Posts Tagged “automotive advertising”

Most dealers recognize the value of their data base of past and present customers.  Many even invest in automated marketing programs that rely on algorithms to target qualified customers and deliver equity alerts for vehicle exchange programs and properly timed service alerts based on factory recommended maintenance to improve customer retention and loyalty after the sale.

The following potentially missed opportunities to maximize the R.O.I. realized by managing your most valued asset – your customers – includes many that I have overcome and a few that hopefully my friends will add in their comments:

1) Cross promotions between sales and service and service to sales:  Most dealers have a process in place to introduce new customers to a service writer to schedule their first service appointment and anchor future maintenance to preserve their warranty.  (If you don’t, make this a two for one missed opportunity and set up a process to insure a T.O. to service that extends beyond your service hours.)

However, few dealers have a similar structure in place to monitor and manage sales processes in the service lane that remind customers when they qualify to trade-up their vehicle to a new or newer one.  Typically, this is due to a lack of data, resources or staff that can research and notify customers when they have enough equity to qualify to trade-in their vehicle with little or no money down for a new or newer vehicle for similar payments.

As mentioned in my introduction, vendor solutions like Driving Loyalty can automate this discovery and notice to the customer.  However, to take maximum advantage of their marketing platform, they suggest a proven process that includes a dedicated individual in the service lane to assist the customer with their decision to exchange their vehicle vs. paying for the scheduled service that brought them to your dealership.

Driving Loyalty reminds their dealer clients that when quantifying their R.O.I. from this process they should consider not only the front and back end profit from the new or pre-owned vehicle sale but also the value of acquiring a potentially qualified Certified Pre-Owned vehicle and the increased customer loyalty and retention realized by your efforts.

2) Social Media – Marketing – Networking: Many dealers have become frustrated with using social media/marketing to communicate with their customers primarily due, in my opinion, to unrealistic expectations.  Sourcing vehicle sales and service appointments from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinetrest, Instagram, Linked-In and a number of yet to be discovered consumer centric social networking communities is not be as easy as through conventional and digital media.  However, once again, technology driven vendor solutions can provide a realistic R.O.I. from your social marketing initiatives.

Next generation apps like HELIOS developed by xChange Automotive reside entirely within the Facebook environment and provide relevant/transparent information to a customer without distracting them from their more socially driven conversations.  HELIOS provides everything from contests for cash to integrated processes that host one on one discussions with their “friend in the car business” about a considered vehicle purchase or pending service need that can be shared with their online friends and family in a non-confrontational manner.  More uniquely, the customers never have to leave their comfort zone within their Facebook page and the dealer is able to deliver/receive the information directly through their CRM/DMS and established sales/service processes.

3) Dealer Reputation/Referral Platforms: Soliciting positive feedback and referrals from customers before. during and after the sale is an old school technique that has survived into today’s technology driven marketplace.  Word of mouth advertising, bird dogs and simply asking for a referral is common place, however, third party marketing platforms that profess to be consumer centric and dealer focused have often left consumers out of the formula.

Carfolks.Com is a site that has existed for some time that adds an additional feature/benefit for consumers as well as dealers on several levels.  As expected, they notify a dealer of a poor review to offer them an opportunity to address and resolve it, however, to preserve credibility for consumers they do not allow the dealer to eliminate the bad reviews.  Instead, they insure that the dealer has the last word vs. posting a string of unwarranted attacks with the expectation that the dealer will either resolve the problem or support their position in a positive manner.

More uniquely, they offer sales consultants and service writers a “free” page on their site so customers can post their comments directly with/about the people that they actually did business with. As a result, the dealer can identify where/who the problem/opportunity originated with so they can address the individual and either critique or compliment them.  In addition, the sales consultant or service writer can learn from their replies and hopefully develop a customer base that will allow them to improve their sales techniques and increase their income.  The resulting increase in customer satisfaction/retention is coupled with an increased employee satisfaction/retention which directly benefits all parties; the customer. the employee and the dealer!

I can continue listing other examples of how/why a dealer can/should focus on their past and present customers vs. constantly investing new advertising dollars to attract new ones.  However, now would be a good time to ask you for your thoughts on the subject and suggested examples of how we can all maximize the R.O.I. from our DMS and our collected list of customers.

After all, what are friends and Ad Agency Online for!

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Philip Zelinger, the host of the blog talk radio show - Lunch With Phil Discussing Automotive Advertising - is scheduled to review a new Social Marketing Initiative being introduced by Driving Loyalty in the second quarter of 2014.  The show will air on Monday, March 31st, 2014 at 12 Noon EST.

Driving Loyalty’s data base marketing platform relies on proprietary algorithms to deliver relevant transparent messages to qualified customers in an auto dealer’s data base using emails, direct mail, outbound phone calls and personalized websites for customers.  Alerts advise customers when they qualify to exchange their vehicle for a new or newer one for similar payments with little or no money down as well as service notifications based on recommended factory maintenance.

The Q2 Social Marketing initiative being introduced by Driving Loyalty will provide information on establishing a social marketing platform for dealer clients as well as content curation services.  The objective is to add social media as a communication channel to the existing messages already being delivered to the auto dealer’s customers by Driving Loyalty on a consistent basis.

Driving Loyalty will be providing a book of best practices in the use of Social Media as an electronic file and as a printed manual for their auto dealer clients.  In addition, they will be offering similar social marketing support services for their vendor partners through shared  online resources like Driving Loyalty Social and Social Marketing Solutions – Auto.

Several vendor partners will be benefitting from and supporting the Driving Loyalty Social Marketing initiative including:

CallRevu – a total call management system that establishes best practices in handling in-bound telephone calls at an auto dealership as well as providing real time alerts delivered to dealership personnel advising them of missed opportunities.

IntellaCar - an iPad based sales and marketing platform with a proprietary process that organizes feature/benefit presentations to match the customer’s individual preferences in selecting a new or newer vehicle

DealerAppVantage - a dealer branded mobile application offered to customers at delivery that sends service alerts as well as providing customer centric information to improve the customer’s ownership experience and increase customer retention for the dealer

OfferLogix – a data management platform that integrates with Driving Loyalty and other vendors which provides information needed to compute lease payments including residuals, money factors and relevant rebates, incentives.

Automotive advertising agencies have recognized the value of consumer generated content in Social Media vs. sales messages delivered by auto dealers through conventional radio, TV and print media as well as Internet or even direct digital media such as emails. Driving Loyalty is acting on behalf of their auto dealer clients by advising them to supplement their existing marketing platform with social marketing and networking.  The decision to share their social marketing platform with their vendor partners is an example of how social networking is able to leverage resources and relationships in B2B as well as B2C applications.

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Automotive advertising agencies have adjusted to accommodate consumer preferences that have shifted from shopping at their local auto row in favor of a growing number of online options. 

The shift from conventional radio, T.V. and print media to digital advertising including websites, banner ads, S.E.O./S.E.M strategies and even email vs. direct mail has matured into even more consumer centric social media.  Forward thinking auto dealers are joining other retail businesses that recognize that the shift from the real world to the virtual one online has just begun.

Store closures by large iconic retailers including Staples, Radio Shack, Best Buy, Circuit City, Linens and Things, Borders and Blockbuster are just the tip of the iceberg as consumers shop online for everything from electronics and books to large ticket items like homes, furniture and even automobiles.  Profit challenged auto dealers have demanded more for less from their advertising agencies and retail operations as margins are reduced by today’s educated consumer with internet access to information that auto dealers no longer control.

In response, automotive advertising agencies have started to leverage social media though the use of technology driven applications that monitor and manage their auto dealer’s online reputations.  Auto dealer marketing messages are being crafted to blend into online discussions that now drive the market on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google +.

Solutions like Helios being introduced by xChangeAuto deliver a Facebook hosted information portal that provides relevant and transparent information to an auto dealer’s customers before, during and after their car shopping and buying experience.  As the auto dealer’s online “friends” enter the market they are able to access information directly from the dealer provided Facebook page without having to contact the dealer directly.

These hand raisers are delivered to the dealer through their sales and service tools including their CRM and DMS allowing a seamless transition into established sales processes.  The result is a real time exchange of information that is both consumer friendly and dealer centric; win – win!

Other technology driven solutions are being applied by dealers to accommodate online shoppers that match relationship building messages being delivered through social marketing initiatives.  Data base marketing platforms like Driving Loyalty invite past, present and pending customers to follow auto dealers onto their social marketing sites.

Driving Loyalty blends old school media like direct mail and outbound call centers with current digital marketing methods including emails and personalized websites and next generation social marketing messages.  The proprietary algorithms that power their monthly consumer centric messages deliver relevant information that is unique to each customer.

Equity alerts are delivered only to qualified customers with an offer to exchange their vehicle for a new or newer one for a similar payment with little or no money down.  These out the door quotes include tax, tag, title, related dealer fees and even take into consideration all applicable rebates, interest rates and trade-in values.

Similarly relevant alerts regarding factory recommended service and seasonal specials in parts and service insure that customers are kept up to date on their investment in their vehicle.  At the same time the dealer is assured that their relationship with their customers will exist after the sale in synch with their ongoing social marketing efforts.

Next generation conversion tools will eventually accommodate vehicle sales without customers having to visit the dealership.  However, until these complete transactions on an auto dealer’s website are more widely accepted telephone processes must be updated to preserve these more fragile online customer relationships.

CallRevu is an example of a technology based platform that allows an auto dealer to monitor and manage their in-bound telephone processes to insure that they preserve customer relationships earned through their social marketing initiatives.  The dealership’s telephone processes are first evaluated to insure that all calls are distributed timely and to the correct parties.

Once best practices are established CallRevu delivers real time alerts to key personnel at the dealership advising them of any dropped calls or those that may have been misdirected or otherwise mishandled.  The result is better customer satisfaction, retention and improved profits through delivery of a more consistent customer friendly sales process that converts online friends into real world customers.

Until brick and mortar dealerships are completely irrelevant, and that time may come sooner that many auto dealers might expect, auto dealers must protect relationships that are initiated online as they mature into guests at their real world facility.   IntellaCar is a next generation sales and marketing platform that resides on an iPad that is uniquely qualified to blur the line between the virtual and the real world.

Today’s consumers visit an auto dealership armed with more information than most of the sales consultants that greet them.  IntellaCar empowers sales consultants to compete with these more educated customers by providing them with the same credible third party information that their customers have discovered during their online shopping spree.

Sales consultants are able to access IntellaCar throughout their sales process.  After completing a brief customer profile information is sorted by order of relevancy to fit the customer’s needs.  Vehicle selection, inventory walks, test drives, appraisals and even final negotiations are similarly supported by the IntellaCar platform insuring a consistent customer friendly process.

The result is an easy transition from the online virtual world powered by consumer centric social marketing messaging to an equally customer friendly experience on the showroom floor.  Brick and mortar dealerships aren’t dead yet, and they will always have a place in the sales and service process for customers and dealers alike, which reinforces the value and need for IntellaCar and technology driven sales and marketing platforms like them.

Mobile applications also support online shopping and service experiences that connect real world showrooms with their online counterparts. DealerAppvantage is a dealer branded mobile application that protects and preserves customer satisfaction and retention at the time of delivery.

Customers are able to download DealerAppVantage onto their smart phone to stay in touch with the dealership after their purchase.  Alerts are delivered through the app to remind customers of their factory recommended service at the dealership.  More uniquely, consumer centric content such as local gasoline prices and other information designed to improve their ownership experience is always available.

The hosting auto dealer also benefits from this ongoing connection to their customers when the time comes for them to consider exchanging their vehicle for a new or newer one.  The ability to preserve relationships with customers without trying to time the market with a sales message is yet another example of how auto dealers are preparing to support these online relationships even after they visit their dealerships and take delivery of a vehicle.

Auto dealers are shifting their focus from brick & mortar dealerships to online showrooms powered by social marketing.  However, the transition requires links between proven old world processes and next generation technology driven solutions that prioritize customer relationships over short term sales and profit objectives.

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Forward thinking automotive advertising agencies understand that most changes in the auto industry are driven by technology; however, all of them are powered by human nature.   The evolution from word of mouth referral systems relying on relationship based sales processes to today’s consumer driven social marketing messages can be traced to their  common element; people like to do business with people that they like.

Auto dealers are constantly looking for ways to maximize profits and consumers are equally focused on getting the best possible deal.  The key to satisfying all parties in a free marketplace is to focus on what both sides have in common and it isn’t short term profit or price.

The market has decided that the most efficient technology driven solutions are only effective if they also improve the customer experience.  This has become more evident in today’s internet driven marketplace as social media has empowered consumers to gather the information they need to make a buying or servicing decision without having to rely on their local auto dealer.

Auto industry vendors have focused on providing consumer centric processes to complement social marketing initiatives.   Their common agenda is to prioritize the needs of the customer before those of the dealer with the confidence that they are not mutually exclusive. Read the rest of this entry »

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Automotive advertising agencies must constantly reinvent themselves to keep up with consumer preferences. When customers discovered the internet automotive advertising agencies were forced to follow them online.  New tools like web sites, conversion applications to capture customer information, banner ads and S.E.O./S.E.M. strategies were developed to replace radio, T.V., and print production services. 

The result was reduced profit margins for advertising agencies who sacrificed these lucrative products and services in favor of more cost effective online marketing tools to improve the R.O.I. for their auto dealer clients.  More importantly, they improved the customer experience for the ultimate boss – the consumer.  Customers enjoyed their newfound power to find relevant information in this more transparent media and social media was the next logical progression. 

Automotive advertising agencies are once again being forced to adjust the products and services they provide to their auto dealer clients as consumers find friends on social networks that they trust more than the auto dealers that followed them online.  Forward thinking agencies recognize that social marketing provides efficiencies in production and distribution to deliver more relevant and transparent messages for their dealer clients and they are embracing this new media.  Unfortunately, more conventional agencies are having a hard time accepting their loss of control of the message and they risk becoming irrelevant in an increasingly consumer controlled market. Read the rest of this entry »

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