Archives For Automotive Marketing Research

Source: SEO or PPC; What’s More Important?

SEO or PPC; What’s More Important?

Just recently, a friend of mine approached me about his dealership site and how they had a consultant (SEO guru), do an SEO analysis of his site.

He was concerned that he may be losing money on keyword selection based on the analysis. As I explained to him there is some confusion out there regarding the entire Google platform and that having a balance of both high-level SEO, and an optimized PPC campaign is the ideal. I also explained that you only get charged by clicks, not keyword choices (lol)

Let’s cover SEO first.
SEO stands for “search engine optimization” which is a practice that makes sure that your website follows all of the necessary rules of engagement to make it easy to rank as organically high on the search engine results pages (SERPs) as possible. It includes having good content in the form of copy, pictures, and video. All material should be relevant to the subject matter and have keywords and key phrases as an essential part of the site copy.  There are other technical aspects but forget those for now.  Having great SEO is the “free” way to get listed.

Offsite SEO is still a huge part of the overall SEO mix. Having other high-quality sites backlink to your website is the water that lifts the ice cube to the top of the glass so to speak. Having your dealership properly listed via all of the 300+ listing sites and the 4 main data companies (Factual, Acxiom, Infogroup and Neustar (Localeze), means that people will correctly know your company name, address, hours of operation, and telephone number. To have incorrect info strewn about the internet will definitely hurt your chances of getting highly-ranked. It will hurt your overall “Quality Score” which is essentially what Google uses to rank you in the search engine, and that’s where PPC and SEO strike their balance.

What is the “Quality Score”?
Quality Score is Google’s rating of the quality and relevance of both your keywords and PPC ads. It is used to determine your cost per click (CPC) and multiplied by your maximum bid to determine your ad rank in the ad auction process. Your Quality Score depends on multiple factors, including:

1) Your click-through rate (CTR) (PPC campaign)

2) The relevance of each keyword to its ad group (PPC campaign)

3) Landing page quality and relevance (SEO)

4) The relevance of your ad text (PPC & SEO)

5) Your historical AdWords account performance (PPC)

As you can see, there is a mix of PPC and SEO involved in optimizing a Quality Score which essentially determines where your stores website is going to show up in a typical search operation. Great SEO alone can get you on to the first page of search, but unless you are well-branded, your position may vary from near the top, to not on the page at all. The leads you get from great organic (unpaid) placement are basically free and are high quality. However, to get into the top position and get the most clicks possible, and the best clicks according to numerous studies, you have to pay for placement.

PPC guarantees a first page presence.
The cost of that presence is somewhat based on the quality of the website’s SEO execution. The ads in the pay per click campaign have to be compelling enough to get a good click through rate, but the words and phrasing used in each ad must also match those keywords and phrases (long tail search terms) on the website pages they are linked to. The better the execution and matching of verbiage in ads and on the site, the better your organic ranking, and the cheaper you clicks will be. It’s a seriously incestuous relationship. Google wants to reward you for creating a good user experience (SEO) but needs to make money so they have PPC to nudge those rankings to the top if you pay enough to rank high.
Google really has it figured out. It used to be that Google had two columns on every search results page. The left column had the organic listings (best SEO executions and/or brand names). People used to click at an 8:1 ratio favoring the organic or “free” listings over the listings in the right column which were all paid for. Google then eliminated the two column design and started putting PPC campaign ads on top of each SERP which now has only one column combining paid and free results. This cut down the ratio that favored free search results and increased Google’s click revenue.
The point is, having as much visibility as possible in any search operation is crucial. It’s termed “page dominance”. In my estimation, the companies that do both well, win. The companies that only do PPC, run inefficient, expensive campaigns. The companies that ignore PPC, are likely too budget-conscious to compete and suffer with inconsistent visibility. Those who combine Google Best Practices, and optimize both SEO as well as their PPC campaigns, dominate their competition.
I hope this helps clarify the decade-old question of how SEO and PPC affect one and other, and how using both to your advantage is the best way to the top of the mountain.

Source: ‘Ralph Recommends…’ Newsletter Announcement on ADM Professional Community

“Ralph Recommends…”
eNewsletter Publication Launch Announcement

Ralph Paglia, "The Godfather of Automotive Digital Marketing"Having been the Editor-In-Chief and managed the ADM Professional Community for over ten years now, it seems that every technology development, software and application being sold to car dealers, along with various service provider programs and just about anything somebody conceives of that they would like to sell car dealers has been pitched to me at some point…

Usually in the form of a product demonstration, sometimes starting with a two minute “Elevator Pitch”. The vast majority of time I have considered incumbent upon my obligations to this professional network to listen, watch, take notes, try it out, talk to any dealers currently using the widget in question and generally become aware of what it is, what it costs and what the claimed Return On Investment (ROI) is all about… The how when and why of ROI.

More background and qualifications; For over 30 years I have been blessed with work and assignments that required me to (in addition to selling cars) create product and solution development “Road Maps” used to guide future products and when they would be released for companies such as American Honda Motor Company, Reynolds, ADP (CDK), JD Power, BMW North America, Tier10 Marketing, Ford Motor Company, Toyota Motor Sales, Mercedes-Benz USA and a few more. These projects resulted in me spending countless hours with software developers, project planners and executive committees as we defined what car dealers would need to stay competitive and to improve what customers experience when dealing with them.

As a result of this exposure, combined with my experience in selling cars while managing car dealerships, solution development and professional services to car dealers while working at the Reynolds and Reynolds Company, ADP Dealer Services (CDK Global), Tier10 Marketing, Courtesy Chevrolet and many other dealerships… I have developed a strong sense of which products and services do what, how well they do it, and whether or not they are worthy of consideration by car dealers, auto groups and enterprise organizations.

You may be thinking “Everybody has an opinion”, and you are correct… However, my opinion comes from an auto industry veteran with Bachelor of Science and Masters Degrees in Business Administration, who has implemented software and business procedures in car dealers that I served as a manager, as well as being employed by the largest software development companies in the car business to serve as Practice Leader and manager of consultants deployed to assist car dealers in the implementation of technology, people and process designed to drive improved business results and customer experience. I know what I am talking about when it comes to deploying solutions in car dealerships and I am eager to share my experience, insights and wisdom on the use of existing solutions and those to come in the future.

Several weeks ago I was approached by a couple of automotive professionals who I consider to be “Thought Leaders” within our industry… They asked me to consider creating and publishing a weekly newsletter with insights, opinions, guidance, reviews and recommendations for car dealers focused on products and services, along with sharing best practices and what I see as future developments, strategies and tactics in the car business.

My initial response was to say I am already doing this with the ADM Professional Community website and network. These people, who I consider to be wiser and possibly more intelligent than me, responded with, “Maybe so, but you currently provide your members with something that they must go to your site to find and see…” Which I acknowledged was true. They went on to say, “We want to create a newsletter that is delivered to members of the ADM Professional Community and additional professionals who are not members, but who work in the auto industry, which will become a valuable resource throughout the car business…”

I agreed and so the genesis of the “Ralph Recommends…” eNewsletter has come to be. Within the next couple of weeks you will be sent the first issue of “Ralph Recommends…” and I would like to ask for your help. Please take a look at what is in there and let me know your opinions about what’s good, what’s bad and what you would like to see. You can send me an email to RPaglia at Gmail dot com, a message via this network, Facebook Messenger, Twitter DM, call or text me on my cell at Five Zero Five, Three Zero One, Six Three Six Nine, or contact me in whatever manner suits you… But any feedback will be appreciated and considered as I move forward with the “Ralph Recommends…” project.

“Ralph Recommends…”

I look forward to hearing back from each of you…

Ralph Paglia
Editor-In-Chief
AutomotiveDigitalMarketing.com

‘Ralph Recommends…’ eNewsletter Launch Announcement

Google and Apple Catch Up To Ford In Auto Industry Influence – Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

Google and Apple Join Ford as Key Influencers in the Auto Industry

Ask average consumers or professional marketers who is most influential in the automotive sector and their response would most likely be Scott Monty of Ford or Ralph Paglia from Automotive Marketing Group (AMG).

Alternatively, they may point to popular industry publications such as CAR and DRIVEREdmunds or Auto Trader. Certainly, all are very popular people and media outlets. In fact, a Social Media Today report lists them among the top auto industry influencers on Twitter. However, does social media amplification make one influential? Most social influence scoring platforms use amplification as major metric in identifying influencers but is that enough?

A lot of focus has been directed towards influence marketing this past year by car dealers and other businesses seeking to sway public conversations and advocacy in their favor.

In response, there’s a growing list of social influence platforms and strategies professing to hold the key to identifying and measuring social influence. One of the leaders in this space is Appinions, an opinion-based influence marketing platform that identifies and measures the opinion leaders in various industries that form online conversations around products, brands and businesses.

During the 2013 New York Auto Show, Appinions released a study entitled “Is Tech Swallowing Auto?”, which offers some surprising insights.

The report explores what is shaping influential conversations at the intersection of new vehicle purchasing and technology and identifies the major players in each category. The results confirm what many already know; luxury, safety, design, value and performance are all hot buttons in any discussion around marketing automobiles. What’s surprising is the role that auto technology has played in shaping influence and who is driving that influence.

Apple Catches Up to Ford as Auto Industry Influencer

Apple Computers has made its mark on history as a market disruptor and, thanks to SIRI’s “Eyes Free” mode, it’s continuing that tradition in the auto industry. The report identifies other technology players who are joining the ranks of key influencers. Google, because of Google Maps and the data it collects on driving patterns, has become a major player in generating opinions in this market. As of Dec 2012, Google Maps was the second most popular mobile app, just behind Facebook. Microsoft, thanks to the SYNC technology installed in Ford vehicles, and AT&T with partners GM and OnStar round out the top influencers.

Tech Trumps Performance

Given that these technology companies have become as influential in the auto industry as car manufacturers, it’s no surprise that the topic of auto technology represents the lion’s share of interest in online conversations. Technology represents 35% of the share of influence, followed by performance at 22%, value at 19%, design at 12%, safety at 8% and luxury at 4%.

The Appinions platform and research team identified that fuel economy (44%) and connected cars (32%) were the dominant topics driving opinion and influence with discussions on automotive technologies.

People over Brands

Another interesting insight was how highly GM executives ranked as influencers even though Ford, Toyota, Audi, Google, and Telsa all ranked as more influential brands. Appinions identified that GM’s executives were more outspoken in sharing their opinions publicly, especially on the topic of innovation.
This study highlights the importance of identifying the opinions being shared by people and businesses, and measuring their impact on public conversations. The opinions of these market leaders are generating public dialogue, which creates social proof that impacts the purchase decisions of consumers. Further, the source of those opinions and eventual influence may be generated from unlikely and unexpected sources.

“Clearly, influence has become a powerful currency for brands when properly understood, identified and managed.”
–Sam Fiorella

  • Share your thoughts… Has social influence become a new currency for brands?
  • Are you surprised at Apple and Google’s surge in influencing this market?
  • Or that GM’s executives rank so highly on automotive influence?

Follow Sam Fiorella on Twitter: www.twitter.com/samfiorella

Car Dealers Use Email As Source Of Competitive Advantage – And Dare I Say: ENGAGEMENT

At the risk of “engaging” in the use of a buzzword that is overused and abused (according to JD Rucker) let’s take a look at some insights I have discovered regarding the use of email to prompt Customer Engagement that can drive Competitive Advantage for your Car Dealership…

According to Forrester Research, we are now in the “Age of the Customer.”

Today, advances in technology allow every dealership to tap into their OEM data and information treasuries, and even the cheapest, most IT stringy car dealers can access all the computing resources they need from a variety of cloud based dealership supplier products and Software As A service (SAAS) suppliers. The ability to tap into cloud based technologies is no longer considered an advantage; rather, it’s a way of life. Think about how almost every American car buyer at some point uses Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or any number of User Generated Content (UGC) sites and networks… All cloud based SAAS, despite what anyone wants to say about it. Today, being the customer’s first choice is the only remaining source of competitive advantage, hence the fascination we saw the auto industry have with Google’s “Zero Moment of Truth” concept a couple of years ago… However, the competition is fierce. To win, car dealers must be obsessed with their customers, focused on understanding them and engaging (JD’s favorite word) with them better than anyone else.

What am I talking about when I say “engaging email”?

   

The New Digital Car Buyer

Three major trends have emerged out of the recent (and far too rapid for many car dealers), evolution of car buyer behaviors across email, social, search, and the Web.
1. Buyers are more empowered:
Thanks to information abundance combined with better search and sharing technology, product information is now ubiquitous. The Web provides automotive consumers with instant information gratification. And mobile devices add a wherever/whenever dimension to every aspect of the experience. Consumers can access detailed specs, pricing, and reviews about goods and services 24/7 with a few flicks of their thumbs on their smartphones. Meanwhile, social media encourages consumers to share and compare. Today’s buyers are increasingly self-directed when it comes to making purchasing decisions. They have broad access to resources and proactively gather information across a number of digital channels, often developing brand perceptions before they ever interact directly with a brand. By the time a buyer comes to you, he’s probably already made his purchasing decision, so it’s time to throw out the old model of a persuasive shop girl greeting your customer at the door. Meet today’s buyer. She has the upper hand when it comes to making purchasing decisions. Tech savvy and brand sophisticated, she is wise to the ways of marketing, and she expects a lot. She believes you should inform and even entertain her, but never bore or, worse, irritate her. And she’s fickle — if you don’t keep communications interesting, she’ll opt out faster than a credit mooch when you go to pull a credit bureau… And as for you sales guys, the idea of schmoozing a customer sounds great, and it may even happen occasionally, but you know it’s not feasible for you to spend an inordinate amount of time schmoozing everyone. With today’s modern CRM apps, and the ones just around the corner, if you are in car sales, then the reality is that you manage a portfolio of hundreds or even thousands of customers! (orphan owner reassignments)

2. Car Buyers know how to Opt Out:
The junk mail of yore kept automotive consumers prisoner because they couldn’t “break out.” But today’s car buyers can easily opt out of marketing communications they don’t want. If you’re sending marketing emails using a white-listed email marketing services provider (ConstantContact, ExactTarget, etc.) and tracking your results (and we hope you are!) you probably know that yucky feeling when an email campaign triggers an exceptional percentage of opt-outs – worse yet, spam complaints! But automotive consumers who take the initiative to unsubscribe from your dealership’s emails might only be the tip of the pissed off customer iceberg created by your abuse of having their email addresses. Many more of your customers might be “passively opting out” — simply ignoring any future emails you send. We’re all getting better at tuning out the noise of today’s digital circus, and the result is that most traditional marketing techniques, which are based on “renting attention” from the car buyer as they go about their business, are becoming less and less effective as car buyers get more tech-savvy.
3. Automotive Consumers have Higher Expectations:
Today’s car buyers expect companies to keep seamless track of their purchasing history, communication preferences, and desires. If your system isn’t a well-oiled data machine, you’ll lose brand loyalty fast.
Consumers look for a unified and personalized experience across all of your touchpoints: your website, social media and photo platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), email marketing, etc. They want to find the information they are looking for in the medium that is most convenient for them at the moment. Whether they’re in front of their computers at work or in lines at post offices on their mobile devices, they expect an experience that’s streamlined and consistent — and it must be personal, too. They also expect you to recognize them — this is where it becomes critical to capture and store data over time and across
channels — and then feed them the exact information they want at the moment you interact with them.

It’s an exciting – yet challenging – time to be an automotive digital marketing practitioner. It’s no longer sufficient to simply push static information to car buyers in a mass advertising model, not even in CRM application data mined and segmented batches. In order to achieve a competitive advantage, car dealers must fundamentally shift the ways they engage with customers across multiple online channels throughout the vehicle ownership lifecycle. In order to do this, as an automotive marketing professional, you must learn to engage each and every prospective customer individually and personally… Which is going to require planning, strategy and execution if we want to do this in an efficient and scalable manner.
“Building on the vast increase in consumer power brought on by the digital age, marketing is headed toward being on-demand — not just always ‘on,’ but also always relevant, responsive to the consumer’s desire for marketing that cuts through the noise with pinpoint delivery.”
– Mckinsey, “The Coming Era of ‘On-Demand’ Marketing”
Email Is More Important Today Than Ever Before
In 2009, The Wall Street Journal published an article claiming that email was dead…Ironically, it was the most emailed article of the day!
Just about every day since then, someone has published an article or blog post echoing email’s demise. In
fact, if you Google “email is dead,” you’ll get over 1.5 million results. (To emphasize just how radical a
number that is, comparison searches bring up only 280,000 results for “blogging is dead,” 180,000 for
“social media is dead,” and only 2,500 for “podcasting is dead.” All of these numbers were current at the
time we wrote this in June 2013.) But the reports of the death of email have been greatly exaggerated, and the hysteria around the notion only shows that email is more important than ever. While companies now have the flexibility to communicate via traditional channels, such as direct mail and TV, as well as through newer channels, such as social media, email is still the quickest and most direct way to reach customers with critical information. Why? Because email is the one channel your audience accesses regularly. We – consumers – are addicted to email…
“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” – Mark Twain
Email Matters More Today Than Ever Before
                   
Contrary to what you may have heard me say, Email is Alive and Well
On any given day, your dealership’s previous, current and future sales and service customers may or may not visit your dealership website, one of your blogs or any of your Facebook pages; but with few exceptions, automotive consumers check their email every day, if not multiple times a day.
Scratch that — how do you make it through all those meetings? It’s more like multiple times an hour! Despite what I have been heard to say at various presentations, meetings and even last week in Miami Beach, despite our illustrious #AutoMarketing experts, gurus, Thought Leaders, conference speakers and dealership suppliers sales reps or auto industry pundit criticism and cynicism, the stats around email are resoundingly positive. For example, there are currently 3.3 billion email accounts in the world.
(Source: Mashable)
What’s more:
  • Of Americans age 12 and over who are active online, 94% cite email as one of their regular activities. (Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project’s Generations 2010 report)
  • Jay Baer, Social Media Speaker, Author and Coach, says that 58% percent of adult Americans check email first thing in the morning. (Source:MarketingSherpa 2013 Email Summit)

Email is very much alive. Plus, it’s still the number one way for marketers to communicate directly with customers. According to new research:

  • Email is the customer preference. In a recent survey, a staggering 77% of consumers reported that they prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email – and email was the number one source for all age groups including 15-24! (Source: Waldow Social)
  • Email generates nearly a 200% return on marketing investment compared to other channels. For every dollar spent on email marketing in 2013, there was a $40.56 return. Compare that to other channels, such as search engine marketing, which is the next closest at $22.44. (Source: Direct Marketing Association and Smart Data Collective)
  • Email investment is slated to increase. 64% of companies indicated their organizations’ investment in email marketing was expected to increase in 2014. (Source: MarketingSherpa 2013 Benchmark)
The point is, email is not going anywhere. As an automotive marketer, it’s still your number one tool for reaching car buyers and service customers fast.
If you agree that email marketing is NOT dead, please make my source for this article happy and take a
quick break to tweet: “Email Marketing is NOT dead! #DG2EEM #ADMPC” (Thank you!)

“Where do you tell people to send important calendar items, documents, or discussions about important topics, either for work or home? Our guess is that ‘Facebook’ wasn’t your answer. It was probably email.”

– Jason Falls, Digital Strategist and Co-author of “The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing”
Email Marketing Faces Multiple Challenges
Here are the key areas of these new challenges to email use as a marketing tactic:
  • The Economics of Attention: Information abundance and attention scarcity make it harder than ever to get buyer attention
  • Opt-Out, Screen Out, Tune Out: Consumers don’t want to feel they are being marketed to, and will find ways to tune out unwanted communications
  • The Cross-Channel Marketing Revolution: New communication channels mean email can no longer be a standalone channel
  • Imprecise Metrics: Imprecise metrics that don’t show true impact means that email struggles to be strategic Email still matters – perhaps more than ever – but traditional paradigms no longer cut it. It’s time for a reality check regarding the new challenges that email marketers face as digital consumers get more sophisticated.
The Economics of Attention
The rise of the Internet has resulted in a quick transition from information scarcity to information abundance. The world is producing information faster than the human mind can wrap itself around the data. According to a 2011 IDC report titled Extracting Value from Chaos, the amount of global digital information created and shared worldwide grew nine-fold from 2006 to 2011, growing to 2 trillion gigabytes. This number is expected to quadruple by 2015.
Opt-Out, Screen Out, Tune Out
People are inundated with pitches, advertisements, and other interruptions on a daily basis. Consumers are marketed to so often that, as a matter of self-defense, they’ve raised a psychological “anti-marketing shield.” This is particularly the case when it comes to email content. Consumers with a vested interest in achieving “Inbox Zero” have many tools to help them sweep and filter unwanted emails. They create their own definitions of junk mail using custom filters in their email software, and if they don’t like a message, they’ll not only make sure they don’t see it again, but they’ll also tell others about their displeasure. And, let’s face it, most marketing emails pretty much suck. Even if yours don’t, that doesn’t mean they’ll interest your audience. What’s creative and alluring to you might just look or sound like another sales-y, drone-toned e-blast to your end viewer: “Hi, are you ready to buy a car today?” Don’t be that car dealer!
Information Abundance Means Attention Scarcity
Social scientist Herbert Simon first talked about attention economics when he wrote:
“In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes.” What information sent by dealers using email marketing consumes is obvious: the attention span of its recipients. This means it is only getting more difficult for the emails your dealership sends to engage automotive consumers, whether you are seeking their business in the service drive or on the showroom floor…

The Cross-Channel Marketing Revolution
Today’s buyer seeks relevant and personalized content across all digital channels: email, mobile, social,
display advertising, you name it. Omni-channel, customer-focused marketing is no longer nice to have;
it’s a must-have for car dealers seeking a marketing based competitive advantage.
Companies that want to put customers at the center of their marketing strategies must engage them across the board, but this is only possible when marketing teams have a channel strategy that unifies their
products and teams. Traditional email marketing tools were designed for just one channel – email. It started as a single communications channel with no core connection to other marketing channels. Even
today, car dealers using standalone email service providers (ESPs) are stuck with a legacy approach that
doesn’t take into account the reality that today’s car buyer is adept at multi-tasking their car shopping information gathering across channels — engaging with email in one moment, a website the next, and then flitting across to social media. And he does it all while talking on the phone or texting. Traditional ESP solutions can’t adequately address this level of sophisticated multi-channel customer engagement. Nor can ESPs adequately capture all the online and offline behavioral patterns that automotive marketers should, and must track to stay on top of their dealership customer whims. To spearhead the movement toward true cross-channel coordination that incorporates email marketing, a new breed of automotive marketer is quickly rising to the top. These forward-thinking marketers are embracing strategies that leverage email as the best platform to tie together the customer relationship with the dealership and its franchises over time and across all marketing channels

Imprecise Metrics
With traditional ESP solutions, the marketer has to manually sort through multiple reports to track unsubscribes, clicks, opens, bounces, and so on for each email campaign. The insight these reports provide is, unfortunately, not that insightful with regard to customer engagement. When stuck with imprecise and generic metrics, email marketing remains merely a tactical channel, relegated to the sidelines instead of becoming a strategic part of leadership’s revenue plan.
“Automotive Marketing Professionals waste too much time trying to connect the dots using the basic email reports and metrics provided by their dealership ESP’s to the strategic metrics that dealer principals and general managers actually care about, such as leads and sales generated, and gross profit impact.”
–Ralph Paglia, Founder, Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community
Definition: Engaging Email Marketing
Consumers are always on, always connected, and always overwhelmed. If you want to connect with them, you have to work hard to engage them. In order to be truly effective, email marketing must provide some level of value delivered to the automotive consumer in order to become more trusted, more relevant, more conversational, more thought provoking and more strategic.
Think about it: you probably pay the most attention to emails from friends, family, and colleagues, people with whom you have genuine, trusted relationships. Sure, the relationship between a dealership, or even the people who work there, and an automotive consumer is never exactly the same as the relationship between friends and family, but automotive marketers can narrow the gap. Dealerships can enjoy some of the benefits of a trusted relationship by marketing to the car buyer and the service drive customer in a natural, non-marketing-speak way that truly engages him.
The best marketing that a car dealership can engage in (I used “engage” for JD’s benefit) doesn’t feel like marketing at all. If you can genuinely engage your audience through email marketing, you can build direct, trusted relationships across all channels. Do this right, and you’ll be the dealership that cuts
through the noise.
Let me cite an example I witnessed from a friend of mine who is a Volkswagen and Mazda dealer in Albuquerque, New Mexico. While I was participating in a CRM Product Advisory Group meeting last week, Bob Cockerham showed me an image he posted to Facebook which contained a Holiday themed text caption… I was surprised to see it had achieved thousands of likes and hundreds of shares. The image Bob posted outperformed any pure business based image he had ever posted.  Now, let me be very clear on this topic… Obviously dealerships and their marketing professionals need to publish information directly relevant to the products and services they sell, but what Bob Cockerham did with his somewhat spiritual non-business image post was engage thousands of people and create the perception of who he is, as being somebody people can trust!
“Remember that the best campaigns aren’t about you or what you want subscribers to do. They’re about your subscribers and what they want.”
– Matt Blumberg, Chairman and CEO of Return Path
Five Key Attributes of Engaging Email
To engage and succeed, your dealership’s marketing emails must, above all else, be:
  1. Trustworthy
  2. Relevant
  3. Controversial, excuse me… CONVERSATIONAL and Not Campaign-Based
  4. Coordinated Across Channels
  5. Strategic
This article is adapted and inspired by a 156 page eBook I obtained from the fine folks at Marketo… In their eBook, Marketo goes into great detail about the 5 key attributes to engaging email marketing characteristics listed above… ADM Professional Community members are invited to download this treasure trove of email marketing knowledge using the link below. Once you have read about these key attributes of engaging email, Marketo provides information about the technology needed. The eBook also goes into marketing automation and how it can help your dealership graduate from basic email services to real, hit-it-out-of-the-ballpark engagement strategies. Ready to dive into making your dealership’s email marketing a lot more effective? Download the free eBook in PDF file format by right-clicking the link below and selecting something like “Save As”:
Please Note: You must a registered member of the ADM Professional Community and logged in to have file download privileges… If you want the eBook and do not want to become a member of the ADM Professional Community, then take a hike – JUST KIDDING! You can use the source link below to submit your information to Marketo and download a cope of this eBook.

via Car Dealers Use Email As Source Of Competitive Advantage – And Dare I Say: ENGAGEMENT – Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

Lifting Service Revenue With Showroom Demos – Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

Recently passing my hometown fire station, a new billboard caught my attention. “Car Seat Demos” illuminated the dark sky.

My childhood fire station is reaching out to the community to educate drivers about car seats, and dealerships can too!

Winter is an especially critical time for hosting safety demos. Maintenance needs to change as driving conditions and temperatures worsen – and demos give fixed operations staff opportunities to engage with buyers in your area. While these buyers may not need a new car today, if they attend a helpful “how to” session in your showroom, you begin to build brand recognition for upcoming automotive purchases and expand your reach to attract repeat business.

 

In addition to contacting your nearest fire station to run a car seat installation class, here are two other time sensitive ideas to capitalize on during winter months.

 

 

  • The U.S. Department of Transportation recommends that car owners check their tire pressure once per month. Have your service manager instruct on how to gauge tire pressure and make sure gauges are available to purchase from your service counter. You can increase the reach of your demo by filming it and uploading to your store’s YouTube channel and website.

 

  • The nights are getting longer, and according to Weather.com, traffic deaths are three times more likely at night. The site also argues that depth perception and color recognition are impaired in the dark.  Your service team can compile a PowerPoint deck to present regarding night driving tips.

 

During my driver’s education course, my instructor emphasized the importance of functioning taillights and head lights, looking to the fog line of the road when an oncoming car is blasting its high beams, keeping a safe following distance, and signaling with plenty of yardage to spare. Other prudent night driving recommendations can be found via AAA and Department of Motor Vehicles. Consider personalizing your presentation by including local gas stations where drivers can go to seek help if needed.

 

Earlier this year, one of the dealerships that I work with in Ohio placed a link to tips for driving in the fall and at night. My Business Development Coordinator has stated that buyers are viewing and have appreciated the information. Take this idea and make it even more powerful by inviting buyers into your store for a formal demo, and then post the content in your digital channels (e.g. website, social media, e-blasts).

 

As stated in our eBook, Multichannel Marketing: Coordinating Existing Media for Maximum Con…, “Aberdeen’s “July 2012 Customer Experience Management: Using the Power of Analytics to Optimize Customer Delight” research, businesses who engaged in multichannel marketing saw growth in key performance improvements across the board, such as: a 6.8% increase in customer retention, a 5.1% increase in customer lifetime value, and a 4.0% increase in customer satisfaction.”

Not only will running a service demo this season get new buyers into your store, but you’ll show them the value of your desire to educate while boosting your service bottom line. Schedule an event today!

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How can you turn MultiChannel Marketing into car sales? Auburn Volkswagen’s General Manager & Principal Matthew Welch will reveal 5 best practices for incorporating MultiChannel Marketing into your dealership’s strategy.

 

Watch on Demand

 

 

About the Author

Marissa Dogeagle Smith, Cobalt Account Advocate Marissa Dogeagle Smith is an Account Advocate at Cobalt, working primarily with Hyundai and General Motors stores. Marissa and her teammates provide and implement ongoing website optimization strategies that help dealerships distinguish themselves and drive qualified showroom traffic. Marissa is extremely passionate about the value of using website data to formulate and employ powerful strategies. Like many Toyota owners, Marissa learned to drive in a Camry and now owns a Corolla. Marissa holds a Business Administration degree and Marketing Management Certificate from the University of Washington. Feel free to reach out to Marissa directly at msmith@cobalt.com.

ADM Members invited to the 3rd Annual Digital Marketing Strategies Conference (DMSC) – Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

Brian Pasch says he is so pleased to have been asked by First Class Educators to put together a series of VIP wine events for the 3rd Annual Digital Marketing Strategies Conference (DMSC).  Brian has been collecting California wine for over 30 years and has developed very strong relationships with some of the finest winemakers in the valley.
Brian also states that he is using his connections to create a series of very special, small wine and food tasting events that are associated with DMSC.  He will also be helping FCE plan the wine bus tours that attendees can participate in on Sunday afternoon and Tuesday afternoon.
The conference officially starts on Sunday March 16th with an evening cocktail reception with very special winemaker friends.  If you want to review the official conference schedule, view the event PDF:  2014 DMSC Agenda
One of the BIG changes this year is that the conference will be more intimate; only three workshops sessions will be running concurrently.  Only the very best workshops will be selected and only the best speakers will be facilitating these workshops.

 

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As part of its Q4 2012 Email Marketing Quarterly Benchmark Study [download page], Experian Marketing Services has analyzed the best time of the day to send emails.
Experian cautions automotive marketers by pointing out that the data is retrospective rather than controlled.  The study included all industry segments, (US based) with automotive being just one of the multiple segments analyzed (Multi-Channel Retailers).  It is wise to note that logic would dictate that optimal deployment timing will vary by industry, and in the case of automotive, perhaps even by brand. But, despite the naysayers that often want to shove their heads in the sand and ignore all objective data that doesn’t come from themselves, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at the Experian study’s results.
Not surprisingly, at least to me and anyone else who has ever used email marketing at a dealership for any length of time, the Experian study shows somewhat of an inverse relationship between email volume and performance.  Plainly stated, the more email a prospective customer receives during any given time segment, the less likely that your dealership’s email will get opened and read… (less results).

For example, looking at time of day, the study finds that a plurality 40% of emails were deployed between 8AM and 11:59AM, with that range accounting for 42% of transactions. But, the 16.1% unique open rate and 2.4% unique click rate of this time period counted as the lowest of the 6 distinct time periods.

To some extent, that could simply be a function of volume, meaning that it could be harder for email marketers to differentiate themselves in the morning, when consumers are receiving the highest volume of inbound emails.

Interestingly, the transaction rate (.13%) in that morning period also was the lowest of any time range, revenue per email ($0.17) was among the lowest, and average order value was middle of the pack, at $174.

When looking at the time of day that got the smallest share of volume and transactions (2% each) – between 8PM and 11:59PM – the picture changes considerably. During this time period, unique open rate (21.7%), unique click rate (4.2%), transaction rate (0.34%), revenue per email ($0.48), and average order value ($246) for eCommerce businesses submitting data were all considerably higher than during any other time of day. Experian doesn’t offer any suggestions as to why this might be the case, but it could be related to consumers simply being more engaged at that time of the day and more apt to submit an inquiry (lead) or spend money.

 

The Experian report also analyzes performance by day of the week, finding again that the days with the lowest volume of emails (Saturday and Sunday) boasted the best response rates (each with a unique open rate of 17.8% and a unique click rate of 2.9%). Saturday (9% of email volume) also sported the best lead submission (CPA) and transaction rate (0.16%) and revenue per email ($0.20), although average order values lagged for the eCommerce businesses submitting their data.

Regardless of the specifics by industry, region or brand, what the Experian study clearly shows is that when it comes to car dealers using email marketing, timing does effect an email campaign’s performance. The actionable item for car dealers reviewing this information is to start comparing results from your email marketing campaigns using the metrics that Experian has identified, such as open rates, click through rates and engagement rates (inquiries/leads submitted). Identify the best time segments and days of the week for your dealership, your brand and your location to get the optimum results…

Just remember what Digital Ralph has said hundreds of times; “Random is the Opposite of Optimized”.  Don’t let random selection be the means by which you time the deployment of your email campaigns, know the nest days and times to deploy campaigns by their offer type and targeted audience, then put planning in place to ensure that your dealership’s email campaigns are deployed during those optimal day and time segments.

Data Source 1: MarketingCharts.com/most-emails-deployed-in-morning-best-results-se…

Data Source 2: Experian.com/email-marketing-quarterly-benchmark-study-q4-2012

ADM Professional Community members can download the Experian Research report in PDF document format using the following link: 

Email-Marketing-Benchmark-Metrics-Study-Q4-2012.pdf