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model performance

BEYOND BEST PRACTICES: 10 Outside the Box Ways to Use AutoHook’s Private Offers

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[The 2019 Edition]

AutoHook is best known for converting online traffic into showroom visits using private offers and test drive incentives on dealer websites and third-party sites. These private offers and incentives, combined with our untouchable attribution model, has proven to be one of the most (if not the most) cost-effective ways to get customers physically into your showroom and into the driver’s seat of a vehicle, where you have the best possible chance of closing a sale.

What many dealers don’t realize, is that AutoHook’s capabilities go far beyond rewarding customers for visiting your showroom for a test drive. Our most successful dealers use AutoHook to boost revenue across multiple departments – not just new car sales.

Customized incentive campaigns can be executed at any time to support any and all of your unique initiatives from securing more service customers to acquiring more quality trade-ins for your used inventory. The following are 10 ways to use AutoHook’s private offers to further boost your bottom line. All customization options below have proven successful at actual dealerships across the U.S. and are free of charge for current customers. In this case, more sales (and the data to prove they came from us) really are just a phone call away.

1. Boost Specific Model Performance

Depending on your brand, we know there are certain models you can’t stock enough of and others that overstay their welcome on your lot. Use higher value test drive offers on the vehicle details pages (VDPs) of the models in your inventory that may need a little help. If you know you have a high defection rate tied to a specific new car model, you can incentivize customers who land on those VDPs or submit a lead for that model with a greater value incentive, say a private offer for $50-100 when they come in for a test drive. Target and boost any model that may be underperforming or even a single VIN.

The same logic can be applied to your used and CPO inventory. Offer higher value incentives only on stubborn or aging inventory you can’t seem to move. A great example came from Jim Burke Automotive Group on a 2016 Subaru Impreza.

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“We needed to move the Impreza ASAP and we were able to accomplish this utilizing AutoHook’s Web2Show solution via our Dealer.com website. We did an increased, targeted offer for the Impreza’s stock number only of $100 for a test drive and sold the vehicle in just 4 days. We are thrilled with the quick turnaround of this specific vehicle targeting campaign and will definitely continue to use AutoHook’s solutions in the future.”

-          Gordon Gibbs, President, Jim Burke Automotive Group

2. Target Underperforming ZIP Codes

Increase the value of private offers in areas where you’re struggling. AutoHook can set up custom filters to target your website visitors located in specific ZIP Codes where you see high defection rates or where you know you’re getting crushed by competitors. For example, offer a $65 test drive incentive only to customers located in the ZIP Codes you define and a $35 reward to website visitors in your backyard. The further away the ZIP Code, the higher the reward should be. Planet Honda did this and saw outstanding results. They identified three ZIP Codes where they were losing the most sales to competitors. They increased their test drive offers from $35 to $50 for any customer viewing inventory on their website located in one of these areas. We tracked their sales attributed to AutoHook incentives over six months, and their results speak for themselves. Check them out below or read the complete case study here.

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3. Incentivize Your Service Drive

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With new car sales forecasted to decline in 2019, dealers need to shift focus to service and parts to make up for potential losses in new car sales revenue. We’ve had dealers get extremely creative with using private offers to persuade customers to choose their dealership for their service needs rather than the local body shop shown the street. Use AutoHook to get more service appointments by offering customers who book appointments online a special reward that can only be redeemed when they come in for their appointment. You can also use our Issue Instant Reward feature when setting up appointments over the phone to help ensure they show up.

Another idea is to target specific segments of service customers by pulling contact lists from your CRM that meet certain criteria. For example, pull a list of customers that are due (or overdue) for their first service appointment and email them an offer for a $25 reward when they complete their first scheduled vehicle maintenance at your location. The same can be applied to your parts department or special service events. For example, “Get an instant Amazon eGift Card when you schedule an appointment to come in for our Spring Tire Sale!” Or, “Receive a $100 Visa eGift Card when you purchase a complete set of tires!”

Dealers have also used AutoHook to incentivize service customers who have a desirable vehicle for their used inventory or vehicles that exceed a certain mileage range. In addition, you can always pull a list of appointments you already have on the books and use our Bulk Coupon Generator (just call us and we’ll do it for you) to reward your service customers with a $25 gift card to test-drive one of your new vehicles instead of sitting around waiting for their car to be serviced. Who wouldn’t want to get paid to take a spin in a vehicle that peaks their interest while they wait? Use our Issue Coupon Code or Issue Instant Reward features for customers sitting in your waiting area that may not have received a pre-generated offer to test drive a new vehicle.

4. Revive Dormant Leads

Use the Lead History report in the AutoHook portal to pull a list of anyone who completed an AutoHook test drive offer lead form but has not yet come in to redeem their gift card. You can also pull a list of all leads in your CRM that are 90 days or older (or a timeframe of your choice) and reengage them with a $50 offer to visit your showroom for a test drive. AutoHook can help you set up custom targeted offers based on the leads (or even lead sources) you want to influence.

5. Integrate Across Digital Marketing and Social Campaigns

Using AutoHook’s Triggered Links feature, custom incentive campaigns can be set up on your dealership’s social media pages and in paid social ads. We can also integrate private offers into paid search and display campaigns, or on any landing page or microsite. You can even use AutoHook in your social ad campaigns to reward customers for booking a service appointment online or to promote a discount on parts.

6. Get More Quality Trade-Ins for Your Used Inventory

Target customers with a private offer to get them to trade in their desirable car and purchase or lease a new one from you. Simply pull a list of customers in your CRM that have a lease expiring in the next 90 days or a time frame of your choice. Offer them a $50-100 Visa Gift Card to come in and test drive a newer model and trade in their lease early. If you have equity mining software, pull a list of lease pull ahead customers and email them with a unique offer to get out of their lease early and into a new vehicle.

7. Get More Positive Reviews

Who doesn’t need more positive reviews? Use AutoHook as an enticement for customers to leave reviews, testimonials, or feedback of their experience buying or servicing their vehicle at your dealership. Give happy customers a reason to take the time to write you a good review by emailing them a link to instantly redeem a Visa or Amazon virtual gift card. Our Issue Instant Reward feature is the perfect way to say thank you on behalf of your dealership for submitting a positive review. Testimonials can be used in a multitude of ways to show off the value of your unique dealership experience or a specific salesperson.

If you identify a list of customers you want to solicit for reviews, you can call our Client Success Team and they will help you utilize our Bulk Coupon Generator to create unique incentive codes for each contact on your list. We can create email campaigns on your behalf or you can include a unique triggered link in your own personal emails to customers.

8. Protect Your Reputation

On the flip side, you can use the Issue Instant Reward feature for any customer who complained or had a poor experience at your dealership. Not that that would ever happen at your store…but know it’s available for you to have in your back pocket, should that problem ever arise.

9. Get More Customer Referrals

Use the Issue Instant Reward feature as a great way to say “thank you” to any customer who refers your dealership to their friends and family. Issue Coupon Code can be leveraged to lock in referrals over the phone in those states that allow referral payments. Check with your state Dealer Association for more information.

A great example came from a Kia dealership that runs a strong referral program and uses AutoHook incentives as their fulfillment and measurement tool. AutoHook worked with their Internet Sales Director to build a set of special Issue Instant Reward placements ranging in value up to $200 and marked each as a Referral Gift. This dealership loves having the gift card fulfillment process completely handled for them. They can also track the specific placements to see who refers the most people to buy and how much they need to offer to incent the best referrals. Additionally, this will make your accounts payable department very happy, in that they only have to write one single check for all of the output in a given month.  

10. Magnify Existing Campaign Success

Piggyback on OEM launch campaigns including new model launches, holiday sales events, loyalty programs and more. Use higher dollar offers to drive those intenders into your showroom instead of defecting to a competitor. Holding a private or special sales event unique to your dealership? Use AutoHook as a way to get more customers to attend and test drive one of your vehicles. One of our largest dealer groups loves to use our Issue Instant Reward feature to create customized marketing campaigns around holidays including Black Friday, Valentine’s Day and Summer Sales Events.

The customization opportunities AutoHook offers are endless. So much so, that we truly struggled to cut this list down to 10. If you ever think of your own creative way you’d like to integrate our private offers, give us a call and we will help make it happen.

Contact AutoHook’s Dealer Support Team anytime at 855.532.3274 or email us at DealerSupport@UrbanScience.com.

THE EXECUTIVE EDITION: Lies the Digital Age Told You About Selling Cars

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| by David Metter, President of AutoHook powered by Urban Science

In Part I of Lies the Digital Age Told You About Selling Cars, we overturned one of the most blindly accepted industry-wide standards about the current state of consumer car buying behavior. For far too long, the assumption has been vehicle shoppers have everything they need to make a purchase decision online, and they already know what they’re buying before ever stepping foot in a showroom. The common misconception has been that the average consumer in the digital age only visits one dealership before purchasing a vehicle.

What we found after surveying 2,748 U.S. consumers that have purchased a car in the last year is that the above statement couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, not only does the average customer visit at least 2.4 dealerships before making a buying decision, but almost half – 46% – said they visited three or more dealers before purchasing. Over a quarter of our sample size, 26%, said they visited four or more dealerships before buying. All of this data was collected by AutoHook and Urban Science in May of 2018 from people who purchased or leased a vehicle within the last year – not from a published study conducted five years ago.

As a former general manager of a dealership, CMO of a privately-held dealer group and as a marketer in general, I found the fact that roughly 1 in 4 people (26%) in the year 2018 visit four or more dealerships before buying a car to be personally absurd. Though surprising, this statistic solidified a new truth about the state of our industry. Contrary to what dealers have been told, the in-store experience is arguably more important in the digital age than ever before in the history of the car business – and for several reasons.

The most prominent reason being if a customer has a bad experience with one of your salespeople when they come in for a test drive, they will leave and buy from someone else. If they go to two dealerships and have a bad experience at both, they will go to a third and even a fourth dealer to buy from the one that provides them with the experience they expect and deserve.

Just like everything else that has surfaced from the digital age, car shoppers have a LOT of choices when it comes to what they’re going to buy and who they’re going to buy from. Purchase decisions are still made at physical dealerships, most likely following a test drive – NOT exclusively online. Shoppers in-market for a new vehicle don’t have their minds made up about what they’re going to buy by the time they visit their first dealership. Outsell says 6 out of 10 car shoppers enter the market unsure of what they want to buy. Our own research and survey data consistently shows 78% of people are still considering multiple brands by the time they visit their first dealership.

So we as an industry, we HAVE to get this right. Instead of operating based on pure, often biased assumption, dealers need to seriously reconsider their order of priorities in terms of how they run their business and where they spend their money. The digital age has armed us with so much intellectual power, yet at the same time, it’s made us a little lazy. It’s cast a shadow over what’s really important – defining value and personal worth by likes, clicks and follows rather than interpersonal relationship skills.

Part II of Lies the Digital Age Told You About Selling Cars verified the auto industry has become too quick to rely on technology as a crutch to do the work for us, rather than picking up the phone and having a conversation - or dare I suggest having the inventory knowledge and social skills to not only sell a car, but to foster ongoing relationships that lead to repeat, loyal customers. It is officially time for a new dialogue to emerge. The question we as an industry need to be asking is not how can we leverage new technologies to help us sell cars, but how can we leverage new technologies to help our salespeople sell cars?

Rather than answering the above question based on my expertise and years of experience in this business, I’ll share the real-life success stories of how two actual dealerships in the digital age are using great data processed through great technology to help their people sell more cars and lose fewer opportunities.

DEALERSHIP #1

One of our dealer clients needed an accurate way to measure the true effectiveness of their follow-up process by knowing what was and wasn’t working within their current lead mix as well as how many opportunities their salespeople sold compared to how many they lost to competitors. Using their individual salesperson data, we analyzed each person’s sales and defections and identified who had the most potential to improve. We then pinpointed the time frame during their follow-up process when their people struggled the most, which for this particular store was during days 0-4 after a lead hit their CRM. Lastly, we exposed their highest defecting lead source.

Armed with a roadmap highlighting their greatest areas of opportunity, the owner of this dealership shared this data with his sales staff and reviewed each person’s sales and defection trends with them one-on-one every month. He created an environment of transparency and friendly competition by making this defection analysis technology available to all his salespeople, thus holding them personally accountable for every sale they lost in addition to what they closed.

The dealer then helped his staff implement a more aggressive follow-up strategy for working leads 0-4 days old. He provided additional training on how to better work leads that came from their highest defecting source (especially during this time frame). He took the time to listen to feedback from all his salespeople and found opportunities for peer coaching to help further reduce their collective number of defections. He also implemented a system to reward the people who showed improvement each month.

With a refined follow-up strategy fueled by better prepared, more empowered salespeople, they saw the following results in just 90 days:

  • Their overall defections decreased by 89%, with a 44% decrease in defections specifically during days 0-4 post-lead.

  • They increased their number of closed sales tied to their highest defecting lead source by an astounding 242%.

  • Most importantly, when it came to the salesperson identified as having the highest defection rate, that individual successfully increased their closed sales by 78% and went from being the worst performer on the team to one of their top performers.

DEALERSHIP #2

This store needed a way to identify any potential problems with their lead mix to see which sources were underperforming and why. Using the same defection analysis technology as Dealer #1, they were able to determine the issues they were having with their highest defecting lead source were due to external factors outside of their control – rather than a lack of effective internal follow-up. They then confidently decided to cancel this lead provider and put those marketing dollars back towards their bottom line.

Ninety days later, they saw a 61% average increase in salesperson performance after removing that lead source – not to mention they were able to free up a total of 40 man-hours per week that were previously devoted to working those high-defecting leads. The best result of all? Four of their salespeople went from being average or below average performers to their TOP FOUR salespeople.

And they didn’t stop there. This dealer applied the same technology to define which model(s) in their inventory represented the most defections specific to their salespeople so they could go after leads tied to underperforming models more aggressively. Model A represented the most opportunity for improvement, and again within 90 days, they increased closed sales specific to Model A by 51% and reduced defections by 30%.

What we can conclude from the examples listed above, is that technology can help your people in a multitude of ways. Technology can help your salespeople close more deals and reduce their defection rates. Technology can help your people free up wasted time chasing leads from a faulty source. Technology can identify which models your people struggle with the most in order to boost specific model performance. Technology can even tell you if your customers are leaving your store to buy the same model somewhere else, or if they’re defecting to another brand entirely.

But the most important thing to take away is that technology in the digital age still doesn’t sell cars. It can do a lot to light up the right track for your people to do just that, but at the end of the day your salespeople need to know your inventory like the back of their hand – what makes it better than competing brands or models, and what makes doing business with you a better option than anywhere else.  

The truth in a current landscape littered with lies is that there’s no way for any one dealer to know everything they need to know about their overall market, which models represent the most opportunity for their store, and if their salespeople are doing their jobs and following up with leads appropriately. That’s where the technology and data come into play. With a complete view of who is struggling and exactly what they’re struggling with during the initial contact and follow-up process, dealers can take immediate action to help their salespeople reduce defections and improve their performance across all facets of their sales operations – so they can be one of the 2.4 dealerships (at least) with a shot of winning the sale.