Karla Guleserian

Director of Marketing | Velocity Automotive Solutions

With nearly 15 years of automotive digital marketing and business development experience across variable and fixed operations, Karla has developed and implemented tactics and processes to create efficiencies and increase dealership profitability. She is currently the Director of Marketing for Velocity Automotive Solutions. Karla spearheaded Nissan’s Modern Retailing Beta Program in a small dealer group and has taught educational sessions in partnership with Digital Dealer Conference & Expo. She has been featured in Digital Dealer Magazine, Auto Success Magazine, Fixed Ops Magazine, CBT News articles, and industry case studies. Karla earned a Master of Science in Electronic Commerce and a Bachelor of Science in Technology & Management from the University of Maryland. She also completed the Service Manager College Course through Edwards & Associates. She is Certified in Facebook, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and Google Adwords.

Auto Dealer Digital Strategies that Drive Engaged Shoppers Online


Driving shoppers to the dealership website is only part of the battle... getting them to stick around & engage is the real feat! Back in the early 2000s, we marveled at our ability to attract consumer “eyeballs” as they migrated en masse to the web. Banner ads, pop-ups, and search advertising propelled at a pace that would take your breath away!  It took some time and billions of dollars of ad spending, but we finally began to understand the importance of delivering the right content to the right potential customer at the right time. Even more, we figured out that by doing so, our ad dollars yielded much more than just the presence of our target market members – it inspired their participation with our brand, products, and services.  For dealers, the holy grail is to drive a high volume of quality website traffic that gets deeply engaged with inventory search results pages (SRPs) and vehicle details pages (VDPs). By making shopper engagement a priority, dealers can draw more website visitors deeper into the purchase funnel while providing a seamless transition to the showroom. Website Visitor SRP & VDP Views vs. Engagements Digital professionals understand the importance of ad tactics that land visitors directly on SRPs and VDPs. Such a strategy is crucial considering that dealership website visitors only view between 3-4 pages per session on average. These SRP and VDP “views” are synonymous with the “eyeballs” from the early 2000s – and they accomplish the goal of getting inventory pages in the presence of potential car buyers. But what about getting visitors to “participate” with SRPs and VDPs – to engage with content, elements, and tools? Today, the digital imperative for dealers is to drive digital-first shopper engagement experiences – inspiring SRP & VDP interactions rather than just views - the top priority for advertising dollars. Average SRP & VDP Visitor Stats Consider the following facts about dealer website traffic on average: About 30% of a dealership’s total monthly website traffic makes it to an SRP  Total website visitors stay on the site for about 3 minutes Only about 35% of website traffic that views an SRP, drills down to the VDP level Visitors that view both an SRP and a VDP, view nearly 9 pages per session and stay on the site between 9-10 minutes Look at the following Google Analytics reporting from a live dealership over a 90-day period. We can see that there is a huge opportunity to get more SRP visitors to drill down to the VDP level. When they do, they stay on the site 6.9x longer and view 3.6x more pages per session. Additionally, there is a much higher engagement rate at the VDP level than the SRP level.  There is a direct correlation between VDP engagement and a car deal - the more engagement, the higher the probability the visitor will become a customer. Digital Strategies That Drive SRP Traffic To VDPs The typical car buyer spends about 14-15 hours researching before they make a purchase decision with most of this research done online. However, about 50% of car buyers have no contact with the dealership before they arrive in the showroom. This gap from online to in-store indicates a need for dealers to create strategies to get higher levels of interaction from car buyers while they are on the dealership website. When conducting research, car buyers search for the following information and more: Video Test Drives Service History Reports Reconditioning Records Inspection Results OEM Window Stickers Used Vehicle Return Policies Extended Service Options eBrochrues Vehicle Photos & Videos Dealership Reviews Special Incentives Trade-In Value Monthly Payment Estimates Dealership Value-Add Programs Much of the information that car buyers look for during the research process is either not on the dealership website, buried under navigation tabs, or not contained on SRPs and VDPs. If shoppers only view 4-5 pages on the website and two of those are an SRP and a VDP, then we know they are not seeing other valuable information that would aid their decision making. Look at the SRP image below… From this view, shoppers can see that there are reconditioning records, the manufacturer’s ebrochure, an OEM window sticker, the dealership’s inspection results, a video walkaround, a digital portfolio, and dealer reviews. By bringing such valuable information to the SRP level, more shoppers will drill down to the VDP level and ENGAGE. More importantly, you will have provided information that shoppers want right up front – without forcing them to drill down into your website or leave your inventory pages altogether to get the information they need. Not all SRPs are designed to accommodate this size of a widget, but there are a variety of options for creating more interest even with a vertical, narrower SRP layout.  Placing informative banners above the SRP is another strategy for informing shoppers that there is additional valuable information that will help in their decision-making. Today’s, car buyers expect a rich, interactive shopping experience. Serving up highly engaging content such as videos, reports, documents, and photos on SRPs and VDPs allows you to get the right content at the right time to shoppers in the discovery and research phase of the car buying process. Proving relevant information upfront that answers questions and educates shoppers creates a transparent environment where trust is built. The result is increased conversions, a smooth and seamless transition from online to in-store, and higher levels of customer satisfaction.  To bridge the gap from the digital retailing experience to in-showroom – dealers must explore creative options to engage car buyers on key inventory display pages and draw them deeper into the purchase funnel.
The Big Buzz in Digital Retailing: Dealer Ultimate Milestones


Everyone in the car business is talking, writing, and podcasting about digital retailing. The list of related virtual events is exhaustive. The popularity momentum is depicted when planning a Google Ads campaign with keywords such as "automotive digital retailing," "digital retailing," and "modern retailing." Google's Keyword Planner shows a month-over-month increase of these keyword searches for the past 24 months. When forecasting your Google Ads budget, you can expect to pay upwards of $35 per click for an average 1.5 ad position. Automotive digital retailing is absolutely on everyone's mind. Transparency, Trust, & Time Savings As you weed through the mass content, several ideals are dominant: Transparency Building trust A streamlined sales process A seamless online to in-showroom experience First and foremost is giving consumers more control of the car buying experience. The ability to search on a dealer's website for vehicles by year, make, model, and type and to explore different configurations is a given. It's essential to accurately display vehicle pricing, factory rebates and incentives, special offers, dealer fees, financing options, a credit estimator and application, and a tool to formulate payment scenarios. Multi-channel options for requesting information, getting a guaranteed cash offer on a trade, and scheduling a test drive while enabling consumers to complete their entire car purchase online with flexible pick-up and delivery options – are all must-have components of any digital retailing strategy. It makes sense that this level of transparency builds trust with shoppers, leads to significant time savings, reduces friction, and results in a more favorable car buying experience. Why Achieving FULL Transparency Is the Ultimate Milestone for Dealers Let's think about what "transparency" really means... total visibility, crystal clear, open to observation, without concealment.  While digital retailing components play a critical role in creating a transparent online shopping environment,  full transparency is achieved when dealers openly display ALL vehicle and dealership information within the digital retailing framework , which saves shoppers even more time and builds a greater level of trust. As consumers move through the car buying journey, there are hundreds of digital interactions across social channels, video platforms, search engines, industry portals, manufacturer websites, and online review sites. Digital Air Strike's 8th Annual Automotive Digital Retailing Consumer Trends Study revealed the following about 7,500+ car buyers and service customers: 60%+ selected a dealership based on online reviews alone 54% said that community involvement influenced their decision to buy from a dealership 51% used Google to find dealership reviews Only 5% of dealerships shopped sent videos in response to customer inquiries 27% preferred to select vehicle warranty and add-ons online 93% of car buyers spent a few days or more researching which dealership to buy from When it comes to achieving transparency in automotive digital retailing, there's more to it than simply integrating a digital retailing solution into dealership vehicle details pages (VDPs).  Imagine car shoppers landing on VDPs that contain all the information they are looking for – not just vehicle photos and specs, financial tools, contact forms, and pricing. What if shoppers could watch videos introducing the service department and the General Manager, explore Google and DealerRater reviews, read about a VIP program, and learn about the dealership's community involvement. Why are shoppers forced to hunt for reviews on search engines and to browse through website pages to learn about the service department, community work, or special programs that are offered? Since most of a dealer's digital budget is spent driving traffic to VDPs, having car shoppers leave to find the information they need – is the last thing a dealer should want. Start Here Think about the process that you would go through to purchase a used vehicle. Before you get to the point of needing financial tools to build payment scenarios or obtain financing, you would spend time figuring out if a particular vehicle is the right choice by looking at vehicle photos and specifications AND by asking questions: Is the vehicle factory certified? What are the results of the inspection? What repairs or maintenance did the dealership perform? Does it need repairs?  Is the history report clean? What info is on the OEM window sticker? What kind of warranty does it have?  Is there a return policy? Is there a live video walkaround? How difficult would it be for an online car shopper to get the answers to these questions? How many phone calls would need to be made? How many forms filled out? How long would the consumer have to wait in the dealership for a salesperson to gather this information? A truly transparent website VDP contains ALL the information that shoppers need in one place - not just vehicle photos, specs, and financial tools. A high-impact VDP contains a vehicle's reconditioning records, inspection report, factory window sticker, vehicle history report, dealership reviews, video walkaround, ebrochure, and videos and documents that illustrate the dealership's reputation. Providing online shoppers with a "portfolio" of the dealership, the vehicle, and digital retailing components is the ultimate milestone in transparency and trust. Doing so saves shoppers hours of research, reduces painful price negotiations, streamlines the process, and makes the transition to the dealership seamless.  The Value Benefits Full transparency offers enormous benefits for dealers as well, such as building value in a vehicle by openly discussing the dealership's reconditioning investment or an inspection performed by a master certified technician. Value-based conversations with shoppers about vehicle quality and safety, and a lower cost-of-ownership over time helps to justify pricing and demonstrates that the dealer is truly interested in helping the shopper make a smart purchase decision.  In the end, it's a win-win situation for both the dealership and the car buyer – by focusing on selling value, the dealership retains its gross profit. At the same time, full transparency earns trust and drives customer loyalty.