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A Revealing Look At Dealership Homepage Banners

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The emphasis many dealers place on creating homepage banners is a glaring example of the industry’s failure to communicate changing consumer behaviors. It’s no surprise that these have become a staple of websites , not just in automotive retail. They’re a visually compelling way to communicate monthly specials and incentives to car shoppers on a highly visible page where many consumers land.  You may be one of those dealers who compels their agency partner to create — say — a baker’s dozen each month.  The truth is that — even with the high-traffic visibility — homepage banners are not nearly as effective as you may have originally thought. The Numbers Behind the Banners While intuition can serve you well, no decisions regarding your digital marketing should be made without statistically relevant data. One of our (Reunion Marketing) Client Success Specialists intuitively felt that homepage banners were an outdated focus, so we took 24 clients who used the same industry-leading website hosting platform to analyze homepage data over a determined period of time.  Below are the numbers of what we found. Car shoppers clicked on the following:  Navigation: 49.36% Inventory Search Widget: 29.73% Homepage Banners / Videos: 5.99% This means that car shoppers , no matter the source or medium, who landed on our clients’ homepage, approximately 0.05 (or 1 in 20) of them clicked on a homepage banner. While it’s true that one person in twenty does have purchasing power, let’s take a closer look into the numbers. Of the 5.99% of car shoppers who clicked on a homepage banner, here’s what we found: 45.51% of them clicked on the 1st Position Banner 25.27% of them clicked on the 2nd Position Banner 14.37% of them clicked on the 3rd Position Banner 9.42% of them clicked on the 4th Position Banner This means that by the time you’ve created a 4th Position Banner, you’ve allocated time and resources to a homepage item that only receives 0.56% of all homepage clicks.  Our research led to our setting-specific recommendations on homepage banners for our Dealer partners.  Homepage Banner Recommendations Based on the data, we concluded that automotive dealerships should create no more than three new homepage banners . Though there is a demonstrated steep decline in car shopper clicks after the First Position Banner, we know, based on our work with hundreds of Dealer partners, that you need to manage more than a single special or event during a given month. This also begs the question for many Dealers: How do I manage this when my OEM requires XX (number of) banners? You can still follow the recommended three new banners for your latest incentives and have a host of stock banners that satisfy the OEM requirement through which you can rotate.  SEO Is Incomplete Without Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) This understanding of homepage banners is part of an ongoing process called Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), which should be a part of any internal team or agency partner’s SEO work. Beyond the homepage data analysis, there are dozens of other items that should be regularly checked or strategies that you can implement. Hotjar to monitor consumer behavior on pages. Checking for buttons above the fold. Compare metrics across devices. SRP to VDP Efficiency Audits Ensuring clear and consistent merchandising. Homepage to SRP Efficiency Audits Compare benchmarks for mobile clicks-to-call, form submissions, etc. Understanding what goals are underperforming These are just a handful of items that should be part of your dealership’s Conversion Rate Optimization. You are, after all, spending money to have internal teams or outside partners work to send high-quality traffic to your website. It is incumbent upon them to also help optimize their ability to shop the site and feel further compelled to take action.
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Auto Dealer Digital Strategies that Drive Engaged Shoppers Online

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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.
car spare part
The Power of Return Parts Buyers

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You probably know the age-old business adage that it’s cheaper to sell to an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. In fact, it’s about 5x more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to sell to an existing customer. It’s been reported that increasing customer retention by 5% can yield a 25 - 95% increase in profit for your business. Furthermore, the average success rate of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while that of a new customer is just 5-20%.  All customers are important, but not all of those customers are created. Although every vehicle owner is a valued potential parts customer, the difference is between new and returning shoppers. RevolutionParts recently looked at a year’s worth of data consisting of over 100 million unique users. Based on the data, here is why return parts customers are so important: They lead to more purchases They spend more money They bring in additional business Return Parts Buyers Make Up More Than Half of RevolutionParts Web Store Visitors RevolutionParts shopper behavior data shows that return shoppers account for 54.9% of visits, where new shoppers account for a lesser 45.1%. Source: RevolutionParts eCommerce Shopper Behavior Report More than half of web store visitors are return customers; this emphasizes the importance of nurturing customer loyalty through marketing and outreach after the initial point-of-sale.  Return Part Buyers Spend More Money It’s no secret that you want customers to spend more in your parts department, and that is exactly what return customers do. Return shoppers to RevolutionParts web stores spend $65 more per order on average. Once someone makes a purchase from your web store, they are likely to spend more money the next time they purchase a part from you.  Return Part Buyers Convert at a Higher Rate Getting someone to come to your web store costs ad dollars. Once someone lands on your website, your job is to convert them into customers. The higher your conversion rate, the less money each conversion costs you. Return parts shoppers convert at 2X the rate of new visitors, meaning they will take less money to acquire. Return Part Buyers Bring The Customers to You Word-of-mouth is a blessing to your marketing budget. After all, it’s free advertising. Generally, research has shown that return customers refer 50% more people than one-time buyers. When you give customers an affordable, convenient, and reliable shopping experience, not only will they come back for future needs, they’ll tell their friends and family to shop with you too. That means you stand to gain new customers at absolutely no cost. RevolutionParts found that over 5% of gross sales came from referrals. Get the Full eCommerce Shopper Behavior Report The RevolutionParts eCommerce Shopper Behavior Report gives insight into the behavior of new and returning customers, including demographics, the devices your customers are using to purchase their items, and customer traffic sources. To view the full report, visit: https://www.revolutionparts.com/
A Look Back at Automotive Retail in 2017 Reveals the Path Forward for 2018

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When we look back at 2017, the best word to capture the year in automotive retail is fascinating . Between the drop in the record-setting 2016 sales figures to the uptick in vehicle demand from the disaster-ravaged states in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, this past year’s seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) was nothing short of a rollercoaster ride. 2017 insights When it came to online shopping behavior, Dealer.com , which operates 62% of U.S. franchise dealership websites, captured key insights from its proprietary DataView reporting that underscored the fascinating year: Presidents Day was both the most popular holiday and day of the year for vehicle shopping. In fact, four of the top five shopping days of the year fell during the week of Presidents’ Day weekend. The one outlier in the top five was Friday, March 24, which coincides with Friday being the most popular day of the week for vehicle shopping and March being the most popular month for car shoppers in 2017. All of this took place in Q1 2017, despite the dip in monthly sales figures . Texas and Florida were two of the top five states for car shopping this year, likely a tie-in to vehicles lost to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The state with the least amount of vehicle shopping? Wyoming. Consumers love their daytime car-shopping window: 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PST was the most popular block of the year. Going into 2018, confidence is still high across the industry for another healthy sales year, particularly from dealers themselves. In our recently released Cox Automotive Q4 2017 Dealer Sentiment Index (CADSI) , U.S.-based dealers were optimistic about the first quarter this year, and believe recent inventory issues have begun to subside. The CADSI also indicated, however, that both franchise and independent dealers continue to feel pressure to lower prices, experience high costs of running their business, and report weak customer traffic. Let’s take a moment to address that third caution flag — weak customer traffic — as a New Year’s resolution, so to speak. New year, new traffic Make no mistake, the automotive industry should continue to hone in on online storefront traffic to generate sales leads. Because we’re in this post-peak sales period, however, we need to reframe our core belief that the quantity of sales leads eclipses all other key performance indicators (KPIs) when it comes to profitability. It’s just not the case anymore. Instead, dealers should be focusing on attracting quality over quantity — car shoppers with a higher intent to purchase a vehicle — when it comes to lead generation in the sales funnel. How can dealerships conquer this New Year’s resolution of improved quality of online traffic? The key to 2018 digital marketing ROI is through attribution , which uses data to decipher and predict shoppers’ purchasing intent, and shows how to use that information to maximize ROI. Multi-touch attribution models help track the series of digital touch points from shoppers as they work their way toward a purchase, and assigns the respective touch points a value. This lets dealers see what campaigns are resonating most with their customers, and allows them to adjust accordingly. The coming year will bring another healthy clip of sales across the industry; however, the key to your success for the year will be through digital attribution to identify and connect with those quality car shoppers. Here's to 2018! James Grace is the senior director of analytics products at Cox Automotive Media Solutions Group.
online shopping
Today’s Consumers Shop Differently—Dealers Need to Change Too

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Today, search engine marketing (SEM) represents 55% of the typical dealership’s total ad spend. Yet, dealers are not getting the results they want. Conversions on the big guys (Google, AutoTrader.com, Cars.com and Edmunds) even on key terms, are less than one in four. In fact, our research shows that of all buyers today, only 30% will ever engage through a lead device like a form, chat, email, or phone call. Fully 70% will avoid all forms of engagement and make their first contact with the dealer on the lot. What we’re seeing is a fundamental shift in how consumers shop online. They are spending less time on big search engines and more time on topical sites where they can hunt down specific inventory. These self-directed and highly engaged consumers close at a rate of 64% or more, and at a fraction of the cost of paid search. Shift the way your dealership spends online, and you can nab more of these shoppers and close more sales at a lower cost. The New Search Paradigm Over the last decade, searches on topical sites, known as vertical search, have steadily climbed. To explain this shift, think about how you shop online. Say, for example, you’re planning a vacation; you’ll likely start with Google to get a general idea of your destination, then move to a research/review site like TripAdvisor to narrow your choices, and ultimately end up at a site like Kayak to compare real-world air and hotel prices and book the inventory you want. For another example, think about how you shop for a consumer product. You may navigate to Google for that general idea, than go right to Amazon, eBay, or PriceGrabber to find the exact product you want. This is the de facto shopping behavior for almost every retail category: people navigate to an “upper-funnel” search to get a general idea, move out of the search engine to a “mid funnel” search and ultimately end up on a “low funnel” vertical search site to purchase real inventory. Leveraging This Search Shift Putting more focus and budget on that sweet spot where the shopper is in the low funnel and ready to buy real inventory, will nab more sales. For dealers, the sweet spot is the vehicle detail page (VDP) view. The proof is in the millions of vehicle internet searches that light up the internet each month, and the fact that inventory search is by far the most used feature on all automotive sites. A strategy that focuses on creating comprehensive and complete VDPs, and deep linking them directly to the over 135 popular automotive vertical search sites (topical sites) where nearly 70% of inventory search happens, has huge ROI and far speedier closings than traditional SEM. Getting Real Results Dealers using a deep linking strategy see an average of 147% more shoppers per month from paid search. These highly engaged shoppers are more likely to visit the lot, where they close at a rate of over 65%. Not only do sales shoot up, they also happen faster. New inventory VINs with Deeplink views move 42% faster than those without. Used inventory VINs move over 60% faster with deeplink traffic. These results are possible with only a small shift in ad spending. A study of 197 Dealer Groups found that shifting just 24% of search spend to VIN deep linking dramatically improved results. Rooftop paid search shopping volume went up nearly 147% and engagement increased by 2X. Most astounding, deeplinking increased inventory search reach by 425%! Advertising costs were also dramatically lower. Cost per shopper decreased by over 94% and cost per VDP view dropped by 83%. It’s a fact: shoppers are evolving and changing their search behavior. If your dealership wants to increase its reach to the in-market, self-directed consumers who are ready to pull the trigger on a new vehicle, you have to deep link your inventory to low-funnel vertical search sites. Do that and you’ll increase engagement, lot visits and most importantly, sales. Len Short is a founder of Lotlinx, the first deep-linking automotive advertising platform. Short is an online marketing pioneer having headed up marketing at Charles Schwab and AOL. You can reach him at Lshort@dealermark.com .