Businesses both big and small are flocking to social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Foursquare. The fact is that a presence on these platforms not only allows companies to engage in conversations with consumers, but also serves as an outlet to drive sales through deals and coupons.
And while major brands like Starbucks, Virgin, and Levi’s have been participating in the social web for some time now, the rate of adoption among small businesses is increasing too. According to a recent University of Maryland study, social media adoption by small businesses has doubled from 12% to 24% in the last year. But as these businesses look to Facebook and Twitter to connect with customers, many are finding that some strategies work and some do not produce results. We’ll be exploring these questions at a panel on Social Media and Businesses at our Social Currency CrunchUp on July 30. We’ve found some local and national businesses using social media effectively, ranging from Levi’s to a creme brulee cart, whose case studies are below. Some of these businesses will be sharing their experiences at the CrunchUp (You can buy tickets to the CrunchUp here).
Check out these great case studies they are quite interesting.
Need more exposure for your inventory? Want more links pointing back to your site? Instead of just having one landing page (your website) why not have 10′s if not 100′s of landing pages? Social networking is making all of this possible and if you’re not participating then you’re falling behind.
In a recent blog post, we discussed the idea of putting your inventory videos out on YouTube. These videos each have their own URL with keywords which all link back to your dealer website. Along the same lines, Craigslist is another option for you to penetrate specific geographic markets. YouTube is an international sensation (as is Craigslist) but with Craigslist there are metropolitan networks where you can post an ad. Customers then search these listings by city/region to find local deals.
Dealer Impact has programmed the functionality to automatically generate a nicely formatted HTML ad with your vehicle’s information automatically populated into it – full of pictures, information, and links back to your site. Just like with YouTube, search engires are able to index each and every one of these pages for keywords. Even if a customer isn’t searching specifically on the Craigslist site, they could still find your ad by searching a specific enough phrase on a search engine such as Google.
For a sample Craigslist ad, visit: http://www.di-web2.net/craigslist/sample.html
From a marketing standpoint, notice how the branding of the dealer website is retained through to the ad. If you’re familiar with Craigslist, most ads you see have a plain white background, typically a lump of text that is hard to read, and some ads don’t even contain photos. With the thousands and thousands of ads posted on Craigslist, you only have those initial few seconds to grab their attention and get them to read on. We believe in branding your ads to your dealership, providing a professional looking landing page to convert more leads into sales.
For more information on listing your inventory on Craigslist, please call Sales at 877.334.9638
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.
The Factor x10 Examples:
Please contact us to find out more about the Factor of 10 and make it easier for customers to find you vs. your competition.
Dealer Impact Systems
By David Wengel
Making the sale hinges on the lead. On-demand lead scoring is a technique that clarifies who your best leads are and allows you to target them accordingly.
How many sales versus marketing conflicts would vanish if marketing could easily vet and prioritize every lead it passed on to sales? And how much airfare could you save if you could grow wings and fly?
If you’re a marketing executive, then you would probably put both questions in the same box because one is just about as likely to happen as the other. Vetting and prioritizing sales leads is labor intensive and expensive. Doing it fast enough to get the hot leads to sales before they cool off has been close to impossible — maybe only slightly less impossible than actually sprouting wings.
It would be in the marketing organization’s best interest to rank the promise of every lead it passes to the sales organization, but the realities of time and cost effectiveness have not allowed the necessary information gathering and analysis. Devoid of solutions, marketing executives have been left to soldier on as best they can: No matter how much they spend on marketing, most companies still treat every inbound lead the same, no matter how valuable the leads are likely to become.
Recently, however, on-demand lead scoring, supported by advances in marketing technology, has developed to improve the quality of leads that marketing sends to sales.
On-demand lead scoring should ideally combine historical customer information with consumer data and predictive analytics. If you’re setting out to automatically prioritize each incoming lead, then you’ll need the level of insight that comes from combining these three types of information. Without all three, you’re throwing away chances to boost sales conversions and customer value.
The most basic on-demand lead scoring solutions reveal exactly who is contacting your company through your marketing programs, whether they’re reachable given the contact information they provided, which leads should be top priorities and which products or services are most relevant to the lead.
This information enables salespeople to target the hottest prospects, whichever criteria you use: those who are most interested in your products or services, most likely to buy a lot of them or most likely to turn into long-term customers. The same knowledge can tell you which of your messages and offers will provide a more customized experience for each prospect.
For example, an auto dealer receives names and phone numbers of active car shoppers within minutes of their filling out forms on auto-related websites. The leads are instantly and automatically scored based on 1) the individual’s verified contact information, 2) household demographics and 3) the dealer’s experience with customers fitting that demographic profile. The sales team knows to immediately pursue leads that score in the top 20 percent with an immediate outbound call or customized email. Others are prioritized for follow up in order of their potential.
On-demand lead scoring applies the same methodology to phone channels. When a credit-card issuer’s advertising drives prospects to its toll-free numbers and websites, the on-demand scoring solution grades them for potential value, matches them to the most suitable credit card and immediately routes likely-to-convert prospects to the best agents. The callers who are least likely to convert are routed to an interactive voice response (IVR) system, allowing the likely-to-convert callers to get more attention from agents.
A lead scoring solution’s predictive power is limited only by how much a company tailors it to specific business, goals and customer knowledge. For example, is the objective to grow revenue by increasing conversions or by focusing on cross-selling opportunities? Has the company found more upside in identifying prospects who look like its most loyal customers or in those who look like those customers most likely to respond to a particular offer?
In each case, the key is a rich mix of data that includes demographics, lifestyle and behavioral information, sales histories and product and channel usage. With currently available services, a company’s customer database and sales histories can be combined with descriptive and behavioral information to create predictive profiles. Companies that have embraced on-demand lead scoring have found three best practices that determine how successful their solutions are.
The first is that the lead-scoring information must be actionable at the moment you need it. Most existing customer insight platforms can offer microscopically precise insight on existing customers, but none of this rich information is actionable in the instant new prospects submit an online form or call in. In the past, you could segment your customers but you couldn’t predict which prospects would behave like your best customers unless you stopped to ask each prospect, say, the five attitudinal survey questions you’d found to be predictive. A lead-scoring solution must be able to link your customer knowledge to brand new prospects in the instant you begin to interact with those prospects.
The second best practice is a basic tenant of good solution development, but it merits mention nonetheless: data quality. Your lead scoring is only as good as the information that drives it. If your scoring doesn’t include verification of contact information, then you won’t even know which leads can be reached, making the effort worthless. And if your scoring solution doesn’t include up-to-date consumer contact information, then you’re slashing your ability to assign scores to your leads.
Finally, if your lead scores aren’t customized to your business, then their predictive power will lack punch. Off-the-shelf lead scoring systems typically rely on consumer profiles that aren’t even tailored to your industry, much less your company, so they provide uneven results when used to drive your real-time decisions. An online shoe store will miss some sales if it relies on the same customer profiles that an insurance company uses for its automated processes. A lead scoring solution that includes information from a company’s customer databases and sales history will be more predictive than one that doesn’t.
There is no single instant cure-all to the problem of dead leads, but on-demand lead scoring solutions are a huge step forward from what passes for lead qualification at many companies today. Lead scoring can improve the relationship between sales and marketing, which creates a stronger company that closes more sales and spends less on qualifying leads — without growing wings and flying.
Published: June 05, 2008, iMedia Connection
With consumers tightening their purse strings, it’s more important than ever for marketers to reach out to potential customers with relevant offers they can’t refuse.
Debate continues in the media as to the fate of the U.S. economy: Are we in a recession, or merely flirting with one?
For brand marketers, it turns out, the effect is the same. Consumers, made wary by gas prices over $4.00 a gallon, the mortgage mess and less-than-stellar employment forecasts, have tightened their purse strings. And when consumers spend less, marketing — traditionally a company’s first budget-cutting line of defense — is in trouble.
Yet there is much evidence, scholarly and anecdotal, that points to the wisdom of maintaining marketing spend during a recession. In fact, a recession is an ideal time to take advantage of consumers’ comfort with familiar brands by creating web-based interactive, direct-response campaigns that offer special promotions and savings.
Why web-based? A recent report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project reveals that 81 percent of internet users research products online — for convenience (78 percent), time savings (68 percent) and the ability to find bargains (ranging from 38 percent of 50-to 64-year-olds to 62 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds).
Tough economic times not only lead consumers to do online research, they lead to more time spent researching and comparing brands and prices. A recent Prospectiv survey, which discovered that 84 percent of those polled had changed their shopping habits due to concerns about recession, gives further clues to consumer behavior in this economic downturn:
- 66 percent are logging more hours online researching and comparing brands and prices
- 74 percent would welcome more online offers, coupons and e-newsletters from their favorite brands and products
- 60 percent are more likely to sign up/join a website or online community that offers recipes, healthy meal ideas, cooking tips and savings they can use at home
As consumers under financial pressure ponder a switch from favored brands to generics, brand marketers must seek out ways to engage consumers online, using direct-response interactive marketing to reinforce the value of brand.
We strongly believe that marketers should consider countering the effects of the downturn by stepping up programs that build strong relationships with consumers who have exhibited interest in your goods and services. Take the opportunity to add to your in-house opt-in email newsletter list and reach out with these tips:
- Consumers are eager for special promotions and savings during tough economic periods — now is the time to consider a brand-building campaign.
- Consider campaigns designed to generate leads as well as near-term sales. Whether you have a brick-and-mortar store or website, use a well-timed, anti-recession campaign to drive traffic.
- Provide information that’s clear, relevant and easy to find online. The Pew study found that 43 percent of searchers were frustrated by a lack of information, or the difficulty of finding information about brands they were interested in. Another 32 percent were confused by the information they were able to locate.
- Be selective in your programs. Market only to consumers you identify who have an interest in your product/brand and have requested your offers and promotions.
- Be aware that some 70 percent of internet users are still concerned about giving out personal information or credit card information online. Treat your customers with care — many of them are wary.
- Monitor campaigns closely for performance and redirect your efforts as needed to improve results.
- Consider using pay-for-performance lead-generation programs. You’ll pay only for results, versus clicks or impressions.
Don’t forget the most important metrics of a brand campaign — quality and relevance. In difficult times consumers aren’t shopping for nice-to-haves; they are focused on must-haves. Here, pay-for-performance lead-generation campaigns that build your own opt-in email lists and produce consumers who are interested in your product and brand are particularly useful because they make it easy for marketers to ensure relevance, and simple to measure lead quality at several points in the campaign, before handoff to sales.
Finally, in a down market brand marketers must maintain a laser focus on lead-generation best practices to ensure high quality leads and maintain a respectful relationship with consumers to build trust and discourage abuse of consumer privacy.
Opportunity for brand marketers comes in many forms. In these unstable economic times, it is incumbent on marketers to reach out to consumers with offers, promotions and information that reinforce brand preference, provide much-needed purchase information, and offer advice, tips and ideas for living well while saving.
from drivingsales.com, posted 6/3/08
Now for the weekly check list. ISMs need to be completelting these items on a weekly basis and reporting to their management on their progress of each of these items. Following this task list regularly will greatly increase your success:
Weekly Check List
1. __ Visit dealership website. Call toll free and other phone numbers to ensure they’re working and being answered properly.
2. __ Check AutoTrader, Cars.com, UsedCars.com, and/or other third party website photos, pricing information, and phone numbers.
3. __ Blind shop competitors selling both similar and different makes and models.
4. __ Post any upcoming Events and Specials on website. Be careful about posting any future discounts or pricing – those should be only posted once they are on, or when they are about to end to instill urgency.
5. __ Schedule broadcast email once per month, at the beginning of the third week of the month. Preferably, send on Tuesday or Thursday afternoon. Always have something for the customer first and foremost â€“ give them a compelling reason to open your email.
6. __ Schedule automated targeted email campaigns to existing customers, including interests, specials, birthdays, etc.
7. __ Check with vendors to see if there are duplicate addresses they are sending leads to, to former employees, etc..
8. __ Test templated emails to see how they are arriving to customers.
9. __ Check your site for manufacturers compliance or non-compliances issues.
10. __ If you find any issues, send an email to your vendor (so you have it in writing), cc-ing your GM or ID, and immediately follow up with a phone call. If the issue is not resolved in 24 hours, re-send the email, and cc you GM or ID. They should take it from there.
Following these processes and checklists will help you maximize you efforts and success! Good luck.
From Digital Dealer Magazine May 2008
by : Peter Batten
Your online store is just as important as your showroom, and the reason why is clear: 70 percent of new vehicle buyers use the Internet to vehicle shop, as do 61 percent of used vehicle buyers (2007 J.D. Power and Associates New Autoshopper.com & Used Autoshopper.com studies). But, as you may have noticed, simply having a web site will not increase your traffic, leads, or sales. In fact, a flaccid web site can do more harm than good as potential customers quickly ascertain that they will not find the information they want and leave your site in favor of a big portal or automaker site. But it does not have to be that way. You can make your dealership web site a best-in-class consumer destination with the features and tools that give your customers the comprehensive content, intuitive navigation, and breadth of information found on leading portals and manufacturer sites. That’s right: your site can be as impressive as any automotive site out there. And you can do it all with a minimum of development time.
Lifestyle search capabilities
With a lifestyle search, a consumer can search for vehicles that match their needs without having to know any esoteric vehicle information. For example, a customer can search by body style, like SUV, coupe, or convertible, instead of having to start searching by make and model. Many consumers do not know what exact trim they want; they just know they need an SUV because they carry cargo on slippery roads, or a compact because they want to save on gas bills. Lifestyle searches are intuitive for consumers, allowing them to find the vehicle they want with the least amount of hassle and frustration.
Powerful comparison features
A J.D. Powers and Associates study focusing on best practices on manufacturer web sites found that consumers loved powerful comparison tools that allowed them to compare multiple vehicles at one time (2006 Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation StudySM – J.D. Powers and Associates). They found that side-by-side and advantage-based comparisons are especially useful because shoppers can quickly scan the results and even print out results for future consideration. There are several companies who can equip your web site with a robust comparison tool in record time.
Vehicle images and videos
The same J.D. Powers and Associates study cited above found that consumers gravitate to vehicle images and videos, which put them immediately in the virtual driver’s seat. Videos are especially valuable for demonstrating functionality and versatility of a vehicle including: acceleration, cornering, stopping, and much more. Color changes and interior shots are invaluable for helping the consumer to experience the vehicle and for generating excitement and the desire to buy. Consider including a comprehensive equipment listing for each of your vehicles alongside a detailed photo that consumers can click to view different angles, interior shots, colors, and live-action video. Build-A-Car tool tied to your inventory
The advantages of a Build-A-Car tool on your web site have been well documented. Give consumers the opportunity to design the car of their dreams and they will stay on your site longer, return again and again, and convert into a valid prospect at a higher rate. Bump this tool up to the next level by integrating it with your inventory so customers can see what you have available.
Online credit applications
You want prospects to become buyers. An additional feature to help you meet this goal is the online credit application. By including a secure link to a credit application that a customer can immediately complete, you are saving that customer time and hassle and also converting a lead into a viable prospect. Use the credit application as a virtual shopping cart to close qualified buyers in record time.
By: Pat Ryan, Jr.
From Digital Dealer Magazine February 2008
Every week seems to bring an interesting new study on how consumers are using the Internet in their car buying process. While all of these studies point to the importance of an evolving e-strategy for dealerships, it is not always easy for dealers to glean actionable takeaways from these studies. With all the data flying around, this presents a great opportunity to make sense of it all. Let’s start with the most dramatic headline.
The 2007 Dealer eBusiness Performance study sponsored by Yahoo revealed that 88 percent of consumers use the Internet for research prior to visiting a dealership. At the same time, dealers we hear from typically report 15 to 20 percent of their business coming from their Internet departments.
What happened to the 68 percent of buyers that used the Internet to research vehicles yet were invisible to the Internet department? Simply put, they may have shopped your “virtual frontline” but did so anonymously; some later came to visit your dealership while others bought from your competitor.
Why do the majority of buyers using the Internet choose to stay invisible to your Internet department? Because the majority of Internet shoppers are reluctant to share their personal information online with dealers or third-party web sites and therefore never become a “lead.” The result: the majority of visitors to your “virtual frontline” are invisible and untouchable for your Internet team.
How does this impact my business?
Dealers routinely work hard to engage every guest who walks their lot and shops through the traditional buying process. In the online world, if your vehicle is not competitively priced with similar vehicles in your market, a consumer will leave your virtual frontline for another dealer’s with one click, never returning and never speaking with anyone on your team. Buyers will also “vote” with their mouse by clicking away from vehicles that do not have enough pictures, have poor quality pictures, or lack compelling descriptions.
What makes dealerships vulnerable to these kinds of missteps?
Dealerships traditionally priced pre-owned inventory on a “cost-plus” basis-pricing the vehicle to ensure they have enough room to negotiate with a customer and still sell a vehicle for a strong gross profit. Since pre-owned vehicles are more varied in value because of age, condition, mileage etc., consumers were unlikely to find a similar vehicle to yours across the street, giving dealers the upper hand. However, in the Internet age, customers can see your pricing next to nearly all of the similar vehicles in your market, making cost-plus pricing a barrier to driving traffic from the Internet.
In addition to the consumer being empowered by the Internet, dealers who are inconsistent in putting enough pictures or robust vehicle descriptions online will find themselves clicked past by consumers as well. It’s no longer enough to just be online. Dealers need to excel online by being as diligent in merchandising your online inventory as you are in the presentation of your dealership’s showroom.
How can I maximize my pre-owned traffic from the Internet?
1. Market pricing – Replace “cost-plus” pricing with market pricing by competitive shopping every vehicle versus the competition. This ensures that your pricing will appear fair for its value in online search results. Treat competitive vehicles online the same way you would if they were on the frontline across the street. Price based on the “key strengths” of your vehicles but be realistic given the competition.
2. Consistently execute the online advertising fundamentals – Mystery shop your own dealership to ensure all of your vehicles are online with robust descriptions and pictures. You’d never put a vehicle on the frontline without detailing it. Make sure you detail your online vehicles to the same standard.
3. Mystery shop the competition – Experience your dealership’s “virtual frontline” versus the competition as the consumer will experience it. Go to an online advertising site such as autotrader.com or cars.com and see how your vehicles compare. If you are using market pricing and executing online advertising fundamentals consistently your vehicles should show well, but you may find that your vehicles differentiation is not clear to a potential buyer. For example, you may find that your vehicle is the lowest mileage vehicle in the market. In that case it may be okay to be the highest priced vehicle; you simply need to ensure that your online listings are highlighting the value. Know each vehicle’s online market and ensure that your listings are highlighting the unique value of each vehicle.
With those three simple steps any dealer can ensure that they are maximizing the potential of the online advertising they are purchasing. The key is to execute consistently, the same way you do every day in merchandising the showroom and frontline at your dealership.
A couple of questions today. First, are you still running an ad in the yellow pages? Of course you are, right? And you’re also running an ongoing search engine marketing (SEM) program, right? No? Really?
Here’s the thing. Google is well on its way to killing the yellow pages. In my house, we tossed our yellow pages book the day we got a laptop and wireless internet. If you’re not spending twice as much capturing leads online as you are through the big yellow book, you’re probably missing the boat.
Let’s say someone finds you in the yellow pages. They still have to pick up the phone or drive out to your dealership (or visit your website – your web address is on your yellow pages ad, right?), but online they can be out on your site searching your inventory and completing a financing application in a matter of seconds.
It’s a sign of the times and it’s time to adjust your spending accordingly.
Marketing Strategist/Creative Consultant
So I was working with a client recently and asked, as a part of a marketing strategy session, what percentage of customers in their database they had email addresses for. A sheepish look came over the owner’s face, and he hemmed and hawed a bit before telling me they didn’t have any customers email addresses because, “The software didn’t have a field for it.” It took everything I had to keep from smacking him across the face and asking him how he was enjoying life in 1987.Two things were wrong here… One, they were still using the same contact management system that they’d started using in the early 90s. Second, they thought this was somehow fine and dandy.Email is arguably the most significant communications development since the invention of the telephone. It allows for instant communication at virtually no cost. And this company didn’t think it was an important tool to be using. And my guess is, they’re not alone out there.
If you find yourself among this crowd, it’s time to get with the program. This internet thing is here to stay. It’s not a fad. It can change the way you do business. If you let it.
Marketing Strategist/Creative Consultant
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