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Albuquerque, NM 87107
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Posted by Ralph Paglia in Auto Industry Professionals, Automotive Digital Marketing, Automotive Marketing, Automotive Retail Management, Automotive Suppliers, Automotive Websites, Car Dealers, Conference, Dealer Website, Internet Sales Manager, Marketing Research, Mobile Marketing, NADA, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, String Automotive, Website Lead Forms on January 30, 2014
Regardless of what anyone’s opinion is about the merits of the companies selected by Brian Pasch to receive the awards presented at this event, there is no other reference document, book, guide, website, Top Ten List or any other compilation of information regarding the companies that supply car dealers with eCommerce websites and associated peripherals that comes close to this book… As a reference tool used to see “Who’s Who” as an automotive supplier, the AWA Research Report for Car Dealers is without any competition… Neither is there anything out there that could serve as a reasonable substitute.
So… With all that said, is this book worth the $50 cost to buy it from PCG Consulting? I have heard it said that actions speak louder than words. I purchased two of these books at the event in New Orleans and I paid full retail of $100. Every car dealer in America who considers Digital Marketing to be a core competency requirement for their business should order and retain this book… Every year.
If you are a Car Dealer then you need to invest the 50 bucks that this book sells for… The Automotive Website Awards #AWA2014 may not always pick the suppliers that I would have chosen, but the research done, which is published in this book, is the most comprehensive review of dealer website suppliers available from any source. Buy this book and review over 50 digital marketing suppliers who have their information listed, dealer customers cited and an assessment of their products and services shown. Learn more at http://ADMPC.com (photo taken at Automotive Media Partners, LLC)
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 [email@example.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:
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:
The average cost of $15.31 for the 100 dealers in our aggregate is the result of the following lead type averages:
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!
Posted by Ralph Paglia in Advertising, Auto Industry Professionals, Automotive Digital Marketing, Automotive Management, Automotive Marketing, Automotive Product, Automotive Retail Management, Automotive Sales, Automotive Websites, Best Practices, Calls to Action, Dealer Training, Dealer Website, Digital Marketing Strategies Conference, Internet Sales Manager, Inventory Photos, Marketing Data, Marketing Metrics, Vehicle Merchandising, Website Lead Forms on March 23, 2013
Posted by Ralph Paglia in Advertising, Automotive Digital Marketing, Automotive Management, Automotive Marketing, Automotive Product, Automotive Retail Management, Automotive Sales, Automotive Suppliers, Automotive Websites, Best Practices, Car Dealers, Data Analysis, Dealer Management System, Dealer Website, Internet Sales Manager, Inventory Photos, Marketing Data, Marketing Metrics, Marketing Research, Mobile Marketing, Vehicle Merchandising, Website Lead Forms on February 6, 2013
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:
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Joanna
McNally, +1-949-268-3079, email@example.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.
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.
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The 2012 Google Analytics Summit theme was; “Next Generation Measurement” Considering the bombshell Google dropped on day one, the theme title couldn’t have been more appropriate. Google Analytics is set to make a seismic change to its very core, shifting from sessions to users. “Sessions don’t spend money,” as Google Analytics Principal Engineer Sagnik Nandy put it, “users do.” For too many years, dealer website reporting systems have looked at visits in a vacuum, focusing on single visitor sessions in a short-sighted attempt to understand customer behavior and falling out of touch with today’s automotive consumer who jumps from one web device to another, desktop to mobile, mobile to tablet, and reaches dozens of touch points before purchasing a vehicle or getting one serviced.
With the release of “Universal Analytics”, Google is set to redefine automotive marketing’s relationship with web data to accurately capture customer behavior across every device, every visit, and every action – even when new and used vehicle shoppers go offline. Gone are the days of looking at Internet sales leads and service appointment requests as the primary goal; showroom traffic and sales are what matters, and that’s exactly what this next generation of dealer website measurement targets.
With Google’s new Universal Analytics, visitors are given a clean and simple User ID that replaces the current mountainous number of tracking cookies packed with reams of confusing variables and micro formatted data. This unique User ID is like a customer number in your DMS, but it is stored on Google’s end, and is identifiable across any number of devices and locations. So if your customer first visits your dealership’s website on her home desktop after receiving a promotional email, then returns a week later on her iPhone, but waits a month before seeing a display ad from your store’s online advertising and finally converting by pulling turn-by-turn directions from work to the dealership on her work laptop, all of those interactions will be attributed to a single visitor. And that initial, month-old email will be given credit, along with the last-touch display ad, and any other touch points in the sales process.
For businesses with the right technology, User IDs will be sent directly to your CRM software. When customers walk in after visiting virtually, you will be able to log every visit and view them in Google Analytics. You now track all customer points of contact – online and offline – and finally get the complete picture of a customer’s journey from seeing an article your dealership published, researching your make and models, to purchasing on your showroom. A reporting trail that provides the insights and metrics for car dealers to learn which marketing channels actually bring you sales… While ignoring those that generate leads to nowhere!
Google’s Universal Analytics includes a new attribution modeling tool that uses a data-driven model to assign value to touch points in the sales process. Every interaction is now weighted according to its frequency and position in the purchase process, instead of always being given equal credit. And a more complete picture of every sale can now be more accurately configured with cost data that users upload directly into Google Analytics and update daily. Track the effectiveness of your dealership’s entire ad spend to realize the true profit on every sale – all without leaving Google Analytics and wrestling with dozens of media and advertising reports.
Google Analytics no longer begins with a single online session only to end with a disconnected form submission that depends on an email address that blocks messages from your dealership as spam. It begins the moment a customer first engages with your dealership’s websites, blogs and online assets. And it never stops… Welcome to the new marketing reality of Universal Analytics from Google.
String Automotive provides North America’s most innovative auto dealers with highly effective and uniquely customer focused dealership websites. Based in Massachusetts and having been many car dealer’s “best kept secret” for automotive digital marketing over the past 7 years, String has developed a reputation for being focused on driving dealership sales and profits.
We don’t do templates, and we don’t follow the industry. We look outside the automotive industry and take inspiration from empirical data, experiments and enterprises that are on the cutting edge of web design and technology.
Yet, your dealership is distinctive and your website should differentiate you at first glance.
Your dealership is focused on attracting and retaining customers. Your showroom is spotless. Your sales force is attentive and informative. And your customer care representatives are courteous and knowledgeable. In other words, you ensure that your customers have a great experience at your dealership and that they would recommend your dealership to others.
Before visiting your showroom, most of your customers visit your website and interact with your business – often without your knowledge. They form an opinion of you and get a first impression. Your website should be elegant and easy to use, yet rich with informative content. We study our designs carefully and constantly improve them by observing car shoppers using them in blind tests. We observe in study after study, year after year, what impresses visitors and what turns them off.
Most dealer website are busy, confusing and designed to compete with their competitors’ websites. Our clients don’t compete with or follow their competitors, and they don’t mimic the next door neighbor’s website that is designed to scream messages at visitors and keep them on the site as long as they can. Our clients play a different game. Click here and we’ll explain…
A Google Analytics Certified Partner, or GACP, is an accredited web analysis and optimization expert. Google awards the partnership only after a rigorous application and interview process, and few companies make the grade. String Automotive is the only GACP web provider geared specifically to car dealers.
Google Analytics provides unbiased, actionable insights into how users reach your site, how they engage with it, and who they are.
GA takes the guesswork out of search engine exposure, third-party lead provider effectiveness, and accurate lead attribution. With Analytics, you know exactly how much traffic comes from organic and paid search and your third-party referrers, as well as which traffic sources are actually generating leads.
Analytics also unlocks valuable information on where your customers live, the devices they use to navigate your site, and which pages receive the most visits. This just scratches the surface of the data that Google Analytics delivers. Let String Automotive be your guide on deep dives into the data to help grow and evolve your business.
String Automotive provides best-in-class Google Analytics deployment with advanced technical implementation and easily digestible reports. GA tracking code is automatically inserted into every dynamically generated webpage, complete with custom variables to track more granular data, and event tracking to monitor conversions.
We provide management with direct access to GA site profiles, along with custom reports and advanced segments tailored to present you with exactly the KPIs you want to track most. And our Analytics experts are available to help you parse and examine data that requires a deeper dive.
Drawing upon our past partnership with Google as a Google Website Optimizer Authorized Consultant, String Automotive has also been awarded the Content Experiments Specialization.
In 2012, Analytics absorbed Google Website Optimizer, enhanced its features, and renamed it Google Analytics Content Experiments. Its core function of conversion rate optimization remains the same in Content Experiments, which means that String Automotive is also the only web provider for car dealers with a proven track record of Google-partnered conversion optimization. We test and improve our page designs constantly to maximize conversions and bring you more leads.