Reputation ManagementResearch & Analysis

Reputation Management
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Reputation is Everything. Hispanic Car Buying Preferences Survey Review

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In my first article on Hispanic Car Buying Preferences , I gave a broad overview of our 2020 and 2021 surveys. For this article, I will focus on dealer and brand reputation. As you know, your dealership’s reputation is worth its weight in gold, especially on the Internet where negative reviews can cost you money. But reputation isn’t just about a review that lauds praises or trumpets condemnation; it is also about how customers feel about your business or the vehicles that you sell.   For our last two Hispanic Car Buyer surveys, we asked a series of questions that sought to surface the Hispanic community’s feelings about a range of topics, some of which are laser-focused on brand and dealership reputations, while others look at tangential, but related, issues such as how a respondent would feel if they were marketed to in Spanish. The results are telling… Your Reputation US Hispanics, like everyone else, see a dealer’s reputation as very important to their car buying decision. In 2021, when we asked respondents, “When you buy a car, truck, or SUV, which of these things do you consider?”, we found that dealer reputation was the most important thing to the community, even ahead of the response “Dealer advertised in Spanish”. If you combine these two questions - a strong positive reputation and advertising in Spanish - you will see the roots for a strong argument why you should direct your dealership towards building a good reputation with your local Hispanic community while marketing to them in Spanish (or a mixture of Spanish and English).  Other general market data supports our results. A quick Google search can find a number of surveys that show that a company’s reputation is an important concern in the buying process. For example, according to one survey , 75% of US Hispanics said that they are more likely to think favorably of a brand or purchase their products, if the brand makes an effort to include elements of their culture in their advertisements. And more importantly, 80% stay loyal to a brand when they find one that they like. Although this data doesn’t directly relate to car buying, it’s not intellectually dangerous to assume that this same logic applies to dealerships. Meet Your Next Hispanic Customer Referral Traffic Referral traffic is a powerful thing. A well-developed referral program can be quite profitable as many dealerships know all too well. In our experience, we’ve found that many Hispanics will refer customers when they’ve been treated well.   The data vigorously supports our anecdotal information. According to our 2021 survey, 79% of all respondents said that they are moderately to extremely likely to refer a customer to a dealer who speaks Spanish.  Sales and Service So what happens when we market in Spanish for car sales and service? Pretty much the same thing. When asked if they would visit a car dealer who advertises in Spanish to buy or service a car, just under 75% chose moderately likely or higher.   And, even more interestingly, 43% said that they would travel further if a dealership advertised to them in Spanish. Throw in the “Not Sure” respondents and the number jumps to 69%. This should make you go “Hmmmm.” if you aren’t already marketing to your local Hispanic community. With that said, our 2021 data quite interestingly contrasts with 2020’s results. According to last year’s survey, only 55% of the respondents replied that they prefer to buy a vehicle from a dealership who advertises to them in Spanish. This discrepancy could be due to the nature of the two samples and will require further research. For example, if last year’s study was weighted heavily in favor of multi-generational US Hispanics, rather than foreign born Hispanics, then marketing in a culturally sensitive way makes more sense than just in Spanish. This supposition is born out by other data. Check out this 2013 MSNBC video illustrating this point.  Most Valued Auto Brands for US Hispanics If building a good reputation and selling to U.S. Hispanics in Spanish makes members of the community more likely to buy from your dealership or refer a friend, then what happens when manufacturers spend time marketing and building a reputation with the community? Not surprisingly, what you see is what you would expect. In both last and this year’s survey we found that the brands that had a reputation for reaching out to the community in Spanish are the same brands that are viewed positively by the respondents. Below are the results when respondents were asked to choice rank their favorite brands. Were there any differences between the two years in terms of who is on top? Yes. For 2021, Ford edged into third place pushing Chevrolet into the #4 slot.   What the most significant lesson learned from this data is that Toyota’s Hispanic-focused marketing continues to produce great results. Our data just echoes what other surveys have found before: Toyota holds a solid lead because it has invested in creating a good reputation and relationship with US Hispanics.   Final Comments Your reputation requires investment and good planning. Those dealerships that work hard to create a good reputation with their customers reap the rewards in terms of better sales and better long-term growth prospects. Creating a good reputation with your local Hispanic community is more than just the act of advertising in Spanish and responding to reviews, it is found in understanding your local culture and marketing accordingly. Do you know which holidays are important to your local community? Do you understand how to flavor your Spanish advertising so that it uses words that resonate culturally? It is these things that we have to think about when creating a marketing plan that works with US Hispanics. The investment is worth it with a market that will continue to grow and mature in the coming years.
How AI and Intelligent Messaging Help Dealers Increase Sales and Service Revenue

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The internet and social media have created a society of consumers who expect information immediately at any time of day or night. In an always-connected world, information is so readily available that our expectation of instant satisfaction has spilled over to our interactions with businesses. Customers just won’t wait for a response. Even dealerships with seemingly long hours like 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. won’t cut it — and 24/7 call centers are expensive and don’t provide the level of expertise and care your customers expect. We recently conducted a mystery shop study of more than 1,500 dealerships to gauge their responses to leads from their website and social networks, and the results were less than stellar. The study found that only 16% of dealers responded to leads with a price quote within 15 minutes, despite data that shows internet shoppers who receive a response within 10 minutes are three times more likely to visit the dealership. See the rest of the results at digitalairstrike.com/lead-response-white-paper . With a growing number of consumers with short attention spans and high expectations of business response times, how do dealerships maintain a competitive edge? The answer is artificial intelligence (AI), which powers intelligent messaging. Dealerships can use AI-powered messaging platforms to free up the valuable time of salespeople by capturing and qualifying leads, searching inventory, scheduling appointments and, if needed, routing leads to appropriate team members. This process works through the deployment of intelligent messaging bots via website chat, SMS text, and social media messengers. The bots can respond to customer inquiries within seconds, so if salespeople are tied up with in-store customers, or it’s after business hours (say, 10 p.m.), leads are still nurtured and pulled deeper into the sales funnel. The level of sophistication available in some of today’s top intelligent messaging platforms can solve 80% of customer questions, according to a recent study by Accenture. Businesses are using AI to communicate with their customers in new ways, and consumers are OK with it. According to our 7th Annual Automotive Social Media Trends Study of 4,000 car buyers and service customers, 70% of people ages 18 to 44 have used AI-powered messaging tools to contact a business, and 87% classified the experience as positive. Additionally, 82% are willing to use messaging tools to get information about a business, and 88% would book appointments through the technology. These early-stage interactions can easily be handled by AI-powered bots and deliver information to customers 24/7. Not only do intelligent messaging platforms make operations more efficient, but their 24-hour availability has also been shown to improve customer satisfaction. Forbes recently reported that 75% of companies using AI have seen customer service ratings increase by an average of 10%. This increase in satisfaction can be the difference between closing a sale or losing a customer to a competitor. Simply placing the right chat feature on a dealership website can increase website to lead conversions dramatically. State-of-the-art intelligent messaging platforms are already helping dealers sell more cars and schedule more service appointments. “The AI technology communicates with our customers who message us through Google Text My Business and on Facebook Marketplace, and then directs the conversation to a team member when they are ready to buy,” says Brett Boatright, general manager of Arizona Dodge and Winslow Ford. “The fact that the leads are sent directly to our CRM makes follow-up much more efficient. [The platform] also sends vehicle price quotes — without getting salespeople involved until they're needed,” continues Boatright. This not only makes capturing leads easier, it also provides a solution for dealerships that lack the resources to stay engaged with consumers around the clock. Now is a critical time for dealerships to prepare for leads from car shoppers via messaging. AI enhances the customer experience and makes businesses more efficient. Technology trends come and go, but some are more disruptive than others. This one is destined to change the industry forever. Interested in other automotive industry trends? Get the results from our latest Social Media Trends Study at digitalairstrike.com/trends . Alexi Venneri is co-founder and CEO of Digital Air Strike — a leading social media and digital engagement and intelligent messaging company that works with thousands of businesses worldwide, and creator of the Response Path intelligent messaging platform. Alexi has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and is a pioneer in digital response, social marketing, and online reputation management. Alexi has a BA in marketing from the University of Calgary, and is an accredited trainer at the University of Washington as well as the Pacific Institute. She supports numerous charitable organizations and works closely with ARME and the Beagle Freedom Project, nonprofit organizations that rescue and rehabilitate animals.