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website traffic

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.

 

ARE YOU IN THE DARK? The Dark Truth About Bot Traffic

by David Metter

Sometime in the 1890’s, marketing pioneer John Wanamaker coined the famous phrase, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Personally, I have always hated this phrase. My old boss and mentor would say it to me all of the time. However, advertisers have lived within the confines of this mindset ever since. Even today, dealerships just “accept” that some of their advertising will work and some won’t. As a former CMO and a current “Urban Scientist,” I find this entire concept to be demeaning to marketers. This is 2017. We have the science, technology, and tools to make decisions based on prescriptive, data-based confidence rather than “going with your gut” or experimenting with different solutions. You should never be in the dark when it comes to 50% of your budget.

The same concept applies to your website traffic and the conversion of that traffic. Transparent vendors don’t just tell you how many clicks and visits you received, but whether or not those visits converted or engaged with your website. They should also be the ones alerting you of any suspicious activity. If an ad source is generating a significant amount of traffic, but none of that traffic is filling out a form or interacting with your site’s content, you’re most likely paying for bot (non-human) traffic. This is a huge problem for an industry that spends billions of dollars on paid search.

As of January 2017, Incapsula studied 100,000 domains and found 51.8% of website traffic came from bots. Orbee is an automotive software company that analyzes the quality of dealer website traffic and specializes in identifying bots. Orbee determined up to 60% of dealerships’ paid traffic, and up to 80% of their overall website traffic is coming from non-humans. That’s extremely alarming, and it’s concerning for several reasons. First, robots don’t buy cars. Second, dealers are paying for traffic that is incapable of converting. Traffic that converts is the only type worth paying for.  

Source: Incapsula

Source: Incapsula

In a recent episode of CBT News’ Auto Marketing Now, Brian Pasch, Founder of PCG Companies stated, “Most dealers have Google Analytics installed, most dealers are getting reports about website traffic, but to be truthful many of those reports are coming from the companies who are selling them advertising.” What this means for dealers and OEMs, is they have to face the fact that their vendors and ad agencies may only be sharing one piece of the story.

Website visits are important, as your traffic patterns can be a great indicator of how to stock your inventory or prepare for future market conditions. However, when your Google Analytics are not showing engagement click actions, there is a need to dig deeper. The average dealer doesn’t get reports from their advertising vendors on cost per engagement. Dealer principals and managers don’t have the time to dig deep into their analytics and look for instances of fraudulent activity. As a result, advertisers can take advantage and get away with charging dealers for traffic coming from bot clicks with zero intent to buy.

In their August 2016 Research Report, PCG identified several automotive marketing companies that were generating “highly irregular” traffic and strongly felt dealers were being misled about their ROI. Brian Pasch wrote, “Automotive leaders are now investing in intelligent website analytics and bot detection software. Orbee is leading that charge by providing bot detection for all online marketing investments.”

VistaDash is also a great tool that combines all sales and marketing data from multiple vendors and sources into one dashboard to immediately identify instances of wasted spend. VistaDash is the only independent data dashboard that scores and measures your website traffic engagement.

With all the new technologies and third party vendors entering the market, dealers need partners that will alert them of any instances of bot or fraudulent traffic. Across all verticals, automotive is the second-largest spender in digital advertising, so you have to know your tools. Know who your tools are coming from. Know how they work, why they work, and the data that sits within them. Choose to know where your money is going. Choose vendors that take strong security measures and will go out of their way to inform you of any suspicious activity.    

 

Note: The AutoHook platform has strong security measures in place in order to catch suspicious activity pertaining to our virtual incentives. If we recognize any behavior that is out of the ordinary, we will reach out to our OEM, agency, or dealer directly in order to further investigate and resolve any issues.  

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. 

4 Absolutes of an Automotive Game Changer

By David Metter

I have great news. You don’t have to be a genius to change the game, and you don’t have to be a World Series winning champion either. But you do have to be willing to disrupt and question the current rules, players, and equipment used in the game. You also have to be capable of placing YOUR right players in your lineup. If you possess the mentality that there is always a better, more efficient method of accomplishing a goal, or executing a play, then you have it in your DNA to be a game changer. Most of the time, it’s simply about combining the highest-ranked players with a little common sense.

The following absolutes are not only a set of guidelines to winning a baseball game, but they also dictate the attributes of a game-winning team across all leagues of automotive marketing.

1.    Have the Proper Equipment. It’s impossible to get a home run without a bat, and it’s pretty difficult to catch a fly ball without a glove that properly fits. It doesn’t mean the talent isn’t there, it just means it’s not being correctly applied. If dealers are the players of the automotive business, then vendors are their equipment. Vendors facilitate home runs and grand slam opportunities in the same fashion that bats, helmets, cleats, and protective gear assist players in capitalizing on their true strengths. It is the equipment, or rather the vendors, that provide the freedom for players to do what they do best – play the game. Or in our case, sell cars.

In addition, just as one baseball glove does not fit all who play baseball, one all-inclusive marketing strategy does not fit all dealership business models. Now more than ever, our playing field is being infiltrated with vendors aggregating solutions into a single, “all-powerful” marketing suite that consolidates all needs into one – everything from search, to social, to email marketing and in-store conversion tools. In theory, this may sound like a good idea. However, I advise you to be cautious of anyone who claims to be a “Jack of All Trades,” as they cannot possibly be as competent in the results they deliver when compared to a company that specializes, and dominates, in one specific area.

IBM’s recent whitepaper recognizes the advantages that accompany integrating the unique mix of solutions that support your individual needs as opposed to a “one size fits all” marketing suite. “In 2016, look for new ways to leverage your technology mix to give you greater agility to innovate and more strongly engage your customers.”

2.    Put Your Players in the Right Positions. Know the distinct strengths of every player on your team. Just as you wouldn’t put a first baseman in to pitch to a batter, you should very carefully consider putting a vendor that began in one segment and now offers “everything” in a position to manage your full marketing needs. Automotive is not a one size fits all business. The same dealers, dealer groups, and manufacturers that have changed the game are the ones that have taken the time to sit down and evaluate new, revolutionary technologies. Why? Because their impacts can be revolutionary on your most critical KPIs.

When considering which vendors to add to your roster, remember to choose ones that complement each other. For instance, if your goal is to increase your website conversion, you first need to secure a method of getting enough traffic to your site. Likewise, when drafting a winning team, the coach is tasked with the finding the right blend of strengths and talents, and placing each player in the right position. When you think about it, that’s really the only way to win at anything – finding that ideal combination of tools that cover all your bases with the player that’s made for the job.

3.    Don’t Throw the Same Pitch Every Time. In order to win the game, there has to be an element of surprise. That’s your curveball. In marketing, there is traditional, predictable thinking, and then there is the kind of thinking that completely obliterates everything it means to be average. Game changers refuse to succumb to all that is ordinary. When you’re working within our current digital playing field, it’s important to acknowledge the dense fog of information attempting to cloud your vision at all times. But never take your eye off the ball, as this is the fundamental secret weapon needed to break through the clutter.

Thinking outside the conventional marketing platform is the clutch, or the fastball, that will ultimately defend your dealership from falling into the dreaded “average” category - which also fails to identify why people should buy from you. Average is not compelling nor is it magnetic. Average online experiences don’t drive buyers to your showroom – and more importantly, all-in-one marketing suites fail to offer memorable experiences for your customers. Who wants to be average in an industry synonymous with competition?

4.    Know the Score. How can you possibly win at anything when you don’t know the score? In order to overtake the competition, you have to know where you stand in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to be a statistician or analytics expert, nor do you have to know every player’s batting average, but you do need to know what you’re up against and above all, what sets you apart.

To win the game, you have to be ready and willing to change the game. True leaders combine unbelievable technology with a common sense approach. Sometimes all it takes is asking the right questions, which then evolve into ideas, and ultimately solutions that change and improve our operations. Top-of-the-line equipment will never fail to safeguard a competitive edge, but what really sets game changers apart is that they know how to appropriately allocate their assets. They choose to work with vendors that make it possible to transform a single idea into a better-suited reality.