A Resource Portal for Automotive Dealers, Industry Vendors and Advertising Agencies

Automotive Advertising Agencies Begrudgingly Shift To Social Marketing

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.

The solution is for agencies to join the discussion that is the market before, during and after the vehicle purchase by leveraging the relationships that power the social networks that are now driving the market.  New technology driven solutions that work within social networks to monitor and manage the discussions to favor their dealer clients provide efficiencies that were not previously available using conventional media.  In addition, agencies are finding that they can provide added value to their clients by extending their services into processes on dealer’s virtual and real world showrooms to preserve relationships earned through social marketing.

The culture shock experienced by “friends” the dealer made through their social marketing efforts as they engage the dealer to purchase or service a vehicle can destroy a relationship that took years to mature.   Auto industry vendors have addressed this issue at all stages of the sales and service process.  Agencies are tasked to recommend next generation solutions to protect the dealer’s most valued asset; their past, present and pending customers as well as the networks that they now control.

Driving Loyalty is a data base marketing platform that agencies recommend to auto dealers focused on building and preserving their online relationships through social marketing.  Initially, Driving Loyalty invites customers on the dealer’s DMS to like them on their Facebook page as well as to follow them on various social networks including Twitter, LinkedIn and Google +.   After purging duplicate records and appending files to include verified email addresses Driving Loyalty delivers monthly messages to customers using emails, direct mail and even access to a personalized website with specific information that is unique to the customer.

Alerts delivered by Driving Loyalty can include recommended maintenance or more uniquely notices that advise a customer that they can exchange their vehicle for a new or newer one for a similar payment with little or no money down.  Vehicle exchange notices are limited to customers that have enough equity based on proprietary algorithms that consider the value of the customer’s present vehicle, payment plan and it even provides exact out the door prices and payments on replacement vehicles from the dealer’s present inventory.

The unique advantage of Driving Loyalty over other direct marketing platforms is that it delivers consumer centric information in a non-confrontational manner that mirrors the way that consumers interact on their social networks.  Preserving these relationships as they transition into shopping for and purchasing a vehicle results in improved customer satisfaction and retention which can be credited to both Driving Loyalty and the agency that recommended them to support the dealer’s social marketing initiatives.

Following the contact initiated by Driving Loyalty the method of choice for customers to confirm facts and figures is with a phone call to the dealer.  Once again, the agency can provide added value support and services by recommending next generation technology driven solutions that insure that the customer is greeted like a friend vs. a customer.

CallRevu is often the vendor of choice for automotive advertising agencies to maintain the integrity of the messages delivered via social marketing.  CallRevu monitors and manages in-bound phone calls for the dealer so they can inspect what they expect from their staff and confirm that their sales processes are being consistently applied.

The Phone Call—the Number One Lead Opportunity

Phone calls are your dealership’s “sweet spot” for acquiring and retaining customers earned through social marketing campaigns. How much more profit could be earned by handing every phone call perfectly at your dealership? Studies show that out of the three types of lead opportunities—the click, the call, and the visit—the phone is the “blind spot.” While the internet opportunities are declining, the phone opportunities are on the upswing. The call to internet lead ratio hovers at 6:1.

Dealerships who strive for market retention, customer retention and profitability need to focus on each phone call as an opportunity that cannot be lost. The phone call is a direct link to the bottom line. Key managers need actionable business intelligence to correct the “blind spot.” The correct remedy to the phone profit leak is a solid phone strategy.

Minimize Missed Calls, On Holds, and Hang Ups

After CallRevu examines your phone architecture, they can correctly minimize your lost opportunities by modifying their systems. Adjust the “ring back time” on the operator’s console to 30 seconds so callers “ring back” to the operator after 30 seconds on hold. Make sure the operator’s console has a unique ring set up for ring-backs so that these callers can be handled properly. Eliminate “back to back” hold time cycles. Make sure you have an outlined “Ring Back Greeting” that is specific to “ring backs.”

Make sure your phones are set to ring back to the operator if a caller is transferred to your extension (in error) while you are on the line. These calls are often routed directly into a voicemail system. Have them ring back to the operator. Callers who enter a voicemail system this way will hang up in most cases.

Recommended best practices for dealers using CallRevu include the need to be careful with “auto attendants” and “phone trees.” These systems can be problematic and temperamental. Dealers must make sure that a representative from the store periodically tests these systems to make sure they are not cumbersome or lengthy in duration. To eliminate problems, CallRevu listens and will call the dealership if voice files seem to indicate possible issues. Brief and nimble systems are a must.

Dealers are also advised to utilize “warm transfers.” Have the operator call the extension and confirm the representative is available prior to transferring a caller to that extension. Never send a customer to an extension without confirming availability of the target representative. Confirm then transfer. Side cars or operator consoles that show extensions in use are a great way to aid in making this process as seamless and efficient as possible.

Finally, dealers are reminded to have sufficient staff to accommodate peak call times. Make sure they have an operator on staff at all times to avoid initial phone handling by people not trained to answer the phones or properly utilize the phone system. Look at your call volume and staff accordingly.

Every day each CallRevu client gets a percentage of calls noted on their CallRevu dashboard as “Abandoned Calls”. Most dealers have tended to ignore these. The majority of these calls are customers that get lost in phone trees, called lines that don’t respond at all, and for various other reasons hang up without successful navigation.

The vast majority are not just the traditional “No Connection,” but are in fact clients attempting to reach their dealer “friend” without success.

Richard Bustillo, GM of Rick Case Honda Davie and a dealer client of CallRevu’s, has assigned the task of immediately calling each of these back as they happen and has had HUGE success…Success in setting appointments and answering questions for sure, but the biggest success is the response the customers have to the effort made…what a differentiator!

The key is of course not just calling back, but to get a warm transfer to the agent that can help…100% of the time to preserve relationships earned on social networks.

They have 2 staff members signed in to the portal, set to “Today” and on auto refresh to allow immediate response—these are not sent as alerts as the volume is high and would overwhelm.

Rick Case says since inception they have set an average of 25 additional appointments per day, 80% in Fixed Ops, and though some would have called back and made it, many would not and ALL are pleasantly surprised by the experience!   This improved R.O.I. for the dealer should be attributed to CallRevu; however, the agency that recommended them can share in their success.

Once the customer is assured that they are dealing with the friend they made online the next step is to visit the dealership where the culture shock of moving past the glass wall of the internet and the filter of the phone must be dealt with.  That is where advertising agencies recommend vendors like IntellaCar to insure that their online message delivered through their social marketing campaigns matches the message at the dealership.

IntellaCar provides a sales platform that resides on an iPad that empowers the sales consultant to compete with today’s educated consumer.  More relevantly, they deliver consistent, relevant and transparent information in a manner that the customer has become accustomed to.  IntellaCar   provides third party information that confirms what the customer has already learned as well as to provide additional information that they may still be lacking to make a buying decision.  The sales consultant is able to control the presentation throughout the sales process beginning with the meeting and greeting and continuing through the inventory walk, vehicle selection, test drive and close.

Mobile solutions are also part of the puzzle when it comes to preserving relationships matured through online social marketing efforts.  DealerAppVantage is often the vendor of choice for automotive advertising agencies based on their dealer branded solution that connects the customer to the dealer after the sale.

DealerAppVantage provides dealers with an app that they can offer to their customers for free at the time of delivery.  Once downloaded onto the customers smart phone the dealer is able to push relevant notifications to their customers regarding ongoing service needs as well as providing consumer centric information that resides on their phone to enhance their ownership experience.  Of course staying connected to the dealer after the initial sale for future service needs increases customer satisfaction and retention resulting in future sales at the dealership but then again; what are friends for!

Automotive advertising agencies are begrudgingly using social marketing in favor of conventional and even digital marketing.  However, the resulting increase in the R.O.I. they can provide to their dealer clients by leveraging content promoting the dealer contributed by past, present and pending customers on social networks more than compensates them for their efforts.

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