Archive for category Automotive Sales

Use “Hummer Tax Loophole” To Sell More Vehicles In December

Are You Using \”Hummer Tax Loophole\” To Sell More Vehicles In December?

Car Dealer uses “Hummer Tax Loophole” to Educate Commercial Vehicle Buyers and Close More Deals In December

I received the following commercial vehicle buyer targeted explanation of the tax advantages businesses can gain by purchasing one or more new vehicles before December 31st. I received in my overcrowded Gmail inbox, where it caught my attention and I found it to be so compelling that it merited being shared with the ADM Community… The dealer group that sent it to me is the Resnick Automotive Group of Schaumburg, Illinois. I also added several sections with further detail directly from the IRS towards the bottom of this post:

One of the more popular uses of the Section 179 Deduction has been for vehicles. In fact, several years ago the Section 179 deduction was sometimes referred to as the “Hummer Tax Loophole,” because a the time it allowed businesses to buy large SUV’s and write them off. While this particular use (or abuse) of the tax code has been modified with the limits explained below, it is still true that Section 179 can be advantageous in buying vehicles for your business.


You still have an excellent opportunity through 12/31/2013 to minimize your tax liability by purchasing a qualifying Car, Truck  Van or SUV. Plus, under the Tax Relief / Job Creation Act of 2010, qualified small business owners who purchase a qualifying vehicle GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight) of 6000 pounds or more, may even have greater benefits if the vehicle is entirely used for business purposes.

  • Under the IRS ruling, the following  new “trucks” qualify.
  • Consult your accountant/tax advisor for complete details and eligibility.
  • Qualifying Vehicles of 6000 lbs. GVWR

Mercedes-Benz

Lexus

Toyota

Sprinter Van
ML350
GL450/550
GL350 BTC
G550

GX460
LX570

Tundra
4Runner
Sequoia

Additional Savings:
 Special Finance Rates, Factory Incentives and Dealer Year-End Discounts

Additional Section 179 Details Published by the IRS:
Update / IRS Guidelines for Vehicles in 2013

The IRS has not yet released guidance concerning Section 179 and Bonus Depreciation as it relates to vehicles for the year 2013. The guidance will be published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin sometime after April 15th. So be patient, and check back here often for the release date.

There are a number of qualifications for vehicles, all with varying tax treatment. Please refer to page 6 of these Instructions for Form 2106 to read the exact IRS language.

What are the limits on Typical Passenger Vehicles?

For passenger vehicles, trucks, and vans (not meeting the guidelines below), that are used more than 50% in a qualified business use, the total deduction for depreciation including both the Section 179 expense deduction as well as Bonus Depreciation is limited to $11,060 for cars and $11,160 for trucks and vans.

Exceptions include the following vehicles:

  • Ambulance or hearse used specifically in your business;
  • Taxis, transport vans, and other vehicles used to specifically transport people or property for hire;
  • Qualified non-personal use vehicles specifically modified for business (i.e. van without seating behind driver, permanent shelving installed, and exterior painted with company’s name).

Limits for SUVs or Crossover Vehicles with GVWR above 6,000lbs
Certain vehicles (with a gross vehicle weight rating above 6,000 lbs but no more than 14,000 lbs) qualify for expensing up to $25,000 if the vehicle is financed and placed in service prior to December 31 and meet other conditions.

What Vehicles Qualify for the full Section 179 Deduction?

Many vehicles that by their nature are not likely to be used for personal purposes qualify for full Section 179 deduction including the following vehicles:

  1. Heavy “non-SUV” vehicles with a cargo area at least six feet in interior length (this area must not be easily accessible from the passenger area.) To give an example, many pickups with full-sized cargo beds will qualify (although some “extended cab” pickups may have beds that are too small to qualify).
  2. Vehicles that can seat nine-plus passengers behind the driver’s seat (i.e.: Hotel / Airport shuttle vans, etc.).
  3. Vehicles with: (1) a fully-enclosed driver’s compartment / cargo area, (2) no seating at all behind the driver’s seat, and (3) no body section protruding more than 30 inches ahead of the leading edge of the windshield. In other words, a classic cargo van.
Other Considerations
  • Vehicles can be new or used (“new to you” is the key).
  • The vehicle can be financed with certain leases and loans, or bought outright.
  • The vehicle in question must also be used for business at least 50% of the time – and these depreciation limits are reduced by the corresponding % of personal use if the vehicle is used for business less than 100% of the time.
  • Remember, you can only claim Section 179 in the tax year that the vehicle is “placed in service” – meaning when the vehicle is ready and available – even if you’re not using the vehicle. Further, a vehicle first used for personal purposes doesn’t qualify in a later year if its purpose changes to business.

via Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

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Car Dealer Website Live Chat vs. Contact Form: What Is The Difference?

Live Chat vs. Contact Form: is there really a difference?

The difference between a contact form and live chat is that chat is, well, LIVE. Much more than a virtual answering service for your phones, a good chat operator can guide visitors through the website (including inventory), set appointments, provide Edmunds.com data about vehicles or CarFax reports up to twenty-four hours a day (with participating dealers and select live chat providers), and much more. The live chat operator becomes a car shopper’s ‘concierge in the cloud’.

Read the rest of the article at the source via Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

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From the Trenches – When to Break the 3-Minute Rule with Videos

From the Trenches – When to Break the 3-Minute Rule with Videos

 

I’ve been using videos for our dealership since 2009 when I saw a seminar by Jim Ziegler at NADA. I was very impressed and went back to Chicago and bought a video camera. Since then, we’ve put up over 2,700 videos on YouTube.

The best practice of 3 to 5 minutes for a video is well known and has a firm foundation. But it’s not gospel. Let me explain.

In my mind, for dealers, there are basically four kinds of videos that you can make for your dealership and varying lengths that are acceptable for them.

  • Branding videos – very short, maybe 1 minute max.
  • Conversion videos – 2-5 minutes
  • True Walkaround Videos – 3-8 minutes
  • Instructional Videos – whatever is necessary

Branding Videos are basically advertising your store or product and services. Customers have a very low tolerance and acceptance for them because they are “push” marketing similar to TV commercials. Need I say more? These should be very polished and you probably want a professional involved.

Conversion videos are videos created and sent to customers by a salesperson on a specific vehicle because “a video is worth a thousand photos”. It allows the salesperson to introduce him or herself, plug the store, and ask for the appointment. The customer wants to see that car and is willing to watch a little longer.

True Walkaround Videos are not directed at a particular customer. They are intended to be useful to those researching a particular model. Consumers who are researching want to see as much as possible about a particular vehicle so they can compare it to competing models. They will watch the entire video if it provides what they are looking for.

Instructional Videos teach something and the complexity of doing so can cause varying lengths of time. Consumers understand that. Something simple can be taught very quickly but some things take longer just to get through the steps. The consumer will follow along based on their interest.

There are exceptions to every rule. The real key is whether you are providing the entertainment factor or are providing the information that is being sought by the consumer. A customer that is looking for detail will not appreciate it if you skip over those details to keep your video short.

 

Best practices are there to be a guideline, not a rule. Always practice being a consumer and that will tell you when to go beyond best pratices.

Visit with me at AutoCon2012 in September!

 

 

Written by
 Tom Gorham

Editor, From The Trenches

Automotive Digital Marketing

Professional Community

via Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

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Peacheetameleon: New Cobalt Study Shows Car Dealers Must Evolve to Survive

Peacheetameleon: New Cobalt Study Shows Dealers Must Evolve to Survive

When it comes to automotive digital marketing, it’s a jungle out there, and a new Cobalt eBook proves that dealers need to change their spots to survive.

According to new data from Cobalt’s car-buyer intelligence database, car-shoppers visit a minimum of eight dealer websites, with some visiting as many as twenty in a single day. With so much competition, consumer loyalty is clearly an endangered species. What’s a dealer to do to win the sale?

Evolution, baby. To survive, a dealer must take a cue from some common jungle fauna. Enter the Peacheetameleon, a mysteriously powerful new trybrid creature that is one third peacock/one third cheetah/and one third chameleon.

The Anatomy of a Peacheetameleon Dealer Website

  1. The Peacock: Like the most vibrant bird in the jungle, dealers need an eye-catching website to engage and dazzle those who have been desensitized by hours of dizzy web-surfing. Stop them in their tracks with a captivating design that-much like the peacock-shows off your best assets: competitive messaging like largest inventory, awesome specials, or great customer service. Websites with drag and drop capability make it easy and fun to mix up your dealer website with vibrant designs.
  2. The Cheetah: Looks are one thing, but it doesn’t matter how compelling your dealer site is if it takes eons to load. Look for websites that are HTML5 compatible so they can load with lightening speed on any device (tablets, mobiles, desktops, oh my!)
  3. The Chameleon: On a related note, you don’t want to blend into the digital landscape like the chameleon, but you DO want a website that easily adapts to any surroundings. A dealer website that is optimized for tablets, mobiles, and desktops ensures you can provide ideal car-shopping experiences anywhere, a must for today’s on-the-go shopper.

Becoming a Peacheetameleon takes work, but it’s worth it. Additional data demonstrates that today’s car-shoppers are easy pickings for the differentiated dealer. Our new eBook found that 60% of consumers haven’t selected a make and model, and 64% of shoppers visiting your dealer website will purchase within 60 days.

Translation: these shoppers are in-market, undecided, and looking for something that’s going to catch their eye and put their mindless web surfing to rest. All you have to do is be the dealer that stands out from the pack.

To find out more about real car-shopper behavior and how to differentiate your dealer website, download the full eBook ““The Guide to the Modern Car-Shopper: Connecting the Dots from Thei…

Jade Makana is Corporate Storyteller at Cobalt. She is passionate
about bringing brands to life through competitive positioning. Her
first car was a maroon Toyota Corolla named Ruby.

Illustration by Yan Chow, Cobalt Designer

via Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

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Edmunds Releases 2013 Car Shopping Trends Study – Automotive Marketing Professionals

Edmunds 2013 Car Shopping Trends Report

There are many dealers who have strong criticisms regarding Edmunds.com, but regardless of whether you consider Edmunds an asset or a liability to the retail auto industry there is little debate about their unique position within the vehicle buying process for many millions of automotive consumers…

The stark reality for car dealers seeking greater understanding of how car buyers shop online in 2013 is that Edmunds.com has the ability to paint a vivid portrait of today’s online car shopper… Which includes 9 out of 10 new and used vehicle buyers!

About 18 million visitors use the Edmunds.com site every month to shop for their next new or used car, and this gives the Edmunds team an unparalleled insight into the car buyer’s research and shopping process.  For as many years as I can remember, Edmunds has used the online automotive consumer activity to generate extensive research data and analysis to drive the sort of car buying insights that would establish itself as one of the more valuable resources for car companies and dealers to better understand car shopping and the way buyers use automotive information.  Historically, Edmunds has made the analysis and insights available to their business partners and to the public through academic inquiries and media requests.  However, Edmunds has not previously assembled together the complete volume of current time period data and the analysis and insights gleaned in one coherent piece.

By publishing and making available the 2013 Edmunds.com Car Shopping Trends Report, they have provided the auto industry and especially dealers and automotive marketers with a true gem of a document.  The report which ADM Professional Community members can download using the link at the bottom of this blog post, shows the results of extensive data mining within the Edmunds.com’s extensive database to reveal the most relevant car shopping and purchasing trends in America today.  These trends offer direct clues toward ways that the automotive industry can move forward by empowering a more engaging car shopping experience.

Throughout the 2013 Edmunds.com Car Shopping Trends Report, you’ll also find references to a 2011 survey conducted by “Added Value” on behalf of Edmunds.com that asked 2,476 online car shoppers representing the U.S. car shopper population to describe their expectations for their next car purchase.  Edmunds correlated these responses to real-world buying data to see if shopper expectations match reality. In preparing their analysis and conclusions, the Edmunds market research team found many striking consistencies between the two sets of market research data. These surprisingly strong correlations between the two reports suggest that car shoppers have a strong sense of the automotive marketplace and that they know how to set reasonable expectations around price, availability and product performance.


By evaluating this wealth of data provided by the Edmunds team, you will find a story about car shoppers that is often surprising and counter-intuitive to many dealers and automotive professionals.  While at other times, the Edmunds data reinforces critical theories held by car dealers, automotive sales professionals and throughout the auto industry. Some of the key findings in the 2013 Edmunds.com Car Shopping Trends Report include:

  • Two out of every three car shoppers consider themselves highly engaged in the car shopping process, and they turn to a variety of information to help them decide on a new or used car. Time spent on Edmunds.com is up 2 percent from 2011 to 2012. And the most-viewed elements by new car shoppers on Edmunds.com are reviews, pricing information and photos.
  • Mobile access is becoming a powerful tool for car buyers. Traffic to Edmunds.com’s mobile site spikes on the weekends – and especially on Saturdays – when the bulk of car buying takes place.
  • Shoppers are very good at anticipating how much they’ll pay for a new car. New car shoppers told us in 2011 that they plan to spend $30,500, on average, for their next vehicle. In fact the average transaction price for a new car the following year was $30,803.
  • The average age of a new car buyer is about four years older than the average age of a used car buyer.

  • Shoppers are turning to leases now more than ever. And the difference between the average monthly lease payment ($433) and the average monthly finance payment ($468) is greater than at any time since Edmunds.com started keeping records.

  • About 44 percent of all trade-in vehicles last year went toward a new car by the same brand, which is consistent with our 2011 survey that found that 49 percent of shoppers say they “plan to stick with a brand that has worked in the past.”
  • Luxury car owners and shoppers are buying and considering more nonluxury cars. The trend speaks to the improved quality of non-luxury vehicles.

  • Many shoppers say they want just the basics in a new car, but emotions can drive buyers to add options. New car buyers are willing to spend an average of $2,200 – or about seven percent – above base model and trim prices to add more options on their cars. 

The Edmunds.com’s 2013 Car Shopping Trends Report is intended to be a free resource for ADM Professional Community members who are interested in creating a better car buying experience. This is just the first in a series of reports that the Edmunds Research team hopes will shed more light on car shopping behavior.  The team intends these findings to open up a dialogue which will contribute to the ongoing improvements within the automotive retail industry. They also want to encourage ADM Professional Community members to contact Edmunds at any time to discuss more ways that Edmunds.com can help you better understand today’s car shopper.

Here is a link to download a PDF version of the Edmunds.com’s 2013 Car Shopping Trends Report: http://static.ed.edmunds-media.com/unversioned/img/industry-center/… 

Edmunds Points of Contact

For Dealer Inquiries: 855-EDMUNDS
For Press Inquiries: 310-309-4900

Source: http://www.edmunds.com/industry-center/car-shopping-trends/

Edmunds Annual New Vehicle Sales Forecast for 2013 and Historical Actual Sales:

via Edmunds 2013 Car Shopping Trends Report – Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

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Should Managed Chat Be Part of a Lead Acquisition Budget?

Should Managed Chat Be Part of a Lead Acquisition Budget?

 

Lead Acquisition Budget: Are Managed Chat Service Providers A Lead Source?

I was speaking with an Internet Sales Manager a few days ago and we were discussing the budget she managed for purchasing leads from the traditional 3rd party lead providers such as Dealix, Autobytel, Automotive.com, CarsDirect, etc. The question arose as to which lead providers should be considered reasonably eligible for allocation from a budget category earmarked for acquiring sales leads. It was interesting to me that she seemed to consider AutoTrader.com to be a lead provider, when in fact, AutoTrader has never sold leads, nor will they acknowledge being in the lead selling business… AutoTrader has staked their business model around being an advertising channel whose media is focused on showcasing a dealer’s inventory. So, why do some people incorrectly list AutoTrader as a lead source?

 

The simple answer is that most of us will evaluate our results from AutoTrader based on the number of sales opportunities generated (Leads). Just because that is not what AutoTrader is selling, does not mean that leads are not what we endeavor to buy when we cut a big check each month to ATC.  This raises a few questions about Lead Acquisition budgets for car dealerships… When is a supplier considered eligible to being allocated budget from an Internet Manager, or Marketing Director managed lead acquisition budget? Which types of suppliers should be considered?

  

If there is one category of supplier that has created a whole new source of leads that did not exist ten years ago, it is the services offered by managed chat application providers.  These “Chat” apps can be placed on a dealer’s website, as an email link, on a dealer’s various blog sites and microsites, even in some cases on a dealer’s Facebook Page as well as other social media channels.  In almost every case, suppliers such as Contact At Once, ActiveEngage and CarChat24 will be evaluated based on the number of leads they generate for the dealership as a percentage of total chat sessions and unique visitors to the dealer’s websites, microsites, social media channels and emails opened.  The big difference between advertising channels such as AutoTrader.com and Cars.com, and the major Managed Chat Service providers is that AutoTrader/Cars.com et al has never embraced the leads generated model as their value proposition, yet the Managed Chat Service providers have… So, why would we consider AutoTrader/Cars.com a lead source, and not put the Chat providers in that category of expense?

  

While preparing this article I contacted Shereef Moawad [shereef@carchat24.com] at CarChat24 and asked him for some aggregated performance metrics around Managed Chat Service as a lead generation model. There are two reasons I reached out to CarChat24; the first is that they are the only Managed Chat Service provider that I know of which has worked for dealers on a performance based fee structure that used quantity of leads generated to determine the dealer’s cost for their software and services. The second reason is that CarChat24 has been a sponsor of the ADM Professional Community for longer than any other company, and I am very comfortable with their professional competence, business integrity and the objective validity of their data. Besides that, the company is run by a couple of US Marines (retired) with a remarkably clear focus on exactly what their mission is and the execution of tasks required to deliver measurable results.  

  

Shereef provided me with the following aggregated performance metrics and ratio analysis based on a randomly generated sample of 100 dealers and data collected over a six month time period:

100 CarChat24 Performance Plan Dealers – 6 months of aggregated data

Monthly Dealer Cost Range:

  • Highest Average Monthly Payment for Leads = $2,840.00
  • Lowest Average Monthly Payment for Leads = $85.00

Monthly Average Total Cost for Chat Generated Sales Leads = $489.92

Monthly Average Quantity of Chat Generated Sales Leads per Dealer = 32    
(Note: doesn’t include free service, parts, and query leads)

Monthly Average Cost per Lead = $15.31

 

Taking a look at the above numbers, it is easy to extrapolate comparisons with traditional third party lead providers from a cost/benefit perspective… Since the leads a Managed Chat Service Provider generates are not only exclusive, they are also coming from visitors to the dealer’s various websites and online assets. This means it is reasonable to say they should provide the dealership’s sales team with a higher closing rate than 3rd party leads which are usually being sold to multiple dealerships, and being churned to generate additional leads from the same customers. If the dealer is able to close these exclusive first party Managed Chat generated leads at a 10% average rate, then the resulting cost per sale, based on a $15.31 average cost per lead  is $153.10 Per Vehicle Retailed (PVR).  This is considerably less than the NADA average advertising cost per vehicle retailed (PVR of more that $600.00

 

Of course, we also had to invest advertising in getting traffic to the sites where the managed chat services are provided, but from a pure cost per lead perspective, the use of Managed Chat Services as a lead source looks very viable and fiscally prudent.  

  

It is worth noting how the average cost per lead came in at $15.31 for a performance based model that uses leads generated to invoice the dealership. Here is how that works… CarChat24 uses a variable cost per lead depending on the characteristics of the lead. This is based on the concept that certain lead types have more value to a car dealer.  In the case of CarChat24, the lead types and costs are:

  • Email Leads @ $10.00 each
  • Phone Leads @ $20.00 each (they usually get an email address as well)
  • VIP Appointment Leads @ $25.00 each (they usually get email and phone number, requires a set date and time to be at the dealership)

 

The average cost of $15.31 for the 100 dealers in our aggregate is the result of the following lead type averages:

  • 62% of Leads generated were phone leads
  • 31% of Leads generated were email leads
  • 7% of Leads generated were VIP Appointments.

 

When analyzing lead generation, there are always questions about whether or not these leads are “incremental” and do they come at the expense of other forms these very same customers would have used to contact a dealership if the chat service was not provided.  In almost every case, research and marketing studies have found that leads generated via Managed Chat Applications on websites are indeed incrementally additional leads.  In other words, the leads provided by Managed Chat Services do not come at the expense of the original website’s form fill conversion… They are a net gain in overall volume of leads the site is generating… It is safe to say that Managed Chat increases every web site’s overall visitor-to-lead conversion rate.

 

When the facts are considered and a performance based model is available, it is difficult NOT to justify allocating lead acquisition budget for Managed Chat Service Providers as a valid lead source. If you examine the logic in a little deeper detail, there is a strong case to be made that Managed Chat Services are NOT advertising and are in fact a lead generation source. You could even say that one of the outcomes from a dealership’s advertising should be increased chat sessions handled by your chat service provider, along with an uptick in leads generated.  So, consider allocating a portion of your lead generation budget to a Managed Chat Service provider… It makes sense and will help you generate more dollars of profit for your dealership by providing additional lead volume from the most valuable type of leads you can get… Exclusive First Party Leads!  

 

 

via Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

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CRM Triggered Personalized Customer Emails Outperform Bulk Email Campaigns for Car Dealers

CRM Triggered Personalized Customer Emails Outperform Bulk Email Campaigns for Car Dealers

 

Personalized Promotional Offers and Event/Time CRM Triggered Emails Seen Delivering Stronger Results than Mass Email Campaigns for Car Dealers and Automotive Marketers

The results stand in apparent contrast to study findings from MailerMailer last year. That study found that emails with the subject line personalized had lower open and click rates than those without personalization. The difference could be attributable to the sample set analyzed. The MailerMailer study took a broad view, looking at opt-in emails as a whole, while the Experian study analyzed promotional and triggered emails only.

I have seen where time spent detailing out the email templates that are triggered by lead status changes in a dealership CRM system creates a highly effective sales and marketing automation strategy. In my own personal experience, the many hours invested in creating custom email templates that are specific for such CRM activities as leaving a voice mail, trade-in estimate, payment quotes, changes in program interest rates for the specific vehicle the customer is interested in, or sending a price quote will pay off with a robust ROI. Customers receive a steady stream of personalized messages that are triggered by an event or timing that is predetermined and logically expected by the customer… When done properly, these automated highly personalized CRM triggered emails will elicit a thank you from customers for the diligence a salesperson has exercised in staying in contact with them. Quite simply, there are few other sales automation systems appropriate for car dealerships with as positive a result as robustly customized CRM implementations.

   

For CRM system triggered emails, those with the subject line personalized had an average open rate of 29.2%, about 25% higher than the rate for those broadcast email campaigns without personalization (23.3%).

  

As for unique click rates, personalized emails outperformed their counterparts for both promotional emails (3.2% vs. 2.3%) and triggered emails (6.7% vs. 4.4%).

   

The Experian study also finds personalization providing a significant lift in transaction rates and revenue per email:

  • For broadcast type promotional mailings, transaction rates were 7 times higher (0.35% vs. 0.05%), while for CRM triggered mailings, they were more than twice as large (0.62% vs. 0.25%)
  • For promotional mailings, revenue per email was more than 6 times higher ($0.26 vs. $0.04), and for triggered messages, they were 63% higher ($0.31 vs. $0.19).

Source 1: MarketingCharts.com/personalized-promotional-and-triggered-emails-s…

Dealer-to-Customer Emails:
Data Shows Longer Subject Lines Get More Clicks

These emails have a CTOR 94.7% above the average (and click and open rates 276.4% and 93.2% above-average, respectively). B2B emails show a similar trend, though not quite as clear cut. Emails with subject line length of 20 characters performed above-average for all 3 metrics, though the rates generally dipped after that until recovering from 90 characters in length and up. The peak for open rate was 20 characters (24.6% above-average), while the peak for click rate was for 140 characters (82.7% above-average) and for CTOR was also 140 characters (72% above-average).

E-commerce Emails Show Mixed Trends

Data from Adestra’s subject line study indicates that when it comes to the e-commerce sector, the results are fairly mixed. Subject lines 110 characters in length performed best for open rates (122.4% above-average), but those 70-characters-long did best for click rates (91.1% above-average), while those with 30 characters achieved the best CTOR (17.4% above-average), despite the latter having below-average open and click rates. Overall, subject lines with 70 characters appeared to do the best, with above-average performance in each metric.
  

For the events sector, short subject lines (20-30 characters) got the highest open rates, while longer subject lines (120-150 characters) got the best click rates and CTOR. Publishing emails displayed the same pattern as events emails, though for charity emails, short subject lines had the highest open, click, and click-to-open rates.
  

Overall, across the 6 sectors studied, despite an open rate peak for emails with 20 characters, longer subject lines (100+ characters) appeared to deliver better open, click, and click-to-open rates. This compares with recent studies from MailerMailer and Informz, which found shorter subject lines to clearly have the best open rates, though with mixed results for click rates.
  

Word Count Results Similar

Further results from the Adestra show that word count length has a similar effect to that of character count, but is amplified. Email subject lines that are a single word have a spike in open, click, and click-to-open rates relative to the average, though all metrics dip in response rates alongside increasing word length, until 15 words and longer, when they begin to rise and hit new peaks.
  

Looking at the results by sector, some interesting patterns emerge. For e-commerce emails, 1-word subject lines had the highest open rate, but 4-word lines had the best highest CTOR relative to the average. For events emails, shorter word counts (2-5) delivered the best open rates relative to the average, but longer word counts (19 and up) delivered both the best click and click-to-open rates relative to the average.
   

For the publishing sector, the results were clearer: longer subject lines delivered generally higher-than-average open, click, and click-to-open rates, aside from a spike at 2 words. For the charity sector, short subject lines did well for open and click rates, and longer counts (14 words and up) performed worst for click-to-open rates.
  

In the B2B and B2C sectors, open, click, and click-to-open rates were generally better for longer word counts, though 2-word subject lines performed best overall in the B2B sector.

“Coupon” Fares Worst Among Offer Terms

Notably, the study finds that for the e-commerce sector, the word “coupon” has open rates that are 55.6% below the average for offers emails, with click rates also 85.8% below-average and CTOR 68.1% below-average. This appears to be in direct contradiction to results from an Epsilon study also released in July, which found that the keyword “coupon” was tops for email opens. However, that study only measured the 2011 holiday season, which may explain the discrepancy in results.

  

According to Adestra, the words “sale” and “% off” performed best in click rates and CTOR relative to the average for offer emails, and also perform among the best for open rates.

   

Other Findings:

  • For the events sector, using currency (particularly $ signs), first names, “thousands,” or “millions” can have an uplift for all 3 metrics.
       
  • For the publishing sector, “video” and “exclusive” perform very well relative to the average, while the terms “newsletter,” “research”, “report,” “forecast,” and “intelligence,” all perform significantly below-average.
       
  • For the charity sector, the words “appeal” and “donate” fare poorly compared to the average, while “give” has above-average results.
       
  • For the B2B sector, currency symbols, as well as words such as “profit,” “revenue,” “turnover,” and “referral” perform markedly above-average, while the term “B2B” shows very poor response rates.
       
  • For the B2C sector, “sale,” “% off,” “video,” “exclusive,” and “new” perform best, while “coupon,” “half price,” “free,” and currency symbols are below-average.
       
  • According to a July 2012 report [pdf] from Experian, including the word “exclusive” in the subject line can provide a lift of 14% in promotion mailings (15.9% with vs. 14% without). Similarly, subject lines including “top 10″ or “top 5″ deliver open rates 13% higher than promotional emails without them (16.1% vs. 14.3%).
        
  • Also per the Experian findings, emails asking customers to rate and review purchased items generate 2 times higher open rates, 39% higher click rates, 22% higher transaction rates, and 32% higher revenue per email.

About the Data: The Adestra study campaigns had more than 5,000 recipients per campaign, but were not limited to large campaigns. The study was conducted across the client basis without regard to list size.

 

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Online Car Selling Checklist for Automotive Marketing

Online Car Selling Checklist for Automotive Marketing Professionals

 

Online Car Selling Checklist

Can a computer sell a car?

While much of the online car selling process is automated these days, the answer is still no. To successfully sell a car online, there are a few essential points that auto dealers and individual sellers need to remember. Mere hours of work, invested by a few people, can dramatically improve your vehicle sales online.

Before you post your vehicles on the internet, double-check Strathcom’s Online Car Selling Checklist:

1. Do you have great descriptions to hook your reader?

When you’re selling online, you need to engage your reader the same way an author does, in the first paragraph. Do you have detailed, complete vehicle descriptions? If not, don’t expect to sell cars.

*Pictures and descriptions can lower a bounce rate by up to 60% (Bounce rate is the percentage of people  that leave your site without clicking through to another page)

Tips:

  • Be descriptive — “soft, heated leather upholstery” sounds better than just “heated seats.”
  • Use safe terminology — avoid words like “mint” or “new.” A car isn’t new if it’s three years old. Rather, use ambiguous or interpretive terminology like “very clean,” which won’t cause problems down the road.
  • Use words people relate to — “well maintained,” “local,” and “accident–free” are examples.
  • Paint a picture — help readers picture a car in their minds. A good description for a convertible: “This cabriolet turns heads cruising in the sun.”
  • Tailor descriptions — is it summer? Then describe the efficient A/C system. Winter? Mention the vehicle has a car starter and heated seats.
  • Instil confidence in the reader — use words like unique, rare find, great find, very successful, award winning, economical, powerful, safe, beautiful, stunning, eye catching, head turning, best-selling, etc. Customers want to know they’re making a great buy.
  • “What’s in it for me?” — Highlight the benefits of each element you are describing to your customer. Don’t just say “has silicone wiper blades,” but rather add “Silicone wiper blades last three times longer and perform better than ordinary rubber blades. They offer resistance to fuels, oils, acid rain, washer fluid and road grime.”

The industry is changing. Things like “Tilt” and “ABS” are no longer selling features. People now want to know the MPG or L/100km they will get on a tank of gas. Honesty is important too; if a vehicle has high kilometers, admit it — but focus on its spotless service record.

Bottom line: writing good descriptions will increase the amount you get paid for your vehicles.

2. Have you posted pricing for all of your vehicles?

While some dealers feel that more people will call if there is no price, this is never the case. You should at the very minimum post a MSRP for new vehicles and make it easy for a consumer to submit a lead for more information. Pricing should always be posted for used vehicles — no exception.

3. Are your descriptions legible?

Ensure that your listings have proper spelling, grammar and easy-to-read fonts. Avoid wild colours, OVER-CAPITALIZATION (AKA “caps lock syndrome”), and fancy fonts as these elements will not give you more attention, but rather annoy the reader.

*Car buyers now physically visit only 1.3 dealerships before buying. Don’t give them a reason to go to the competition

   

4. Are you consistent across all postings?

Complete descriptions, detailed photos, proper prices — all of the elements that make a good vehicle posting need to be applied across the board on your listings to capitalize on return traffic. Consumers will research for 3-6 months before making a purchase, meaning they will return to your site multiple times; you should convey the correct brand message on each visit.

5. Do you have photos for all of your vehicles?

Having good vehicle photos should be common sense; customers want to see a car before they buy it. Do you have pictures for all of your vehicles? Do you have them online as soon as a car hits the lot? You should, or you could be losing sales to the competition.

*According to Kijiji, ads with pictures were twice as likely to get a reply than those without

Tips:

  • Highlight selling features — focus on what matters to your buyer. Selling a minivan? Focus on interior and safety.
  • Timeliness is extremely important — get pictures online within 48 hours of the unit arriving.
  • Include a variety of photos — give your customers an online walk-around of the vehicle.
  • Take Interior & Exterior Photos — get every angle: under the hood, the dashboard, seats (front and rear) and the exterior.

Side-by-side, which looks more appealing: no-name pop, or Coke? Which would you pay more for? Having vehicle photos is like branding. It makes customers more confident in your product, and increases sales while allowing you to ask more for a vehicle.

The principles are the same online as they have always been offline. If someone came in to buy a Cadillac Escalade, you wouldn’t bring up gas mileage. The point is to tailor your photos and descriptions to each vehicle. This is the best way to build quality leads that will make you a lot more money.

– Michael Fisher with Stuart Bendall and Trish Rowsell

 

 

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Do New Car Photos Really Make a Difference from Stock Photos? – Automotive Marketing Professionals

Do New Car Photos Really Make a Difference from Stock Photos?

ADM Forum Question Posted by Kim Essenmacher

I have to ask this question because each seminar, webinar and research study that I have read is stating this to be the case. It increases VDP’s, time on the site and in turn increases sales.  Here is a study from KBB:

Shoppers Want Actual New Vehicle Photos, Not Stock Photography on Dealer Web Sites

According to a new study conducted by Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research among in-market car buyers, 90 percent of vehicle shoppers would prefer to view actual photos of new vehicles currently on the dealer’s lot than view stock photography of a vehicle they are interested in buying.

When it comes to purchasing a used vehicle, viewing photos of the exact vehicle, its options, condition and mileage help a potential buyer make a purchase decision. But, when it comes to buying a new vehicle, in-market shoppers say they want to have that same luxury; seeing photos of the exact vehicle on a dealer’s lot before driving to the dealership. Today, most dealerships use stock photography of new vehicles provided by the manufacturer to showcase current model-year vehicles.

Recent market research shows nearly 70 percent of today’s new vehicle shoppers are turning to the Internet for new vehicle research. Nearly half of these shoppers visit at least one dealership Web site during the research process, making the information found on the dealer’s Web site crucial in garnering a new customer. In fact, 74 percent of vehicle shoppers say they are more likely to visit a dealership if they are able to view a picture of an actual vehicle currently available on the lot, rather than stock photography. What’s more, 53 percent would be more likely to buy that particular vehicle from a dealership offering actual photos of in-stock vehicles.

CDMdata Inc., a Kelley Blue Book Company, offers products and services that aid dealers in easily marketing both their new and used vehicles online with photos. CDMdata’s DigitalLot® Solution is a device that collects vehicle information by scanning the VIN, takes multiple photos of the actual vehicle and then uploads all of the information to the dealer’s Web site (and up to 150 retail Web sites) with the simple push of a button. The DigitalLot Solution can take up to 32 photos of each vehicle, and the in-depth VIN explosion allows consumers to instantly and accurately view all of the detailed information about their prospective new or used vehicle. For dealers who prefer to have someone else doing the book-in work, CDM Dealer Services provides a company representative to come to the dealer’s lot to upload the information and photography for them.

“The online automotive shopping and buying process must continue to evolve, and the DigitalLot Solution is a critical tool to help dealers improve their relationships and build more trust with online shoppers,” said Mike Romano, chief operating officer for CDMdata, Inc. and vice president of dealer strategy for Kelley Blue Book. “Whether using the solution for new or used vehicles, the DigitalLot quickly and easily automates the process of uploading dealers’ online inventory, allowing them to ultimately sell more cars faster.”

About Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com)

Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com is America’s most used and trusted vehicle pricing, values and information resource. The top-rated Web site provides the most up-to-date pricing and values for thousands of new and used vehicles, including the New Car Blue Book® Value, which reveals what people actually are paying for new cars. Since 1926, car buyers and sellers have relied upon Kelley Blue Book for authoritative and unbiased information to make well-informed automotive decisions. The company also reports vehicle prices and values via products and services, including the famous Blue Book® Official Guide and software products. Kbb.com has been rated the No. 1 automotive information site by Nielsen//NetRatings and the most visited auto site by J.D. Power and Associates eight years in a row. No other medium reaches more in-market vehicle shoppers than kbb.com; nearly one in every three American car buyers perform their research on kbb.com.

SOURCE: Kelley Blue Book

CONTACT: Robyn Eckard, +1-949-268-3049, reckard@kbb.com, or Joanna
McNally, +1-949-268-3079, jmcnally@kbb.com, both of Kelley Blue Book

Web site: http://www.kbb.com/

 

However, the largest dealer group in our state doesn’t use custom photos. My GM is afraid that if customers see new car photos that the customer won’t think that they can custom order a vehicle and we will lose sales!

I told my GM if he is worried about losing custom photos, we could put in the comments “Call if you don’t see what you are looking for?”

Also, how do we know that new car photos wouldn’t help increase the largest dealer group’s sales?

 

I am still trying to figure out which is the best way to go?

Any thoughts and additional research is appreciated.

************************************************************

Ralph Paglia Replies to Forum Question Posted by Kim Essenmacher: 

this is a similar question to “should we put our inventory online”, which was quite the debate up until about ten years ago… There is no question about the effectiveness of actual vehicle photos versus stock images. all the research shows anywhere from double to 4 times the lead volume on inventory with photos versus stock images when half the inventory has one and the other half is the other.

Honestly, this is one of those irritating issues that is a qualified for me on whether or not I want to work with a dealer or group… If they have not yet progressed to the point where the acknowledge that actual vehicle photos work better than stock catalog images, then they probably haven’t switched to broadband from dial-up yet.

Now, with that said there are alwys the economic considerations… let me explain. If you sell a brand of new vehicles where demand dramatically outstrips supply and your biggest problem is how much to mark up new vehicles above MSRP, then do not bother incurring the expense of taking inventory photos. heck, for that matter, save electricity and don’t turn on the lot lights at night!

I have done the “actual vehicle photos” comparison at several stores. This is where we run a 3 month test by taking actual photos of all new vehicels that have a stock number ending in an even digit and do not take photos for new vehicles with stock numbers that end in odd digits.  Having done this “test” at at least 6 dealerships over time, rarely do we get to the end because the cars with actual photos get all the leads and phone calls.  Then, when people start showing up on the showroom with the VDP printed out and in their hands, the whole thing turns into a big joke… Sort of “No shit Sherlock” actuial photos work better than catalog images… Again, the only debate os about the expense and the work flow.

Actual photos of new vehicles make almost as big a difference in lead volume as they do for used cars… Ever try advertising used cars with stock photos? It rates a Twitter “EpicFail hash tag.

Real photos generate more leads than catalog images. Can you tell which one of the following images is real… and which one is Memorex?

The new 2013 Chevrolet Avalanche LT Black Diamond and 2013 Chevrolet Avalanche LT Black Diamond inventory images above are from the same dealership and for two different vehicles of exact same model and trim… Also, consider that “Real videos” generate more leads than “Real Photos” alone… Real Photos generate more leads than “Stock Images”… get the drift?

However, before incurring the expense of implementing real photos of new vehcile inventory, there is a genuinely valid question that should be sincerely and realistically answered first: “Does your sales department effectively convert leads into showroom visits and sales?” Because, if the dealership is deficient in handling customer inquiries, and does a poor job of converting leads into sales, and/or does a poor job of converting traffic to the showroom into sales… Then don’t waste time and money on inventory photos. You have more serious problems to deal with.

via Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

Deutsch: Audi Autohaus in Dresden

Deutsch: Audi Autohaus in Dresden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Schedule an ELEAD1ONE Demo at NADA 2013 in Orlando – Proud Sponsor of the ADM Professional Community

Schedule an ELEAD1ONE Demo at NADA 2013 in Orlando – Proud Sponsor of the ADM Professional Community

 

Going to NADA 2013? Schedule an ELEAD1ONE Demo Today!

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NADA Convention 2011 in San Francisco
NADA Convention 2011 in San Francisco (Photo credit: DigitalRalph)
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