Archive for December, 2007
As you make an aggressive move into 2008, we’d like to remind you of a key maxim of modern marketing, namely that marketing is an iterative process. In other words, it’s not something you do once and sit back and reap the rewards. Marketing is something you do all the time — constantly working and reworking your strategy to adjust to changing market conditions (economy, competition, etc.).
But more important than adjusting to an ever-changing market is adjusting to what you learn. Constant testing of new messages, new tactics, new creative and new media options is the key to driving the high ROI you’re looking for from your marketing.
For tips on using your Dealer Impact digital marketing tools to deliver better ROI, contact your Dealer Impact Representative.
Marketing Strategist/Creative Consultant
As we countdown the last few days of 2007, it’s an appropriate time to take a look back at your year. How did your marketing perform? Here are a few questions I’d be asking before planning for 2008…
- In what percentage of sales did my website play a prominent role?
- Am I getting the same ROI from TV, radio and newspaper advertising as I did 5 years ago?
- Where is my dealership’s website ranked on Google? Can my customers and prospects easily find me online?
- Is the experience of visiting my website enhanced with video and other multimedia?
- What are my digital marketing goals for 2008?
Based on your answer to the above questions, it’s time to ask yourself this question:
How should I allocate marketing dollars in 2008?
If you’re like most dealerships we know, the percentage of dollars going toward digital efforts (and away from TV, radio and newspaper advertising) will continue to increase until a time when not doing digital marketing would seem just as crazy as canceling your TV buy for 2008.
Best of luck in what is sure to be a fantastic 2008!
Marketing Strategist/Creative Consultant
From Marketing Vox, 12/11/07
There is significant correlation between brands’ appearing in the top organic search and sponsored placements, and consumer brand affinity, recall and purchase intent, according to results from a Google-sponsored eye-tracking study published in a whitepaper, reports MarketingCharts.
The study by eye-tracking firm Enquiro sought to determine how the placement of search listings and sponsored search ads affect consumer brand perceptions.
Using Honda as a test brand and “fuel-efficiency” as a brand attribute, the study focused on consumers early in the purchase process who had not yet selected a car model.
Among the key findings of the study:
Lift in brand affinity: Online consumers who saw Honda in the top ad placement and the top organic search result were 16 percent more likely to think of Honda as a fuel efficient car than when the automaker’s brand didn’t appear on the page at all.
Lift in brand recall: Online consumers were 42 percent more likely to recall Honda if the company appeared in both the top ad placement and the top organic search result, rather than just the top organic listing.
Lift in purchase intent: When Honda was featured in both the top ad and top organic listings, purchase intent for Honda increased 8 percent. However, other automaker brands absent from the page suffered a significant decrease in purchase intent – 16 percent.
About the study: Using Honda as a test brand, the study sought to quantify the branding impact of differing Honda listing placements on the search results page. The experiment was conducted using subjects 25 years and older who were considering the purchase of a new car within the next year. Users performed a search for “fuel efficient car” and the search results appeared in five different variations: a Honda-branded listing in top ad position only, top organic position only, both the top organic and ad positions, side ad position only, and not at all (control group).
Enquiro measured eye fixation on the Google page and also surveyed participants to evaluate the search experience’s branding effect on each of the five consumer test groups.
From Dealer Marketing Magazine
December 18, 2007
Unlike other forms of advertising, Internet marketing is nearly 100 percent trackable. You not only know what you are getting from your efforts, but you can evaluate and adjust to improve your results. Unfortunately, there are trends that make this space an increasingly difficult place for a dealership to succeed.
1. Internet traffic is increasing which drives up the cost of Internet marketing.
2. The number of your competitors jumping onto the Internet marketing bandwagon is growing, making it more crowded and more expensive to compete.
3. Someone is doing Internet marketing better then you, generating a better ROI that is reinvested into future Internet marketing efforts.
4. Someone is collecting better data from their Internet marketing efforts than you, and gaining more knowledge to use in the future.
Dealers can address these trends, however, by recognizing the value and power of their own customer data. A strong Internet Lead Management (ILM) tool best captures data. The real benefit comes when that ILM tool works hand in hand with a strong customer relationship management (CRM) solution, to close a significantly higher number of Internet leads.
Internet marketing is maturing. Don’t be satisfied by saying, “We have a Website.” Do not confuse having a Website with having a true Internet marketing plan. Dynamic Internet marketing built on customer data is here to stay and will only grow in importance
by Bryan Anderson
There’s no denying it. Across the board, every automobile manufacturer has built an outstanding website full of multimedia, fancy Hollywood-quality production and possibly music by the Rolling Stones. So when winning a customer’s business lies increasingly on your ability to get them to spend some time at your website, how do you compete with that sort or production value?
Simple. You do it with relevance, personalization and interaction — the three things a manufacturer’s site can’t offer.
Relevance — Your site is more relevant to the user because they can actually buy the car from you. And chances are, your dealership is fairly close by. And if your data is strong, they’ll know whether you have the specific car they’re looking for on your lot.
Personalization — People do business with people. And that’s what your website can provide that the manufacturers’ sites never will — a personal connection. You can provide links to email your sales staff, photos of your team, and direct links to the service department.
Interaction — No automobile gets sold without a conversation. And that conversation is increasingly taking place online. Use your web system to start and maintain a conversation with your customers and prospects.
At first, it looks like they have the upper hand… but with the personal, relevant and interactive elements, you’re left holding all the cards.
Marketing Strategist/Creative Consultant
by : John Federman Digital Dealer Magazine
Professionals in the automotive industry are known for their knack of engaging customers the minute they walk onto a showroom floor. However, most dealers fail to deliver that same personal touch when it comes to their online presence.
Some dealers have yet to embrace the Internet as a sales channel, while others are hesitant to dedicate full-time resources to managing Internet driven leads. At this year’s annual Vehix Auto Sales Summit in Deer Valley, Utah, one dealer told an industry analyst from the Kelsey Group that,“Some dealers drop everything for that customer that walks in the door, but they won’t answer the phone or pay attention to electronic leads.” However, that auto dealer also noted that, “For people that come in the door the closing percentage is about 16 percent, but with online leads the closing percentage is much higher. These customers are more knowledgeable and more armed to buy a vehicle. If we get back to them right away, it’s a better prospect than a person walking in the door.”
Clearly, dealers that view their web sites as simple brochures, and fail to engage customers as proactively as they would in the showroom, do so at their own peril.
Engaging customers online
Personal service goes a long way with car buyers on the dealer lot. A standout sales professional is usually one that has established such a good buying experience with customers that they are motivated to not only buy another vehicle from him, but also recommend the salesperson to friends and family. These sales professionals remember names, promptly return phone calls and follow up to address customer questions and alert them to service deals or new specials. In short, they anticipate customer needs and deliver on customer requests.
A recent study by J.D. Power and Associates found that online customer satisfaction was highest for those dealers and automotive marketplaces that responded promptly to online inquiries once they’re submitted. “Walk-in and call-in shoppers receive responses in a more timely manner at auto dealerships compared with online shoppers,” said Steve Witten, executive director of marketing/media research at J.D. Power and Associates. “An opportunity exists for dealers to improve the return on their investment in lead services by paying as much attention to online leads as they would to in-person or phone sales leads by responding just as quickly.”
Dealers who haven’t embraced their web site as a customer-focused sales channel are losing their chance to promote potentially lucrative customer relationships. Another J.D. Power study found that consumers that research vehicles online are likely to convert at higher rates than those that don’t. If these online researchers contact a dealer, they’re quite likely hot prospects.
In a world where competitors are just a click away, delays in responding to online leads could make all the difference in closing a sale. Any lag time between online shopping and the visit to the dealership can be expedited simply by enabling potential customers to ask questions and receive answers in a timely fashion.
Proactive conversion solutions
As a compromise, dealers often adopt a minimalist approach that relies on self-service tools like FAQs, low-touch e-mail exchanges and anonymous web forms to provide online customer service. Though these tools certainly have their place on dealer web sites, studies have shown they are less effective in promoting customer satisfaction or generating qualified leads than offering live assistance.
As a result, some of the leading names in the industry have adopted click to call and click to chat technology to engage high-value prospects with a live sales agent online or over the phone. Because not every customer visit merits live assistance, click to call and click to chat both allow dealers to create business rules that dictate which online prospects should be escalated to the phone or chat. For example, customers that have spent several minutes on your site and begin to configure and price a vehicle can be prompted with either click to call or chat, while those that are looking to simply schedule a service appointment are directed to an e-mail form.
Click to call services deployed across key purchasing points on brand web sites for Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep drive sales conversions, with twice as many click to call callers purchasing a vehicle compared to standard inbound callers.
Autobytel, an online only automotive dealer, also implemented a customer service program that quickly connects online patrons with its call center. Using a form to phone solution, Internet browsers simply fill out a quick form, and the online retailer of choice or nearest franchise of that brand is immediately alerted to the customer request and sent a copy of the form. Once alerted, companies can reach out to these prospects and speak with them while they’re still hot. And as it turns out, timing is everything. Since deploying form to phone, Autobytel has increased the volume of qualified leads by 52 percent and doubled the closing rates of Autobytel car dealers.
Click to call offers the power of voice, allowing Internet sales professionals to answer questions while they are fresh in the consumer’s mind. Chat, on the other hand, enables dealerships to handle multiple web visitors at once while still allowing consumers to interact with an agent to answer a few questions.
To use these technologies, customers need only to click a button embedded on a web site and a customer service representative contacts them instantly via their preferred channel – online or offline. While the power of direct customer contact has been documented at length, click to call and live chat solutions leverage real-time web analytics to inform dealers about the customer’s activity the instant a connection is initiated. This sharing of data from the web to phone or chat channels, enables dealers to offer personalized and effective service, as well as insight into potential cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.
Using click to call and click to chat technology extends personal customer service beyond the dealer walls. As online marketing matures, leading companies are focusing on providing a consistent customer experience across all of their sales channels. Soon, a sales agent – regardless of whether he is in a showroom or chat room – will be able to proactively engage customers and kindly say, “May I help you with something?”
Use digital media to set your dealership apart from the crowd.
Look out across your dealership and you’ll see rows and rows of shiny new cars… All with that new car smell, low low financing and a pile of customer cash. All were just washed and are priced to move. There’s just one problem. The Chevys, Hondas, Toyotas and Cadillacs on your lot are the same Chevys, Hondas, Toyotas and Cadillacs that a customer can find down the street at a competing dealership. The vehicles were made in the same factory by the same workers to the same exacting quality standards and are selling for an all but identical price. And we know that a few dollars here and there won’t sway customers as much as we’d like.
So if the product is a commodity, all that’s left to set your dealership apart is the customer experience — how a customer feels during and after interacting with you and your people. And as more and more of that interaction shifts online, so does that portion of the customer experience. And with that comes the opportunity to use digital media to influence and enhance their experience at every stage of the sale.
You can use automatic responders and other email technologies to find and cultivate brand awareness with those customers who aren’t yet in the market. Then, use video and other multimedia to create a user experience on your web site that is unmatched and keeps prospects on your site as long as possible. Once they show some interest in a particular model, entice them by sending a coupon or an eBrochure. Then stay in touch with automated email technology. Are you doing any of these things today?
Using these sorts of digital media tactics allows you to interact more frequently, more effectively, more efficiently and in a more personal way than your traditional methods of phone calls and direct mail. Not to mention that, because of the time and cost associated with staying in touch, traditional methods force you to eventually cut ties. Not the case with digital media because it is not cost dependent. So staying in touch or following up with 10,000 prospects costs virtually the same as a few dozen.
Digital media can help you de-commoditize your undifferentiated product offering in this time where consumers are more fickle than ever. It’s all about the customer experience and increasingly that experience is taking place in cyber space. And because so many of the country’s dealerships have yet to jump on board the digital marketing bandwagon, there’s ample opportunity for those that do to find a true competitive advantage in the battle for brand awareness, customer retention and sales.
Marketing Strategist/Creative Consultant
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