touchpoints that led to a sale.

Too often, dealerships are debilitated by the excessive amount of one-sided vendor reports that flood their inbox every month. What good is all this data if it doesn’t include an instruction manual that pinpoints exactly what’s working and what’s not?

If you use outdated attribution models, you’re essentially making marketing decisions based on 10% of what is actually happening. That is a HUGE marketing blind spot that can lead to tens of thousands of dollars wasted on sources that don’t convert.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if you could get a clear view of your sales and defection trends all in one place? Or quickly identify deficiencies in both your internal and external processes so that you can more efficiently assign responsibilities to your staff and get more ROI out of your third-party lead or traffic drivers?

What dealers have been lacking is a complete, 360° view of their sales operations, as well as the sales they lost to their biggest competitors. How can you improve the way you sell cars if you’re unaware of the leads in your CRM that have already purchased somewhere else? There is a reason for every lost sale, and that reason is exactly what you should use to take action and reclaim lost opportunities.

Attend this session and you will take away a lot more than the inspiration and motivation you need to take action. You will walk away with a game plan that you know has already proven to help individual dealers and dealer groups sell more cars and increase their market share. The topics of big data and attribution will transform from headaches, confusion, and irrelevant, obscure numbers into actionable steps to improve the way you operate today.

WHAT YOU’LL TAKE AWAY:

  1. Learn the fastest methods of uncovering actionable sales and defection trends hidden within your data.
  2. Define the sources responsible for your greatest opportunities and losses down to an individual salesperson, lead or traffic source, competing brand or dealer, and more.
  3. Eliminate “Marketing Blind Spots” and grow your market share using the automotive industry’s latest and most accurate attribution models.

Do yourself a favor. DO NOT leave Las Vegas deprived of this vital and enlightening knowledge. DO NOT return to your dealership in the dark. Join AutoHook, Clarivoy, and their panel of top dealers, to finally get a clear and complete view of your market and how to outshine the competition. 

THE ACTION STARTS TUESDAY, OCTOBER 24TH AT 9:50 AM SHARP AT THE BELLAGIO IN MONET ROOMS 3 & 4!

Do You Have the Power to Know What You’re Losing?

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by David Metter

The number of automotive reports dealership managers receive in a typical month drastically differs from the number of reports that empower them to take immediate action based on sales data only hours old. It’s as if dealers in today’s world have to excavate through mountains of analytical ruins in hopes of uncovering a single data-driven insight that may or may not impact their sales goals. Not to mention the hurricanes and natural disasters that have further obstructed an industry in its ninth month of national decline.

Auto marketing leader, Brian Pasch recently compiled a list of all the individual reports General Managers running a franchise dealership could typically get each month. “For auto dealers, the count is over 20 reports! All separate. All with different metrics. Lots of data, not many actionable insights,” says Pasch.

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The overarching problem with most reports is that they only show one perspective of a much more dimensional, much more compelling story. A lot of vendors and their unique reporting methods tend to be biased in how they present results. In other words, they focus on what they’re helping your dealership win - whether it’s more clicks, more website traffic, or more leads.

But what about all the other pieces needed to complete the story? What about all the sales opportunities you didn’t win? What about the customers in your CRM your salespeople didn’t close? What about the active leads in your system you’re wasting time, money and effort chasing when in reality, they’ve already purchased from somewhere else? Wouldn’t having that knowledge save a lot of wasted energy and marketing dollars? Wouldn’t it be helpful to know as of yesterday how many sales you lost, which competitors you lost them to, and the reason why you lost them?

Furthermore, dealers need systematic visibility into the true outcomes of in-store customer interactions. We can’t solely rely on CRM data as it can be subject to human error. So the question is, does a report exist that accurately depicts the end result of every living, breathing, human-to-human exchange that physically takes place in your showroom? Did those personal interactions result in a vehicle sold or was the opportunity lost?

AdWeek published the following statement addressing this same issue:

“Over the past 20 years, analytics for digital ad measurement have focused on digital results (including web traffic, ecommerce conversion and data collection). But even though we live in an Amazon world, 92% of commerce still happens in physical brick-and-mortar locations, so measuring digital impact is nowhere near sufficient.”

For every digital action, there should be an equal and opposite reaction. What I mean by that is that all aspects of your digital marketing should strictly be evaluated based on their effectiveness or ineffectiveness of increasing vehicle sales that occur in the showroom. What we need now more than ever is a way to accurately discern if the money we’re spending on our digital marketing AND our in-store processes results in a closed sale or an opportunity down the drain. Those are the numbers dealers need to zero-in on to know the absolute best way to spend their marketing budget moving forward.

But wait! The good news is that a report currently exists that is capable of all of these things and more. This particular report defines attribution in a way this industry has never seen before. I will openly admit, there are few aspects of this tool that others out there have the potential to imitate. However, their numbers are based on 90-day old data, not near real-time sales match data. They also don’t provide a 360-degree view of your lost sales tied to a specific salesperson, lead or traffic source, model, or top competing dealer or brand in your market (all in one single report). How do you put a price on THAT?

CASE STUDY: Morrie's Brooklyn Park Subaru Tells Lost Sales to "GET LOST" with AutoHook's Traffic Conversion Analysis (TCA)

In a down market, Morrie’s Brooklyn Park Subaru experienced a considerable decline in lead volume from April to June of 2017. In addition to a large drop off in leads, their lost sales and defection rates were significantly higher than the national sales trends. They needed a solution to identify the source of all lost sales and a strategy to reduce the rate of defection to other dealers, while growing their market share in surrounding zip codes.

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SEE HOW WE DID IT! Read the full case study below.

Has the Promise of Big Data Finally Been Fulfilled?

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by David Metter

Big data has been a big topic in automotive for a long time now. At this point, I think we’ve all realized there is a limitless digital warehouse of actionable data that exists. However, the struggle remains in deciphering how all the pieces fit together and translate into more sales. At the absolute core of the car business, when all the digital minutiae and politics are set aside, being able to prove sales is the only way to know if something is working. Owning the ability to prove sales in near real time is unquestionably big data’s most powerful accomplishment as far as the car business is concerned.

Perhaps the focus has simply been in the wrong place, or maybe it’s the fact that the focus has been in too many places. Dealers have been forced to adapt, master new technologies, implement new ways to operate and sell more cars all while being pushed in a million directions, attempting to distinguish between gratuitous opinions and actual science. It’s easy for dealers to lose sight of the end game when they’re stuck trying to figure out how the pieces fit together and how to create the story needed to turn data into action. This is why a lot of people view big data as nothing but a big problem.

I’m going to make this whole big data problem very small. The only data you need to start with, the only data that allows you to take immediate action is sales and service data, nothing else - and this is the reason:

We know that when customers physically walk into a showroom, closing rates jump to roughly 60-65%. Therefore, leads are important, but there’s no argument that showroom visits are more important than leads, and sales are more important than showroom visits. That’s the trajectory. If you’re using big data for anything other than proving sales or service revenue, you’re wasting your time. Sales have always been, and will always be the single most important dealership metric.

You also have to look at the history and trends of your past sales and the sales of your fiercest competitors. Too often, some of the most influential players in this industry forget that no two dealers are the same and no two markets are the same. Therefore, the data you need to own more of your market share may be much different from other stores, including each rooftop within a large or small dealer group.

In a lot of ways, big data is like a hammer. We can all go to Home Depot and buy the same hammer, but what we use it for, and what we ultimately build with that hammer is contingent upon its user. Choose to use your hammer better and smarter than the competition. Know that in order to do so, you also have to know how your rivals are using their hammer – in other words, the sales and defection trends of competing dealers in your market. It’s impossible to cut your losses if you don’t know they exist. You need to view both your opportunities and losses from a 360-degree, closed-loop vantage point. Big data exists not only to show you what you sold, but just as importantly, what you didn’t sell.

To put things into perspective, know that the power of big data transcends far beyond the car business. On a global scale, true improvement and change can only occur if a problem or a need for change is identified. Over the last decade, big data has proven its ability to influence the world’s greatest issues, including social change, government policy, and industry laws and regulations simply by its ability to demonstrate a need. When a need is identified, it then opens up the door for change.

In the TEDx Talk, “Stories are Just Data with a Soul, Chris Coates paints a very clear picture that data exposes needs by telling stories. “These stories can help people leaving prison to find work and stay out of prison and build new lives. They can save someone’s eyesight or their leg. Data can give children in the most deprived parts of the country chances in life they wouldn’t otherwise get.” What Coates is saying is that data alone has the capacity to change a life. If big data can change lives, it can absolutely change the effectiveness of your sales operations.

 

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.

 

Mining Your Data for Equity

by David Metter

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Our industry has a skewed perception of big data and its intended uses. I think that the term “big data,” has been overused and I believe it’s time to replace it with “best data.” Big data will only continue to get bigger, and I don’t think “colossal data” will ever really catch on or be worthy of a hashtag. So let’s open our eyes to what’s been missing from the information age and allow a little common sense to flow through our vantage point, straight into our dealership operations.

So what is the best data? If you asked 50 different people, you’d get 50 different answers. But these are just opinions, and opinions are noise. The best data is science-based, inarguable, and absolute. The best data is something you already have, and it’s located right within your own DMS. The data that matters most, before observing any other KPIs, is sales and service data – that’s it. If you think any other type of information is more important than if people buy cars from you and if they get their vehicles serviced from you…I’d advise you consider a different line of work.

If I were to purchase a dealership this very moment, the first thing I’d put into play is equity mining. I don’t own an equity mining company, and I’m not trying to sell you an equity-mining product. But I do know good common sense solution and execution when I see it. Equity mining takes the sales and service data you already have, and identifies opportunities to drive people actually in-market to purchase into your showroom or to your service department. It’s that simple.

According to Automotive News, “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.” They also say it's been an absolute “gold mine” for one Honda store that has utilized it to fuel profit in nearly every one of their departments.

Top Equity-Mining Software Providers:

  • AutoAlert
  • CDK Global
  • DealerSocket’s Revenue Radar
  • Dominion Dealer Solutions
  • ELEAD1ONE Xchange
  • VinSolutions

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. Their AlertMiner Retention Alerts will inform dealers of any and all profit opportunities as they arise. The software shows dealers when a past or potential customer’s contract is ending on a lease or purchase or if they can get a newer vehicle for the same monthly payment they have now.

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AlertMiner alerts dealerships of relevant consumer shopping behavior and when it is a good time to reach out (or not).

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DealerSocket’s Revenue Radar continuously scans your DMS in order to highlight customers that are in a favorable position to spend money at your dealership, before they shop your competitors. Their equity mining process is shown below. 

The choice is yours. Go with your gut, or go with the recession-proof combination of science and common sense. Common sense will tell you science has a higher probability of being right – despite your intuition and experience. Equity mining is at your disposal, waiting to help you reach past, present, and future customers when they are in the market to buy. You have the best data already (sales and service data), now it’s time to mine it and work it! It’s the difference between being part of the noise and being the first one to speak up when the moment is right.

Equity mining is exactly how dealerships get their ducks in a row prior to a campaign launch. It is how you avoid wasting money on prospects that are not considering a purchase. I believe in this concept so much is because it’s common sense in its purest form and much less complex than we’ve been led to believe.

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. 

What You Need to Know About DMPs

by David Metter

DMPs are a topic gaining escalating attention as we head into 2017. A dark cloud of big, irrelevant data still lingers above the automotive industry, just waiting to be analyzed. What are DMPs? For those of you that don’t know, the acronym stands for Data Management Platforms. Think of a DMP as a digital warehouse of data, designed to consolidate and organize consumer data from multiple sources all in one place so that it can be put to good use.

eMarketer addressed the need for advertisers to utilize DMPs back in 2013 – a near decade ago in digital time. “If data is digital marketing’s currency, then the DMP is its bank.” So, when it comes down to whether or not to use DMPs either at the dealer or manufacturer level, really dig deep and ask yourself… do you like money?

If the answer is yes, DMPs exist to give you insights that will help you make more and save more (money that is). DMPs consolidate past and real-time consumer purchase and behavioral data across ad exchanges, networks and devices. This allows for granular audience segmentation and targeting that goes far beyond standard demographics.

DMPs aren’t just a place to aggregate and store information. They help us find the most important data points that will actually help our business. And I don’t mean help down the line or months from now, but this very second. DMPs empower us to take action and deploy personalized campaigns with quantifiable conviction. These platforms are the secret to affirming what every advertiser claims they will do, which of course is to “place the right ad, in front of the right consumer, at the right time.” Sound familiar? Without DMPs, these empty promises would remain just that - empty and unproven.

DMPs are the ultimate source of budgetary efficiency for both digital and traditional spending. By illuminating a clean, 360-degree view of a consumer’s online and offline actions, DMPs pinpoint how far along car shoppers are in the buying process. They identify who in the market has already purchased a vehicle and if they bought it from a competitive dealership or brand. On the contrary, they show which consumers are just beginning their research journey, still months away from a buying decision.

Put simply, DMPs hold your campaigns accountable for their performance and help to guide your ongoing efforts to be more relevant, impactful, and efficient with where you spend your money and who you spend your money on. Specifically for the automotive sector, DMPs may be the solution to a lot of our sales attribution problems. Everyone wants to stake claim for a vehicle sold. A DMP may be just what we need to properly assign credit where credit’s due.

When asked about DMPs, Erik Lukas, Retail Operations Manager of Subaru of America said, “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.” Aside from attribution, another much-needed use for DMP-derived insights would be for one-to-one marketing and campaign personalization. Both are becoming increasingly necessary in order for a message to stand out and resonate with car shoppers.

According to MarTech Today, “A DMP offers a central location for marketers to access and manage data like mobile identifiers and cookie IDs to create targeting segments for their digital advertising campaigns.” This is a tremendous asset for automakers when it comes to eliminating waste. For example, if you are a luxury vehicle manufacturer, DMPs can help you only target individuals or households that you know have a net income of at least $200,000 per year.

In summary, the biggest uses for DMPs in the auto industry include:

  • More accurate sales attribution
  • More opportunities for personalization and one-to-one marketing
  • Ideal audience targeting and segmentation

Data management platforms are about unification – unifying consumer data from one source to the next as their shopping journey becomes more and more complex. Big data fails to hold value unless it can be applied to better influence your most lucrative audience segment. Other industries have been using DMPs for years. Automotive has such a complex business model given our three-tier system and the fact that most transactions happen offline. Therefore, we need DMPs more than anyone.

The opportunities DMPs provide are limitless. But don’t get too wrapped up in all the ways you could use them to your advantage. Remember your one objective at the end of the day is to increase dealership revenue by selling more units and obtaining more ROs. Above all, SALES is the metric that matters and DMPs should be used primarily to generate more sales. Everything else is just noise.  

We’ve Got the Data! Now What? (Top 3 Takeaways from the J.D. Power Data Expert Panel)

by David Metter

If anyone experienced the great misfortune of not being able to attend AutoHook’s J.D. Power AMR panel that had attendees lined up against the walls, I’ve got you covered. Below is a condensed collection of key insights from the session, We’ve Got the Data! Now What?

I know you’re probably all tired of hearing the term “big data.” You may even be a little nauseous from it – thus the critical need for this panel and the recap below.

First, let me formally introduce our superstar lineup. I do have to take a moment to say these leaders are not just auto experts with impressive titles. Each has proven a genuine desire to improve the way our industry operates and the way we share data for the benefit of all – and that’s huge.

It’s funny (and a little ridiculous) how often the solutions to the world’s biggest problems come from plain old common sense. We all have a tendency to overcomplicate even the most evident of concepts. Perhaps the secret to solving all this big data ambiguity is to take a step back and “under-complicate” the idea.

Three overarching themes dominated our big data discussion:

1. The largest obstruction to big data in the automotive industry is the automotive industry itself.

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

I’m not pointing any fingers, but it’s no secret that our three-tier system makes things more difficult. It creates large disconnects in communication from one layer to the next. Dean Evans points out, “We know at Hyundai you can’t do decent business today unless you are connecting those layers.”

We also know it’s rare for what happens at the dealer level to be properly recorded and communicated at the OEM level. That’s just how it is. Allow me to propose an idea. If knowledge is power, then sharing data is power. Imagine the influence we could claim if we all stopped being selfish with our data. A united industry is an unbreakable industry.

Kelly McNearney adds, “The challenge for tier three 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 even is and what their actions are.”

We’ve completed step one, identifying the problem. Now it’s time to complete step two, taking action to solve the problem. So, who’s taking action? AutoHook already has by opening our API and the attribution data that comes with it to the entire industry free of charge. CDK and Dealer.com are doing it by creating centralized data dashboards so OEMs can have a better view of the consumer sales data collected at the dealership level. So who’s next?

2. More data is not necessarily better.

Pictured: Jenny Watson & David Metter

Pictured: Jenny Watson & David Metter

The secret is not obtaining more data. Sometimes it’s about doing more with what you have at your fingertips. It’s about taking smarter, more efficient actions. What’s the end goal? Jenny Watson says, “At the end of the day it’s really about units sold and the number of repair orders generated,” and she’s right! More is not better. It’s just more. An emphasis on obtaining more data may be the root cause of why the subject has become so complex.

It’s also important to note that each channel has its own specific set of measurable KPIs. Regardless of what they are, if you can’t validate that these channels resulted in a sale or a service order, then don’t waste your money advertising on them. It’s that simple.

3. Data Management Platforms (DMPs) are important to use and understand, but never at the cost of simple, actionable insights.

DMPs have been around in other industries for years. In a lot of ways, they’re starting to replace that “big data” term. Both dealers and OEMs should take advantage of these systems in order to better serve their network. Dean Evans says, “Feeding the dealer network is always paramount.” In addition, because of our three-tier system, the auto industry has the most complicated business model in existence. Therefore more than anyone, we need DMPs. They exist and are designed to help us – so use them.

Erik Lukas shined a lot of light on this subject. “There’s room for both,” he says. “There’s the big insights that come from DMPs that we need to unlock, but you still can’t ignore some of the things that are right in front of your face.” Erik gives the example of Subaru’s highly successful Dog Tested campaign and how it all began. “A key insight for us that we spawned a whole campaign off of was that 2/3 of Subaru owners own pets, and of those, 70% are dogs. Clearly, that’s not a big data or DMP derived result, but we built a whole disruption campaign around this one key insight and it’s really resonated with our customers.”

Kelly McNearney is a big advocate of DMPs especially for the automotive vertical. However, she speculates DMPs are perhaps given too much credit. “Some of the best data we have is actually something quite small, but that we can take action on,” said Kelly. She followed that up with a great example. “In the month of November for the past three years in a row, searches for tires have been at an all time high. That is a useful piece of data and that’s not from a machine, it’s not from a DMP, it’s just a simple Google Trend.”

To conclude, if you’re going to remember anything, remember these three things:

  • The only way for us to overcome barriers across tiers is to knock down the egotistical walls that separate us and work together.

  • Instead of more, more, more, when it comes to big data, remember that the end goal is to increase sales and revenue at the dealership level.

  • And lastly, do your research on DMPs and allow this tool to help you – but never ignore the immense potential of a single statistic such as 67% of Subaru owners are animal lovers.

Click here to watch the complete live recording of the J.D. Power AMR panel, We’ve Got the Data! Now What?