I used to be a huge wrestling fan when I was growing up. I backyard wrestled. My friend and I ordered every pay-per-view. I even had a short career as an amateur wrestler in my early 20′s. [EDITOR'S NOTE: The bowtied gentleman seen in the picture above is, in fact, Justin Roberson (AKA Pretty Boy Rob AKA PBR). Yessiree, Boy Howdy, DOM has quite the eclectic staff.] However, it had been a long time since I actually watched and cared about wrestling. On a whim, I purchased Wrestlemania XXIX (the first PPV I had bought or watched in 12 years). I was excited. IT’S WRESTLEMANIA!!!! The biggest spectacle in all of sports entertainment. Even though I hadn’t fully followed the year-long lead-up to the event, or the sport itself for years, I was excited.
Then I watched it.
Then I was disappointed.
Then I wanted my money back.
Then I never wanted to have anything to do with WWE ever again.
What Can Your Dealership Learn From My Experience?
The first takeaway is ensuring that there is consistency. It had been years since I watched a WWE PPV event, which is similar to someone who may return to your dealership to buy another car. Obviously, some physical changes like a remodeled showroom or new location may have happened, but hopefully the pillars of your dealership haven’t. For me, there were new wrestlers I wasn’t familiar with, some I was familiar with. I expected change and adaptations … but getting bombarded with Slim Jim commercials and musical performances was something I was not prepared for. This WWE was not the WWE I knew from years before.
If you built your brand on a core value, make sure that pervades everything your company does. Doing so will ensure that there is consistency at your dealership throughout the years of growth and personnel changes. For someone who had previously pleasant experiences with WWE, I now swore them off. Advertisements? Extended music performances? This was not the same company that I used to love. I didn’t like it one bit.
Customer Experience is Key
Second, customer experience is key. We all know that. But, what can sometimes happen during (sales) “events” is that the onus is put on the offers to drive the sales. That may bring in the customers, but that doesn’t ensure they have a good experience once they are there, which is just as important to the sale as having inventory or specials to begin with. I was already sold on Wrestlemania. I paid the $70. I was promised excitement and entertainment. However, what I ended up with was nothing close to that. That negatively affected my perception of the WWE brand.
Literally everything your company does affects customers’ perception of you, from your website to your lot. The tiniest things can turn potential customers away. Spend time on your own website and ensure that those “Live Chat” pop-ups aren’t intrusive and that your links work. How easy is it to search inventory? How long does it take to get someone on the phone? Maybe those tracking numbers are taking a long time to forward or your employees aren’t answering the phone quick enough. You may only get one chance to impress a customer. Don’t make it difficult for them to give you their patronage. The only way you’ll know these things is to audit your system. DOM routinely secret shops our clients’ dealerships to find inefficiencies and areas of improvement.
Don’t rest on the laurels of your dealership’s name. That only leads to stagnation. Make sure the customer is taken care of and treated right, or lose your competitive advantage. WWE allows Wrestlemania’s reputation to do the selling for them, but it’s ultimately the quality of the event itself that will keep fans coming back and happy. They failed on that front for me, and I can assure you I won’t be making that mistake again.
Side Note: How is Undertaker still wrestling despite not being able to do anything but punch and fall down? Does he have a Lazarus Pit?
If you have any questions about how to improve your dealership’s customer experience, give DOM a call: 864-248-0886.
Our staff threw together this “Harlem Shake” video as a team-building exercise this past Friday. Any inherent embarrassment is buffeted by the fact that this is no better or worse than 95% of the “Harlem Shake” videos already out there, and that at least a couple of the guys made an attempt at doing a proper Harlem shake, old-school ‘80s style, yo. (Much love, Al B!) Think you can do better, dealers? Bring it on!
The final week of December has traditionally been the strongest week for car sales in the United States. Customers are typically looking for extra savings on vehicles from the soon-to-pass model year, and dealers are eager to move inventory to make room for models for the new model year. This is usually coupled with additional incentives on vehicles for the new model year, which have now been in the showroom for a few months.
Now is a good time to start planning accordingly for the expected influx of customers by boosting your advertising budget. If you’ve contemplated doing a Search Engine Marketing campaign in the past but held off, this month is a great time to test out a limited text search or display campaign. Retargeting campaigns can also keep your dealership at the forefront of customers’ minds.
If you usually make a point of increasing your traditional media buys as the holidays near, take a moment to consider the benefits of allocating additional funds to your digital campaigning, as well, or even shifting some of that traditional media money toward digital media. Eight of 10 new car shoppers now start their search online, with 70 percent checking prices online, and having a strong digital advertising presence (whether text or display) nearly doubles the likelihood that a given shopper will make a purchase from your dealership.
So don’t get caught short this holiday season. Plan on boosting your digital campaign now, at the beginning of December, so that your ads already have traction when the final week arrives.
The Pre-Election Slump is a phenomenon that’s been examined by economists for some time now, and it goes something like this: In the months preceding a big election — like, say, the one for the President of the nation coming up this November — the economy has a tendency to sputter and slump, picking up on a wave of optimism once a new president is in office or the incumbent has been secured for four more years. Finding strategies to fight this Slump isn’t easy when you’re doing it on your own. How do you drive consumers to buy when most people are tightening their wallets and buckling down? Spring and summer — peak buying seasons — have just ended, and the holiday season hasn’t started quite yet.
Our clients have been fortunate to avoid the Pre-Election Slump, still seeing their usual success online and in their dealerships this month. We’ve been successful by being in constant contact with consumers via the Web, ranking consistently at the top of organic searches and launching compelling retargeting campaigns.
When your Internet marketing becomes stagnant, it’s easy to ride out the waves with the rest of businesses — a strong month here, a crest there, ultimately hoping to make up any losses when December rolls around. But at Dealer Online Marketing, we want to see you get out of the red and put yourself and your business on a different track.
When the Pre-Election Slump hits hardest, it’s time to fight back.
Even though it’s been around for a while now, Internet marketing can still be daunting at times, what with all the various terms and phrases and their sometimes different meanings to different audiences. Take SEO and SEM, for example. SEO is Search Engine Optimization, which is maximizing the content on your website to generate the highest placement in search engine results through use of key words and phrases. SEM, on the other hand, is Search Engine Marketing, which typically refers to paid services provided by search engines, particularly pay-per-click advertising, designed to further boost your web presence in ways that SEO cannot.
There are many SEM options available, including paid placements atop search pages for key words and phrases for which you pay money each time someone clicks on your listing. It can also include the use of banner and box adverts on websites related to the interests of your target market. And Social Media Marketing, or SMM, has become an increasingly prominent component of SEM strategies, utilizing outlets like Facebook and Twitter to reach out to consumers.
Dealer Online Marketing offers a variety of SEM options to our clientele in addition to our core offering. We’ve had a number of dealerships use these services in the past few months to expand their Internet presence, and they’ve enjoyed success in generating more leads and more sales. Next time you speak with your DOM Account Executive, you might want to ask them about our SEM offerings if you’re looking to boost your web presence and take your dealership to the next level.
The last couple of months, we’ve been focusing on changes made to Google’s algorithm for determining search-results rankings. But when they’re not busy tinkering with their bread and butter, Google has worked on a number of other projects. In recent years, Google has sought to posit itself as a thought leader in business marketing. It behooves Google to do so, of course, because they offer a number of internet services specifically for businesses, so we’re not talking altruism here. Still, they are good for the occasional enlightened gem.
And thus we have the “Zero Moment of Truth.” ZMOT (as those in the know call it) is not a wholly original idea, but an extension of one developed by Proctor & Gamble several years ago. Back in 2005, P&G came up with the concept of the “First Moment of Truth” — the moment when the consumer first encounters a product on the shelf and makes the snap decision whether or not to buy. But in the Internet age, there are now many opportunities to find out about new products before one ever encounters them in person. That’s what Google calls ZMOT.
I had my own ZMOT just a couple of weeks ago. I made the decision to buy a tablet computer because I wanted something I could use while lying in bed or on the couch as an e-reader or to play games or to check my e-mail. My basic requirements were that I wanted a 7-inch tablet (sorry, iPad) with Wi-Fi capability and plenty of GB to play with (or that at least had expandable memory). I did all my research on the web before I ever made it to a store to take a firsthand look, but I was already 90 percent sold on my choice before I touched it, thanks to several websites that provided specs and reviews.
Internet marketing still comprises a very small percentage of many dealerships’ overall marketing strategy and budget, yet all the data suggests that consumers are utilizing the Internet more and more in formulating their purchase strategies. We’ve seen several of our dealerships enjoy excellent ROI with our SEM campaigns that utilize strategic search engine positioning, social media, targeted e-blasts and landing pages, and remarketing. Maybe it’s time to consider giving your Internet budget a boost!
You’ve probably gotten one of these in the mail. You finally verified your Google Places listing (via 2-3 week postcard [damn you auto-attendant!]) and you received this Google AdWords coupon in the mail teasing you with $100 in free advertising. What’s to lose? It’s free money! Right? The intent behind these promotional gift cards is to get you hooked into Google AdWords Express (formally Boost), which is affectionately known by SEM Professionals as “AdWords for Dummies.” For many auto dealerships getting started with automotive SEM, AdWords Express is a great way to test the waters. However, before you stick your toe in, it’s a good idea to understand the differences, benefits and weaknesses of both AdWords and AdWords Express.
Easy Set-Up: Four steps. 10 minutes. That’s all it takes. There is no search term analysis, no KEI calculations, no keyword research. You don’t even have to worry about starting bid prices. Google does all the critical-thinking for you by calculating a monthly budget based on search volume. Just commit to how much you want to spend and Google will do the rest for you.
Automatic Targeting: Google will take the categories you have specified on your Google Places page and automatically show your ad for those searches in your geographic location. Simple.
Automatic Bidding: Google will also automatically adjust bid prices so there is no more examining specific keywords to see which ones you are willing to spend some more dough on. You get a 30,000 foot view of budget control, but, unfortunately, don’t get the granular control you may want over cost per click.
In addition to these benefits, AdWords Express also allows you to edit your ad titles from the business name (default setting) to whatever you want, assuming it adheres to Google’s Editorial Guidelines. You also have the ability to create multiple ads for each business category. Even more convenient is that all of the metrics can be seen from the Places dashboard.
Though offering certain benefits, AdWords Express also has severe limitations. For instance, your ads only show up in the business categories you select for your Google Place, which is limited to five. You won’t be able to run a variety of model-specific ad campaigns. Google, unlike a PPC manager, takes the Ron Popeil method of “Set it and forget it!” They make assumptions about your business and let it run its course. They are the ones in the driver seat of your campaigns. There isn’t a rep overseeing the monthly changes and patterns and adjusting settings accordingly. Even though Google automatically geo-targets searchers, you don’t have the ability to target customers in other geographic regions, a huge negative for an exotic car dealer who ships worldwide. The biggest bummer, however, has to be the fact that you don’t have the ability to add negative keywords to block your ad from showing up in unwanted searches.
More Targeted: AdWords allows you to control which landing page your visitors will see based on what keyword they searched, Express does not. This is a huge factor when looking at your conversion rate and ROI. With AdWords Express, you have to assume that your homepage has a strong enough call-to-action to convert.
Ad Extensions: Ad extensions, an AdWords exclusive, give your ad additional lines of text and the ability to stand out or offer more links. Four types of ad extensions exist in AdWords: Location Extensions, Call Extensions, Ad Sitelinks and Product Extensions. Sitelinks, shown in the photo below, allow you to display additional areas of your site that might be relevant to the user’s search query. A good sitelink extension for the search “2012 Honda Accord Greenville, SC,” might include a link straight to the inventory, a page with Accord specials and a research page. In our findings, Ads with Ad Extensions get clicked on four times more often than those without them.
Conversion Tracking: AdWords allows you to track conversions, Express does not. Sure, it’s great to be able to say “Wow, we received 500 clicks this month,” but unless you can pinpoint how many visitors actually turned into leads, those numbers are just for vanity. Thankfully, AdWords lets you do just that, even letting you see which specific keyword is generating the most conversions. This is, without a doubt, the biggest advantage that AdWords has over AdWords Express.
Display Network/Remarketing: You’ve seen them: the image ads that follow you around the Internet based on your search history. That’s Google’s Display Network, and it’s not available to Express users. The advantage of the Display Network is that not only can you target people on the websites they most frequently visit, but you can also target people who have visited your site. Known as remarketing, this tactic allows you to target a user who viewed your Camry inventory page with Camry-specific ads, keeping your dealership’s name in front of the customer while they continue their shopping process. Automotive remarketing campaigns are a very powerful tool, and it is only available to AdWords users.
Because AdWords gives you total control of your campaigns, it doesn’t lend itself well to pay-per-click (PPC) neophytes. It’s very easy for beginners or DIYers to become overwhelmed with keyword lists and various campaign settings (not to mention burning through funds from choosing too many broad keywords). For the best ROI, having a PPC professional or SEM company set-up your AdWords campaigns and oversee it is the best option, which also happens to cost money (usually through a management fee).
AdWords Express is a kiddie pool and AdWords is the deep-end. If you want to execute a triple Lindy and make a huge splash, you’re gonna have to shed the swimmies and head to the deep-end. Whether you choose AdWords Express or AdWords, a search engine marketing campaign can supplement your website’s organic traffic and increase unique visitor traffic to your site, which only leads to more leads and sales. If you aren’t currently running any PPC campaigns, we suggest you start. Choose wisely.
Itâ€™s been a few weeks now since the NADA Convention in Las Vegas, which has given me some time to step back and really digest the event and all that it encompassed. And the thought I keep coming back to is this: Walking the halls of the NADA Convention this year was like walking into a well-run dealership.
Let me explain.
When I walk into a dealership (and I visit several each week), I can instantly tell you if that dealership is profitable and well-run. I can do this simply by feeling the air in the dealership. Is it light? Is it customer-centric? Was I greeted when I walked in? Did the staff go out of their way to make me feel at home?
Or was it the opposite? Was the air heavy? Did a salesperson size me up as a vendor, walk right past and not bother with me? Was the receptionist more interested in getting back to her private phone call than in greeting me properly? Was it dirty and uninviting? And the ultimate litmus test for dealerships: Was the bathroom clean?
My takeaway from the NADA Convention was that there was a genuine lightness in the air, born of the promise that the market may have finally turned a corner. From the speakers to the vendors to those walking the floor, I heard the same mantra again and again. Gone was the fatalism of â€œThis year just CANâ€™T be worse than last year â€¦ can it?â€ Iâ€™ve heard all too often these past few years, replaced by genuine optimism that consumers are ready to buy again, and in significant numbers.
If the positive vibe I felt at the NADA Convention is any indication, 2012 should be a very good year for dealerships as the economic recovery continues â€¦ so long as theyâ€™re willing to share that good-spiritedness with each and every potential customer.