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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. 
data graph tablet
How To Create More Efficiency In Your Advertising Strategy

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While a showroom may be full of shoppers and potential leads, dealers shouldn’t cast their advertising to the side. The market for consumers is ever evolving in not only issues but in competition. It is pertinent for dealers to grasp as well as implement several key advertising strategies to continue a successful business. Whether it's shifting advertising spending to help with inventory instead of customer acquisition or figuring out what merchandise is no longer in demand, these advertising strategies are affected heavily by the financial practices of a company. Dealers need to be conscious of their spending if they wish to successfully implement advertising strategies, especially as digital advertising prices continue to increase. How To Combat Price Volatility    Advertisements are one of the most effective ways to reach consumers in the current trend of high media exposure. The demand is high and the cost of ads across retail-focused channels is expensive. Recent evidence supports these claims as reports show a spending increase of 60% on paid search, 41% on paid social channels, 34% on the average cost-per-click (CPC), and 41% on CPM prices for paid social.  Such inflation, measured from last year to the second quarter of 2021, has happened over a short period. Often unaware of such statistics, dealers continue to obliviously spend the routine amount on advertising instead of efficiently eliminating wasteful spending.  More commonplace than expected hundreds if not thousands of dealers across the country deal with the lack of knowledge and the unsuspecting trap of advertisement cost. Reducing Wasteful Media Expenditures    To be a profitable dealership, it is key to reduce advertising waste. Currently, it is estimated that around $13.4 billion on digital advertising will be spent by the automotive industry. Out of approximately 13.4 billion, 40% of digital advertising will be ineffective due to the wrong strategy, bad data, or both. The solution is to leverage advanced advertising data and marketing technology from leading providers such as PureCars. Dealers can take full advantage by distinguishing the best vehicle to aggressively market, the best target audience to cater toward and the best media channels to reach that target audience. With tactics such as these, dealers can focus on the goal of optimizing the lowest cost per sale and RO, instead of vanity metrics such as cost per click and impression volume. Similar to true e-commerce retailers, dealers can market with attention to target cost per sale as well as available inventory. If there is inventory available and the cost per sale targets are accurate, marketing budgets are unlimited! Overall, dealers are at an advantage if they can successfully create a predictable cost per sale, demand, conversion path and inventory to sell! Making The Right Marketing Decisions     Dealers can leverage advanced data and marketing technology to help them make the most suitable marketing decisions when it comes to selling or servicing new and used cars. Moreover, it can be used to properly identify and acquire properly used vehicle opportunities. In either case, however the technology is used, dealers have the resource to maximize profits. Dealers can also utilize this technology to determine if a new vehicle in inventory needs more or less marketing attention as well as the most appropriate media mix models. The proper identification or adjustment of something as simple as a media mix can open a dealer up to millions of dollars in efficiency and profitability. Now, more progressive dealers are thinking creatively of new ways to source used cars at a premium in auctions or by buying directly from consumers in their vicinity. Both approaches have become an attractive way to build customer relationships and outpace competitors’ vehicle acquisition in a sustainable way. Leveraging Data for Better Payments & Offers Dealers, along with their lender and manufacturer partners all need to be seamlessly tied together in a comprehensive system necessary to build, offer and transact. They’re now leveraging solutions from companies like Market Scan that mines, analyzes, and manages the billions of combinations and iterations of all lender and manufacturer programs available in the marketplace and finds truly superior, scientifically perfect solutions for all stakeholders: consumers, dealers, lenders, and manufacturers.  Furthermore, today’s best and most comprehensive solutions enhance the consumer experience and the showroom process by electronically presenting all payment and purchase options to customers with full compliance and transparency – on any computer, tablet, or mobile device – at any/all points along the consumer’s shopping journey. As a result, the process can dramatically shorten transaction times, raise dealership efficiencies and margins, and elevate customer satisfaction as a result of a more streamlined process. The market for consumers will always evolve. To stay current, successful dealers are leveraging a more scientific approach with the help of marking technologies to better align their strategies to retailers who have mastered digital advertising and payment solutions. 
digital disruption
No Third-Party Cookie Data? How Dealers Can Leverage Marketing

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Third-party cookies have slowly phased out of the internet for years with stricter privacy regulations taking effect in Europe and several different states in the U.S. including California. This can also be seen with major web browsers (Firefox, Chrome and Safari) and significant-tech companies (Apple, Google) also making changes to the way they operate search functionality and target marketing products for business customers.    As a result, dealers and their advertising partners are now emphasizing how critical it is for auto retailers to utilize information from their own systems about customers to promote themselves since this industry can no longer track consumer information and trends across different automobile websites. This is not limited to just one dealer as thousands of retailers are all facing a similar situation.   Dealers Must Now Rely on First-Party Data   The end of use of cookies results in the challenges of increased difficulty targeting customers and the threat of fewer personalized ads. However, a solution for dealerships is to work with their marketing partners to identify new strategies to build and access their own first-party customer data for target marketing purposes.   Many dealership marketing executives believe   that eliminating third-party data collection makes customizing marketing more difficult and retargeting campaigns more vulnerable moving forward.   With this major shift now taking place, retailers and their agency partners must see that the first-party data willingly shared by customers gives dealerships a trove of data about their own customers, such as email, home addresses, phone numbers and even shopping intent or vehicle preferences.    This disruption to legacy marketing practices was initially thought to break the connectivity dealerships had with consumers so dealers must evaluate whether their marketing providers are equipped to build campaigns using first-party data.   Social Media Marketing Just Became Even More Important   Marketers said another solution is that dealerships can reach customers through social media platforms like Facebook to track their users’ activity.   The fear among dealers is that a high price tag and the length of time shoppers spend deciding upon a vehicle purchase (typically 3-5 years) would see car sales more negatively affected than other e-commerce-driven products that leverage first-party data practices.    These dealers fear that marketing strategies in the automotive industry cannot reach the same broad audience compared to marketing efforts of household goods, which is why having good insight into first-party customer data is critical.   Using Marketing Technology To Get More Personal   Savvy automotive marketing consultants instead say that with the growing need for first-party data, dealerships can offer something of value (like personalized discounts or loyalty programs) in return for consumers agreeing to share personal information, which can also address customers’ privacy concerns and provide transparency about how the data is used.   What’s more, dealerships can work with social media companies and host vehicle detail pages with the social platform. With Facebook, the site can identify when someone views any automobile content or engages with an ad. Utilizing this data, dealerships and their marketing providers can build an audience and retarget consumers.    These social-specific strategies are being driven by companies such as PureCars, which has taken the last few years to help dealers build custom marketing programs that not only drive traffic to the web, but also help in creating more conversion efficiency during the pre-qualification stage.   Facebook can’t share or sell to other social media platforms but they can use the data to make more informed advertising decisions on their platform.   Facebook executives said the company is working to build privacy-enhancing technologies to help minimize the amount of personal information it processes, while still allowing to show relevant ads and measure ad effectiveness.   Dealers who have not relied solely on third-party data say they aren’t very concerned about the shift since their stores have always used more first-party data from customers in advertising. The data includes information on visitors to the stores’ websites and customer data from the customer relationship management system.    This data not only helps with the initial target marketing, but can also help dealers, lenders and OEM partners construct unique and personalized offers and payments in a more scientifically accurate way, such as the payments data now built by companies like Market Scan and utilized online and in the showroom to create a more seamless, consistent shopping experience for customers.   The world keeps changing for dealers, and that includes the way in which they leverage data to market toward their customers. By focusing on web, social and other marketing technology, dealers will find new ways to collect more targeted data from their customers so that they can build promotions and offers that appeal to them even more than what they had with third-party data.  
lady buying a car
No Inventory? No Problem. Marketing Tips From the Field for Your Dealership’s Success

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The automotive industry is consumed with the inventory shortage-- while gross is higher than ever, dealerships are finding it hard to strategize marketing without the usual suspects on the lot. That being said, it’s still critical that your dealership maintain a hefty strategy so that you don’t lose your brand recognition; this could lead to giving your competitors a potential customer for life that could have been yours.  Below is a roundup of the latest tips from the field to make sure your dealership is staying at the cutting edge: Brand Campaigns While inventory may be low, you can still maintain a good reputation for your dealership. Shoppers looking for their next vehicle don’t only prioritize the make/model they’re interested in, but also the shopping experience- starting online. If your dealership brand can provide a superb experience-- answering promptly and locking in the customer before they look elsewhere-- your marketing will see high ROI during this tumultuous time.  Make sure your brand campaigns are also answering current events. During COVID, this was all about hygiene and sanitization. Now, focus on how you have the right process for getting the vehicle of their dreams to each and every customer with the best customer service. Advertise Pre-order Options Your dealership is not the only dealership with low inventory, so marketing inventory which is not released or in stock will keep your dealership competitive and give you the chance to lock in customers for life that may look elsewhere if they don’t have this option with your store.  Dealerships that advertise future inventory support brand goals, engage and conquest new shoppers, as well as continue to see high quality conversion rates on their websites.  Finetune Your SEO   SEO is an efficient way to keep your dealership on the map without spending too much money. Find the high-search keywords in your market and include them in your vehicle descriptions, promotions, and blog posts. If your dealership doesn’t have a blog, now is the time to invest in one -- especially if you’ve cut back on other marketing resources. Blog posts are excellent resources for shoppers (the more descriptive, the better). Pro tip: take a high-volume search term and use that as the basis of your blog post. This way you won’t only be answering questions that people are actually searching, but you’ll probably have priority for showing up first on Google.  Work the Service Drive   We all know the importance of the F&I profit center. But while people are sticking to leases longer, or can’t yet find the car of their dreams with inventory shortages, service is more important than ever. Make sure your dealership is advertising all service options in descriptive ad campaigns. Double-check that you’ve properly set up your service center on Google my Business so you can be easily found, and separately for those interested in service rather than sales. Lastly, set up an easy-to-use service booking calendar on your website so it’s a seamless experience for shoppers.  Trade In/Trade Up Scoring inventory is gold right now, so make sure you’ve perfected your trade in campaigns. Make sure shoppers know they can trade in their cars without buying new ones. Shoppers are also interested in comparing trade in prices, so your dealership should have a seamless infrastructure for providing trade in values, at the most competitive prices. If you haven’t already, you can also train your service staff to focus on trade in upsells right from the service lane.  We already know that pausing marketing right now can hurt your dealership brand and ROI. With these expert tips, your dealership can now focus the marketing strategy to fit today’s climate and continue to bring in new customers for life.  *Isaac Hertzberg from Napleton Cadillac and Kyle Mountsier from Nelson Mazda were interviewed to help with this article
marketing strategies
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.