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Competitive Advantage: Professional Networking for Car Dealers

Competitive Advantage: Professional Networking for Car Dealers

Professional Networking as a Competitive Advantage for Car Dealers

About a month ago I had the honor and privilege of speaking at the Automotive Leadership Roundtable in Miami Beach, Florida. As each of the previous ALR events have been, the venue was superb and the dealers who attended were among the nation’s most successful and each of them true leaders within our industry.  

One of my favorite General Managers, Mr.Richard Bustillo of Rick Case Honda was a featured speaker at this year’s Automotive Leadership Roundtable and tells me that one of the most productive uses of his time is the contacts and networking connections he makes at this premier industry event.

“April 11, 2013 — DAVIE, Florida – Richard Bustillo, General Manager of Rick Case Honda, the World’s Largest Full Line Honda Dealership, will be leading a panel discussion at the Automotive Leadership Roundtable (ALR) on Monday, April 15, 2013, at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, Florida. This is the second consecutive year Mr. Bustillo was selected to speak at ALR, an annual conference of leading automotive management executives.”

Another more recently acquired friend of mine who is a dealer, Neil Amaral had accepted my nomination to attend the ALR event as one of the top independent car dealers in America. His “Amaral Auto Sales” dealership in New Jersey puts many franchised points to shame in all measurements of dealership operating criteria, including units sold, customer satisfaction and retention.. During and shortly after the ALR event, Neil opened my eyes up to an opportunity for car dealers that translates into sales and profits which I am sure too many dealers fail to take advantage of… The power or networking in the Auto Industry.  

Although I am going to use an example specific to Amaral Motors, it is merely one of many examples I have witnessed or participated in over the years… Profiting from a network of professional contacts.  Previous to this year’s ALR event I had several conversations with Mike Timmons and Ken Potter at TrueCar regarding a Used Car Affinity Sales Program for TrueCar dealers.While at ALR I took the opportunity to Introduce Neil Amaral to both Mike and Ken from TrueCar. Before the end of the event, they had worked out a deal for Amaral Motors to be an exclusive TrueCar Used Vehicle Center for their area of New Jersey.  As Neil pointed out when he thanked me, had he not listened to my description of the ALR event and trusted me as part of his professional network, he would not have secured his deal for the TrueCar Used Car Program at Amaral Motors.

As difficult as it may seem at first glance to be able to predict such “six degrees of separation” type of connections, it is actually a lot simpler than most dealers realize. Let me explain, because of social and professional networks online, today’s automotive professional and his or her networks of business connections are more readily available and visible than ever before.  Take a look at my profile onLinkedIn.com/in/RPaglia and you will see that there are over 200 auto industry professionals who have written recommendations of some sort… It does not take a clairvoyant to predict the potential for referrals and introductions.

Neil Amaral is a lot like several very successful dealers and General Managers I have known over the years, he sees the opportunity to leverage relationships for the benefit of his dealership’s marketing, sales and operational efficiencies, then focuses on developing those relationships.  In many cases, the dealers who are the most effective at getting more value than other dealers spending similar amounts of money on the same auto industry suppliers are the ones who focus on their relationships with key people working or running those supplier companies and business, while creating the desire within that supplier organization to deliver above and beyond what the dealership is actually paying for.

This begs the question… Do the dealers who focus on developing relationships with key marketing resources, thought leaders and suppliers get more for their dollar than the dealers who maintain arm’s length relationships and focus on negotiating price points? Do dealers who belong to online networks and professional communities such as the Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community establish relationship networks on a more efficient basis than those dealers who do not become active members of such networks?


There are many professional managers who believe in the “Purchasing Department” approach of grinding for the lowest cost deal… But it appears that in recent years there are also a growing number of highly successful dealers who have become advanced “relationship management practitioners” from the marketing supply side perspective…  

…Are you one of those dealers?

 

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.

 

via  Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

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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

 

 

via Online Car Selling Checklist – Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

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9 Million Reasons Why VDP Views Are The Metric That Matters – Automotive Marketing

9 Million Reasons Why VDP Views Are The Metric That Matters

Posted by Cobalt

Shaun Kehrberg

by Shaun Kehrberg, Product Marketing Manager, Digital Advertising

VDP Views Decrease Inventory Time On Lot

Just 12+ more VIN views could mean 44% LESS time on your lot

The verdict is in: if they view the highlights, you’ll view the taillights. In other words, the more car shoppers engage with your Vehicle Details Pages (VDPs), the quicker your cars will move off your lot— and that’s a fact.

Based on an eight month study of 9 million VDP’s, 125 million website visits, and 250 million online actions, our automotive consumer research conclusively shows that:

  • VDP views and time spent on VDP’s are 2 of the top 4 online sales predictors

  • VDP’s with 20-30 pageviews spend 29% less time on the lot

  • VDP’s with more than 30 pageviews spend 44% less time on the lot

So how do you best position your automotive digital marketing strategy to be a VIN factory? We’ll address just that in an all-new Cobalt series: The Down & Dirty on Dynamic Inventory Merchandising. In this series, we’ll tell you how to harness the power of multichannel marketing to turn your dealer website into a VDP hot spot.

Stay tuned for Part 1, when we look at the impact of Dynamic Inventory Merchandising in your dealership’s retargeting ads.

Source: Cobalt Business Intelligence VDP Study, 2012

About the Author
Shaun Kehrberg

Shaun Kehrberg is the Product Marketing Manager, Digital Advertising at Cobalt. He is focused on helping dealers understand the power of today’s advertising technology and the collective value of the Cobalt digital marketing experience. Shaun can be reached

via Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

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2013 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference (DMSC) Workshop Suggestions from ADM Members

 

 

I wanted to enlist the resources of the ADM community to suggest new workshop topics or keynote speaker topics to enhance the upcoming Digital Marketing Strategies Conference (DMSC).

This will be the third year that DMSC is scheduled just prior to the 2013 NADA Convention in Orlando, Florida from February 5-7th.

This gives dealers the ability to attend two great conferences with one trip out of the dealership.

DMSC is an intimate learning environment that focuses on winning strategies and the processes to create change for the upcoming business year.  With dealership attendance limited to 250 people, the workshops will provide that one-on-one feeling that has made DMSC a top conference destination each year!

A number of top speakers have confirmed their participation at DMSC and with only a few speaking slots remaining, I would like the ADM community to share what is IMPORTANT for their dealership in 2013.

What are the strategies and/or processes you are considering implementing in the year ahead?  How can DMSC help you make the right decisions for 2013?

Confirmed Speakers – Alphabetical Order

First Class Educators (FCE) who hosts DMSC each year, has confirmed the following speakers for the Orlando conference:

  • AJ LeBlanc
  • Ali Amirrezvani
  • Brian Pasch
  • Carlton van Putten
  • Chris Reed
  • Craig Lockerd
  • Dave Page
  • David Kain
  • David Metter
  • Glenn Pasch
  • Jamie Oldershaw
  • Jared Rowe
  • Jerry Thibeau
  • Jim Flint
  • Joe Webb
  • Julio Gonzalez
  • Marc McGurren
  • Patrick Workman
  • Peter Leto
  • Ralph Paglia
  • Shuan Weissman
  • Stan Sher
  • Thomas Gage

So what do you want to know, learn, confirm?  This is your chance, as a member of the ADM community to make your voice heard and impact the direction of an upcoming conference.  Add your feedback in the comments below.

I hope to see many ADM members at DMSC, and you can register for the conference by visiting the official conference website at: http://www.DigitalMarketingStrategies.org.

Ralph Paglia, founder of the ADM community, will be doing a three part workshop series this year at DMSC, which you will not want to miss!

 

via 2013 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference (DMSC) Workshop Suggestions from ADM Members – Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

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