Archive for February, 2008
As wireless Internet access proliferates through our society (some cities are even experimenting with free city-wide access), it won’t be long before most U.S. consumers have high-speed internet access everywhere and always.
What will that mean to your dealership? What will it mean when someone who is cruising by your dealership on a Sunday afternoon can check your website from their car? What will it mean when a customer has real-time access to your competitions’ web sites from inside your showroom – even while they’re negotiating with you on price? If these things haven’t already happened to you (likely via handheld internet devices), it won’t be long.
Is your dealership ready to handle a consumer with this much information at their fingertips? How will it change the way you do business? How will it change the way you communicate with customers and prospects?
Marketing Strategist/Creative Consultant
February 25, 2008
By John Avery
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — We get asked a lot about how to sell more pre-owned vehicles on the Internet. The best way is to make sure that you are doing all you can do to market your vehicles the right way.
There are a several ways that you can accomplish this, and here are a few basic things that you can do.
One of the most basic practices that will help you is to make sure that you have good quality photos on each vehicle.
Prospective customers like to see the details on the vehicle and the condition of the vehicle before they come in. Having photos on your pre-owned vehicles really helps build the trust with your customer and builds value into the vehicle.
The only thing that is worse than not having pictures on the vehicles is having poor photos on your vehicles. Here are a few tips that you can use to improve your online photos:
—Be mindful of your background. I would suggest using the same background for all of your pictures. It doesn’t take that much more effort to pull the vehicles to a common point to take pictures of it. Some dealerships have actually set up a “studio” to take their pictures.
This is as simple as hanging a curtain in the background so the focus is on the vehicle. You can also take the pictures that will be positioned so that your dealership name is in the background. This will help them remember your dealership name and will keep another dealer from trying to sell your vehicle to their customer.
—I tried to make sure that the pictures were in the same basic order for each vehicle as well. This will give the customer consistency and will give them a sense that you genuinely care about earning their business.
—Take your exterior pictures from the corners of the vehicle. Taking these angles gets two sides of the vehicle and shows the customer more than pictures straight on from the back and the front.
—Take a picture of the odometer, this verifies the information that you have listed with the vehicle. Customers do not like it when they come in and the mileage is a misprint on the Web.
—Make sure that you have pictures of the seat condition, especially the driver’s seat. This is one of the first things that customers look at because comfort is so important.
The other big factor is something that most dealerships don’t take the time to bother with. Take the time to write a description for your pre-owned vehicles. It doesn’t need to very elaborate, but having a paragraph about the vehicle does build value into the vehicle and shows the customer that you don’t have anything to hide.
Here are a few tips that will help you with your descriptions:
—Make sure that whoever is writing them knows how to write with good grammar and that the spelling is checked and double-checked.
—The best way to write a description is to write what you think that you would tell a customer if they were in front of you. What qualities of the vehicle would you most want to deliver to your customer?
Here are a few items that you will want to include in your description:
—Let them know if the vehicle was a trade-in or not. Also include anything that you learned from the previous owners (i.e., one owner, mostly highway miles, traded for a newer model, needed a larger vehicle, etc.).
—Let them know about any certifications the vehicle has gone through in your service department.
—Let them know if there is still a manufacturer’s warranty left on the vehicle or if your dealership has put a warranty on it.
—Mention any equipment the vehicle has that will add value to the vehicle.
—I also added a sentence letting them know that we had checked the Carfax history and that they would be eligible for the Carfax money-back guarantee.
These ideas seem very simple, but many dealerships do not pay attention to these details and will give the customer a reason to eliminate you from their search.
Throughout recorded history, new technologies have been developed that eliminate the worries, hassles and time-consuming chores of daily life. Dishwashers, electric irons, lawnmowers… right on through to the microwave and the Roomba®. Arguably the best and most life-altering of these technologies were the ones that automated daily chores, freeing us up to spend our time on activities that were more relaxing, enjoyable or – in the case of business technologies – profitable.
Ever since the inception of the automobile dealership, owners have sought to drive business through innovative marketing strategies and tactics. And as new technologies have developed, they’ve changed the way dealerships reach out to customers and prospects. First radio, then television, then the development of sophisticated database-driven direct marketing… all have changed the way you market. And then in the late 90s, the Internet began to show promise. Slowly it changed the way that dealerships conducted advertising and marketing, but for many dealerships, the internet remains more of a hassle than anything. It’s just one more thing you have to do. One more master you have to stop and serve every day, week and month.
But now those daily hassles and maintenance items can be eliminated through a variety of tools that automate much of your digital marketing – freeing you and your sales staff to concentrate on selling to qualified leads rather than chasing bad ones. These tools follow simple rules that you set up one time and once you flip the switch, you can forget about it. The system proactively markets to your customers when it’s most appropriate to do so. Customers are automatically reminded when it’s time to come in for service or when that new model they’ve been waiting for is in stock. These technologies drive the lead to you and your team… all you have to do is do what you do best – close them.
This trend follows that of most any other emerging technology as it matures. First it shows promise, but not much in the way of results. Then the results begin to come for those willing to deal with the short-comings and work-arounds inherent in dealing with new technology. Then, finally, it all comes together and the promise that was there in the beginning is realized en masse. That is the stage where it all comes together and things not only become possible but easy and even automatic… That’s where the internet is now for America’s dealerships.
Has your dealership arrived at the Promised Land? If not, ask yourself why.
Marketing Strategist/Creative Consultant
From Digital Dealer Feb. 12, 2008
by : John Federman
According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, in just 10 years, Internet advertising for automobile companies has gone from a fraction of a percent to 11.5 percent of total advertising spend. That’s nearly $680 million a year spent on online advertising.
Why the increasing emphasis on online advertising? Because it engages prospective buyers at the moment they’re most likely to be interested…just after conducting research online about a particular vehicle. Today, more than 80 percent of shoppers turn to the web first when researching automotive purchases, according to another study by Capgemini. Not surprisingly, the ad dollars are following the consumers. However, while you may already be investing in online advertising, it is imperative that you take a step back and set goals for your online campaigns, and implement measurement techniques that will help you assess the success of your online spending.
When considering your options, it is imperative that your dealership considers exactly how online customers will interact with your brand.
Organizations that spend in search engine advertising will pay a premium for popular terms such as “Ford” or “sedan.” With web site tracking and analytics tools, it’s easy to see which keywords are generating the most traffic for your site. However, as effective as search marketing may be in delivering eyeballs, the reality is that most car purchases happen offline. For that reason, it’s imperative to track how your advertising is performing across channels.
Think beyond the click
Studies show that live customer service remains the best way to close online sales leads for complex purchases, such as automobiles. The Capgemini study report referenced earlier also found that:
• 34 percent of consumers said they expect to receive a response to a web inquiry within four hours.
• Half of the respondents say they would look for a new dealer if they don’t get their response fast enough.
• 25 percent say they would look for a new manufacturer or both a new dealer and a new manufacturer.
This means the goal of most dealer advertising initiatives should be to get customers on the phone and into the dealership as soon as possible. This means dealers must have the ability to track which ads are delivering phone calls and not just clicks to their web site.
Call tracking and click-to-call technology gives customers browsing online auto listings the option to connect with local dealerships via telephone, and gives dealers the ability to track which ads and keywords are generating phone calls.
Click-to-call allows online buyers to transition seamlessly into immediate telephone or PC-based voice contact with businesses from any online medium, including web sites, e-mails or directory listings. Call tracking technology allows dealers to assign unique local or toll-free telephone numbers to individual ads to track inbound phone response to online and offline campaigns, directory listings and advertisements, and provides a 360-view of call detail that offers more data on callers that can be used to supplement additional marketing efforts.
These two technologies also form the backbone of pay-per-call advertising where advertisers are charged by publishers on a per-call basis, rather than a per-click basis like other online advertising models.
What most advertisers find is that callers typically convert at a much higher rate, and have a much shorter sales cycle compared to standard web site contacts.
Drive offline leads
Research shows that consumers typically begin researching a vehicle purchase online and can take anywhere from 30 to 45 days to make their decision, which is why it’s critical to capture that last mile from initial contact to conversion.
One emerging trend is the use of save and send features on dealer listings. These services allow consumers to save or send information about an automobile in the electronic format of their choice – on the desktop, the web or mobile device – predisposing to return to that listing.
Save and send tools extend the shelf life of automobile listings by encouraging consumers to save data from their preferred dealers. Visitors can return to the information at their leisure and can even share attractive offers with friends and family members who may be looking to purchase an automobile. Online browsers can use a variety of information delivery methods including SMS, Skype, e-mail or fax leading you to potentially net two reservations using just one listing and transferable data. Dealers can even track online leads that come into the dealership if consumers decide to print out their stored listing, or if they’ve stored it to their mobile device.
The majority of consumers that conduct local searches transact offline, and most car buyers buy from dealers in their immediate area. Therefore, the ability to convert local online traffic to a phone call or a visit to a dealership is vital as consumers are shopping on the Internet. With technology, tracking phone calls can measure the quality of a lead and making sure that advertisers are able to convert online traffic into valuable leads.
Dealers are leveraging call tracking and monitoring programs to improve performance across channels and help close in on that “last mile” to conversion by extending the utility of online ads through services like click-to-call and save and send. More importantly, these services provide granular ROI data that helps prove performance to advertisers.
The online influence of offline automobile purchase is indisputable. Consumers have already made the transition and now rely on the Internet as their primary research vehicle for these kinds of purchase. As online automotive buyers become more sophisticated and begin to use a variety of online sources to research their purchases, dealers must be able to quantify every advertising channel to guarantee they don’t lose potential leads.
Take a minute to check out your dealerships website. Go ahead, we’ll wait.
Okay… Now take a look at your newspaper, television and outdoor advertising.
Now ask yourself, does your web presence play nicely with your other materials? Does it look and feel the same? Are the same offers available in both places? If so, congratulations, you’ve effectively integrated your website into your marketing mix. If not, we’ve got some work to do.
As your website become a larger and larger part of the way your dealership operates, it is essential that it gets the same, if not more, attention as the rest of your marketing. After all, how many other marketing tools do you have that allow people to shop your inventory, make an offer, get financing, watch videos and more?
What’s that you say? Your site doesn’t do all of those things? Oh boy… we need to talk.
Marketing Strategist/Creative Consultant
From Digital Dealer, Thursday, January 31, 2008
Volume 3, issue 5
According to Experian Research Services, a market research company, a four year trend among automotive buyers suggests that the Web is the fastest growing source of vehicle information prior to buying a vehicle. This growth is contrary to other resources like word-of-mouth, television and automotive magazines, which have remained sluggish over the last four years. Additionally, moms were among consumers with the highest intent to purchase a vehicle in the next two years and most likely to rely on the Internet as part of their decision to purchase or lease.“If your audience is changing media sources and buying behaviors, you need to change your tactics to complement theirs,” explains Chris Wilson, president, Experian Research Services.“It (Experian automotive data) condenses a vast amount of information into orderly reports that are easy to manipulate, use and share,” said Mario Murgado, president and CEO, Miami Automotive Retail.http://www.imakenews.com/digital1/e_article001003637.cfm?x=bc4lSD0,b4TSprpk
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