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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. 
cookieless future
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. 
Dealerships, do you even CPO? A Simple & Beneficial Approach

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One of my favorite calls receive are from former customers or friends who know I am in the car business. They call asking me how they should buy their next vehicle. I no longer work at the dealership, but it is so much fun for me to help my family, friends, and former customers to purchase a vehicle as an independent third-party voice.   Recently, a friend of mind that was looking for a new truck called and asked if I could help. As we talked about some of the features he wanted, I started thinking that taking advantage of a manufacture or dealer certified pre-owned vehicle might be a great way for him to buy his next truck. The certified pre-owned programs that he could take advantage of would allow him to get a better interest rate, more vehicle warranty, and an overall lower payment than buying a new truck.   After discussing his options, I started researching the best truck to meet his needs. However, I was 400 miles away and could not physically be there in person. Therefore, all of the leg work had to be done on the computer. This created a major hurdle for us finding a certified pre-owned vehicle that was a good fit for my friend. If I had been closer, I could have gone in person to dealerships and looked at trucks. I would have been able to see the point of purchase materials that are often displayed by the dealer to show off the certified pre-owned vehicle on the lot. In fact, most OEMs have stringent requirements for signs, stickers and decals that must be placed on a vehicle on the lot if it is certified.   My first couple of searches on third-party sites was very frustrating. I was able to enable the certified pre-owned search filter; however, I noticed that some dealers were not even correctly classifying their certified vehicles. I could find a truck that would likely work for my friend, but I could not tell if the unit had any OEM or Dealer certified programs attached to it.   I began to think how unfortunate the situation was for the dealership. Dealerships are spending thousands of dollars in additional money for the certified program on their vehicle and no one can see it online. Dealer expenses that include: more reconditioning of the unit, additional time with paperwork and merchandising, and additional cost of the warranty coverage.    Luxury vehicle lines like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lincoln all have certified pre-owned programs, which can cost the store over $1,000 just for the certified warranty. This does not include all the additional money that has to be spent to bring all maintenance up to date and additional higher level recondition requirement costs. In some instances, the vehicle could have incurred the dealership an additional $3,000 or more to certified than a non-certified competing unit.  After a long exhausting search that spanned over the course of two weeks, I was finally able to find a dealer that had the right truck for my friend. How did I find it? Firstly, the vehicle had an image overlay on the truck with the dealer information, and most importantly, the certified pre-owned logo. Secondly, the vehicle was correctly listed in the certified pre-owned listings category of the third-party listing site. Lastly, the description of the vehicle clearly identified the unit as a certified pre-owned vehicle with the benefits of the program.  If you are reading this thinking that your certified pre-owned cars could use a facelift, the good news is that most of the merchandising can be automated through your vehicle export providers. It just takes a little bit of work and time to get it going. Here are the items that I recommend every dealer do to help bring their offline message to their online shoppers.  Properly classify your units as certified in your vehicle inventory tool. This helps to identify the units on the dealer website as well as third-party listing sites.  Get a professionally designed image overlay with the dealer logo and certified pre-owned logos. Do not try to make one yourself unless you are graphic artists. Too many times I see terrible overlays that were designed with a pour image editor and the dealership's credibility immediacy is negatively affected. Add a placeholder image in the vehicle picture set that clearly outlines the advantages of the certified pre-owned program for the consumer. This slide is imperative as consumers often cross shop your certified unit versus a non-certified unit.   Lastly, Add the certified pre-owned benefits to the top of the vehicle description. It is crucial that this information goes right on the top as most consumers will spend little time viewing all the descriptions. This should be automated or templated in your export tool to make sure that it is attached to every certified unit every time. Here are some examples of good certified pre-owned merchandising: Vehicle Overlay Vehicle Placeholder A little bit of effort can go a long way in bringing the same offline experience to your online shopper. The great news is that most of this is easy to setup and automate.  
Why Now is the Time to Revisit Your SEO Strategy

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Your Customers Attitudes, Behaviors, and Expectations Are Changing I’ve chosen to look at COVID 19 as a ‘great reset’. It’s been said that problems are opportunities-so then what exactly  is  the opportunity for the Tier 3 dealerships in this new normal? Kantar, a leading worldwide research firm, canvassed over 100,000 people’s opinions in over 60 markets and published a “COVID 19 Barometer” designed to help marketers understand some of the key short and long-term changes in consumer attitudes, behaviors, and expectations - and their implications. The Kantar study identified three significant changes that are predicted to remain sticky in our post-pandemic world, and to which consumer products and brands will need to adapt. In abbreviated form, they are (1) a new wave of digital shoppers will emerge, (2) An extended period of value-consciousness, (3) Localism as a mainstream movement. Using the foundation of these three core trends, particularly the acknowledgment that online shopping will continue to develop, dealerships that position themselves as most responsive to these evolving consumer needs and inquiries are most likely to survive and thrive. The world of automotive online search has changed significantly over the recent period and today involves many more paths to purchase. When was the last time you reviewed how your dealership is ranking regarding these new types of searches? Updated automotive Search Engine Optimization SEO is vital, and the time to revisit it is now. Where to Begin A significant first step is to analyze your website yourself through a service like SEOmoz or your website provider. What you should see is a report card for things like site loading time, broken links, missing headers, how well your site is optimized for mobile, and other contributing factors as to how Google ranks your site. Next, interview several potential SEO providers and ask specific questions about the actual deliverables they intend to provide. Some firms focus on keyword optimization, others on content creation, still others are broader-based. SEO consists of both on-page (things like site structure, site speed, and UX user experience) and off-page (earning links, improving the popularity of your site and content) and requires a balanced strategic approach.  Some automotive SEO providers require you to pre-select from a “menu” of services. Because the success of your SEO program depends directly on how it relates to your business goals, with this approach, it’s critical to be sure whatever package you choose matches the true needs of your dealership. Remember, SEO is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Be sure your team can move between the various disciplines as circumstances dictate. Beyond goal alignment, it’s essential to understand the time frame required to start seeing your SEO program results and what factors influence this timeline. In general, you can expect to see results from legitimate SEO techniques within six months.  As your program progresses, your SEO team should be ready and able to show you performance metrics monthly. These should include how your defined universe of search terms and phrases are gaining (or losing) ground in overall rankings, competitive market share reports on how you are doing relative to competitors, as well as what it would cost in google or BING pay-per-click to achieve the same relative rank or position. Long Term Benefits Remember, one of the great things about SEO is that it’s an investment in your long-term position. Research shows that over 80% of clicks come from organic results. Unlike paid AdWords, organic results don’t stop when you quit paying the bill. It has also been shown repeatedly that more robust organic results work in concert with your paid campaigns and improve the effectiveness of both.   Your website, and how you attract buyers to it, are more critical than ever before. It’s time to get back to basics and re-tool for the new now. To read more on COVID-19 Barometer research click here.
Making the Most of Web Traffic During COVID-19

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Amid the COVID-19 situation, we’re seeing a downturn in key metrics across the automotive retailing industry. Leads generated, vehicles sold, and everything in between is suffering as customers and dealers alike adhere to social distancing guidelines and best practices for disease prevention. One area that has proven resilient, however, is website traffic. The “quarantine life” has forced most of us to live more of our lives in the digital space than ever before, and that includes time spent researching long-term needs, such as a new vehicle or vehicle maintenance. Our current economic and social lockdown won’t last forever, and when restrictions do lift, customers want to be prepared for important purchasing decisions. That means now is a critical time to make the most of your web traffic. Now, you may think you’ve already optimized your site to perform like the virtual showroom it ought to be. Still, it’s always worth revisiting some fundamental concepts to make sure you’re not making easily preventable mistakes or missing out on critical revenue opportunities. Understand Customer Intent Before you can leverage site traffic into something more, it pays to understand what’s bringing potential customers to your site to begin with. What are they searching for? However web traffic reaches you (paid ads, organic search, targeted marketing, etc.), understanding intent provides a foundation for every subsequent interaction. Why? Because once you understand customer intent, you can strategically customize your website with a response that will move visitors toward a desired action. In the age of COVID-19, that response starts simply: Are you open? Specifically, are your service and sales departments operating? For the potential buyers who are out there, are you putting current incentives and promotional offers front and center? For those looking for service work, are your most up-to-date hours clearly communicated in the heavy traffic areas of your site? In fact, it’s generally a good practice to be as informative and transparent as possible wherever feasible on your site. Under COVID-19, that includes stating how you’re implementing social distancing and how your staff has been trained to maximize customer safety in every interaction. There are more spots where the current circumstances will affect your operation in ways that must be communicated ahead of time, such as pickup and delivery in service or remote delivery in sales. A thorough review of your site’s content is the only way to ensure there are no outstanding problem areas. Audit Your Vehicle Details Pages I mentioned that vehicle sales are down across the board, but the fact remains that there are still people out there looking to buy, either because they’re in desperate need of a vehicle or because they’re aware that this may be the time to get a favorable deal. If someone makes it as far as the vehicle details page on your site, it’s imperative to make it crystal clear what incentives are available to induce them to buy. In fact, now’s the perfect time to review your vehicle details pages to make sure you’re always presenting desired information as clearly and concisely as possible. Specifically, no vehicle details page should be without the following six points: Pictures Videos Basic vehicle information, emphasizing the five or six most noteworthy technology or safety features Price Incentives or promotional offers ( do not redirect customers to another page with any “click here to see offer” links) Tools that make it simple to interact with your dealership, such as a chat feature Finally, remember that crisp, clear, high-level information is what converts site visitors into customers. Use Your Site to Connect with People One thing COVID-19 has done a good job of is reminding us all of the importance of human connection. That applies to your relationship with your customers, as well. Even if it’s as simple as making a short video to share your concerns and talk in-depth about how your business is faring, what steps you’re taking to help ensure public safety, or how you’re giving back to the community, the point is establishing that human connection. That type of content is a natural fit for your business’s social feeds as well, providing another avenue to direct potential customers to your site. There’s an old saying that success comes to those who can make the most out of a bad situation, and in no time in recent history has that been truer for dealers than now. One action you can take to offset depressed revenue is to make the most out of web traffic and leverage your site as the top-tier virtual showroom you know it can be.
8 Tips to Consider Before You Drop the Price...

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Have we forgotten, or worse, have we failed to teach new sales managers some of the methods in selling aged inventory outside of having to discount the price? The perspective in our industry over the past ten years is that the only way to sell an aged used car is to drop the price until it sells. While it can be an effective strategy; it costs the store gross profit, and is not the only strategy that a sales or inventory manager can use to help sell aged inventory. Situations like this require managers to step back in time–before the power of the mighty internet–and remember the methods used to move aged inventory without dropping the price. Here are a couple of offline and online tips that I use when trying to move an aged piece of inventory other than dropping the price. Drive the car. While a simple tip; it is often overlooked or not executed due to all the tasks and stressors Sales Managers encounter during the business day. With all those daily tasks and management duties rarely does the aged inventory get driven to see if something is wrong with the unit. Does the vehicle need tires? Is it dirty from sitting on the lot for over 60 days? Did the reconditioning team miss something? Whatever the issue may be, take personal responsibility for getting it fixed. Put the aged inventory piece on one of your lot's "hot spots." A good sales manager should know the best drive-by spots on the physical lot. Make sure to park aged inventory pieces on the "hot spots" to ensure drive-by traffic gets a good look at the unit. Merchandise the unit with stickers and signs to help increase interest from drive-by customers. Make sure to use bright colors. Also, it is a good time to reprint the vehicle window stickers and buyer's guides to make sure they are clean and professional. Pay salespeople spiff on aged inventory units. It is pathetic that some stores pay a measly $50 mini to a salesperson who spends hours with a customer to move an aged piece of inventory. More likely than not, commission -based salespeople are going to attempt to move a customer off an aged inventory vehicle to increase their gross. Salespeople might also conclude that aged inventory might have something potentially wrong with the vehicle. Therefore, why would they want to spend hours of their time for a mini and know that the inventory has the potential for a dissatisfied customer in the future? One way to combat this inherent problem is to reward salespeople with a rolling top 5 aged inventory list. If the unit is aged, allow a 50% paid commission or, if the vehicle is being sold below cost, reward the salesperson with a large minimum commission of $500 for each aged sold inventory piece. Make it worth the salespeople's time to sell aged inventory and it will help. Use banners and photo overlays to make the unit stand out online. A simple highlighting of a special feature that isn't always easily seen from the first picture; this simple method can go a long way to increase clicks on a car. Re-photo the vehicle. So many times, the vehicle images are taken while it was snowing, or the leaves on the trees are changing. After 60-90 days the season has changed. Take time to go out and retake the photos and update the vehicle's images. Change the first image of the vehicle online from the exterior image to an interior image. The interior shot has been shown to get more clicks as it sparks curiosity. Previous online viewers of the vehicles may see it with a fresh set of eyes. Re-write the vehicle description. Highlight the vehicle features, pricing, and also the work that was completed to make your unit stand out above the rest. Margin compression is a reality in the market today; however, as a dealer, you can take additional steps to market your vehicle inventory better and maintain more gross. It takes time and effort; nonetheless, in the long run, the gross profits are worth it.