Archive for July, 2007
It’s been said before and it’ll probably be said again. But something this important bears repeating…
Digital Marketing’s cost per unit is essentially ZERO!
There are no printing costs. No postage costs. No media buys. No commissions to sales people or printing costs. Send a message to 1 or 100,000 — the cost is the same. All those little ones and zeros are free.
And on top of that, digital marketing is usually more effective. You can include video and audio in your emails or on websites or even people’s cell phones. Let’s see you try that with old-world direct mail.
Marketing Strategist/Creative Consultant
by : Craig Criswell
Discussions with Internet directors, managers, trainers and consultants from around the country show there is a universal theme for a successful Internet deployment – you must have buy-in from the top (the top being the dealership owner or GM or whomever is in charge of decisions and money). I do not disagree, but how do you go about getting that, or for those of you reading this who are in charge, how to give it?
My experience in numerous dealerships indicates several key factors in getting this buy-in. First, you must understand your audience and spend some time looking at their world. Are you aware of your top person(s) responsibilities and time constraints? Have you virtually walked a mile in their shoes?
• What is their knowledge level (or lack there of in a lot of cases) of the Internet and its applications? Does that lack of knowledge (a point you must be an expert on) create an initial atmosphere of distrust?
• Do you know how many different irons that person must deal with? The internet is a new and to them unknown tool that may only become another hot iron to juggle.
• Most people at the top have people around them all day long for one reason or another. Watch them interact for a while before creating your approach. Time issues can make or break your attempt to get buy-in.
• Do you have any idea of the overall budget and corresponding ROI (return on investment) responsibilities your person must handle? You must show you are there to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Assuming you are the Internet expert looking for that buy-in – show and live your expert knowledge by opening an ongoing line of communication. I have found setting up regular meetings will set a good foundation for everyone concerned. The key to your early meetings will be your assuming absolute responsibility for everything that happens with the Internet approach. They need to give you at least 90 days to develop a system that works. I like to use the phrase “give me enough rope.” I have never hung myself or anyone else I worked with.
Let me state, for the record, that I hate meetings. If I am going to have a meeting, I will have an agenda; it will be typed and handed out. The purpose is to cover the items and get back to work! I advocate a weekly meeting of no more than 15 minutes. These have proven the most beneficial in my experience. If the meeting ever runs long, it is because the top person(s) were truly engaged and asking questions (note: that is a good thing!).
Those meetings should be used to show your control and growth of the Internet approach at your dealership. Some of the items I have covered are web site images, subliminal messaging in e-mail and on the site, autoresponders, used vehicle pictures and information, and pricing. Don’t do them all at once.
Stay in control of the meeting and that is best done by taking charge. You set the standards for communication – after all you are not only the expert here, but you are the one taking full responsibility for everything happening with the Internet approach.
When you get to month’s end, you should make sure that your summary for the month’s and YTD numbers is all on one 8 1/2” by 11” piece of paper. Keep your summary to no more than 10 to 15 minutes. Point out the successes and the areas where you will be improving performance. And most importantly, you don’t want the focus to be on any single month, but rather the trending that is taking place in the department. This is best shown with graphs (you need at least a little Excel experience) and graphs are easy to show trending and even easier for those at the top to see and understand your effectiveness. And by taking charge on a day-to-day, week-by-week basis, you build a respect and trust in your management.
Finally, if you are the person at the top, you must be sure the person you put in charge for your Internet approach is an expert! Find that person who will readily accept full responsibility for everything Internet-related and give them the power to succeed or fail. You must stay in constant communication – not to micro-manage but to inspect what you expect. With the right person, you can give them enough rope.Craig Criswell is the Internet director for O’Rielly Chevrolet, Tucson, AZ and also the president of Internet Certified Dealer, a consulting and training organization for the automotive industry. ICD now offers online self-paced courses and webinars to assist dealers all over the country.
Jul 30 2007
Online advertising is quickly gaining importance in the automotive space as potential customers flock to the web. According to a 2006 study by comScore (Impacts and ROI of Internet Local, Classifieds, and Directory Advertising), 65 percent of all U.S. Internet users landed on an automotive website in January 2006. That’s an increase of 103 percent over August 2005.
Consumers aren’t just using the Internet – they’re trusting it as a valid resource. A December 2006 study by Burst Media found that 32 percent of people considered automotive websites like quote sites and forums to be their principal source of automotive information. Consumers are searching high and low for automotive information on the Internet, and businesses stand to gain from connecting with the right people at the right time.
When an auto dealership is considering a new website, one of their first considerations is typically the look and feel of the site. Dealerships pride themselves on the image they project to their customers, so it’s natural that they are drawn to great looking websites.
One trend in the auto web design industry is the “flash” website. You’ve seen these sites—they take a while to load, they move very fluidly and have great graphics and navigation, and usually they play some sort of movie upon loading.
But don’t be fooled: Flash sites will kill your search engine traffic.
Flash sites look good, and they’re an easy sell to dealers who don’t understand the downsides of using flash as the basis for an entire website. Flash has been the demise of many unsuspecting sites, so let me explain a few facts before you get fooled by flash.
Flash websites started out as an easy way to integrate video and animation onto a website, most commonly used for the introduction page of a site (you’ve probably seen this, unless you’re like most people and immediately click “skip intro”). Now that the use of flash is becoming more commonplace, entire websites are being built in flash.
So why is this bad? To put it simply, flash websites are essentially a huge movie file instead of a traditional website (that’s why when you visit a flash site, you first must install a plug-in to view Flash if you don’t already have one, and then kick back and wait for it to load). When a search engine robot arrives at your homepage, they just see a movie file, not a page full of good text and links to read and analyze.
This doesn’t work out very well for the friendly little search engine robot, because he can’t download flash movies. Even if he could, there’s no way for him to read anything in the movie to figure out what the page is all about and what it should rank for—it’s just images (even the text in a flash movie is really an image).
So what does he see? Just an empty page. Instead of your big, beautiful, flashy site, Google just sees an empty page. If Google can’t read and analyze the text on your site, Google is certainly never going to rank you for anything.
This leads us to another problem: the rest of your site.
If your whole site is built in flash, and the Google robot can’t even see flash, then he can’t see that you have any pages besides your homepage. This makes a lot more sense when you visit a flash site like http://www.automaxhyundaibrokenarrow.com/. Just click on a few of the pages up in the navigation bar, and look at your URL. It never changes because you’re not actually going to a different page, just a different part of a big movie file (like skipping to a scene on a DVD.) This website is just one page, and one page websites rarely get ranked.
Getting ranked by the search engines for your target terms is vitally important to online businesses—and it’s becoming increasingly important for offline businesses just because so many consumers begin their buying process online. If they find your dealership first, you are ahead right out of the gate. Flash websites are an immediate handicap—the search engines just can’t read them, so they generally ignore them altogether.
Flash can be a great technology, when it’s used like it should be: as a movie. A nice embedded flash movie within your html web page can be a great way to show off a new vehicle, advertise a special, or just get your customer’s attention. But when your whole website is created as one big flash movie you’re essentially invisible to Google, rendering you invisible to your potential online customers.
Don’t be fooled by flash. Do the research before buying a website, and be sure to make search engine visibility a priority. You wouldn’t build a new dealership in the middle of nowhere—you want to be where the traffic is. Internet traffic is on the search engines: if you’re not ranked, you might as well be invisible. Just like a website built in flash.
Search Engine Marketing Specialist
And, on a related note, check out this post from Blogpro Automotive:
The Automotive industry has finally decided they need to join the internet revolution. Dealerships are hiring Internet Managers, Setting up BDCs, and looking for website providers for their dealership, but are they looking for the right things?
The big push has been Websites and CRM across the industry, but those who really sell true volume know the answer is much more. The focus should be marketing.
Dealerships have always known marketing is key to staying alive, and they still continue to pay outrageous amounts of money to traditional media like newspaper, radio, TV, and direct mail even though they know they are dying mediums. The average reader of the newspaper is 55; however this is where the majority of their advertising dollar goes.
So where has everyone gone? Dealerships know the Internet is booming, however they still do not focus on reallocating their marketing efforts and their marketing dollars. GMs, Owners, and Internet Managers feel a good website and CRM tool is all they need to do business on the web.
The truth is a website is a reactive tool. What I mean by that is the website is waiting for people to show up. It serves no purpose to those who are not seeking it out. Dealerships advertise in traditional mediums to capture those people who might be in the “Buy Now” mode and to entice them to visit their dealership. There are rebates, incentives, sales specials, services specials, parts specials, etc. going on every week at every dealership. However, how many dealerships actually provide this information electronically on their website or pro-actively sent this information out to current customers? The answer is most of them don’t. They have not bridged the gap between having their promotions/events converted from static mediums to digital mediums, which is why we tell dealerships it is time to “Go Digital”
For those dealerships that have digital coupons for parts and service, marked inventory for sale, rebate and inventive ads, sales events, etc. all digitized the whole world opens up. Now all of these things can be sent out as campaigns, sales inventory can be sent out as notifications, coupons can be send to service customers automatically without any effort from the dealership, the website can contain all current promotions/events and ongoing marketing efforts can be initiated to all your past customers to have them be new customers. Basically advertising just went digital and the cost to get that message to the end consumer is nothing.
For those who realize this are ahead of the game and have already started to mass collect email addresses for marketing, just like they used to collect us mail addresses. These dealerships know if they get ahead in the race it will be very difficult for competitors to catch up.
Dealer Impact Systems
I was reading a collection of articles online this last weekend involving, in one way or another, “The Death of the :30 Spot.” They told of the increasing irrelevance of traditional advertising methods and how today’s consumer — including today’s car buyer — are becoming harder and harder to reach with television, radio, billboards and other “mass” advertising. These media outlets face a crisis because they’re becoming both more expensive AND less effective. Trouble brewing to be sure.
But the question is why? Well my guess, and a reason put forth by others as well, is that in today’s “my way, on my terms” society, consumers aren’t content with those things that aren’t specifically for them. They want it personalized and customized. Like their Whopper®, they want it their way.
So where does that leave the digital marketer? In a good place to be sure.
Traditional marketing methods (newspaper, television, direct mail) are slow and static. Every customer sees the same message in the same way. And launching a new campaign can take weeks or even months. But when you go digital, you can launch dynamic, multimedia campaigns in a matter of minutes. You audience sees a message that is tailored to their needs and their life. And the good news is, it takes little or no added effort on your part to make it happen.
Isn’t technology grand?
Marketing Strategist/Creative Consultant
An article on the decision makers & how they make their decisions (hint: it isn’t a commercial involving a rock song)
Women are the primary decision makers for over 80 percent of any major and minor household purchases, including cars where 60 percent of new car buyers are women, says Marti Barletta of Brandweek. Although, most car ads target men, women will actually make a purchase.
More than two-thirds of new-car buyers use the Internet during the shopping process, according to a 2006 study by J.D. Power and Associates. Knowledge is power and surfing the Web allows car shoppers to learn every detail about a car, including how much the dealer paid for it. Several third-party Web sites, not affiliated with the manufacturers or dealers, provide shoppers with the dealer invoice or the wholesale price on each car giving buyers a competitive edge in negotiating the price. Edmunds.com, for instance, provides what it calls “true market value”, an estimate of what buyers are paying for a particular car in a particular market.
While many women plan to take advantage of this information by conducting online research, in the end, they will request the attendance of a male counterpart. In accordance with a Capital One survey, 77 percent of women said they would bring a man to the dealership with them to make sure they get a good deal.
Over half of U.S. female Internet users, ages 25 and older, say the Internet is their main source for checking out potential product purchases, in accordance with “Online Insight” report published by Burst Media in June 2007. Online shopping increased with household income where half of the respondents with annual incomes of less than $35,000 bought something online in the past six months, while 68 percent of households with annual incomes of $100,000 or more had done so.
Conducting research via the Internet was the method of choice showing 10 percent or fewer of respondents stating they received their information from asking family and friends, reading newspapers and magazines, viewing television or referencing other sources.
However, as women consider the Internet a key source for product information, they refer to fewer Web sites on average in their research than men, states “Understanding Online Shopping Behavior Topline Summary” published by Frank About Women in March 2006. Adult female Internet users typically visited four or more Web sites during their research, while men visited an average of nearly five.
Barletta highlights some steps for marketers to consider while developing car ads for women:
Women don’t care about how many seconds it takes to reach 60 mph.
Women tend to be more interested in a car’s interior.
Women care about vehicle safety. Specifically, what happens when her car is hit, not if she can avoid it.
Women do consider the environment such as pollution.
From Digital Dealer
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Issue 28 VOLUME 2 ISSUE 28
Good article that supports e-mail marketing, find out how to make it work:
Email generates the best ROI of all marketing channels. Find out how to get a piece of the pie and turn the cold, hard numbers into a success story.
Email marketing works. Studies from numerous sources support this. The Direct Marketing Association, for example, reports that email delivers an eye-popping ROI when compared to other media: $57.25 for every dollar spent on it in 2005, compared to $7.08 for every dollar spent on print catalogs, and $22.52 for every dollar spent on non-email internet marketing.
Done right, it does even better. Jupiter Research has found that engaging audiences in more relevant communications increases net profits by an average of 18 times more than broadcast mailing. And marketers back up the claims.
According to Internet Retailer, 50.6 percent of internet retailers report that 6 percent or more of their sales come from email marketing, while another 25 percent say the proportion is over 11 percent.
In addition, 45 percent of chief marketing officers say their best performing online advertising tactic is emailing an in-house list, according to the CMO Council in 2006.
Despite these statistics and success stories, email programs remain under-funded compared to other marketing tactics. The latest IAB/PWC report on digital marketing spending in 2006 put email at only 2 percent of overall budgets.
“Companies are reticent to spend the dollars in the email marketing areas for a few reasons,” says Mark Politi, VP, marketing and media relations for Planetwide Media. Those reasons include:
-Lack of knowledge of how to send out large email blasts legally and not be considered a spammer.
-Lack of an internal email database list to work with.
-Lack of an email rental source to target the correct demographic.
-Proper measurable metrics to prove ROI for the campaign. Unique custom landing pages that can measure visits, downloads, sign-ups and purchases.
-Work involved compared to other online advertising programs make an email campaign low on the totem pole.
But to generate the type of ROI mentioned above, it takes investments in back-end technology for such tasks as targeting, email experts to ensure compliance with legislation and ISP guidelines, and creative specialists to write stellar copy.
So if you can get more, you can make more. Here’s how to do it.
Know the facts
Armed with information, an email marketer can convince the budget keeper his channel is worthy of more dollars.
Of greatest significance, Forrester reports that email has reached almost universal penetration, with 97 percent of consumers using the channel. That’s 147 million people in the United States using email almost every day, eMarketer calculates.
And that usage includes interaction with marketers.
According to JupiterResearch, 90 percent of users will use email to engage in and determine the value of a relationship with a company. And Quris reports that 40 percent of email subscribers will go “out of their way” to patronize a company whose email programs they like.
Not only do consumers use email to make specific purchases (50 percent of shoppers, according to Return Path), 50 percent of them who open and read email marketing messages are likely to also purchase other items on impulse and to spend 138 percent more than those who don’t buy through email (Forrester).
Do your math
Citing general statistics will provide the framework, but it’s the calculations on your own projects that will complete the picture for your CMO.
Simms Jenkins, founder and principal, BrightWave Marketing and EmailStatCenter.com, provides the following guideline:
Establish upfront what your goals from an email marketing effort are, including revenue, page view, in-store traffic, conversions, retention, subscribers, et cetera.
Then, create a monthly scorecard. What good are your email metrics if they live alone on a spreadsheet? A monthly scorecard provides an opportunity for the email/interactive team to monitor the key email performance indicators in the context of company goals (email specific and non-email specific) and industry benchmarks. Since email campaigns are so fluid, these goals in your scorecard are best evaluated and revised as an ongoing exercise. If anything, it prevents surprises and ensures the email team knows the score at all times.
Make sure to benchmark against the industry. Benchmarking internal stats against comparable industry metrics can be both valuable and an exercise in futility. The key is context. You want to make sure you are in the same ballpark as your industry on specific metrics like deliverability and open rates, but you should not make drastic changes to campaigns based on one research report that touted Tuesday as the best day to send emails.
Finally, focus/budget/judge on end-game/ROI. Go beyond CT/Open. Too often email marketers obsess over open and clickthrough rates. However, who cares if your open rate was high but no sales were generated? Your email program’s ultimate goal is what matters. Many email teams can’t even define that. If you fall into that camp, do yourself a favor and call a meeting and set your big picture goals. Worth considering are revenue, page views, sales leads, conversions, in-store sales, email subscribes, PR, cross promotion; the list can go on. Make sure your list is concise and clear.
With this information, make sure you see open and clicks as a means to an end, the end being your overall campaign goals. Otherwise, you may be flying blind.
Note: Company Current/Desired States are purely examples.
Share the successes
The final step in the process is to turn the cold, hard numbers into a success story.
Here’s an example. Furniture retailer Chiasso relies on email to drive customers to its website and Chicago store. Facing issues with deliverability and problems with its email lists, Chiasso spent much-needed cash on Bronto Software. The investment paid off. Chiasso embarked on two email campaigns that increased its online sales to 55 percent of total company sales, up from 32 percent the year prior.
Bronto helped VP of eCommerce and Systems Jerry Bergquist segment his contacts according to location, so he could send a store-opening announcement to his “Chicago” contacts. However, he wisely chose to not exclude his “Not Chicago” segment from the store-opening festivities. Besides keeping non-Chicago contacts aware of the company’s growth, the message also included $10 off coupons for online purchases.
The discount offer to the “Not Chicago” segment generated impressive results: 32 percent open rates and 10 percent clickthrough rates. Not to be outdone, the “Chicago” segment received a 49 percent open rate and a clickthrough rate of nearly 22 percent, with the vast majority of clicks linking to a landing page that included directions to and information about the new retail store.
Metrics for opens and clickthroughs provided Bergquist with important measurements for campaign evaluation, and conversion tracking provided him with sound insight into success. Conversion tracking let Bergquist follow the dollars-and-cents results of his messages. Some Chiasso campaigns, such as its “Good Buy” [note the clever pun] Winter Clearance Sale or its Art Décor Sale grossed more than $13,000 and $14,000, respectively, in sales.
“At Chiasso, we’ve seen such impressive ROI from email marketing that we are always open to increasing our budget,” says Bergquist. “Email marketing software has proven to be a cost-effective method for growing our business.”
Published: July 03, 2007
By: Dawn Anfuso senior editor, iMedia Connection.
Good article on Search Engine Optimization
Seems the world isn’t waiting for anyone to catch up.
In a recent ClickZ column, long-respected SEO (define) guru Mike Grehan suggested we search Ask.com for “Spider-Man 3.”
There we glimpse into the future of search engine results. Welcome to universal search.
Mike speculates: “With the three-column approach, I can’t imagine why I’d ever scroll down the page, let alone click through to a second (did people really click through to the second page in the Fred Flintstone SEO era?).”
How’s that for a punch between your peepers? Grehan continues:
End users are lazy and don’t have a clue what they expect to see when using search engines. I know. I’m an end user, and I’m as stupid as the next one when it comes to using search engines. But think of my delight when I throw in a vague two- to three-word query and find a page that answers even more of my potential questions before they’ve been asked.
What does it mean for SEO professionals moving forward? It means we’ve finally reached point where better marketing counts — and not H1 tags.
Yeesh, and you thought optimizing for those pesky text and link spiders was hard. How are you going to optimize now? (Do I even need to mention what’s happening to online traffic costs?)
It’s telling when search engine results answer more questions and give a superior visitor experience than the majority of so-called optimized pages. Search engines have been doing one thing most SEO efforts and marketers refuse to do: they’re aggressively focusing on end searchers. What a concept.
These new algorithms try to anticipate their wants, needs, and time, possibly even pique their imagination. Search engines are merely a reflection of what people want; complex algorithms and crawlers are only a means to that end. Search engines are bigger visitor advocates than most sites.
So what’s the answer to the challenge ahead? In his column, Grehan asks my brother and me to come up with fresh descriptions to replace the tired SEO/SEM terms people love to churn out in decks and at seminar parties.
I don’t want to change things too much. So let’s keep it simple. Instead of SEO, let’s try ESO, for “end searcher optimization.”
Friday, Jun. 22, 2007 at 3:59 am
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