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.
FACT: $61.5 billion will be spent on search and display alone in 2016.
If the majority of your digital budget goes into SEM and banner ads that drive shoppers to your website, but you don’t first ensure your site has the ability to convert at a high rate, YOU ARE WILLINGLY THROWING MONEY IN THE GARBAGE! It’s like throwing a pitch to home plate without a catcher. It just doesn’t make any sense!
Infographic: June, 2016
By David Metter
There are a lot of rookie players in the game when it comes to accurate attribution reporting (measuring your digital sales return on investment). More often than not, the task of obtaining valuable sales attribution metrics is put on the bench due to their roaring complexity. The problem is not the data. The data is there; we just need the right players in the game to tell us what to do with it and how it connects. Obscure conundrums of the digital world can be “attributed” to the ongoing development of new media channels and information available. This new-age, omni-channel playing field has resulted in an upheaval of brand interaction opportunities – leaving the one source that led to a sale increasingly difficult to pinpoint. Keyword being difficult, not impossible.
The concept of attribution itself is relatively simple. According to DrivingSales, “Attribution allows you to understand which elements of your marketing mix were involved in the purchase decision process, and ideally, which were the most effective.” The problem lies in securing truthful statistics. What use is big data when you can’t put it into perspective and draw logical conclusions? If we knew which touch point led to a sale, wouldn’t we have a much better gage on how and where to spend our ad dollars?
In Google’s recent article, they highlight one consumer’s 900+ digital interactions that took place preceding her final vehicle purchase.
· The Good News: That’s 900 opportunities for dealers and manufacturers to engage customers with relevant, impactful information. Or in Google’s words, 900 chances to “be there and be useful.”
· The Bad News: The more digital interactions that make up a single consumer’s online profile, the more difficult it becomes to identify which interaction was the tipping point that led to the purchase.
Experian’s Global Marketer Report highlights the current depth of the issue. “The biggest hurdles and key priorities for marketers this year are dependent on having accurate, enriched data, linked together in a central location for a complete customer view.” In 2016, 81% of marketers are still struggling to attain this information. “Proper revenue attribution is crucial to determining each channel or touch point’s role in the customer journey.” But the reality is too many marketers have very little, if any understanding of which investments are paying off.
So let’s get to the point. The answer to the title of this blog is an obvious YES. Overall as an industry, we are stuck in the minor leagues when it comes to correctly measuring ROI. It’s a huge problem for marketers. But I assure you there is hope. If we only had the reporting to know which interaction point transformed a browser into a buyer, we could make much smarter, more efficient decisions with our money.
So, what are we going to do about it? First, manufacturers and dealers need to hold themselves accountable for seizing the limitless opportunities to connect. Second, ask yourself if you’re holding your vendors accountable for providing you with the attribution metrics that led to a sale? And I don’t mean how many clicks, impressions or unique site visitors your vendors have sent your way. That’s all great to know. But the major league players know that those executions drove traffic into your showroom and they know how many sales they got you.
CDK’s eBook, Automotive Moneyball says it best. “Leads, clicks, visits and VDP views all have value—as do inventory searches and hours & directions lookups. They just can’t tell the whole story when viewed in isolation. No single number can. They’re simply incomplete—pint-sized, partial pictures of the shoppers they represent.”
The major league players have the good stuff: clear, proven, and complete attribution models. However, it is up to you to key up your bases with ONLY major league vendors.
As the former CMO of one of the largest dealer groups in the country, I know from experience how difficult this can be. I also know that dealers are not getting the most out of their vendors for a variety of reasons - one being lack of time, another being the fear they may try and upsell you during a meeting...I get it. But the truth is, vendors are the experts (think of a player using better equipment) and their expertise is up for the taking - just make sure your scouts know how to draft the players with major league talent.
When handling Internet leads, the lack of response by customers, the appointments that don’t show and the unrealistic expectations often frustrate internet managers and dealers. Show and closing rates in the low to mid-teens is not uncommon, compared to the total number of leads received.
I thought I would share some best practices from my observations working both in and with dealerships, that can be used to increase the number of customers contacted that actually visit the dealership.
1. Respond promptly – One of the most common setups in Internet departments is to have Internet sales managers (ISM) also serve in sales positions. A typical pay plan will see an ISM compensated by sales commissions, so that is where there focus will be. Therefore, when a customer comes in for an appointment Internet leads get ignored until the ISM is done with their customer. Which, in the event of a sale, could mean that the leads coming into the CRM are ignored for hours. A quick lead response exponentially increases the chance of contacting and further interesting the customer.
2. Provide Information – ISMs typically use templates to contact customers once a lead is received, which usually contain information about the dealership and its value proposition, along with an invitation to visit. However, far too often the first e-mail fails to contain the one thing that the customer is expecting – vehicle pricing. It’s important to consider the source of the lead when responding. In most cases, the conversion occurred because the customer was prompted to fill out a form to get the price. If you fail to give the price, customers can perceive your dealership as unhelpful and move on to your competition.
3. Be agreeable – We all know that some customers tend to have unrealistic expectations when requesting pricing or payment information. It’s not uncommon to find ISMs engaging the customers with reasons NOT to buy. For example, a lead comes in with a customer wanting an unrealistic payment or price. Rather than inviting the customer in to work numbers, the ISM will explain that the requested price or payment isn’t possible. Always remember that sales are a numbers game. With the proper deal structure, a payment can be as low as any customer wants it.
4. Be consultative – Many times the vehicle that the customer requested pricing for isn’t the one they end up purchasing. Always remember that customers are looking for information and assistance. Failing to provide information puts the salesperson in an adversarial position to the customer. It’s much easier to build rapport and get the customer into the dealership if the customer feels that you are sincerely trying to assist them in finding the right vehicle.
5. Sell the appointment – When dealing with Internet leads, ISMs will all too often try to sell the car via email or the phone. The key to increasing show rates is to remember that the goal is to get the appointment, NOT to sell the car. Using sales skills and techniques focused on selling the appointment rather than working a deal can help increase appointments set and your show rate.
6. Go above and beyond – When a customer requests information, always give them more than they asked for. If you are offering vehicle pricing, try including an example payment. If the customer requested information about a new vehicle, include several trim levels in your response. If they are interested in a used vehicle, you may try including some alternate vehicles in your response as well. By providing more information than requested, the customer will understand that you are truly trying to assist them and therefore more likely to choose to do business with you.
7. Make them feel special/personalize – There’s a reason why many dealers are adopting video in their email responses. If a customer wants information about the condition of a used vehicle, it’s very simple to record a personal walkaround for the customer while mentioning their name. Personalized video responses are valuable for building rapport and help put a face with a name. It’s also much easier than taking 10 pictures of a vehicle and trying to email them to the customer.
8. Consistent follow up – It’s very easy to understand why ISMs get frustrated trying to contact customers who submitted leads, but are then unresponsive. After days or weeks of emails and phone calls, many salespeople tend to give up on the customer and move on. Keep in mind that chances are the customer is being contacted by other dealers as well. And, those dealers have ISMs who are getting just as frustrated. By not giving up on the customer and continuing to follow up, you could well be the only dealership left doing so. This exponentially increases the chance that the customer responds and ultimately ends up in your showroom.
Regardless of whether your Internet department consists of commission based ISMs, or if it has a full-blown BDC, the right processes, personalized responses and attention paid to detail, rather than simply shooting off boring sterile templates, will show your customers that you are there to help. Consider adopting these techniques into your Internet lead process. I hope that you are able to contact more customers, make more appointments and see more of them show, resulting in more sales.
I’m a huge advocate of Ratings and Reviews. After all – I’m a customer, and customers love to talk. Even better, I can evaluate products based on other customer ratings
and feedback to help me make confident purchase decisions. What’s better than that?
Now I – the customer – am not the only one that benefits from these public assessments. The company I work for (HookLogic) also does; and for most of you reading this, you’re in the same boat. Chances are, your companies are rated in a communal forum – the Internet, whether you willingly submit them to be or not. But, this isn’t a bad thing! Insights gained from Ratings & Reviews help us understand how our consumers buy. What kinds of features are most important to them? Why did they decide to work with us? What innovations can we create to make their lives even easier?
In our industry, one great example of this is DrivingSales.com. The company invented the industry's first and only Vendor Ratings Platform, designed to help dealers find and select the best vendor partners while holding vendors (like mine) responsible to deliver superior products. With Vendor Ratings, dealership employees can rate and review their vendors anonymously and leave detailed feedback for all the community to see. Now that’s valuable stuff!
If you’ve ever worked with HookLogic before, using any of the AutoHook products, please take a moment to rate us on the DrivingSales website. As you have probably gathered from my rant, the feedback is invaluable. Click here to rate our suite of products on DrivingSales.com, we appreciate your business.