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Best Practices

The importance of data orchestration & connectivity in 2022

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As we progress more and more in the “information age,” and move into what looks like a strong 2022 for automotive, different things become key to our strategy when it comes to creating customer experiences. And we always have these technological “eras” that revolutionized how we think about our marketing and customer communications. It used to be mobile responsiveness, then it was how to apply smart machine learning. Now because of all the information flying around, we’re moving into the next phase of data orchestration and connectivity . This is the missing piece in the accelerated dealer-tech adoption we’ve seen over the past year and a half that will be key to a successful digital infrastructure. Modern retail and machine learning decision-making are mostly just givens at this point. Connecting the data in a meaningful way and minimizing data silos is our next priority as an industry.  What is data orchestration? Data orchestration is the process of taking siloed, disjointed data and connecting it together into one organized, cohesive system. Historically, this has been quite difficult in automotive because the data sources are not built in a way to share information easily. Today, there are new technologies focused on solving this for dealerships to continue the focus on seamless customer shopping experiences.  Let’s discuss why this is so important for automotive.  I cannot tell you how many times I went to a dealership’s website, looked at a specific VDP, filled out a form, and then got an email about a totally different vehicle. Or, other times when I went to a dealership’s website, looked at 2-3 vehicles, and then got retargeted by an inventory specific ad based on my search (sounds promising right?); However, when I click on the ad, it takes me to an oops page (404 page) because the car was already sold and/or taken down from the website even though the ad is still driving traffic to that VDP. I even see back to school Facebook ads running mid-November, which is clearly no longer relevant.  Challenges like these are a function of the information overload we’re facing. There is data and information everywhere and because it’s not connected, it’s creating really poor user experiences. Your dealership needs to invest time and resources into understanding what data orchestration is and how you can implement this at your dealership.  Here are three things you can do to get started: Map all data silos Map out all your customer touchpoints and data sources into one spreadsheet or document. This makes it crystal clear to understand where and how you’re communicating to your customers and how that data is then fed back to your dealership. Once you have this mapped out, you can understand what is extremely siloed and what needs to be connected.   Find a data hub There are a couple softwares that do this well-- find them. Invest in technology that connects your systems and customer touch points so you can create seamless experiences. This part of the process will also probably involve consolidating vendors.  Ever have a lead from a chat that also converted on a trade in? Were you able to see one solid customer journey, or two journeys for the same lead? T hat’s what we’re talking about here: consolidate.  Execution engine  Data orchestration is only half the equation. Once you have connected data, it’s critical you can execute and take action based on insights. For example, are your ads reflecting information from your CRM? Are your email follow-ups based on website activity? Making sure your marketing machine is leveraging the orchestrated data will be key to success in 2022.  While this may have seemed impossible five years ago, technologies outside of automotive have proven the possible and shown us the importance of data orchestration and connectivity. This trend to connectivity and orchestration is playing out all over society in different systems. In the tech ecosystem we've seen the emergence of micro-services and data coordination systems like Kubernetes and Docker. In IoT (internet of things) we've seen IoT opps to connect data from numerous sensors and orchestrate the information. There are endless examples that prove its path to automotive digital is coming soon to perfect the customer journey.   Let’s get started.

Best Practices

10 + 10 = Exposure

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Answers these questions honestly: Do you have a Compliance Management System (CMS) and whose responsibility is it? When was the last enterprise risk assessment to ensure all personal and dealership assets are protected? (Who has looked at the “big picture?”) Who trains the staff about compliance and how often? Has anyone ever done an analysis of your insurance policies to determine if there are any holes in your coverage?   Do you have a process at the dealership to find and fix online consumer complaints? Do employees have a channel and mechanism to bring their complaints to the attention of management?  When was the last update to the Employee Guidebook? Do employees sign a Legal Rights Agreement? Are you using arbitration to settle disputes with consumers? (In practice, do you understand why this strategy is highly ineffective?) Are you prepared for a local media story? Do your employees know what to do, what to say, or who to direct the reporter to? Who audits your websites on a monthly basis to ensure compliance with advertising laws? Who inspects your other advertising?    Does your dealership have work to do?  Any one of these issues could cost you a lot of money.   Remember, it’s not how much money you make that’s important.  What’s critical is how much money you keep! Consider the “what if.”  What if…this were to happen or that were to happen?  How would you handle it? If those ten (10) didn’t stimulate you enough, here are another ten (10): What would you do if a regulator walked into your dealership? Do you have a plan as to how you would handle that situation One very large dealership group with more than eighty (80) stores allowed the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to survey its customers to ask them about potential dealership wrongdoing.  What would be your thinking here? How would you handle that?  Have you started your work on the new Gramm Leach Bliley regulations?  The deadline is December 9. Unfortunately, the new regulations are complicated enough that you cannot simply write a check for an “app” to be compliant.  Some of your work will require good ol’ fashioned shoe leather.  Is anyone tracking how your waste (oil, batteries, tires etc.) is being disposed of and have you ensured your vendors have the adequate insurance to protect the dealership if it’s not handled properly?  Do you have a recall policy for your used vehicles?  Whether or not the used car is “your brand,” did you know the dealership would likely be liable if a customer were in an accident as the result of an unfixed recall? Have you ever checked to see how your IRS 8300 processes are working?  Are your cashiers receipting in monies with enough detail for you to track the transactions?  (Did you know the fines for non-compliance are up to $3 million and potential jail time?)  Did you recently inspect your Red Flag compliance?  Are your F&I managers just “blowing past” that screen and selling vehicles without paying attention?  This is a critical issue which will help in your defense if you are ever taken to court for selling a vehicle to someone with a stolen identity. As a dealership, are you sending out Adverse Action Notices in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)?  Failure to send these could result in a class action lawsuit to include punitive damages for “willful non-compliance.” Are you selling repossessed vehicles or salvage vehicles without disclosing this status? Does your staff know how to handle an Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) “hit” on a potential buyer’s credit application?  Do you have a procedure in place?   These questions are but a few of the concerns for your dealership when you are thinking about your daily risk.  As one dealer friend of mine advises, “Button up!”. Another says, “Stop everyone from reaching into your pocket!” Practice your “what ifs” and prepare!   In my experience, it’s not necessarily “if,” but “when!” Watch the YouTube video here . Check out Tom Kline's YouTube Channel for relevant information which is at the forefront of sharing preventative measures and insightful actions that you can take today to protect your dealership.

Research & Analysis

Exploring Influential and Impactful Automotive Advertising Campaigns (Part Two)

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Disruption for the Modern Age in Automotive Advertising Campaigns From 2001 on, the auto industry took a new approach for disruptive marketing that aligned with a world that was rapidly changing and evolving. Disruptive marketing is all about standing out from the crowd. In today’s loud, digital, tech-savvy world, businesses are desperately trying to sell you something from every angle, in every space, and on every platform, making it hard to connect with an audience that is already overwhelmed and oversaturated with content and advertising.  Since the technology boom in the 2000s, disruptive marketers are the ones who have been able to cut through the noise and find success – more so than any other time in history, particularly in the auto industry, where competition is fierce, and customers are bombarded with advertising on a daily basis.  Today, disruptive marketing practices are more important than ever. From turning conventional showrooms upside down to selling cars online, disruptive marketers have been shaking up the status quo and driving sales by appealing to customers' sense of adventure and modern technology.  Automotive Marketing in a Post 9/11 World The automotive industry was one of the first to be impacted by the events of September 11th. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, GM launched the 'Keep America Rolling' campaign. The objective was to encourage people to buy GM cars to help support the economy. The campaign was highly successful and is credited with helping GM weather the economic downturn. Keep America Rolling was a massive success, with GM sales increasing by 20% in the months following the campaign's launch. It was a perfect example of how a well-executed, disruptive marketing campaign can help a company weather an economic crisis. Cashing In on Clunkers Disruptive marketing is all about making a splash and getting people to take notice. It's about thinking outside the box and coming up with creative ways to get people's attention, and with a looming car shortage in the 2000s inspired one of the most memorable campaigns in auto industry history. Launched in 2009, the program offered consumers a cash rebate for trading in their old cars for new, more fuel-efficient models. The results were dramatic. In just six weeks, the program boosted auto sales by nearly 30%. More importantly, it changed the way people thought about car buying. Suddenly, fuel economy was a top priority for consumers, and automakers were scrambling to keep up. The Cash for Clunkers campaign was a true game-changer for the auto industry, and it's a perfect example of the power of disruptive marketing. Automotive Advertising that Electrified the Industry The Model S was a breakthrough vehicle for Tesla. It was the first all-electric car that had a range of over 200 miles. This made it a viable option for long-distance travel and helped to change people's perceptions of electric vehicles. Tesla's marketing campaigns have been highly influential in driving sales and generating buzz for the company. The beauty of this is that the campaigns were not made by Tesla itself, but rather by someone in the audience. Someone who believes wholeheartedly in the brand, so much so that they felt compelled to create their own version of an advertisement; a creation which has had over 375k views, completely unsolicited by the brand itself: Gallons of Light. Capturing the Power of Black Friday  Taking a cue from major retailers throughout the United States, car dealerships began embracing the “retail frenzy” model known as Black Friday.  Black Friday has been widely embraced as one of the most effective pieces of disruptive marketing in history.  Held on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Black Friday campaign is widely marked as the official start of the holiday shopping season.  While Black Friday has traditionally been a retail event for big box stores or smaller shopping experiences, the automotive industry began pivoting their marketing dollars in recent years to entice consumers to purchase a car. “Marketing convinced public that that “Black Friday” is a great shopping day to get a jump on the holiday shopping season. This provided a very effective “disruption” of the norm – staying home and watching football with the family,” said Kirk Oleson, President of Graham Oleson .  Marketing While the World Stood Still The unprecedented circumstances of 2020 forever changed the face of industry, commerce, and advertising. Positioned against the backdrop of a catastrophic global pandemic, automotive marketing teams scurried to find a new, impactful advertising approach when most were sheltered in place. As car dealerships remained empty due to social distancing and health concerns, television ads began shifting their tone and approach to connect with car buyers. "While this TV ad campaign wasn't the first to promote buying a car from home, it was launched at the very beginning of COVID and was very successful," said Tony Roland, Automotive Account Executive at Spectrum Reach . "Car buyers weren't going to dealerships at the time. Many people aren't comfortable making such a big purchase without seeing it, touching it, and talking directly to a person." As demonstrated in a commercial that showcased a local car dealer, Joe Maus CDJR, this approach assured the consumer that the process could be both simple and non-threatening. "At a time when many other local dealers were talking about the measures they were taking in their stores to make them clean and safe, this alternative resonated with TV viewers throughout the market," said Roland. Modern Challenges for a New Era in Car Shopping The way consumers behave has changed dramatically in recent years, and businesses have had to adapt their strategies accordingly. One of the most significant changes has been the shift away from weekend shopping. In the past, businesses focused their marketing efforts on getting potential customers to add their products to their shopping list by Friday. In the auto industry, weekends were traditionally when dealerships offered their best deals. However, with more and more people shopping during the week, dealerships have had to adjust their strategies. As a result, the way businesses operate has changed dramatically in recent years, and companies must continue to adapt their strategies to keep up with the changing consumer landscape. Beyond the new challenges of modern shopping patterns, the media landscape has more fragmented than ever before, creating a more saturated environment to connect with audiences. With the rise of digital media, there are more ways for consumers to get their information. This has led to a disruptive marketing environment, where companies must fight for attention. One way that car companies are achieving this is by using cross demographic targeting, allowing advertisers to reach a wider audience with their message. In the auto industry, for example, companies are targeting young adults with social media campaigns. This is because they know that this demographic is more likely to be interested in new car models. By using cross demographic targeting, companies can reach a larger audience and increase their sales, such as the 2022 Acura “Your Turn” campaign with Vince Staples during the NBA Finals.  According to Torrance Hampton, Creative Director and Executive Producer for GFACTOR FILMS , “The disruptive nature of the campaign originates with Vince himself, and you can see his direct influence over the campaign visuals: the artistic 360 freeze frames, jump-cut car performance shots and kinetic camera movements all while showcasing multicultural millennials experiencing the new Acura Integra. It's not about the car, it's about the lifestyle.” Reimagining Disruptive Automotive Marketing in the 21st Century There have been many other disruptive automotive marketing campaigns in the past century. The automotive industry is constantly changing, and so is the marketing landscape. What worked in the past may not be effective today, and what's popular now may be out of style in a few months. To stay ahead of the curve, automotive marketing teams will need to continuously find new, innovative, and disruptive ways to capture the consumer's heart, imagination, and loyalty. If you missed Part One of this series, click here . 

Research & Analysis

Exploring Influential and Impactful Automotive Advertising Campaigns

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A look at the past, present and future of disruptive marketing in the auto industry Advertising has come a long way since its humble beginnings. There's no doubt about it – marketing remains an ever-changing landscape: What worked a few years ago may not be effective today, and what's popular now may be out of style in a few months. Nowhere is this more relevant than in the automotive industry, where new campaigns hold the potential to make or break a company. This article will explore some disruptive and impactful automotive marketing campaigns throughout the past century. We'll explore what made them successful and see how they changed the marketing landscape forever. Early Automotive Marketing that Set the Stage One of the earliest and most well-known automotive advertising campaigns was Ford's "Model T" campaign, successfully running from 1908 to 1927. The ads featured simple text and images that showed off the car's features and proved highly effective in launching the modern American motoring age. The Model T was a revolutionary car that changed the way people thought about transportation. Ford ran a full-page advertisement in the Saturday Evening Post in October 1908. The ad appealed to middle-income families with a bold headline, "Four-Cylinder, Twenty Horse Power, Five Passenger Touring Car" at just $850.00. The campaign was so successful that it helped make Ford one of the world's biggest and most successful automakers. Innovation and Imagination Throughout the Decades As time passed, new approaches to memorable and impactful marketing took shape, from General Motors' "See the USA in Your Chevrolet" campaign to Volkswagen's iconic "Think Small" approach. As the years continued, other approaches to disruptive automotive advertising blossomed. In the 1980s, we saw the first truly disruptive automotive marketing campaigns start to take shape. Automotive marketing teams needed to find new, innovative, and disruptive ways to capture the consumer's heart, imagination, and loyalty. Saab ran an ad that featured a Saab car driving behind a jet with powerful slow-motion visuals and portrayed a lifestyle admirable to many. The tagline for the campaign was "Nothing on Earth comes close." Focused on the luxury and speed of the vehicle, the ad connected with an audience eager to experience a lifestyle they aspired to. This groundbreaking ad found tremendous success and launched the career of its director, who went on to direct the highly successful movie  TOP GUN . These early automotive campaigns were disruptive because they could reach a broad audience and promote their products in a very different way from what had been done before. They set the stage for automotive marketing campaigns that would come later and continue to be disruptive. Toyota Breaks into the US Market In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Toyota was relatively unknown in the United States. They had a small market share and were not considered a significant player in the automotive industry. However, that all began to change in the 1980s. "In 1989, Toyota broke into the US market with the Lexus LS 400, a design icon at the time, and shook up the automotive industry with the vehicle and this commercial. The ad was so innovative, Nissan and Dodge copied it. In this commercial from 1989, The LS 400 is featured here at an equivalent of 145 miles per hour with 100 glasses of champagne featured on top without shattering. Toyota/Lexus was and still is a disruptor with every model they create," said Melanie Borden, Managing Member at Melanie Borden, LLC . The mesmerizing Wine Glass commercial shot the Lexus LS into the stratosphere, becoming one of the most talked-about marketing campaigns of the year. Captivating the Audience Once Line at a Time Transitioning from big, bold headlines and visually stunning commercials cleverly designed to capture the attention of their target market, the next big disruptor in the automotive marketing industry took and more direct, singular approach. According to Dane Scott, President of Windstar Studios Inc ., the simplicity of words scrolling across a screen boosted sales for dealerships on a global scale. "In my forty years of creating Tier 3 and Tier 2 automotive commercials, one, in particular, stands out: The Scroll. Words simply scrolling up the screen." "The style gives it the appearance of breaking news, so you pay attention and almost have to read it. Dealers loved it, and it was effective, easy to produce, and affordable. I don't recall how many of these we made, but it was easily in the hundreds. From a personal perspective, the Super Bowl commercial that grabbed my attention the most was KIA's Robo Dog. Like many, I am teetering on the edge of going electric. Robo gave the commercial emotion and something to connect to. Plugging the dog into the EV to bring it back to life made the car a hero." Moving Into the New Age As the auto industry continues to evolve, disruptive marketing practices are becoming increasingly important and technologically advanced. As the auto industry has become more crowded and competitive, disruptive marketing practices have had to shift with technology booms, changing social- political beliefs, and a marketing landscape that has become entirely saturated. In the second part of this series, we will explore disruptive marketing in the auto industry throughout the past two decades, and learn how some companies have effectively broken through the noise to capture attention and find success.  

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Research & Analysis

How Do You Measure Up? Part Two

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How Google’s Website Ranking Factors Rank OEM Websites (vs Independents) PART 2 In Part 1 of this two-part series on website ranking factors, we discussed Page Speed, Page Index, and Technical SEO scores. We look at the results of our AntiguRecon tool which surveyed over 35,000 dealer websites using Google’s algorithm to drive its calculations. We found that independent dealer websites tend to be faster than franchise websites and that we have some work to do if we want to improve our industry’s performance overall. In this article, we look at dealership website Accessibility and website design Best Practices scores. Let’s have some fun… Average Accessibility Score What is Accessibility and why is it relevant? In the past I’ve written about this topic in detail, but for here let’s just say that your website should be designed so that it can be “read” by people who have limited sight, or are sight impaired in full. In the latter case, a screen reader needs to be able to “read” the page in an understandable way. All of this is required because of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which became law in 1990 and lawsuits have been on the rise for non-compliant websites. All that said, there is good news in that while there is room for improvement, the ratings are not as horrible as the page speed and index ranking factors. If we look at the graph below, Independents over-perform OEMs again with an average score of 83.4 to an OEM rating of 73.9 . Mazda got the lowest average rating at 67.1 , while the highest score went to Bentley at 87.1 . Average Best Practices Score The final score in Google’s Lighthouse algorithm gets into the best practices that are employed in the creation of a dealer website. This score tracks common mistakes made by web developers. Google’s algorithm weights elements based on risks they might pose, among other things. Google itself states that this quality score is a “helpful diagnostic tool, not a key performance indicator”. Nevertheless, a low score tells you that you should talk with your provider to see what might be improved to improve performance. Often you will find that some of the best practice issues have to do with optimizing file use which in many cases can improve speed. So how did our intrepid OEMs and Independents do? Let’s look at the table below. Bentley, following its previous trend, is the top performing OEM, while Hyundai has work to do at 57.8 . That ranking definitely says that there is room for improvement on their websites. Further research could tell us why those sites score so low, but we’ll leave that for another article. Finally, Independents outpaced OEMs at 76.7 . The Final Word - Part 2 What all this data tells us is that there is a lot of room for improvement in how we construct dealer websites. OEMs and their website providers would do well to look at the data and think seriously about how they can reduce the impact, or volume, of third party code on their websites.   This is a bigger conversation than what you might think. In my view, many dealer websites have become cluttered and clogged with distractions that slow down the site’s load time and lose sight of the purpose of the website, that is, to generate leads and business for the dealership. With mobile by far outstripping any other tool that is used to view a website, it would behoove us to have websites that really are designed with a mobile first mentality and a commitment to speed.   I can only hope for change, but in the meantime we’ll keep collecting the data and releasing it to spur conversation and improvement. Should anyone want to discuss this article, or the tool we used to collect the data, you can reach me here .

Research & Analysis

How Do You Measure Up?

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How Google’s Website Ranking Factors Rank OEM Websites (vs Independents) PART 1 Google measures everything, from your website’s Page Speed Score, to your SEO or Best Practices Score. Why? Because from Google’s point of view, all of your website data feeds their algorithm’s ability to rank you relative to your competitors.   Since understanding and manipulating data is the key to success online, it would serve you well to know important ranking factors that Google uses to rank you.   Let’s look at Google’s website ranking factors, and what each means: Page Speed Score - Refers to how quickly a user is able to see and interact with content on your website. Speed Index Score - Is based on the average time it takes for visible parts of the page to be displayed.  SEO Score - A calculation of the user-facing and technical aspects of a website. Accessibility Score - A technical review, or accessibility audit , of how well users can access content and navigate a website. Best Practices Score - Based on an audit that checks common web development mistakes. How We Rank Dealer Websites We wrote a tool called SurgeRecon that we use to measure individual dealers against their competitors for a whole range of KPIs (besides just Google ranking factors), but since I don’t know you or your dealership, we’re going to have fun and rank OEMs against each other (since our tool can do that too). If, after reading this, you want an evaluation, contact me here or call me at 954.507.6468. Average Page Speed Score A page speed score refers to how quickly a user can see and interact with content. There is a lot that goes into this calculation, but that explanation is close enough for simplicity’s sake. As you may guess, mobile site speed is a LOT more important than desktop speed ,since most people browse by phone. Over 80% of average car shoppers typically use their phones, while those in the Hispanic community are typically above 90%.   A couple of weeks ago, we ran a SurgeRecon mobile site speed report for over 35,000 dealers and then divided the list based on OEM franchises vs Independents. Remember: These are Google’s numbers, not ours. The results are not good, to put it mildly..   Looking at the table below, you can see that GM had the worst speed score at 15.6 while Independents walked away with the best score.  Admittedly, this list does not include all OEMs since we took the liberty to remove those OEMs who had a very small footprint. That said, when you look at the results, you see some winners and losers (with Bentley as the top performing OEM and GM with the lowest score).   It’s not all bad news though. The average OEM speed has improved since a year ago. Last year, the average site speed for OEM sites was around 13.   Average Speed Score: Franchises vs Indies It’s interesting to note that Independent dealers are the fastest of the bunch. The average speed for OEMs is 25 , while the speed for Independents is twice as good at 51.3 ! What’s causing this difference? Why is Google’s algorithm seeing Independent sites as loading twice as fast on mobile devices? If we had the time, we would have run a third party review to see all the stuff that is probably clogging up site speed, but since we’ve run such reports before, we can say that third party code is usually the cause of speed issues along with other load speed clogging items such as sliders. We’ve also seen that Independents don’t use as many third party tools (particularly OEM-mandated tracking and analytics tools), thus have improved performance. The bigger question is what can be done to minimize third party tools on sites, especially when we know that the more you have, the slower the load speed. But I’ll leave that to another discussion in the future. Average Speed Index Score Google’s Speed Index Score measures how fast the contents of a page are visually displayed. Based on data from Google, as page load time goes from 1 second to 6 seconds, the probability of a bounce increases over 100%. Jump to 10 seconds, and you’re looking at 123%. I wrote a whole article about this a few years ago with David Kane and Tom Kline, and the data is as relevant today as it was then. Look at the graph below, we can see that OEM mobile websites take about twice as long to load as Independent sites. Not good. Despite the poor performance, however, there is good news in that load times have improved since we wrote our article 2 years ago. The average speed index at that time was over 13 seconds. There’s hope… Average Technical SEO Score All in all, the average technical SEO score is quite good for both groups. For Independents, the average score was 87.4 , while for OEMs, the average score was 85.4 .   Who was highest and who was lowest? Volvo happily pulled a score of 96.1 . That’s quite respectable. BMW, on the other hand, scored an 82.1 .   It is not hard to find out what might be undermining your SEO score. Usually, you’ll find a myriad of small adjustments which can correct any performance issues. You can probably get this information from your provider, or if you read the next paragraph, you’ll find out what you can do on your own. 😉 The Final Word - Part 1 You can’t ignore Google no matter how much you might want to do so. Google plays an outsized role in our world so we must work within their rules as well as the rules of simple reality, especially when it comes to device performance for our websites. The data above shows us some website performance winners and losers, but it should also give us hope because we can identify what is hurting load times (for PageSpeed and Index Scores) and SEO performance. We have that data and you can too if you use simple Google tools such as PageSpeed Insights (or contact us for help). With all that said, there is more to the story.  Look forward to it here: Part 2 will be out next week!

Commentary & Insights

Third Party Digital Retailers are Driving Leads in the 2022 Auto Industry Climate

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In early 2020, no one could have imagined what the next two years would hold for the world- or the automobile industry. Through the shut downs of the early pandemic to vehicle shortages, a tightening economy and higher prices, to the in-dealership challenges of retention and growth, so much has taken place during this transitional time.  At DealerPeak , we acknowledge and have tracked these changes. Our research team used a first-touch attribution model to analyze data collected from hundreds of rooftops across the U.S. in Q1 2022. The data shows that there is a significant shift in how leads are generated in favor of third party digital retailers, along with an overall increase in online marketplace conversions. It is predicted that continued uncertainty will hover in the market for at least another year or more. With this understanding, DealerPeak expects dealer groups to become even more reliant on third-party organizations for inbound lead support. The Industry Continues to be Tested Q1 of 2022 has shown that issues like dealership inventory, manufacturing stagnancy and inflated prices are continuing to affect conversions and the way in which consumers shop for vehicles. One of the largest obstacles for both manufacturers and dealer groups is the semiconductor chip shortage, a situation that is forecasted to plague the industry through 2024. Lacking inventory plus an impending potential recession means that retailers must get creative and stay optimistic. Smaller brands with smaller market share are having an easier time keeping up with it all. Mazda and Maserati, for example, are able to achieve a much higher conversion rate compared to other manufacturers as they offer greater vehicle availability.  One Emerging Trend to Avoid Dealers are looking to cut costs. It’s inevitable during a challenging time, however DealerPeak has identified a major trend to avoid. In Q1 2022, website provider conversion rates dropped across the board. This is attributed to the fact there has been less incentive for dealer groups to maintain their websites based on the current market conditions, coupled with less need to generate dealership foot traffic. We believe maintaining a strong website is vital for long-term success. The best performing website providers offer buyer-focused features such as chatbots, digital engagement, and embedded digital retailing tools. What the Future Holds for Automotive Resilience and adaptability are common themes among dealer leadership in 2022. Seeking opportunities wherever they arise is now essential to annual planning, and that may mean expanding partnerships with third party groups. As mentioned, third-party leads dominate as a primary lead source because these platforms have a large variety of vehicle inventory to share with buyers. Organizations and groups that can evolve from “me” to “we” will go far in this new chapter of automotive innovation. There was also an increase in overall conversion rates for marketplaces like Autotrader compared to recent quarters. Online marketplaces allow consumers to shop and compare across all available inventory in the market - an asset in an economy where on-location dealership selection is low. This gives the buyer a sense of opportunity and control, keeping shopping frustrations to a minimum. Autotrader performs better than other marketplaces due to a large, high-converting database of vehicles. Thanks to high-ranking SEO and brand recognition, they attract abundant amounts of consumer traffic.  Support is Available Now DealerPeak is an exclusive auto dealer CRM specializing in centralized data for multi-franchise dealer groups that provides real-time insights. It's our duty to help dealerships and vendor partners succeed - and this is more important than ever in times of uncertainty. We hope you found the information to be helpful in your late-quarter 2022 and early 2023 planning. Please reach out with questions or to learn more about our CRM, Desking, Equity Awareness, or Open API programs. This article was contributed by Zach Ferres , Board Chairman of Dealerpeak, in partnership with Laurie Halter, Dealer Marketing Magazine Expert Panelist and Owner of Charisma! Communications.

Commentary & Insights

Bucket Filler or Bucket Dipper?

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There are two types of people in life.  Bucket dippers and bucket fillers. People that invest into others and pour their time, effort & energy into helping, fixing and developing others, are bucket fillers. The people who continue to simply take from and not give to others, are bucket dippers.  Bucket fillers typically use kind words. They are inclusive and work well together with others. They have manners and say things like, “please and thank you” and “I’m sorry”. They like to share and are generous with what they have and don’t live with expectations of reciprocity.  They ask lots of questions and actually listen to the answers without constant interruption, because they are being present and engaging. They will continue to help others, even when it is not deserved. They will push through tough times, because they see the good in others and they know they have the ability to be the light. Bucket fillers ARE the light.  They are the good energy people to whom everyone is naturally drawn.  Bucket dippers are the opposite. They are the ones who steal the light. They are the vampirical form of the worst of us. They typically have low self-esteem. They consume the energy and emotional gifts from those upon whom they prey. They are typically very selfish, lazy individuals who proudly admit to it. They can’t tell the truth easily and engage in selective omission. They are people who are constantly behaving in ways proven to be self-serving, allowing them to deceive people opportunistically. They are narcissists. Sometimes, they are gas lighters, the WORST ones. They frequently blame others and have a difficult time admitting they are wrong, not only to themselves but others as well. They are messy. They don’t share. They rarely offer to pay for things. They are takers.  You get the idea? Terrible people. Bucket dippers typically don’t have a knowing problem. They have a doing problem. It is totally controllable and correctable if you are on the wrong side of the bucket.  In the dealership world, as a manager, your job is to build up your team. Your job is to connect with and engage with all of the people on your team. It is your sole responsibility to make sure the people on your team have the right words of affirmation and quality time spent with them to feel valued and appreciated. Those managers who pump up the team and bring the positive energy to the store daily have happier, more productive members of the team.  The managers who treat their team like brown shoes, are the worst kind you can be. They are the reason that salespeople quit their jobs. They make the people on their team feel guilty for no reason. They offer nothing of value in terms of compassion or support. They make people on their team feel bad, and question everything.  Eventually the people on the team feel like they have gone crazy and after losing countless nights of sleep, they wake up one day and decide, no more.  If you want to take your team to the next level, it starts with you.   I encourage you to take the bucket filler pledge When you wake up in the morning, as part of your daily mindset routine, remind yourself that you will do your best to be a bucket filler at the dealership, at home, and everywhere you go. You will feel better about yourself, knowing you chose to do the next right thing. This will yield a lifetime filled with meaningful relationships, as opposed to running through friends, relationships and customers simply as transactions. This is what takes you from being average to becoming a polished professional.

Best Practices

Google Analytics 4 – The Change You Have to Make Happen Now

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July 1, 2023 is the all-important date Google has announced it will discontinue Universal Analytics. At that time, the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the new privacy-first version of Google Analytics will become the standard for website measurement.    If you are anything like me, this far off deadline has meant nothing, that is until a recent conversation I had with Dave Spannhake of Reunion Marketing . I realised that this is a huge change in the world of dealership analytic reporting, and the change requires that dealers pay close attention now.  Most importantly, is that if dealers do not have GA4 in place now, then they will lose all your historical data in 2023 when they need some comparison.   Dave is a smart guy and outlined some very important reasons as to why dealers need to be aware and start the migration to GA4 now.  1.   Universal Analytics stops collecting data on 1 July 2023.  According to Google on July 1, 2023, standard Google Universal Analytics properties will no longer process data. You'll be able to see your UA reports for a period of time after July 1, 2023. However, new data will only flow into Google Analytics 4 properties. 2.   GA4 is a complete rebuild with a steep learning curve.  GA4 is a completely new product. It’s privacy-first, designed to fill in the gaps created by restrictions on cookies and identifiers. However, because it’s a complete rebuild, dealers are going to need to learn to use GA4 from scratch. And as many users have been finding, even though GA4 has a lot of features it takes a while to learn.   3.   Dealers need to set up GA4 before it will start collecting data Because dealers rely on historical data they will need to set up GA4 long before they intend to start using it.  If dealers want to make year-on-year comparisons, August 2022 vs August 2023, dealers will need to set it right now.   4.   GA4 Setup is more intense this time. Requiring Google Tag Manager and Google Analytic access. This is a huge hurdle dealers to be cognitive about.  Universal Analytics allows stores to track conversions via Google Analytic Goals.  However, tracking of conversions via goals is no longer part of GA4.   All of the conversions and goal tracking is moving to Google Tag Manger.  The major downfall becomes, that dealers will not have immediate access to tag manager setups on third party plug-ins like chat and trade in tools.  Dave explains, “The majority of website plugin vendors are not properly set up for tracking, including most digital retailing, chat, and trade appraisal leads - creating a blind spot for dealers when tracking website conversion across all key pages” 5.   Google will eventually delete your historical Universal Analytics data. Google has indicated that UA will continue to hold historical data for at least 6 months after July 2023. They have recommended that dealers export their data prior to this time to have access it for longer.     6.   GA4 will ONLY store 14 months worth of historical data   Often as dealers we are looking back further than 14 months at a time to review seasonal trends and or events related to the economy. This will no longer be the case as the new GA4 is only going to store data for 14 months.  This puts the requirement of storing older data on to the dealership.    Some of the benefits of the change for marketers will be that they can now track users across multiple websites, apps, and other digital assets tied to the shoppers journey.   GA4 will also intimately tie Google Tag Manager in with Google Analytics to get a true sense of how the consumer is behaving on dealer websites.  Also, the new platform will be moving to new metrics such as Engaged Sessions and Engagement Rate to really get a better idea of site performance.  While a lot of this seems overwhelming, there is hope and help available to get dealers going. Dave Spannhake, and his team at Reunion Marketing are offering free setups of GA4 as a give back to the industry for the month of July and August.  What better way to have this done for your store than a true digital marketing agency doing it all for your dealership. 

Commentary & Insights

Building Summits: Creating value through Networks

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We sat down with Pam Walter, the VP of Business Development for Thought Leadership Summits, the producer of CXAUTO Summit Series and Founder of MAPconnected Membership Forum and the VEHICLE SERVICE & WARRANTY LIFECYCLE Summit. Pam is remarkable in the way in which she engages with people and has helped build a brand and community that is changing the way that the automotive industry comes together. How has the last couple of years affected the CXAUTO Summits? At the start of 2020, we had already begun planning for the CXAUTO summits in June. I never thought that we would need to go virtual. We kept moving the date out until we realized that things were not changing, in fact, the restrictions were becoming more severe as the year progressed. We had to adapt our strategy to support our brand and our community. It took a lot of work, coordination and relationship management; we were just not set up for virtual conferencing and it required a lot of effort and understanding to make it successful. After CXAUTO2020, I had considered what we had achieved and was grateful that we had been able to adapt our model and make it work. That said, I never in my wildest dreams imagined that we would need to do it all over again, virtually, the following year. When CXAUTO2022 was in its planning phase, we decided to focus on in-person fully and decided not to adopt a hybrid model and include digital. It may have been more accommodating to those who are still not traveling but based on our brand, our audience and our business platform, it made more sense to create an exclusive and closed environment in which to share and meet people. What was different about this years’ summits in comparison to those held, in-person, in previous years? There was a distinct sense of appreciation for creating an environment for people to connect in-person, to shake hands, to step out from behind their computer screens and connect once again with people. Attending an event in-person, forces you to be fully present without the distractions that come with digital technology being the sole environment to connect. It really created the opportunity to share, engage and network. What makes CXAUTO different? There are many conferences that take place in our industry, there is a huge market and an incredibly diverse ecosystem within automotive. As a smaller and select group, our events allow for everyone to experience direct access. Anyone they want to speak to is available and so you are able to create relationships with people easily and the quality of the engagement is beyond that which can be experienced at large events or in a different environment. We have found that based on the exclusive environment that we create, everyone in attendance, as well as our sponsors, come prepared to share and receive thought leadership and experience something very personal and unique. How did CXAUTO come to be, how did you come to build this brand and create these experiences? I specialize in automotive and have been running CXAUTO within the Thought Leadership Summit brand for the last 6 years. I think that traditionally, my role represents a very transactional function. However, I am fully invested in each person who forms part of our ecosystem, I truly want everyone to benefit from participating and attending. I truly care about people, their brands and their business. My distinct specialty is relationship marketing and having built my foundation in the hospitality industry, I am able to bring something different to the table. I stay in touch with our network and really focus on sharing the experience with everyone in it. For the most part, we have an exceptionally high retention rate based on the experience we create and the relationships that we build. In terms of my own story, I spent the late 1990’s and early 2000s in Chicago working for Hyatt Hotels. I was selected for the Executive Committee, Director of Catering role to re-open the flagship Park Hyatt on Water Tower Square and was really on top of my game. My husband was approached by his company to launch a program which he had started in the US, over in Europe. What was meant to be a 2-year sabbatical had turned into a 15-year European Adventure and it forced me to look at other career opportunities. It was at that time, living in Amsterdam, that I got my first taste of being a hotel customer while creating and hosting pan-European business to business conferences in key cities such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Berlin and Paris. Living abroad and working extensively while immersed in different cultures changed our lives. It was such an incredible opportunity and experience. When we returned to the US, I knew that I wanted to continue to focus on automotive conferencing and that I wanted to do it through building real human relationships. What is up next in the calendar? Well the dates for CXAUTO2023 have been confirmed and we will be back at the Ritz-Carlton Marina DelRey next year June 20-22 but until then, I am really focused on MAPconnected Members Forum which I started in 2021. It is a network of executives responsible for the warranty lifecycle: warranty, aftersales, aftercare, technical services; all the way from the manufacturer’s warranty through to additional extended warranty and financial services products. There are a lot of events focused on marketing and new and used car sales which get a lot of attention in the industry but very limited attention and forums for warranty and technical services peer networking and benchmarking: which is a huge expense for manufacturers besides raw materials.   MAPconnected was created for this reason and offers different levels of membership and varying packages which allow for single or multi user executives who are interested in connecting with like-minded people. The MAPconnected model provides monthly small virtual benchmarking and sponsored webinars, and our messaging forum allows you to further communicate as well through private and group threads throughout the entire year.  And, the annual summit, VEHICLE SERVICE & WARRANTY LIFECYCLE Summit will be taking place October 25th and 26th at The Southfield Westin in Detroit, open to leading automotive, powersport, bus, truck, construction and agricultural equipment OEMs, Parts & Equipment Suppliers, their Retailers, Dealers, Distributors, Logistics & Services Providers.  We have a really exciting lineup of 35+ speakers who will be sharing case studies on Strengthening Your Warranty Roadmap in a Customer-First-Connected-World focused on 7 core topic pillars including: Warranty & Quality Strategy – Connected Customer & Recall Strategy – Financial Services & Extended Warranty – Service Operations & Parts – Legal & Regulatory Compliance – EV Warranties & New Services – Technical & Field Service Ops Take advantage of the July early bird special and receive 2 tickets for the price of 1 through July 15th.   Reserve & Read more here: www.mapconnected.com Pam Walter LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pam-walter-4aa9143/