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google game

Research & Analysis

Dealer Websites: When Gaming Google Hurts

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It’s been nearly 6 years since “Dieselgate” broke and Volkswagen was busted by the EPA for gaming their diesel car emissions tests. When the vehicle emissions were tested, the vehicle software adjusted the emissions to be “clean”, when in reality they were anything but. The result of this scandal ranged from lawsuits to government fines. The lesson, aside from the various ethics debates we could have over beer, was that gaming the EPA might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but when they got caught it cost Volkswagen its reputation and a carload of money. “Gaming” Google” But what if I told you that I can show you that at least 3 website vendors are gaming Google in a similar fashion. Is this a victimless act or does it potentially cause problems for dealers? What’s the game? It’s simple: Some vendors serve up an amended version of their website when Google’s tools evaluate the website’s performance. While you’re seeing a fully functioning website, Google “sees” a bare-bones fraction of the real thing. The result is that Google thinks that the site is extremely fast, when the truth is something else. How’d We Get Here? I imagine that you are now wondering how we discovered the “game”. It’s pretty straightforward. Part of the work that we have been doing for the last 21 years is creating performance optimized websites for dealers. This means that we have a lot of experience building websites that work as well as possible for dealers given the constraints sometimes imposed by OEMs, and the myriad of third party apps and code embedded on websites. As our work evolved, we started using Google’s algorithm as a benchmark for success through its Google Lighthouse Chrome extension and its Google PageSpeed Insights tool (they both basically do the same thing, but GPSI is easier to use). How did we do this? A couple of years ago we built a tool called SurgeRecon that, among other things, evaluates website performance for a range of factors. For the purposes of our conversation here, the analysis gives us information on mobile page speed and SEO, two things that are critical to website success for a dealer. This data, drawn from Google Lighthouse or GPSI, can identify the probable causes of a slow website thus giving you a checklist for potential success. Time to Test and Validate We decided to test Google’s recommendations over a year ago on a bunch of our dealer websites and the data was compelling.   When we compared the performance of these Google optimized websites to their unfixed earlier versions of a year before, we discovered significant improvements: Page speeds had been cut in half to about 3.8 seconds Sessions had increased and their average duration had improved by 27 seconds Bounces had significantly decreased And, most importantly, organic leads had increased by an average of over 30/month  This data tells us that Google’s recommendations work. Therefore, ignoring Google’s evaluation, or gaming it so that one’s mobile speed appears better than it really is, risks lost opportunities for the dealer. ( Follow this link to read our full post about our work on this subject written by me with David Kain and Tom Kline , both industry heavyweights.) What Your Customer Sees vs What Google Sees Let’s now take a look at what “gaming” looks like. We’ll start with a simple Google Lighthouse analysis of a buy here/pay here dealer (seen below).   Check out those stats!!! This dealer’s mobile website is rated 100/100 ( #1 ) for performance. That’s incredible, but it is just too good to be true. If you look at #2 below, you see that the “largest contentful paint” (when the site is ready for interaction) is 6.6 seconds. Not good. But when you look at #3 , you see that the reported time is only .8 seconds. Oops. Those are the reported numbers. What you might ask now is what do the actual “websites” look like? For the dealer website that we’re showing here, here is a comparison between “What you see” and “What Google sees” when the website gets tested by Google. This difference is massive. The gamed version on the right lacks images and third party apps and code that can slow down load time. In order to serve up the abbreviated site on the right, the website code does something called “user agent sniffing”. In this case, it identified that Google Lighthouse was testing the site, and then served up a different batch of code. It might be a mistake or intentional. You decide. But remember: The most important lesson here is that the mobile website does not take .8 of a second to load before it is usable; it actually takes over 6 seconds. This is important because according to a Forrester study (from over 10 years ago), 40% of consumers won’t wait more than 3 seconds for a web page to load before abandoning the site. Add on more seconds, and even more people abandon the site. Get to 10 seconds, and many won’t ever return. So What Can You Do? Test with Google PageSpeed Insights Testing with Google is very easy. All you have to do is follow this link , enter your dealer website’s URL, and select the “ANALYZE” button.   Don’t be surprised if the results are poor, say 30/100 or lower for your mobile page speed (how long your mobile website takes to download to a mobile device). That’s very common, and even high when you look at the industry average of 13/100 (from a test we did with over 10,000 dealer websites).   However, if your results seem really good, say 80 or higher, then getting a second opinion is advised. To do this, you can download another extension called User Agent Switcher for Chrome and add it to Chrome.     Once loaded, find the extension, click your right mouse button on the extension, select Options, and then add this information to the User-Agent list: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.36(KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/61.0.3116.0 Safari/537.36 Chrome-Lighthouse . Once done, save the item, open the extension, and then load your website.   Of course, if you want to skip the work to set up User Agent Switcher, then just use our free SurgeDective app . It just takes a few seconds to test. Hopefully, when you run your test, the website will look like your existing site. If it doesn’t, has less content, or is just a bunch of text, then you have a problem. You should talk with your vendor to see what’s going on or contact us for help. Where Do We Go From Here? Testing your website every quarter is a good idea. Websites can collect code and other things that slow down its performance over time. Getting the test done lets you know how well your site is working, or if it has problems, it tells you that you better get your vendor on the line to do some improvements.   To encourage improvements, you can request that your vendor run the GPSI test, and then discuss the results with you. Or, if you find out that your vendor appears to be gaming Google, then you can have them use our SurgeDective tool, and Google PageSpeed Insights, to make improvements. Whatever you do, paying attention to your site speed is critical. Every second above 3 seconds can cost you a customer. And that means potentially lost money for you.
zero click searcg

Research & Analysis

Zero-Click Search Is Important, but Web Clicks Have Not Gone Away

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There has been an increase in discussion of late (blog posts, conference sessions, etc.) talking about the Zero-Click search trend related to Google My Business, and the impact it is going to have on your business. For those of you not in the loop on this, Zero-Click searches are those where a consumer conducts a search on Google (or other search engine but really, almost all searches go to Google) and then never clicks through to any website.  Sometimes this is not a bad thing.  Consumers conduct a search to find a phone number and if they click to call, that counts as a zero-click search. They might also be checking your business hours or your reviews, and again, they can get that information right from your Google my Business page with no need to visit your website.  The concern though is, that as Google adds more content to the GMB pages, such as Products, and Cars for Sale, will your GMB page (or pages, assuming you have at least one for Sales, one for Service) essentially steal traffic that would have otherwise gone to your website? It is a justified concern, at least enough so that you should be optimizing your Google My Business pages as consumers spend more time there, but have web clicks really disappeared? Re-strategizing I propose that people still visit the dealer website prior to purchase even if they start their process on Google My Business, and that web clicks are, for the most part, alive and well. To check my theory, I actually looked at 100 dealers and the interactions from their GMB page, specifically, how are web clicks trending compared to Click to Call, and Direction Requests. (on a side note, 100 dealers out of approximately 18,000 is a 90% confidence level with a 8% margin of error.) Seasonality and the variance in demand over the last year make the numbers challenging to compare, so more research is needed, over a longer period of time to truly determine a trend, but here is what we can see today: Comparing 100 dealers, between 2nd quarter 2021 vs 3rd Quarter, 2020, we see that Phone Calls are up 9.2 % and Direction Requests are up 13.4%, so if Zero Click is impacting how consumers engage, we would expect the Web Clicks number to have decreased, or at least see a lower increase than the other interactions. However, Web Clicks actually fall in the middle with an 11% increase during the same period. This would lead us to believe that the Zero-Click trend has not impacted auto dealers' web clicks, at least as of yet. Even looking at the chart above, we see Web Clicks growing steadily along with other interactions. Why do we care so much about Zero-Click? You always want to have a deep understanding of how consumers buy your products, this includes: how long is the buying process? What triggers start the process? And where do they start their research? What is critical to understand is at what point consumers are making a decision on which vehicle they intend to purchase and from which dealer. If you understand this, it can tell you when you need to be in front of the consumer with marketing messages so you are included as one of the purchase options. Once consumers have decided, at least on the model they want, we want to know where they go to find the relevant information they need to decide where to buy. That is where the Zero-Click conversation comes into play.  Will they go to your website to get the information they need? Third-party websites? Or as the Zero-Click trend would suggest, Google My Business. Wherever the consumers spend their time researching to make a decision, is where you what to invest your time and marketing resources. Google does dominate in consumer searches, but what we see from is the data above is they have not abandoned dealer websites as of yet. 
effort results

Research & Analysis

What Dealers Want From Their OEM Programs

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Automotive manufacturers create programs for their dealers to improve operations, drive up sales, and increase customer loyalty. But how successful are these programs in actually driving results for the dealers? RevolutionParts conducted a survey asking hundreds of dealers how effective they thought their OEM programs were and what areas they felt needed the most improvement. As a whole, dealers who adopted their OEM programs generally liked them, which is great news for manufacturers. This means their dealers see value in adopting and running these programs. Currently, OEM programs permeate the entire dealership, but more so in the parts department than anywhere else. In fact, a whopping 84% of dealers use OEM programs in their parts department. The three most significant considerations dealers take into account when deciding whether to adopt an OEM program are:  The overall cost of the program Overall sales impact and life directly from the program The success of other dealerships using this program Although dealers were generally satisfied with their OEM programs, they also reported that they wanted these programs to provide more resources and incentives to help drive their sales more effectively. More than half of them also felt like the program was designed to be more beneficial for the manufacturer than for their dealership. Areas of Improvement for Manufacturers One of the biggest concerns among dealers was program communication. Up to 50% of dealers reported that manufacturers needed to improve communication around their programs to help and provide more employee training and support. Nearly 45% of dealers said that manufacturers needed to expand OEM programs to better reflect current and future business models.  When asked what manufacturers needed to work on, dealers said they wanted:   Easier to use programs (especially for online sales) Higher-quality training for employees Better customer service support Consistent inventory tracking Offer higher-value incentives for dealers to drive sales Improvements made to each of these areas will help dealers improve their eCommerce sales, help them engage with their customers more positively, increase customer retention, and build customer loyalty.  Dealers Want More eCommerce Support Today, most dealers understand that the way people do business is changing, as more people are going online to shop for cars, parts, and accessories, and to schedule service appointments. Dealers today are looking for eCommerce solutions to help them expand their business online and reach their overall goals, an area most dealers feel their programs are lacking.  While most dealers are willing to adopt their OEM programs to support their eCommerce goals, dealers felt that these programs could use some upgrades. This is a big opportunity for manufacturers to change along with their dealerships to offer better eCommerce solutions.  Get the Full OEM Program Satisfaction Survey Results The RevolutionParts OEM Program Satisfaction Survey gives insight into the needs of dealerships across multiple areas of OEM programs, overall OEM program satisfaction, and what OEMs can offer their dealers to help drive their business growth goals. View the full report here .
marketing strategies

Best Practices

How to Set Up Google My Business (GMB) Nested Department Listings for Car Dealerships

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Leveraging the power of Google My Business can place your store before the right customers, increase your sales potential and grow your dealership revenues. Most dealerships structures are broken down into departments, and it might be beneficial to increase the visibility of the service, parts, etc. departments of the dealership. That is where Google My Business Departmental listing can help in nesting them. To create nested departments for your dealership, you first need an optimized main Google My Business profile page for your parent store. Before we dig deeper, let’s first have an overview of Google My Business for those that are not familiar. Google My Business Overview: What is it and what are its benefits? It’s a Google service, which allows dealerships and other businesses to manage their online presence.   With My Business, you can: Manage your dealership contact information on Google Maps. Get directions to your store and share it with others. Share updates about your business and connect with customers via social media. See insights such as when you receive calls and when the store is busy.  Before you set up nested departments for your business, you should ensure you have optimized the appearance of your main Google My Business profile page for your business. Besides the obvious of having name and address correctly completed, here are some tips:  1. Complete the description field of your profile The description field is often overlooked but it is where you can describe your store offerings and what makes you different. This is also an area that you can use to highlight the brands that you sell. 2. Upload photos of your dealership’s exterior and interior in the "Photos" section of profile Posting photos of the store in the Places section will help prospective customers to see what the store looks like prior to visiting. It helps them feel more comfortable when they arrive. Customers like images of people smiling and dealership personnel. It humanizes the store and also puts customers more at ease prior to their visit. However, be aware that Google users can also upload images to the page, so you need to closely monitor the page.  If the store fails to add photos, Google places a Google Maps image that is not very attractive. Adding photos also help customers see how popular your dealership is by viewing the number of reviews and photos other users have uploaded. 3. Add a Virtual Tour if you have one. Upload a 3D virtual tour of your dealership to showcase vehicles and the customer experience 3D virtual tours are becoming more and more popular with dealers and are a great way to showcase your business, employees, products, and services in an innovative way. 4. Ensure all contact information is correct and up-to-date, including phone number  Google has now become the phone book of the world. It is critical that the phone number you use for the store is local and that it is the same phone number listed throughout the main other online directories. Do not use different phone numbers for Bing, Facebook or other sites for tracking purposes as it will reduce the Google rank for the store. If you want to check how your listings look across the website I suggest the use of Moz.com or BrightLocal citation checkers.  Once you have the Google My Business listing up to date here is how to create the nested departmental listings: Step 1: Create a new Google My Business listing and assign it a different number and category other than that of your dealership. For instance, “Mercedes-Benz Beaverton Parts Center”. It will require you to verify the listing which can take some time if you have to complete it by mail. If you already have department listings you can skip this step.  Step 2: Once verified, as a Google User, search in Google Maps for the newly created Google My Business page created in step 1 above and click “Suggest and Edit”. This cannot currently be done by the GMB Owner of the dealership page. It must be done in Google Maps as a Google User. Step 3: Select or choose “Change name or other details”, once on the change page, navigate to “Located within” and type in the name of your primary business where you would like to nest the department. Step 5: Your department page should now display on the primary dealership’s GMB page as “Located In”. Although your department page displays “Located In” Google will take a few days to review your submission then it will be live on Google under the main business Google My Business page profile. So, be patient. That’s how simple it is to create Google My Business department listings for your dealership. Feel free to reach out to me if you get stuck and need a hand. 

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red car protected

Commentary & Insights

Bubble Wrap: Follow the Logic Filled Road

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We have all ordered a product that was shipped to us most likely in a cardboard box. Inside that box, the product we ordered, was probably covered in bubble wrap. You’re familiar with it, right? The transparent, pliable plastic material with the regularly spaced, protruding air-filled hemispheres whose sole purpose is to protect the fragile contents of the box. Bubble wrap provides exactly the right level of cushioning protection needed to make sure your products arrive safely after being shipped. Most of us own a smartphone these days. It’s probably fair to assume, many of us purchased a protective case when we bought the phone. We can’t keep our phone in the box it came in wrapped in bubble wrap if we want to use it. So, we bought the case, which is the functional mobile version of bubble wrap for our phones. Did we buy the case because we thought the product was bad or would break? No! That’s why we shelled out the $1100 for the latest greatest gadget.  The phone was expensive and we know that at some point, we are bound to have a clumsy moment, where we drop the phone, or worse yet, it falls out of a backpack or pocket. The thought of the phone striking down on the ground and cracking the screen is horrifying. This is especially true if you don’t have AppleCare. Therefore, we spend a small amount of money to protect our investment and keep it safe. The bubble wrap and phone case are to the phone, what a service contract is to a vehicle today.  Costly repairs have skyrocketed due to onboard computers, high-tech electrical equipment, sensors, switches, diodes, radar, cameras, and touch screens – all of the non-maintainable components. Vehicle service contracts not only protect the vehicle, but they protect the consumer by creating AND forcing a budgeted monthly plan. It is because of this agreement to pay for the covered repairs that a consumer can have a fully managed payment option, thus increasing the probability of a pleasant ownership experience. The Necessity for a Vehicle Service Contract The more ways you can explain how consumers protect themselves and their investments, the more buy-in you will have because they will identify with these logical behaviors. You are simply leading them down the logic-filled road. The more things you can get them to agree with you on, in terms of protection, the more likely you will demonstrate the necessity for a vehicle service contract.  You wouldn’t ship valuable fragile items without packing peanuts or bubble wrap, would you? Is anyone walking around without a case on a cell phone? These are just two small, everyday examples most of us overlook as an avenue down the logic-filled road to commonality and “agreement in principle”. When we arrive at “common Grandville”, we connect, and the transference of enthusiasm and excitement happens. The next part is simply using logical mathematics to illustrate how much better the protected payment is, especially because of the increasing costs of breakdowns due to the replacement factor instead of just repair. There are many different ways you can try to convince a consumer that they need a vehicle service contract. There are so many closes, and honestly, they all have their own validity and effectiveness in their own way. The problem is getting comfortable with how you explain it. If you don’t understand the comparison, you are making or can’t effectively communicate it in a way where you break it down to something so basic and common, the consumer will feel like you are trying to mislead them or they will altogether not follow along and will likely decline because they are afraid of making a bad decision, not because they don’t see value in it.   By scanning the above QR code with your smartphone, or following this link you can watch THE BUBBLE WRAP CLOSE! Practice it and customize it to your liking. I think it is just one more tool in your belt when pushing to improve your effectiveness in the business office. Go forth and profit! #bing #morewinning
user experience

Commentary & Insights

The Automotive Website Tragedy Still Exists and Frankly, I’m Shocked

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We’re halfway through 2021 and we’re still seeing website tragedies in automotive. And yes, it really is a tragedy. When a dealership spends that much money for a solid website, competitive traffic, and SEO maintenance, you’d expect the website to be optimized for conversions and leads. If you want your website to attract most modern-day shoppers, there is some work to be done in the industry because, without this gem, dealerships can’t showcase their inventory, incentives, and dealership culture to the avid online shopper.  So let’s dissect some of the common mistakes that we are still seeing today and how you can fix them.  Overlapping CTAs One of the most common website tragedies is when CTAs (call-to-actions/buttons) overlap with each other. CTAs are your moment to shine, dealers! So if you’re crowding the button with bad UX (user experience), your expensive traffic is never going to convert into a lead-- and not just because of the aesthetic, but because it’s actually impossible to click the CTA underneath when something is blocking it.  This is a must clean-up situation so you can optimize for the most leads. Where can you start? Probably with consolidating on-site vendors so you can avoid these CSS mistakes, but if you insist on keeping separate vendors, I’d certainly recommend connecting the vendors to coordinate online real estate.  Stuck/Cutoff Overlays Dealership websites often have multiple pop-up overlays, including chat, that simultaneously interrupt a shopper's browsing experience. But what’s worse is that often the overlay is cut off, usually because it’s not optimized for every screen and every device. As you can imagine, not seeing the full engagement can lead to some frustrated online buyers.   To avoid this, dealers need to work with quality (not quantity) website optimization partners and ensure proper QA on every device. With our screen-obsessed generation, you never know if your next buyer will be searching for their vehicle on a tablet, iphone, or computer, but rest assured, they’ll expect the perfect user experience wherever they are.  Dead Specials Pages When consumers click on your specials page, they’re expecting gold-- how can they get the best deal and are you the store that’s going to give it to them? If your specials page doesn’t display any incentives, you’re losing an opportunity. Your dealership should be investing in technology that scans multiple data sources, in real-time, so you can pull any incentive opportunity for your dealership at any time. This way, your dealership doesn’t just rely on OEM incentives resulting in some dead days in the beginning of the month.  Lack of Transparency  Even if your store is not a one-price store, you can still show basic price transparency on your website and leave room for negotiation later. In this example, the sale price isn’t even listed which pushes away the modern shopper looking to understand ballpark prices before committing to a conversion online. Use transparency to attract all kinds of shoppers, but especially the experienced online shoppers.  While it’s important to look into all the new digital marketing solutions out there to build healthy streams of traffic, this is a reminder not to leave your website behind. Your website is your home base-- your lead magnet-- to represent your dealership and bring in more business in a world where 92% of shoppers will start their journey online. Let’s make it easy for them! 
right to repair act

Commentary & Insights

Are Dealers Ready for “Telematics Right to Repair?”

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"Right to Repair" Significantly Expanded In the November, 2020 election, voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed a ballot initiative, Question 1 , by an overwhelming margin (75% approved). Question 1 requires that OEM's make diagnostic data collected remotely -- through OEM telematics systems -- available to individual vehicle owners and to independent repair shops. The 2020 initiative expands on a "Right to Repair" initiative passed in 2013. The original initiative required OEM's to make diagnostic and repair data available to individual owners or independent repair shops. In 2013, this meant that OEM's had to provide data access to diagnostic repair tools.  In 2020, this requirement was expanded to include data collected remotely through telematics systems from vehicles that are on the road. The original "Right to Repair" was also first passed in Massachusetts, but in 2014, the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers signed a memorandum of understanding to support implementation in all 50 States and the District of Columbia. This move pre-empted "Right to Repair" initiatives in several other States that were similar to the one in Massachusetts. With the "Telematics Right to Repair" initiative of 2020, however, the Alliance is challenging the expansion of Right to Repair into data collected through telematics systems. The trial began on June 15 and is ongoing. If the Telematics expansion is allowed to proceed, however, dealers should be thinking about the implications to their service business, because this expansion might be much more significant than it at first appears. "Right to Repair" and the Connected Car On the surface, expansion of “Right to Repair” to include telematics may not seem like a big difference. But the difference has the potential to be enormous for service retention, which is why independent repair shops and service chains fought so hard for the Massachusetts initiative. With this change, customers will be enticed to set up an ongoing remote connection to their service provider of choice, putting that provider in the best position to capture and retain that customer.   Once this system is in place, a visit to the local quick lube shop, tire store, or parts store will change. As the customer wraps up an oil change, for example, the attendant will ask the customer to authorize the shop to monitor the vehicle’s diagnostics. This will allow the shop to see when the vehicle is in need of its next service and send out a text or email with a perfectly timed service reminder. Well-run shops will eventually analyze their base of connected customers to determine the optimal time to bring them in – both when the vehicle needs service and when the shop has available capacity. Service shops and chains that do this well will cement a closer relationship with their customers and increase repeat service loyalty.   Alternatively, customers may choose to authorize an intermediate service “broker” to monitor their diagnostics and manage their vehicle’s maintenance. The broker will then be in a position to act as the customer’s trusted advisor, and will route service jobs to the most competitive service provider. Dealers Should Prepare Now The Independent shops and service chains in Massachusetts clearly hope to use this new initiative to gain business from franchised dealers (or prevent current business from being lost to Dealers). In order to maintain and grow the dealers' share of the non-warranty repair and maintenance business, dealers will have to make excellent use of the telematics systems installed by their manufacturers.  Dealers start with a key advantage, which is the opportunity to start a connected service relationship with the customer from the moment the new or used vehicle is delivered. But not all dealers today do a great job activating these systems, and activation for some OEMs is very inconsistent. Dealers must be sure to activate OEM-provided systems and secure customer consent to share service and maintenance data. Dealers then have to do a great job of managing data notifications to quickly schedule customers for any needed service work. Dealers may also want to take advantage of aftermarket systems for their older inventory that lacks OEM-provided telematics. A service like Spireon’s Lojack is a good example of an effective aftermarket system. Dealers will have a very brief head start to fine-tune their use of connected car service notifications, and they will need to take full advantage. If you are a dealer considering connected service and service retention opportunities, please reach out to motormindz to hear more about how to “get” Connected.  
digital disruption

Commentary & Insights

A Guide to Getting More From Your Digital Retailing Tools

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When I joined the automotive industry, the Chevrolet Celebrity was the top-selling car in the U.S. A lot has changed in the intervening 35 years. Just as models are tweaked to address changing taste in design, so too do dealers need to address changing preferences for how customers buy and sell cars. I’ve been in many conversations with dealers about providing customer-centric environments. But setting an appointment and hoping a customer is willing to spend four hours on the showroom floor to close a deal no longer qualifies as customer centric. The standards for efficiency in customer acquisition are changing as consumers move beyond the traditional purchasing experience. Dealers who seamlessly integrate their customers’ online shopping experience with the in-store one can improve deal throughput and profitability. The capabilities are probably available in your existing digital retailing platform — you just need to take advantage of them. As a father, I watch how my kids interact with online tools to satisfy their needs — all in the moment, starting and stopping and picking up again at their convenience. A McKinsey report suggests that by 2025, millennials will represent as much as 45% of the new-car purchasing demographic. Smart dealers are already integrating their services to cater to the taste of these digital natives for a contactless experience, which will only grow as more consumers enter the market with no recollection of the slower, in-person ways.  It’s time to rethink the customer experience to address the changing attitudes of a new generation of shoppers, where dealers will be challenged to get consumers to the showroom. You can do this by: Taking advantage of digital tools to improve both marketing and operational efficiencies Ensuring seamless transitions from online to in-store experiences Facing forward Many dealers tap only limited functions of their digital retailing platform. They view the tools through a marketing lens, to send emails to attract the customer to the dealership, without thinking of how the technology can improve their operational processes already in place.  It’s easy to become so mired in your usual checklists that you overlook opportunities to improve efficiencies. Efficiency isn’t only about putting a trade or purchase value on the car, getting signatures, and determining the “we owe” to the customer. It’s more than simply revising an in-store process. If you only view your digital retailing platform as an extension of your marketing department, you’re not leveraging its capabilities. The platform integrates physical dealerships with the virtual world, allowing your customers to shop for cars on your website just as they’d shop for products on Amazon. After finding a vehicle on your website, potential buyers build their customized offer and explore credit position and financing options — all from their laptops or smartphones, whenever and wherever they desire. Robust platforms are able to track what the customer has done prior to coming to the showroom. This preliminary research will save time once they’re in the dealership. They’ll have a more informed idea of what they want and arrive more inclined to buy. It becomes a streamlined experience for the customer and results in improved throughput for the dealer. But this only happens if the transition from online to in-store is seamless, with the customer able to pick up the buying trail in-person where it left off online, rather than re-starting in the store from scratch. There are three key questions to ask about your digital retailing capabilities: Does your marketing messaging match the in-store experience you intend to give your customers? Is your team able to execute on your marketing promise to deliver a seamless online to in-store experience? Where do your inefficiencies lie and where can you become more efficient? It might sound trite, but words matter. Your messaging defines the customer experience, which itself is defined by the dealer's execution. If your website promises an expedited, always-on purchasing experience, you need to deliver that. And just as you maximize the efficiencies of your technicians on a day-to-day basis, so too should you maximize your digital retailing process. Ready for a change What’s at stake here is retailer throughput and ultimate profitability. Empowered, trained sales departments leveraging the capabilities of robust digital platforms can move more customers effortlessly through the buying funnel, with less manpower, adding to gross profit. If changing your process allows you to serve even three additional customers every busy Saturday through the course of a year, it can make a dramatic difference to your bottom line. And you can do that simply by using the features that are already available in your digital retailing platform. While not every dealer is seeking to offer a fully digital one-touch experience, every dealer should be seeking to maximize operational efficiencies.  Moreover, a robust digital retail platform can be used to solicit inventory in addition to outbound sales. Dealerships hungry to supplement stock in today’s tight market can reach out to customers to gauge interest in selling or trading in vehicles. The ability to get an accurate trade valuation without having to visit the physical dealership, and in a way that is transparent and easy to understand, might turn a disinterested customer into an enthusiastic buyer.  As inventory levels return to normal later in the year, customer throughput and wait time as vehicles arrive will become more challenging. It’s up to the dealer to turn that challenge into an opportunity. So now is the time that you should be analyzing your procedures to see if you're able to deliver the most efficient experience from online to in-store. However you adjust your operational processes, your customers will benefit as well as your bottom line.
cookieless future

Best Practices

Combat Your Cookieless Future by Creating Your Own First-Party

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You’ve seen it and have read the headlines circulating your feeds and emails. The topic about a cookieless future. And while yes this can be jarring and you may be wondering, where do I go from here, it’s important to understand a few things. There currently are 7 types of cookies that are trackable on your website, depending on your website’s makeup and functionality. Out of those 7, your first-party cookies and third-party cookies are going to be the most beneficial to you as a marketer. However, Google announced at the beginning of this year that third-party cookies would be going away. This diminishes your ability to have your products shown to consumers across different websites and platforms after they leave yours. Without looking at this change as a huge negative impact on your marketing efforts, the time has come to rethink and reengage. Rethink What does your consumer mean to you? This should be displayed in your marketing to them. Not all your shoppers are low funnel shoppers, therefore not all your consumers should see the same type of campaign. Facebook Advertising has a unique approach in which you can create more of an intent to “shop” with you. Because remember, the folks seeing your ads across Facebook and Instagram can be those who don’t know who you are, have already begun their shoppers’ journey with you, and/or have already converted. You need to be precise in the messages you’re sending to the proper audiences so that you can reengage. Reengage Within the Facebook business suite, you can create audiences out of those who are engaging with your name. You have a pixel code unique to your business manager that when implemented properly on your website can track events or actions that shoppers are taking on your website. These shoppers would be considered more into the low funnel category with the way they’re engaging with you. Within the audience building in Facebook, you can create new shoppers to take more in-depth actionable steps on your website. What I’m saying is, is that yes you indeed can create your own first-party within Facebook Business Manager.  My Top 3 Audience Builders in Facebook Business Manager 1. Lead Form Audiences Lead Forms and I have had a back-and-forth relationship on Facebook. There have been times where I’ve found that the leads generating through these campaigns were not of the most quality. Where I got the best quality leads was from creating campaigns that were geared toward more high funnel shoppers, that created an intent to do business with the dealership. Lead Forms on Facebook should not just be used for sales. You have a unique opportunity to create campaigns and use the lead form for contests, new subscribers, and shoppers that would be interested in new model releases to re-engage audiences. Once you start operating in this way and run a campaign you then can create audiences out of people who’ve engaged with your lead form. As you can see in the image, you have three options of audiences.  2. Facebook Engagement A fully optimized and active Facebook page can lead to a world of audience creation. You should start to see your businesses’ Facebook page as a micro-website and a hub of information about you. Just as Google My Business is your #1 source of free organic traffic, your business's Facebook page can serve the same purpose. Are your hours of operation up to date? Is your recent post most relevant to who you are as a company? Do you have inventory listed in the proper section on the page? And of course, please check that your CTA is UTM tagged so you can track who’s coming from your Facebook page. All these steps will help you attract shoppers to your Facebook page, and in return, you can create audiences.  3. Video Views A Video Marketing strategy is so important to the success of your brand. Video is engaging, it’s fun, and you can display a good amount of information and your creative side all in a matter of 15 seconds. Your goal with any video you’re creating and displaying is to catch the consumers' attention within the first 3 seconds so that they stop scrolling and watch/engage with your video. Facebook audience builder gives you a lot of options with how to create audiences out of those who’ve watched your video, and in return, you can create audiences to either reengage or serve up the proper campaign as to where this audience is in their buyer’s journey.  There are more audiences that can be created within Facebook Business Manager, and I suggest you go in and peek at all your options. Your goal? To create a bank within Facebook of all your own first-party data to combat a cookieless future. 

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Building Customer Relationships with Tactile Action-Based Marketing

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If you’re like most dealers, you invest thousands of dollars each month into various marketing channels. Some of which you may be deploying right now: TV, radio, digital, email, direct mail, social. If you’re not active in your community while building positive connections to your dealership name, and your team, you’re missing out.  I call it tactile action-based marketing, it’s people building relationships in your local community. Your store doesn’t have to be in a small town to make it work or to make a significant impact. I advocate for this type of outreach because it’s hands-on, cause and effect marketing, which builds relationships with both community members and local businesses. It begins with an action on your part, social media is a great launching point, and turns into word of mouth in your community. Done properly, it turns observers into engaged fans. It is also simple, cost-effective, and you can start right now. How does it work? Instead of focusing on the dealership, put the emphasis on your customers and the community, two subjects that hold people’s interest. Consider how many people pass by your dealership on any given day, does seeing your sign or building spark a positive response in them? Imagine building great relationships with people who aren’t even your customers...yet. How do you know if you need to implement tactile action-based marketing? A quick scroll through your Facebook or Instagram will give you the answer. It’s time if your pictures primarily show your staff, vehicles, or vehicle deliveries. If in your advertising, all you talk about is money, it’s time. If your posts are dominated with phrases like: “Here at ABC Dealer” “We want to buy your car” “The 2021 Make Model…” “Our goal is to…” It’s time, right? Your followers will stop paying attention if it’s "the all about you" show. Start by sharing customers’ wins Share about their businesses. How about posting what their children accomplish? Don’t forget to recognize community member’s accomplishments, sports team’s wins, and academic accomplishments. You can be a positive light in your community. Show gratitude Engage your social media followers with #thankfulthursday, each week on social media give away a gift card to a locally owned restaurant or small business. You just made a potential customer happy while supporting and promoting a local small business. Win/Win! Support your schools and teachers whenever possible Not only are you showing the teachers what they do is important, but also, you’re showing the parents you value their children. Parents are especially responsive when someone tries for the benefit of their children. When you say, “We care about providing you an excellent experience at ABC dealership” the community knows this to be true because they have seen your actions in the community. When you say, “We go to bat for you to get you the best interest rate,” this carries weight because you have been going to bat for them in their businesses and their schools. One hand washes the other, see how it works? Let’s start creating an amazing experience all the time though changing your social media approach and building relationships using tactile action-based marketing, you won’t regret it.