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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.
You know what they say about too much of a good thing, right? It’s … well … not good. A glass of milk is a good thing; it’s full of calcium and other vitamins that every body needs. But drinking a gallon all at once? Not so much. (Don’t tempt yourself. The consequences ain’t pretty.)
When it comes to marketing, the same can be said for your attitude toward analytics. As a CMO, cultivating a data-driven marketing team can drive more insightful marketing decision-making and thus, better results. But an over-emphasis on metrics can actually lead to the opposite.
But wait … is this even a problem for CMOs and their marketing teams? If you look at all the data out there, it seems like the biggest problem that exists with the current state of marketing analytics stems from a lack of marketing analytics implementation, not an over-dependency.
According to the latest CMO Survey, 65% of companies fail to leverage marketing analytics in their marketing projects. A recent IBM Global CMO Study also reported that more than 70% of CMOs feel they “lack true insights” and are underprepared to manage all the data at their fingertips. Furthermore, a 2011 CMO Council survey found that CMOs feel overwhelmed and under pressure to understand the influx of data available to them.
Given the rapid pace at which new technology and software is emerging for marketers — and as a result, how much more data is available to them — these statistics are totally understandable. In fact, Gartner predicts that CMOs will outspend CIOs by 2017.
And as we mentioned in our 2013 Marketing Trends and Predictions Guide, while Gartner also predicts big data will drive $232 billion in IT spending through 2016, so far, it has been for engineers — not marketers. In 2013, however, we expect to see a rise of startups that are dedicated to making big data more accessible to folks on the front end, such as salespeople, business development reps, and marketing professionals. Origami Logic, to name one, aims to give marketers access to big data in a way that is digestible and usable by them specifically.
And the future for the adoption of marketing analytics looks promising. According to the CMO Survey, while CMOs reported spending only 8% of their marketing budgets on marketing analytics, they expect to increase this level to 13.5% in the next three years.
While technology has afforded marketers with a lot more available data, it’s not enough just to collect it. The power in data really boils down to your ability to effectively analyze and draw insights from it. And let’s face it: That’s a skill in itself.
The misinterpretation of data is a common thing. Mark Twain once said, “Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure.” That’s not to say that all marketers out there are purposely skewing and manipulating data in their favor. A lot of times, the misinterpretation of data happens accidentally, or as a result of misunderstanding — like thinking correlation is the same thing as causation. And believe me, it’s all too common. In fact, Smart Bear Software Founder Jason Cohen wrote a great article back in 2010 — “Avoiding Common Data-Interpretation Errors” — about this very problem. See how easy it is to unintentionally muck up the numbers? Data is some very sensitive stuff, and you can probably guess how this could affect your marketing decision-making … and not in a good way.
Don’t get me wrong. CMOs and their marketing teams should embrace data. It’s just important to be mindful of some of the dangers that come with a dependency on metrics.
Bad data is one of these dangers, and unfortunately, there is a lo-hot of bad data out there, especially when you start to consider and question how much of it is the victim of what we just discussed: misinterpretation. That being said, there is a host of other factors that contribute to bad data: out-of-date research, unscientific processes in data collection, unreliable sources, insufficient sample sizes, irrelevant or unqualified sample participants, incomplete data, lack of statistical significance, etc. Not to mention that data derived from surveys is often dangerous in itself. Just consider this funny, yet telling example from a survey conducted by Public P…, which just goes to show that people will tell you what they think you want to hear, or that they’re willing to lie in order to sound more knowledgeable.
In fact, in a recent Harvard Business Review article, “How to Repair Your Data,” author Thomas Redman writes, “Simply put, bad data make everything about Big Data — from discovering something truly novel, to building a product or service around that discovery, to monetizing the discovery — more difficult.”
“In business, bad data can be downright dangerous,” continues Redman, citing an example of financial companies in the mid-2000s that sliced and diced bad (actually, wrong) mortgage data into collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). This bad data came to an ugly head when the financial system almost collapsed.
When it comes to data-driven decision making, the quality of your data is of utmost importance. Heed our warning: Bad data can lead to bad decisions.
I read a really poignant article from Seth Godin (ha — aren’t they all?) a few weeks ago about “Avoiding the false proxy trap.” It was actually the inspiration for this article (thanks, Seth!). His point was spot on:
It’s so true, right? Sometimes, that perfect metric to measure exactly what we’re trying to achieve in our marketing just doesn’t exist (ain’t it the truth, PR pros?). But as a great CMO who is trying to make data-driven decisions, you can’t just stand by and not try to measure its success, right?
Unfortunately, this leads to an unhealthy reliance on these so-called proxy metrics. Sometimes they take the form of vanity metrics like impressions, comments, and follower counts, which just don’t indicate success as it relates to your bottom line. And a lot of times, they even make us forget about the true goal of what we set out to do, leading us to implement tactics that help us juice those numbers, but don’t really align with the ultimate goal. Now that’s not really a good use of data, is it?
Here at HubSpot, we love data, and our whole company is underpinned by an extremely data-driven culture. That’s why, on our marketing team, metrics keep us all accountable for and on track to hit our individual goals. It also keeps us liable for the service level agreement (SLA) we have with our sales team. And that’s a great thing … except for when it’s not.
When you over-emphasize the role of metrics, you increase the risk of a certain side effect we’ll call ‘metrics tunnel vision.’ Your team becomes so obsessed with their metrics that they lose sight of the bigger picture. Their decisions about which strategies and tactics to implement become so based on satisfying their particular metrics that they sometimes forget about the good of the marketing team, or even the company, as a whole. There is more than one way to skin a cat — or from a marketer’s perspective, achieve a goal — but that doesn’t mean every possible strategy or tactic is fair game. You could spam your marketing database over and over again with emails, and you may achieve your leads goal, but it won’t be without consequences.
It’s great to be working toward a goal, but sometimes you have to step back and question an individual strategy or tactic as it relates to your team’s overall goals, strategy, and marketing vision.
Similar to (and sometimes a result of) ‘metrics tunnel vision,’ an over-reliance on analytics can cause marketers to treat metrics like a security blanket. This leads to thinking like, “It doesn’t really matter if that negative thing happened as an off-shoot of the campaign I ran, because that campaign totally enabled me to nail my goal metrics this month!” Or, “I didn’t go the extra mile on that project because I knew it wouldn’t directly support my goals … (even if it would’ve supported the goals of another marketer on my team).” You can see how this doesn’t exactly promote internal team collaboration or support.
Metrics should motivate and keep your marketers accountable for their goals, but they shouldn’t excuse marketing that isn’t lovable … or cross-channel.
On the flip side of the security blanket dilemma, an extreme dependency on metrics can also end up suppressing marketers’ willingness to experiment, stifling any sort of innovation and truly creative, outside-the-box thinking. This usually stems from the fear that trying something new — since it’s not yet tried and true — might result in a failure to hit their goals, reflecting poorly on their performance as a marketer. It can also lead to marketers’ reluctance to experiment with innovative campaigns because of uncertainty about how they would measure success. Unfortunately, these fears can be huge blockers for innovation … and agility. Some of the greatest marketing ideas have come from taking big risks, and marketers will never feel truly comfortable with taking risks if they feel like they’re slaves to metrics.
This is all not meant to frighten you away from cultivating a data-driven marketing team, because there’s no denying the importance of data-driven decision-making. But remember, it’s important to tread lightly. Data is powerful, and with great power, comes great responsibility.
Too much of a good thing, you know?
Image Credit: Fields of View
Read more at the source: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33909/The-Dangers-of-Ma…
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, email@example.com, or Joanna
McNally, +1-949-268-3079, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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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