foundation

Dallas to Chicago – 3 Tier Reporting

We had such a great time at the GM eSummits in Fort Worth that we are gearing up to do it all over again at the GM eSummits in Chicago next Wednesday.

The GM e Summits in Fort Worth hosted great speakers from different niches in the digital marketing industry. It was also host to vendors large and small showcasing there expertise in the industry. The afternoon workshops were a great tool for dealers to take advantage of and provided great insight to utilizing social media, the importance of videos and a basic understanding of reporting.

Dealer Impact Systems had the distinct ability to showcase the three tiers of digital marketing reporting. Each tier is important but not all are utilized in the dealership.

Tier I – What? Basic-Anybody gets this. Google Analytics made it easy for pretty much anyone with a computer to claim they are a Social Media Strategist.

Tier II – Who? Dealer Impact is leading the industry with customized tools to give you an advanced look at your dealership and better yet the dealerships down the street.

Tier III – Why? We analyze and explain exactly what the report means to your dealership. We have the ability to tell you who is looking at your website, how often and even what time. We give you the really 10,000ft view.

Want to keep track of your dealership and stay ahead of your competition? Look for us at the Chicago GM eSummits! 

If you can’t wait until then contact us at sales@dealerimpact.com.

Riddle Me This: Why Doesn’t Every Dealership Leverage Online Video?

By Brian Cox

For the life of me, I can’t think of one good reason for NOT making online video part of a dealership’s overall marketing mix.  It’s surging ahead as a preferred medium that reaches, holds, and engages customers on their home computers, tablets, and smartphones.  And primes the pump for – ultimately – the sale.

The truth is: We humans love watching videos.  To laugh.  To learn.  To ogle.  To shop.  To find the best price.  To keep up with the conversation at the water cooler.  And to stay in the mainstream.   Your customers are curling up at night with their mobile devices.  To surf.  To “Play”.  And to watch.  Play.  Watch.  Repeat.  Play.  Watch.  Repeat.  And because everyone is watching videos – guess what Google is looking for?  Videos!  Have you ever performed a Google search and noticed that a video link always pops up in the first few results?  Video gets you noticed.

A leader in measuring the digital world, comScore, released data recently from its comScore Video Metrix service, showing that “183 million U.S. Internet users watched online video content in November (2011) for an average of 20.5 hours per viewer.  The total U.S Internet audience viewed for 40.9 billion videos.”  Other notable findings from November 2011 include: “85.9 percent of the U.S. Internet audience view online video,” and “the duration of the average online content video was 5.5 minutes, while the average online video ad was 0.4 minutes.”

As a dealership, you’ve got to put your product front and center in the visual field of your customers.  And doing that, most strategically, means presenting your inventory via online video on your websites.  Video can showcase each vehicle in your inventory, from floor mats to moon roof, from wipers to wheel wells, and everything in between.  Videos can show vehicle specs, features, fuel economy stats, cargo capacity, safety components.  You name it on a vehicle, and video can spotlight it.

Your dealership’s video can boast slick images, professional narration, and data overlays, and be underscored with music that complements each make and model.  Your videos can feature satisfied customers giving their testimonials and endorsement of your dealership.  They can be educational to help your customers master vehicle operation and maintenance steps – or they can show feel-good footage of a community event sponsored by your dealership and its dedicated colleagues.  Your video can walk your customers through a virtual tour of your multi-faceted dealership to give them a sneak peak of all that you have to offer.  Best of all, your videos can easily be shared by your customers with their friends, family, and coworkers.

Play.  Watch.  Repeat.

To put a new twist on an old joke – What’s the last thing a customer says before he buys?  “Hey, watch this.”

 

Brian Cox is president and CEO at Dealer Impact Systems and can be reached at b.cox@dealerimpact.com or at (877) 334-9638. 

Mastering the Migration from Traditional to Digital Marketing

Auto dealers leverage dynamic digital media to maximize online presence and profits

Posted by Brian Cox on December 13, 2011

Gone are the days when the big three of traditional media marketing—newspaper, radio, and television—had exclusive dibs on every last penny of a dealership’s marketing budget.  True, those old-school mediums still hold a place in a dealership’s overall marketing spend.  But, make no mistake—they’re fast being reduced to a lesser role as the majority of marketing dollars are being earmarked for digital and social media initiatives at dealerships of all sizes across the country.

The seismic shift from traditional marketing to digital marketing is being driven by progressive, forward-thinking dealerships, who are tipping the scales in favor of stores that take calculated and strategic steps to capitalize on digital marketing’s vast reach, immediacy, and cost-effective benefits.

“Digital marketing is eclipsing traditional media,” said John Roth, internet director at Roseville Toyota-Scion in Sacramento, CA—northern California’s largest Toyota-certified pre-owned store.  “It completed the waxing stage—and traditional media is waning.”  Roth notes that over the last five years, the dealership has shifted from a mix of 20 percent electronic and 80 percent traditional media marketing to approximately 60 percent digital marketing and about 40 percent traditional.  “Up to 70 percent of our dealership’s sales can be attributed to web-based media, digital and social media, Facebook, and Twitter.  Five to 10 years ago, it was the other way around—30 percent from digital and 70 percent from newspaper, radio, and TV advertising,” said Roth.

Why make the shift from traditional media to a digital media marketing focus?  “It’s the same reason why we did away with the horse and buggy and got into transportation in automobiles,” said Roth.  “The writing is on the wall.  It’s the 21st century, and this is the way we’re doing business.”

 Whatever the size, inventory, or location of your dealership—whether it’s a family-run Mom-and-Pop operation or a sprawling franchise mega store—incorporating digital and social media ventures into your overall marketing mix is flat-out crucial to a dealership’s ability to compete and survive in today’s environment.

Digital marketing boasts a host of attributes.  It’s affordable.  It’s immediate.  And it’s more targeted, more trackable, and can deliver more substantial value to your dealership by facilitating true interactive engagement and building long-term relationships with your customers.  Online marketing offers countless, ongoing opportunities for personalized, one-to-one communication and genuine give-and-take interaction with your customers—while at the same time spreading the word, far and wide, about your dealership through strategic content syndication in the digital realm.

“We started the transition from traditional to digital marketing in 2009—because that’s the future,” said Mark Cowart, general manager of Car City West in Des Moines, IA, a dealership with a five-star rating on Google Places.  “There’s no benefit to newspaper anymore.  I’m not doing any print.  I’m getting rid of radio.  We’ll have 10 percent TV ads and 90 percent digital marketing.  We drive 70 percent of my customers through digital,” he said.  “The number of people who shop online before they buy a car has grown considerably—and soon roughly 90 to 95 percent of people who own a computer will be shopping the Internet before they walk into a store to buy a car,” he added.  When it comes to adopting digital marketing, Cowart said, “I have no fear factor to it.  I want to be the creator, the innovator—I don’t want to be the follower.  If you’re not in the digital marketing and social media game, you’re hurting your profits.”

Your customers and potential customers are in the digital space daily—and that’s where your dealership has to be.

Behold.  The next frontier is here.  And it is digital.

Brian Cox is president and CEO at Dealer Impact Systems and can be reached at b.cox@dealerimpact.com or at (877) 334-9638.  

 

Making the Move to Mobile

Create Online Connections that Count with Your On-The-Move Customers

There are more than 80 million smartphone owners in the United States—and that number is expanding by the second.  Mobile is becoming the preferred channel of engagement for consumers.  Having a mobile-friendly website is an absolute must to make your dealership instantly accessible to your customers via any mobile phone or device.

Just because a dealership’s main website can load on a mobile phone doesn’t mean that it’s mobile-friendly.  However, with certain conversion technologies, your existing main website can be optimized for use on any new or older mobile phone that offers Internet access.  When your dealership’s web address is entered into a mobile browser, the technology automatically recognizes the phone and converts the site to a phone-friendly interface, allowing visitors to quickly navigate your site and find information in seconds.

If you opt to have a website developer help your dealership go mobile, you’ll want to make sure that your mobile site is specifically tailored to the needs of your customers and the capabilities and format of their devices.

Keep the following in mind when planning and building your mobile website.

Write for the small screen.

With the pint-size phone screen in mind, choose fonts that are easy to read in this smaller format.  Create readable content that fits the phone screen, and contrast the text against the background to help it stand out for your customers.  Boil your content down to easy-to-scan bullet points.

Be nimble and quick.

Your customers expect your mobile site to load within a few seconds—so keep images small so they load faster.  Keep your custom inventory videos short and to the point to engage your customers, and keep their attention.

Make navigation easy.

Keep the number of vertical links on each page to less than 10.  Help customers move throughout your mobile site with easily identified buttons.  Use large buttons to help your customers precisely make their selections—without making any unintended clicks.

Show and tell.

Use your mobile site to showcase your auto inventory, specifications, photos, videos, and specials to make it easy for your customers to learn about your dealership’s latest offerings—and then act on their impulse to contact you and come by for an in-person look.

Give directions.

Make it easy for your customers to find your dealership and the vehicles they’re interested in.  Have your address on the landing page of your mobile site.  Include driving directions for your customers with a detailed map that pinpoints your location.

Make contact simple.

Build in fields for your customer to enter his/her contact information and submit requests to your dealership.  Utilize one-click dialing functionality so your customers can instantly call your dealership—and also save your number in their contact list for future reference.

Learn and evolve.

Understand how your customers are using your mobile site by evaluating its analytics—and use this insight to continually improve your site and your customers’ mobile search experiences.

A well-designed mobile website will put your dealership in the palm of your customers’ hands—wherever they are.

For more information on creating or enhancing your dealership’s mobile website, please call Dealer Impact Systems at (877) 334-9638.

The Rules of Engagement

Win Your Customers by Wooing Them through Social Media

Winning the hearts, trust, and life-long loyalty of your dealership’s customers begins by following a few simple rules of engagement on the social media sites of your choice—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, or Google+, just to name a few.  By keeping the following fundamentals in mind when managing the content on your social media venues, you’ll keep in touch and in tune with your customers.  And in turn, this will help you stay on target with your dealership’s sales goals.  Think in terms of your customers’ lifetime value.  Put a greater emphasis on investing the relatively small amount of time and energy regularly to cultivate high-quality relationships that offer long-term satisfaction and returns for both you and your customers.

Be informative.  As often as you can, post on your dealership business pages on your favorite social media sites.  Your customers are anxious to hear from you.  They want to know about your dealership’s latest discounts, rebates, incentives, giveaways, and upcoming events.  They want to know about manufacturer and industry news that may impact them.  They want facts that will help them make the most informed decision when buying a vehicle.  They want service specials, links to other helpful automotive resources, along with maintenance and safe-driving tips.  And don’t forget to share videos and photos as well to engage them.  If you can save your customers time, money, and headaches, they’ll remember you, thank you, and stick with you.

Be ready.  Be on your toes and ready to share news and announcements at a moment’s notice.  Your next prepared post can be online in seconds, and that immediacy works to the advantage of you and your customers.

Be concise.  Your customers will appreciate short bursts of information on your social media sites that they can scan, absorb, and act on at will when it’s convenient for them.  Being brief also cuts the prep time for you in drafting and finalizing the details to be posted.

Be inquisitive.  Strike up a healthy conversation with your customers.  Pose some thought-provoking questions online.  Ask for comments, opinions, and reviews.  They’ll appreciate the chance to speak their minds.  And when they do, you’ll receive valuable feedback that will help you continue to support and satisfy your customers—now, and down the road.

Be yourself.  Being honest and genuine is the key to having sincere, open, and ongoing interactions with your customers online—just as it is in person.

Be committed.  You believe in your business, the vehicles that you sell, and the service that your dealership delivers.  Make sure your customers know this.  Show them every day in the way you talk about your dealership, its inventory, and its services.  Use your web presence to most effectively present the distinct elements of your dealership’s brand personality and to reinforce them.

Be there.  When something goes wrong for your customers, be there for them.  Be responsive.  Acknowledge what happened in general online—and in particular offline, directly with your customer.  Offer your dealership’s apologies.  Research the problem.  Then make it right, and learn from it.  Very often, what began as a strained customer relationship can be transformed into an even stronger bond when a dealership responds sincerely and promptly with a satisfactory resolution to a customer’s complaint.

Be generous.  You and your dealership are a living, breathing, vital part of your neighborhood.  Be sure to let you customers know about the variety of community and charitable events and causes that you and your dealership put your time, money, and muscle behind.  It’s feel-good news that everyone loves to hear, and it’s news that you should be very proud to share.

Be grateful.  Every business is in business because of its customers.  Thank your customers as often as you can—for their patronage, their patience, and for the trust they’ve placed in you, your dealership, and in the vehicles that you deliver.       

Be good.  Keep up the good work that you do at your dealership every day, and be sure to share it with your old and new friends who interact with you on social media forums.  This interaction is vital for developing enduring customer relationships.  And it offers countless mutual benefits for you and your customers—right this second, and right on down the road.

For more information about engaging your customers through social media and expanding your digital reach and market presence, visit our Full-Service Page for details or contact Dealer Impact at (877) 334-9638, or email us at sales@dealerimpact.com.