website

Don’t Get Distracted by Gadgets and Gizmos: Master the Basics to Succeed

by Brian Cox

For years, dealers have been inundated with technology. Salespeople from every vendor in the automotive space are continuously calling to present the latest and greatest product that is going to supercharge your sales. Great salespeople can convince a dealer or general manager to try products. Some of these products are excellent and could actually help … if you understand how to use them to their full potential.

There are some dealers that have both the time and expertise to devote to learning and using technology. But, sadly, that’s not realistic for many dealerships. To the vendors presenting their products, it may seem easy. However, if the product or service isn’t used to its full capabilities, chances are good that a dealer doesn’t stay a client very long.

If you are one of the rare dealerships or auto groups that has a tech-savvy employee who understands the products and services, and also has the time to use and implement them, you are ahead of the game. If, however, you aren’t in a position to hire or give someone these responsibilities, chances are that all of the gadgets and gizmos that sound wonderful will end up collecting dust. In any profession, continuous practice in the basics of your profession can assist you in growing and developing more advanced techniques.

As a dealership, there are certain basic services that are necessary. You need a DMS and CRM to track customers, vehicles and transactions. You also need a website that consumers can visit and gain information from. And, in order to capture the attention of online car shoppers, you must have the ability to distribute your inventory to your website and all your third-party sites, in a way that provides maximum exposure and appeal.

Technology continues to develop at the speed of light and is almost impossible to keep up with. It’s really not that long ago that many dealers did not see the need for a website, let along photo and video descriptions and a digital marketing strategy! However, the fact is that over time, the early adopters had a huge advantage over those who didn’t use technology to create exposure for their dealership and inventory.

The bottom line is there are a HUGE amount of gadgets, gizmos, who’s-its and what’s its available to help enhance your presence with today’s vehicle shoppers, both on and offline. It can be overwhelming to know where to start, and what’s important. If you want to do it yourself and don’t have the budget to hire someone internally, or an outside resource, take a step back and think about learning, practicing and mastering the basics before graduating to more advanced technologies. Otherwise you just may find yourself in a cave surrounded by thingamabobs wondering what they do!

Does Your Dealership Hide Behind The Curtain?

by Tim James

Virtually every dealership today uses their website, social media channels, and email to be a part of their “voice” when it comes to communicating with their customers and begin building a “trust” relationship long before the shopper ever visits their store.

The ultimate goal of each of these communications is to drive the consumer to your lot. Your team is very good at building that “trust” relationship with each shopper once they do actually visit your dealership. The question is, are you putting your best face forward on the web?

The faces behind the voices

To really accelerate the “trust relationship,” consider putting short videos of each of your employees on your website. Vehicle shoppers are now used to using electronic devices and many prefer a more visual approach to research. They like to use videos to help better educate them on their options. This is a great opportunity to highlight employee knowledge and expertise and to personalize your store for the customer. It is human nature to want to do business with someone that you feel a personal connection with. We all know that people buy from people they like. Well, people will choose your store to visit for a test drive over your competitor’s if they feel that personal connection, too. In fact, you will find that many shoppers may visit your store just because they feel a personal connection with a member of your sales team, even while they are still undecided on a vehicle. At the very least, consider including names, photos, contact information, and perhaps even short text bios, as this can help build customer trust. This practice can even assist a customer to reconnect with a specific person they dealt with on their previous visit and liked.

Personal video e-mail bios are also an excellent way to connect with your customers, the response rate can double as consumers like to receive personal contact from a “real” person. “Thank you” and “Welcome” videos from the dealer or general manager integrated into auto-responders for incoming leads can also further personalize your store. This simple action can elevate you over your competitor’s uninspiring automated responses. In addition to the personal video e-mail bios and visible employee information on the website, consider including a thumbnail photo, or at the very least, a specific person’s name, and title plus their contact information on all emails.

Building rapport with the consumer and developing trust usually pays off in dividends with in an increase of customers into your dealership, as well as higher loyalty and retention from existing customers. The customer’s ride may begin online, by phone or through email, but if you are to help them on their journey, your dealership and your staff need to be visible and available so that there is no mystery about who or what is behind the curtain.

The Single Worst Thing A Dealership Can Do In Video Marketing

by Brian Cox

It has long been considered a best practice in search engine optimization and search engine marketing to use deep linking to take searchers to the exact content they are searching for, rather than simply directing them to your home page. If the searcher is not taken directly to the content they are seeking, they are forced to do a second search for the information once they hit your site. In many cases, searchers will simply click the “Back” button and move on to the next result. Consumers don’t have the time or patience to navigate your website, whether they landed there through an organic search or clicked on a PPC ad. There’s nothing more frustrating when researching a product online, clicking a link and being taken straight to a store’s home page, rather than the actual product page. Google recognizes this and takes deep linking and relevant results into account in search engine results as well.

In video marketing, there is a similar phenomenon that businesses use that is parallel and equally frustrating – video pre-roll. Video marketing success is determined and measured by how many people actually watch your video. Video pre-roll is, in general, just as annoying to consumers as pop-up ads. If a consumer is exposed to your video marketing message, is interested and clicks to watch it. To then have to watch a commercial before actually viewing the content they desire, can be just as frustrating as being taken directly to your home page. Volkswagen recognizes this and integrated it into a video ad campaign for the new Brazilian Beetle, the Fusca. The campaign takes advantage of the fact that consumers hate having ads appear before content. The “skip ad” option on YouTube has to be the most clicked on link on that site. Where does your mouse hover while you wait the obligatory 5 seconds simply so you can view the content you actually want to watch? A study by research firm MetrixLab concluded, “Of those who has seen pre-roll ads, 94 percent had skipped them, and 52 percent said they did so frequently.”

Taking this a step further, many dealerships are now front-loading their videos with commercials for their dealerships. Video marketing is a very powerful way to market your vehicles. When a consumer takes interest – regardless of where they encounter the video – forcing them to watch a 20 second (or longer) commercial for the dealership, prior to showing them the actual video of the vehicle, can be even more annoying then pre-roll ads. If 94 percent of people would skip watching a video pre-roll ad, how many consumers will sit through a commercial for your dealership, knowing that they cannot skip it?

If the vehicle videos on your website have pre-rolls branding your dealership, this forces the customer to watch the same marketing message for every car they review. So we suggest not putting them on your website videos. If you have to have a pre-roll then keep it short and create two versions of the video, one for your website without pre-roll, and one with. Another option is to not use pre-rolls and just put post-rolls, this way you are still getting your message across, but without inconveniencing the customer.

There’s nothing wrong with branding your videos. In fact, you should. There are many opportunities and methods you can use to integrate branding into your videos – from walkarounds to company culture or frequently asked question videos. Don’t misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with creating commercials as content and a way to promote your sale or dealership. However, you should use them independent of your other content. Don’t make a consumer choose not to watch your vehicle marketing because they don’t want to sit through your commercial.

Just as in deep linking, you will see better results by immediately serving up relevant information on the subject a consumer is searching for. You’ll see more views, lower bounce rates and increased conversions for the most obvious of reasons: consumers will watch them.

Don’t Let Your Video Become a Flash In the Pan

by Brian Cox

There’s no doubt that video marketing, in general, has become increasingly important in today’s world. Google has the search market cornered which is why, as marketers, it is important to pay close attention to the changes they make. However, did you know it’s even more important to pay attention to the second largest search engine in the world? You might think that I’m referring to Bing but, in fact, the second largest search engine is YouTube. Thus the importance of video for SEO.

Dealerships have increasingly embraced video in various degrees for years – from simple stitched videos to professionally created live walkarounds. There’s no doubt that consumers love video. In fact Google’s recent automotive study indicates that over 80 percent of car shoppers will watch a vehicle video and then take immediate action.

The challenges that face car dealerships when it comes to creating videos are the same as they have always been – time and money. There are many solutions that exist for car dealerships in video marketing. I’m fairly certain that you would agree that ANY video is better than no video. And you may even believe that all video is equal. Well, with this blog, I hope to help dispel those erroneous thoughts.

Let’s start with the fact that live video is the most effective (which it is). I don’t think any dealer would deny that, in a perfect world, they would have video walkarounds for every one of their vehicles. The infrastructure and format of your video is just as, if not more important than the quality of it. Some providers use flash-based video which allows them to offer video services to their dealer clients at a lower price point… and, on the surface, there is no visible difference between a flash video and a real video. In reality, however, there are huge differences.

Flash videos are self-contained videos that require a player (like Adobe Flash Player) or a compatible web browser with a plugin. It wasn’t too long ago that flash video was the de facto standard. Technology, however, has changed. Consumers are increasingly accessing the Internet and websites using mobile devices. Guess what’s not compatible with those? You got it, flash video. In fact, in mid-July of this year, Google itself announced that it would start issuing warnings to people attempting to access websites containing flash with the statement “Uses flash. May not work on your device.” Chances are really good that a consumer coming across a website or video that receives this message will probably not continue, but rather seek their answers elsewhere.

Your website will certainly not benefit from video if your audience is not viewing it. In fact, flash video isn’t supported by any Apple device, nor Android versions 4.1 or higher, according to Google. These devices account for a HUGE share of the mobile market. Flash video is also not compatible with some third party inventory sites, and it also has problems with syndication to social networks and other touch points that consumers are on.

Real video, on the other hand, offers a few very important distinctions as web developers gravitate towards such things as HTML5 with mobile capabilities and syndication. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, “Nearly half of the U.S. population has a mobile phone with Internet access, and one out of five page views on the web happen on a mobile device – a number that is growing every month.” Needless to say, if you are using flash, you are already costing yourself 20 percent of potential traffic.

As a dealer, how do you know what kind of video you have? The answer is if your videos are syndicated across the web, viewable on a mobile device or tablet and the search engines can see them, you are doing the right thing and have real video. If not, you most likely have flash.

One of the largest advantages to real video is semantic search. Search engines don’t have the capability of indexing flash video. Real video, properly tagged and built using a semantic structure, can be indexed. Not only can they be crawled by search engines, but the search engines will read each video as an individual web page. This increases your page rankings. Last, but certainly not least, real video has the ability to be syndicated everywhere. All of those touch points that consumers use when vehicle shopping can display your video and increase the reach and impact of your video marketing. Of course more exposure brings more traffic viewing your inventory. And the more traffic your inventory receives, the more leads, conversions and sales you’ll see.

The bottom line is that flash video is a bad solution for video marketers. Flash video may be cheaper than real video, but what are you losing in the end? Just because it’s a shiny object and looks pretty, doesn’t mean that you should be using it. Real video offers businesses the ability to have a bigger footprint with their video marketing. It increases the effective of any marketing and the likelihood that a consumer will want to AND have the ability to watch it. This is the whole exposure aspect of real video plus real syndication. It equals more traffic, which equals more leads. The few dollars you may save by going the flash video route will pale in comparison to the profit you’ll lose from customers who never see your video or visit your dealership.

The Factor x 10 drives traffic from social media and video portals

The Factor of 10 increases a website’s chances of being found by a factor of 10. The program creates 10 Points of Presence (POPs) out on the internet to increase your chances of being found and at the same time increasing your current website’s popularity with all the search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN.

Each of these pages is specially formulated (SEO) for the search engine spiders to find and index their content, thus by creating these satellite websites out on the web we create a network of doorways for people to find you. These satellite pages can exist anywhere, even inside the Facebook network.

Factor x10 - Increase your website's searchability by a Factor of 10

The Factor x10 Examples:
Satellite Pages

Facebook Fanpages

YouTube Channels

Please contact us to find out more about the Factor of 10 and make it easier for customers to find you vs. your competition.

Brian Cox

President

Dealer Impact Systems

www.dealerimpact.com