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Sort by First Published in Digital Dealer Magazine March 2007 Hello, Can you Hear Me Now? The phone is one of the most misused opportunities in a dealership.” I was actually told that about a decade ago when I went through my first phone sales training class. The truth is that it still applies today. Sometimes it takes forever for someone to even answer the phone and from there it gets bounced from the receptionist to the salesperson and finally to a manager. In most cases like that, the prospect abandons the call out of exasperation. To make matters even worst, when a salesperson or Internet/BDC rep gets a potential customer on the phone, he never even gives his name, asks the prospect for his name or builds value in himself and the dealership. Let me give you a great example. I was recently working with a franchised dealer in Kentucky for a week of training on business development and reviewing the dealership’s phone process through role playing. I was stunned when we engaged our role-play because the manager of the department was ignoring my questions, being vague and personifying the stigma of an old school car salesperson. I corrected her and started to teach her the proper methods and she further surprised me by explaining that she felt that what she was doing was wrong, but was trained to do so. She went on to tell me that the previous training company had told them to follow the scripts and ignore the prospects. She also said that the trainer actually sat in class and said no matter what the customer asks, ignore him and keep going on with your script. Knowing that trainers are teaching this is very disturbing to me. I want to clear up some things and give you all some very powerful information about phone sales and statistics based on our research and experiences in the field: • More than 80 percent of the time Internet or sales consultants don’t ask for the name and number of the caller • Seventy-eight percent of the time they do not attempt to make an appointment with the prospect • More than 70 percent of the time the sales consultant didn’t qualify the prospect properly. Some might have asked questions about the vehicle, but very rarely asked the prospect about wants, wishes and expectations other than the vehicle • More than 85 percent of the time the Internet or sales consultants did not properly identify themselves or ask the customers to write down whom they should ask for when they get into the dealership • More than 70 percent of phone ups are not logged into an ILM or CRM properly or even logged in at all, which means they are never followed up on The bottom line is there are steps to a sale – any sale. You need an opportunity to do business. You need to get someone to like you, trust you and believe you. If that occurs, they will buy from you (or at the very least come in for an appointment). If you want to be successful at selling cars you need to master your phone skills. And if you want to maximize your Internet department, special finance department or business development center, then you absolutely need to not only get control over your phones, you need to master them. You need to remember several things: • There is a science of communication…55 percent of communication is visual perception and body language. Thirty-eight percent of communication is auditory stimulation and inflection of tone. Finally, only 7 percent of communication is conveyed through text…the words we use. • That means you need to have a solid plan of how you are going to engage your prospect. You need to have an escalation protocol; meaning if there is only 45 percent (meaning 38 percent inflection of tone and 7 percent in words that we use) of communication on the phone, your main focus is to escalate that relationship as fast as possible to the next stage…the appointment. So, you should not be focused on selling the vehicle over the phone. You should focus on selling the appointment. The vehicle “selling” should be done in your environment, when you can conduct a full product presentation and the demo drive. You need to get in front of the prospect to start building rapport. • You should have a solid incoming phone call process. Following is an example. Incoming call script Dealership rep: “Thank you for calling ABC Motors, Sean speaking… are you calling about our sale?” *You want to properly greet the prospect on the phone and set the stage. Remember, you only have one chance to make a first impression. Right from the onset you are setting the tone for the call. By asking the question, “Are you calling about the sale?” you are finding out why the prospect is calling or from where they are calling. Prospect: “No, I am not…is there a sale going on?” Dealership rep: “Absolutely! We have several sales going on. (Make sure you have a list of current sales or promotions handy.) Are you looking for a new vehicle or a pre-owned vehicle?” *This is an opportunity to create some excitement…sales is about transference of energy. If you aren’t excited, why should your prospect be? Prospect: “A used car probably.” Dealership rep: “Great, which one of our sales were you calling in on?” * Now is the time you are going to find out exactly from where they are calling. This is the time where you find out where your ad dollars were successful. Prospect: “I saw your ad in the Auto Shopper magazine on that pre-owned ‘05 Suzuki Grand Vitara.” Dealership rep: “That vehicle is definitely available… your name is…? And how do spell your last name?” * This is very important; you need to ask his name. Some people might go for the phone number too, but a lot of people on the phone are skeptical about giving the phone number out so quickly. I think it’s best not to go for it this early in the game. Getting a name is a great start. Now you can use the prospect’s name in the conversation and make the experience more personal. Prospect: “Dave A-D-A-M-S” Dealership rep: “Dave, just so I know… besides availability, what else is important to you in purchasing your next vehicle?” * This is so important. You are going to qualify your prospect here. Most sales are not made because the salesperson was on the wrong car and the prospect’s “wants, needs or expectations” weren’t met. A salesperson’s ultimate goal should be to exceed a customer’s expectation, but the fact is you can never exceed a customer’s expectations if you first can’t identify their wants wishes and expectations. Let the prospect tell you what it is going to take to earn his business. Let him give you all the details to assist you in closing the sale later. Remember what Dr. Stephen Covey says… “Seek first to understand before being understood.” Prospect: “I was looking for the best price.” * It doesn’t matter what they say, meet their expectations. Make sure they know you are there to help them. Then transition to your value package proposition (meaning sell, sell, sell your dealership). Show them why they should do business with you. Dealership rep: “Dave, how about this… If I wasn’t able to get you the best price… I would never expect you to purchase a vehicle from me, OK?” Prospect: “OK.” Dealership rep: “Dave, with that said… can I tell you what else we do here to go above and beyond for our customers?” * This is again an opportunity for you to create excitement. This is the part where you can exceed their expectations. If they were “expecting” anything else, they would have mentioned it previously. By this time we have properly qualified our prospect, created rapport, and met their expectations. Now we can go for our “value package.” Prospect: “Absolutely!” Dealership rep: “Here at ABC Motors we have created a special value program that includes: • Free delivery to your home or office • Rewards / loyalty program • Tires for life • Free oil changes • Price guarantee / price protection • Loaner cars • Entry into our drawing (for just coming in for an appointment)” * You can use anything here… whatever your dealership does as its “differentiator.” Dealership rep: “How does that sound, Dave?” * This is your trial close. Prospect: “Wow… are you serious?” Dealership rep: “Absolutely. When is the best time today for you to come in – afternoon or evening?” *That is the close. Set the appointment on the quarter hour. Say something like, “Which is better, 3:15 or 4:15pm?” Appointments set on the quarter hour have a better show ratio. Sales representative should close with asking for the prospect’s cell phone number and e-mail address, explaining that if something changes they can get in touch with the prospect and they will send an e-mail confirmation with directions for the appointment. It is important to obtain this for follow-up with the prospect. I hope you all realize how powerful the phones are… master your craft. Sean V. Bradley
Read more… This article was first published in Digital Dealer Magazine September 2006! The thrill of gambling is exhilarating. Am I going to win? Am I going to hit it big? Let me put it all on the line and see what happens. Since living close to Atlantic City, NJ, gambling has always intrigued me, but I must confess I am not a gambler at all. I am a realist; I am a numbers person. I don’t feel comfortable just hoping on the long shot. So, where am I going with this? Well, this is exactly what is going on in our industry today – gambling. Dealers are advertising on a long shot. There is no science, no reason – just hope that our initiative sells some more cars. It’s all in the statistics, but is anybody listening? You head down the road of spending tons of money to bring new customers into your dealership or to your web site, and then you do not do a value proposition for the dealership. From there you sell the vehicle, have no plan to bring that customer into service and you do very little to create a relationship that will lead to valuable service business and the inside track to the customer’s next vehicle purchase. Let’s talk about some numbers. NADA tells us that the average store spends over $500 in advertising for each new vehicle sold. That number is actually incorrect because we know a large percentage of sales are repeats, referrals or came to us because of our location/brand. This means you probably spend closer to $800 to $1,000 for each vehicle you sell from your advertising. You only close at 22 percent on your ups; 40 percent of those never create a cash RO and a full two-thirds of these customers are gone by the time they truly become valuable – which is when the vehicles reach 30,000 miles. Oh yeah – by keeping them loyal you also pick up amazingly profitable service business. The customer that does remain loyal is seven times more likely to repurchase and on average will have a gross of an additional $900. Let me break it down further. Smart Tech Enterprise research states that a prior customer closes at 60 percent versus 22 percent for a fresh up, with a gross profit increase of over $900. But most dealers don’t allocate any budget for owner retention efforts and the dealerships that do only allocate minimally. Let’s say you should at least spend 10 percent of your ad budget on loyalty for your customers. Create a custom value proposition, leverage it during the sales process and apply it to customers to keep them happy in service and then allow your customers to earn toward their next vehicle purchase. Airlines, hotels, rental cars, grocery stores and thousands of retail establishments already know what you refuse to learn. Any one transaction has little value compared to the loyalty of a customer. In working with CRM and database marketing for years, it is also amazing that you ignore your database. You do garage predictors to try and find people who may or may not have the money, inclination to your brand or even be in the market for a vehicle, yet you ignore a gold mine in your own database. Again, it goes back to a dealer’s gambling mentality. You choose to take a shot in the dark versus science and math. NADA again tells us 2 percent of the people in your database purchase a vehicle every month. A typical store has an active database of 6,000 to 10,000 customers. Think about the potential and then get sick over the fact that you have not created loyalty with these people. One hundred twenty to 200 people from these stores purchase every month and you have done little to say, “Buy from me,” unless they get that generic mailer via the garage predictor. Claim your customers as our own. Glue those who have been in within the last six months with a rewards program. Aggressively go after the inactives for service and let everybody know you want to sell them their next vehicle. The good news is you can do all of this for the 10 percent of the ad budget discussed earlier. I am always amazed when I talk to dealers who will not commit 10 percent of their ad budget to what makes the most sense. It goes back to gambling. I am not a gambler, however, if you are, at least be a smart gambler, and play the odds. What makes more sense? Putting all of your money on a 22 percent shot or at least some of your money on a 60 percent shot with the opportunity to make $900 higher gross profit per unit? I was going to end this article at this point, but I was thinking about a conversation I had recently with another industry expert. We were discussing that a lot of articles are written that have good surface content. They explain the issues, but do not go too deeply into the “how” to solve or the “how” to actually take action. In my opinion, that’s for two basic reasons: They don’t want to give away the farm for free. After all, we are all here for business. Or, they don’t want it to look like they are trying to plug their products and/or services. I hope you would feel that I have covered some useful content and information, but now I am going to take it to the next level. I want to give you some strong takeaways – things that you can put into effect immediately at your dealership and see some great results. Let’s start with an example of a customer loyalty program: • Free lifetime state safety inspections • Free loaner vehicle with a 30,000 mile service • Free body shop estimates • Free shuttle service • Free car wash • 10-15 percent discounts on installed accessories • Loyalty pricing • Referral program • 10 percent toward your next vehicle purchase • 5 percent toward major service • 5 percent toward body shop • “Frequent Flyer Miles” program The idea is to reward your customers for their actions. Anything that they do at your dealership gets them rewarded. For example, there are companies out there that have loyalty cards with smart chips in them that allow the customers to earn “points,” like airlines have frequent flyer miles. So, anytime the customer goes into your dealership to buy parts, have service work done or to purchase a vehicle, they will earn points on their card for future activities. The more they do in your dealership the more they earn for future visits. Okay, now you have an idea of what a rewards program looks like. How do you utilize this information at your dealership(s) immediately? One idea is your web site. Remember, over 85 percent of people who buy cars go online first to do research before they ever step foot into your dealership. There should be a section on your web site that is clearly defined “Customer Rewards” or a button that says something to the effect of “Click here for Customer Rewards.” The idea, again, is to call attention to this section. Remember most dealers do not have this on their site. This is an opportunity to differentiate your value package proposition for your dealership from any other dealership around you. Remember, the average prospect researches three to five web sites before choosing yours. If your competition is giving cars away at invoice or there are other price factors, why should they pick you? If you are a little farther away than your competition, why take that extra drive to your dealership? Because you have something they don’t… a customer rewards program! One last idea – what about your lost opportunities? I mean all of those leads you don’t close? Let’s say you buy or generate 400 leads in a month. You sell 40 units; that’s 360 leads left over. Some are bogus; some don’t respond; some bought elsewhere or just changed their mind. You can contact all of your dead leads, let’s say your “bought elsewheres” for example, and let them know you wish them the best with their new vehicle and even though you didn’t earn their business they can call you whenever they’d like to ask you any question they might think of… and oh, by the way… as a token of appreciation for them letting you have the “opportunity” to earn their business you want to give them a gift… an “owner’s reward” card. Explain all that the card does and contains. You will be surprised how many people will use this card. The benefit here is that you are going to turn a lost opportunity, somebody who bought elsewhere, into a service customer, and remember, a service customer is seven times as likely to purchase a vehicle from where they have their service done. Keeping all this in mind, my aim is to help you sell more cars more profitably and more often! Sean V. Bradley
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Babe Ruth was known for hitting the most home runs, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that he also had the most strikeouts. Think about that for a moment…

My point is that you need to be at bat to crack those home runs out of the park. For many years I was at the frontline of Internet Departments. I have successfully built multiple Internet sales departments from the ground up from nothing to selling over 100+ units solely from the Internet. When I started, I tried creating and managing the Internet department every possible way imaginable. I had struck out several times before I developed that “Power” swing. I put a solid strategy together and I was cracking home runs right out of the park.

Soon after I started I realized that I needed a strategy and a focus. I needed to set some goals for my department, my company and myself. I worked with others and developed a four-point strategy we called D.I.M.E.. The four elements of D.I.M.E. are Design, Implement, Manage, and Evolve.


This is where you create a vision of where you want your business to be in the future. List your goals and desired outcomes. Be specific about how your business will be affected. Don’t talk in generalities but in specifics-percentage increased or decreased, net gain or loss, numbers for retention, etc.


Work your vision through implementation. Establish a timeline for task completion. Be sure everyone understands their accountability especially outside vendors and inside managers.


Management is about measurement. Be sure to measure your progress against the standards you set during the design phase. You want to be sure that everything is moving forward and that you are achieving the desired results.


Evolution takes leadership. Throughout the design, implementation and management of your plan others will be looking to you for guidance. In order to evolve, others must understand where your business is headed and follow the vision you have laid before them.

D.I.M.E. is the method we use at Dealer Synergy for everything we do from buying computers to hiring new employees. Having a strategy and repeatable method of execution allows us to get better at what we do every time we do it.

Having a methodology is important but your also need to know where your key areas for success are. Most businesses share four common elements of focus. I call them “The Four “P’s”. The first is products, the second people, then process and finally promotions.

Next month we will take a look at how the Four P’s apply to selling cars online…

Sean V. Bradley

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You Can’t Fix It If You Don’t Measure It

If your sales staff told you that they had a 50% closing ratio, would you take their word for it? I suspect not – you would probably track all of their opportunities to determine the true percentage. Most dealerships measure a vast number of items on a daily basis. After all, you can’t manage what you don’t measure, right?How about the level of compliance and ethical behavior in your dealership? Is that something you measure or do you just take everyone’s word for it? Have you really thought about how your staff is conducting itself in these areas? Is it possible that some of these thoughts are floating around?“We’ve always done it this way – haven’t been caught yet”“Hey, if we get sued, that’s what insurance is for.”“Compliance is not in my pay plan. I’ll do whatever it takes to make a decent paycheck.”Sure, you can bury your head in the sand and hope for the best, but is it really worth finding out the hard way that you were mistaken, or that your customers are not being treated the way you expect?Instead, why not follow a few simple steps?1. Audit your operation to determine where you really stand.2. Have your staff properly trained in all aspects of legal compliance.3. Once trained, have them sign a code of ethics which will not only help protect the dealership, but let everyone know that the organization is serious about compliance and ethical behavior.These steps are easy and far more affordable than the costs associated with lawsuits, regulatory actions and, most importantly, hits to your valuable reputation. Don’t find out the hard way that your operation isn’t as clean as you thought it was.
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Here is an email from Whitney, the Internet Director for Willis GM...

The Willis Automotive Internet Department worked very hard all through October, ending up with 46 deliveries!!! Our best month ever so far!!! Mr. Bill Willis made a deal with the Internet Department that if we sold more than 40 in the month of October he, and Mrs. Mary Jane Willis, would fix and serve our department a fresh salad, a big baked potato, and a big filet mignon! Today--- we were served an awesome lunch (salad, baked potato, wonderful filet mignon, rolls, and warm pecan pie) with outstanding table side service!!!
Now.... just to keep everyone awake for the rest of the day ;)


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I need your help

After 3 kids and some personal things happening to my wifes family, she has convinced me to move. Now we will be moving too far for me to commute to my present dealership. So I have found new opportunities at a couple of dealerships. Here is the dilemma:

1) where I am moving they are just discovering social media( no one is using yet)

2) everyone at these opportunities are scared to death of it. However 1 is interested in it.

3 Everyone pays the same

my question is do I go running to the place that wants to stick their toe in the social media waters, or do I try to convince another dealer in a slightly better "floor Traffic" area to do it?

I would like some feedback on this please. I respect your opinions!

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Follow Up with your prospects & customers using SOCIAL MEDIA & Internet resources like: Face Book, Twitter, MySpace, Google & AOL Instant Messenger - Sean V. Bradley I have been thinking about an article / Video post that I can do that is of value and a little bit different than what you see everywhere else... and here is what I have come up with: In my travels ALL OVER THE COUNTRY with dealerships, I hear a lot that it is hard to get an Internet prospect on the phone... YES it is!!! LOL!! *** Seriously, that is the HARDEST part of Automotive Internet Sales... getting the prospect on the phone. As a matter of fact statistically, you are going to reach about 12- 15% of your attempts or phone calls... So, lets break out the calculator and be crystal clear here. If you attempt to call 120 people per day (what we suggest), at a 12% connection ratio... you will connect with about 14.4 people.... at a 15% connection ratio you will connect with 18 people. Lets do the math in the other direction... if you ONLY are calling 30 people in a day... you are ONLY going to connect with about 3-5 people a day... So, first TIP is to attempt to contact people MORE... Why...? Well, more attempts = more connection...more connections = MORE appointments!!! & More appointments = MORE Shows and MORE SALES!!!! However, it is HARD to connect with people... I get it. BUT, are you going to just sit around and "WOE is Me"? or are you going to be proactive and try to do something about it? Sales is SIMPLE... you get what you put into it. You put no effort, and you will be BROKE... you put effort in and you can make $$$$$$$$. Here are some quick things you can do if you CAN NOT reach a prospect by the phone or you have a bad phone number or NO phone #... * First, you can try doing a "Reverse" look up with the operator... and try to get a different # * You can drop your prospect’s name into Google and you might find out some details, a Social Networking site etc... * you can go to Face Book or Twitter directly and drop their name or name and other deails (if you have) and try to find their profile and or page... ** If you find them on their Social Media... you can contact them directly through their Social Media. What is GREAT about this is that MOST Social Media is directed to people's cell phones :) And more than 1/3 of the population access Social Media via their mobile devices... *** Another opportunity is through Instant Messaging tools like AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). If you get an email from a prospect that is like: - / / the PREFIX (The words BEFORE the @ symbol is USUALLY their INSTANT MESSENGER Address!!! That means that you can try to Instant Messenge hard to reach prospects... There are a LOT more cool things you can do to try to engage your prospects... This was just a quick article to assist you all. I hope you see value in it and I trust it will help you IF YOU TRY IT-
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CRM Tool???

Currently using UDC Momentum CRM...... Have used it at this location for 7 years now... Wondering if it is worth taking the risk of switching over to a new CRM tool now after finally getting on the same page with Management-salespeople and BDC using Momentum??? I've seen a demo's on ADP crm, HigherGear and DealerSocket.... I kind of liked DealerSocket... Any thoughts??Thanks,Sonny L
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Transcript of Presentation: How people search - Presentation Transcript 1.7 Myths about How, Where and Why people search for a car and what they do when they get there VINSolutions Dealer Advisory Board Meeting Las Vegas NV 10.12.10 Larry Bruce President / CEO @pcmguy. 2.PPC #1 way you can conquest new business for your dealership 3.What’s holding you back? 4.7 Myths that have been heaped on us with little or no basis of actual behavior •People trust 3rd parties more than the dealer •Internet shoppers are price driven •The internet is better for used than new cars •Organic links are trusted more than sponsored •The long tail search phase •People will go online and just come into the dealership •You can’t compete with the budget of the OEM , AutoTrader or 5.•Over 35 hours of video •109 users •436 searches 6.Myth 1: People trust 3rd parties more than the dealer 7.Myth 1: People trust 3rd parties more than the dealer Of the 26% that converted: 8.Myth 1: People trust 3rd parties more than the dealer Why did they convert there? This same scenario happened 86% of the time a user landed on a 3rd party site 9.Myth 1: People trust 3rd parties more than the dealer How did they get there? 10.Myth 1: People trust 3rd parties more than the dealer What would have happened if?… Number of Mustangs available What types are available How much they cost 11.Myth 1: People trust 3rd parties more than the dealer Version 2 payment 12.Myth 1: People trust 3rd parties more than the dealer Version 3 trade‐in 13.Myth 1: People trust 3rd parties more than the dealer Things you can do to your website / landing experiences to instill trust. Reviews used by 32% of the users tested •Put your eBay rating on your home page with a link to the ratings •Put your Google ratings on your home page with a link •Put your Yelp ratings on your home page with a link •Use some excepts from letters or surveys on your home page •Facebook Like button on your home page and in special pages and your blog. 14.Myth 2: The Internet is all about price It is actually about saving time and hassle – 1st Concern, do you have what I want? 28% of the time a visitor will search themselves right out of a car 15.Myth 2: The Internet is all about price It is actually about saving time and hassle – 1st Concern, do you have what I want? Volzauto before 16.Myth 2: The Internet is all about price It is actually about saving time and hassle – 1st Concern, do you have what I want? Volzauto After 17. 18.Myth 2: The Internet is all about price It is actually about saving time and hassle – 1st Concern, do you have what I want? 19.Myth 2: The Internet is all about price It is actually about saving time and hassle – 1st Concern, do you have what I want? •1 click access to the most popular selling vehicles • to find trouble spots in you conversion funnel • to find the breaks in code This has doubled Volz Auto Groups Lead Conversion Rate 20.How Split Testing Works Split Testing Platform 21.How Split Testing Works Split Testing Platform 22.Myth 3: The Internet is more suited to used cars than new Search testing found New & Used to be evenly split 23.Myth 4: Organic links are clicked and trusted more than sponsored links For pure purchase intent sponsored links converted 300% higher than organic links 24.Myth 4: Organic links are clicked and trusted more than sponsored links CarMax landing pages showed up in 33% of the searches that were performed in this test all sponsored links 25.Myth 4: Organic links are clicked and trusted more than sponsored links For pure purchase intent sponsored links converted 300% higher than organic links 26.Myth 4: Organic links are clicked and trusted more than sponsored links Organic traffic is inconsistent. You have no idea what the users intent really is other than 70% of the time they were looking for your dealership to do something The term Random access website refers to your main site where the users intent isn’t clear and there is a lot of navigation for them to get lost in the page shuffle 27.Myth 4: Organic links are clicked and trusted more than sponsored links Organic traffic is inconsistent. You have no idea what the users intent really is other than 70% of the time they were looking for your dealership to do something 28.Myth 4: Organic links are clicked and trusted more than sponsored links You will get higher conversions and better results out of PPC than organic SEO efforts but to do so you have to optimize at all 4 dimensions of online marketing Test‐Driven Marketing: •Geo‐location •Keyword / placement Making •Ad position agile marketing strategic •Landing / Conversion growth engine. 29.Myth 4: Organic links are clicked and trusted more than sponsored links Test Driven Marketing Ad Group Ad Split testing for Ad Ad Ad CTR Ad Split testing for Landing Landing Landing Conversion 30.Myth 4: Organic links are clicked and trusted more than sponsored links Test Driven Marketing Ad Group Ad Split testing for Winning Ad CTR Ad Split testing for Winning Conversion Landing 31.Myth 4: Organic links are clicked and trusted more than sponsored links A culture of constant improvement Ad Group Ad Split testing for New Ad New Ad Control Ad CTR Ad Split testing for New New Control Conversion Landing Landing Landing 32.Myth 5: The long tail search phrase Yes in overall internet searches long tail search phrases 4+ words are 23% of the searches and do have higher intent. But in the car business this is not the case. 33.Myth 6: People are going to your site and looking at vehicles then showing up on your lot The internet is an “Influencing Medium”. If you believe that then I have other stuff I want to sell you 34.Myth 7: You can’t compete with the budget of the OEM, AutoTrader, Yes at the local level you absolutely can and you absolutely should. Other contributing factors to the search •Location 54% •Product 80% •Avg number of searches 3.5 35.Myth 7: You can’t compete with the budget of the OEM, AutoTrader, Yes at the local level you absolutely can and you absolutely should. Location 54% 36.Myth 7: You can’t compete with the budget of the OEM, AutoTrader, OEM Involvement 37.Remarketing 23% Email Capture Rate / 37% Call Rate 38.Remarketing 39.Remarketing 40.Remarketing 41.Remarketing 12% Click Through Rate 17% Conversion Rate 42.Integrated Channels Honda CTR – 3% Conversion – 31% 43.Integrated Channels 44.Integrated Channels Budget ‐ $500 Honda Service for Schools ; Service Your Honda and Help a child with School Supplies! CTR – 7% Conversion – 23% 45.Integrated Channels Budget ‐ $200 CTR – 3% Conversion – 47% 46.Integrated Channels Important: Service your Honda help a child get school supplies Haynes Honda donates $1 for each RETWEET Retweets – 1112 142 new followers Conversions – 115 last count 47.Integrated Channels 48.Summery •3rd parties DO NOT have a Brand or a trust advantage. They don’t really even have an SEO advantage •You’re going to get a lot farther if you give visitors what they want, when they want it the way they want it than trying to run a bunch more people to your website and convert the same lousy percentage. •Internet user don’t play favorites with new or used and they both convert just as easily. •Organic links do not have some magic hold over the customer and are very inconsistent when it comes to intent. •To make PPC really work you have to control all dimensions of the online marketing experience. •Split testing is really the only way to consistent double digit conversion rates and constant improvement. • if you’re one that believes the internet is an influencing medium then you may be joining some of our less fortunate car brethren that no longer have a store. •You absolutely can and should eliminate 95% of your dependence on 3rd parties between you and your visitor / customer. •Targeted PPC + Remarketing will pick you up to a 40%+ Conversion Ratio •Integrating Channels the right way increases conversions into the 30%+ range
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Just to be clear, there are Facebook profiles, groups, and pages. These are 3 different things. A "Page" is what your dealership can have. It is designed for entities, whether it's a business, charity, or even the branding for an individual. A "Profile" is supposed to be for humans - real people only.

I'm often asked whether or not dealership employees such as Internet managers, sales managers, and salespeople should have a separate individual profile through which they do business.

To me, it's yes, and here's why: Car Dealer Facebook Tip 4

This is only one example of the engagement that is possible from a profile and not from a page. My more complete explanation is available on Soshable under Business Facebook Profiles, but really this video here should be compelling enough to at least consider it.
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Received this ebook today from DealerOn! So much information for everyone reading Automotive Internet Sales I had to share it.

The Internet Trilogy - Strategic Insights for Auto Dealers

Table of Contents

Automotive manufacturers are developing more immersive digital offerings to attract and
convert the 90% of potential auto buyers who begin their new vehicle purchase with online
research. It’s imperative that auto dealerships follow the lead of these consumers by
connecting with—and motivating—those people to visit their showrooms and buy their next

In order to achieve continuous momentum for sales cycles, dealerships need web solutions
and tools that enable them to interact with auto buyers online in the most dynamic manner
possible, or risk losing them with a static informational push that doesn’t engage them
personally. The number and variety of vendor solutions can make the process of improving
online success confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. By developing an online marketing
strategy based on the Internet Trilogy of Interactivity, Intelligence, and Impact, dealerships
can get the best results for their investment.

The Internet Trilogy keeps dealer ISMs focused on reaping the technology benefits available
today, as well as positioning them for future industry developments so that they never miss a
step. The new rules for building online relationships that improve revenue generation from
Internet programs are based on three fundamentals:

Interactivity, Intelligence and Impact.

Consumers today want to control the buying process. They want to be dealt with on their
terms. The Internet has drastically shifted the way people access and use information,
pushing salespeople to the back-end of the process. Until a buyer is ready to raise their hand
and interact with your website, it’s possible you’ll never know they’re even considering
purchasing a vehicle. Achieving this interactivity is a critical fundamental for every single
online initiative a dealership undertakes.

People want to be educated via an experience that’s enjoyable. They want to feel
comfortable with their decisions—the higher the level of financial investment, the more
critical this level of comfort becomes. This means they want to learn what they need to

know to make a choice that works for them, how to evaluate their options and which
alternatives are available. Finally, buyers want to feel certain that their personal image will be
maintained or, even better, improved.

In this first section of The Internet Trilogy series, we’ll explore the Interactivity
fundamental. We’ll discuss:

• The difference between static and dynamic website experiences and how this is
affected by the roles and applications online incentives play.

• The importance of and opportunities to reach beyond your buyers’ initial attention
to generate engagement.

• How to put incentives and engagement together to drive conversions.

Chapter 1


The concept of interactivity is indicative of two-way dialogue. The purpose of your website has
changed from an informational push to a relevance pull for your potential buyers. One of the
biggest challenges for today’s auto dealerships is that they have to re-orient themselves to the
buyer being in control of the conversation.

Your dealership website is the starting point for online engagement. People are used to clicking
from site to site, and if they don’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll move on to another
search term or another website. Your website solution and tools should be flexible and be easy
to update so that you can continuously improve your content.

The interactivity fundamental focuses on using incentives, engagement and conversions in your
online efforts.


An incentive works in concert with the buyer’s belief about the benefit they’ll receive from
taking advantage of a call to action.

An incentive is an explicit or implicit promise made by your dealership. An explicit promise
may be a coupon that offers a website visitor something they find valuable in exchange for
their contact information. In addition to a monetary inducement, an incentive could be a

Every single page on your
website should have a call
to action.

more implicit promise like a quick turn-around of a credit application, or an immediate
valuation of a trade-in. In its most basic form, this is a concrete offer – save $250 dollars off
the price—or something similar that the prospect values enough to provide his or her
contact information.

When evaluating the incentives your website uses to generate interactive activity, assess how
easy they are to understand, and make sure you actually deliver what you’re promising.

Call to Action

A “Call to Action” is simply a visual cue (a button, a link, a phone number, a form, etc) on a
website page, in an email, or a part of other marketing efforts to which you want your
customer respond. For instance, on a vehicle details page, you want a customer to call the
phone number for your dealership, submit a contact form, or search for another vehicle. Its
important that every single page on your website has a call to action and that you understand
why you want your customer to take that action.

To clarify, calls to action don’t necessarily mean form submissions. They could be “Watch
This Video,” “Click to Look at Features,” “Find Out About Financing,” or “See Our

It’s important for you to ensure that your website content motivates your visitors to interact
with it and that when they do, that it provides the content they expect. If they land on your
site on an internal page, it should be immediately clear why they’re there.

In a buyer-controlled process, your dealership is only as good as the last impression you
make with a potential buyer. Your website must set and deliver on your potential buyers’
expectations. That means that all of your incentives must exist seamlessly within the content
on your website. They should feel like a natural extension to whatever your website visitor is
involved in doing when they are asked to take action.

Consider the following content on your website:

• Links – What will they get when they click on the wording in hyperlinks or on
buttons? Are the descriptions leading to them clear?

• Web Page Objectives – Evaluate the purpose of each page and its incentives
around calls to action. Are they consistent?

• Coupon Offers—Do the offers you’re making match your customer profiles? Are
they meaningful? For example, a $250 cash incentive will not sway a luxury car buyer,
but would entice a first-time, or sub-prime, buyer for an entry-level vehicle.

• Specials Pages—Specials pages are some of the most visited pages after your
inventory pages. Maintaining these pages with up-to-date manufacturer and
dealership incentive offers should be a key focus. Pay attention to the vehicles
getting the most attention on your website. Can you create a related special that stirs
motivation for a showroom visit?

• Contact Forms—Evaluate your forms. Do you actually need all the information
you’re asking for or can you eliminate fields in the form to increase completion rate
and then gather this data via email or a phone call? Is what you’re offering in return
spelled out and positioned to be a worthwhile exchange for the customer?

• Finance Applications—Have you made it clear what they can expect after they fill
out the credit application? Will they be contacted by email or by phone? How long
will it take? What’s the expected benefit of taking action? Is your application process

Incentives come in many forms and will differ in effectiveness based on the buying stage of
your website visitors. You need to think creatively and leverage unexpected incentives to
motivate your website visitors and prospects to take incremental actions. Here’s a hint: not
all effective incentives are not about financial gain. Buying is a process. Creating an
incentive strategy that pulls your potential customers forward one step at a time will deliver
consistent improvement in Internet-related revenue generation.


Engagement is the ability for your online showroom to capture a website visitor’s initial
attention, and then extend their interaction with your dealership by providing information
they want via an experience they enjoy.

You’ve probably heard the word “sticky” used in relationship to website properties. Sticky
refers to the likelihood that your prospects will not only visit your website and interact with the
content, but then will also return to the website and eventually go to your dealership as they
move through the buying process.

A recent study conducted by R.L. Polk & Co. found that 38% of car buyers completed the
purchase from beginning-to-end in one month. This means that your website needs to quickly
“stick” your buyers by providing the content and information they need. Your dealership
website has engaged the prospective buyer when the experience on your website is compelling
enough to become the standard that all other online research efforts are compared against.

But it’s not just about the information; it’s about how you present it. Widgets, video, virtual
assistants, your website’s layout and the ease of navigation paths are all examples of
engagement components. The more involved your visitors become, the higher their
engagement. Think about how you can improve the experience your potential buyers have

38% of car buyers completed
the purchase from

end-to-end in one month

while building their next car, completing a credit app, or heightening their emotional
attachment to that smooth ride they’re eyeing via video.

While engagement begins with an incentive or other website activity, whether its extended is
dependent on your follow-up actions. If you promise a prompt response to a contact form,
but don’t actually call them until the next day, you’ve broken your promise and diminished
their level of active engagement with you.

The following components of your website are keys to engagement:

• Graphics – Do graphics outweigh other content? For example, if a button is not big
enough for your visitor to notice, they may not take the most important Call to
Action on the page. Are any people in your graphics markedly different from your
customer demographics?

• Widgets—Widgets are plug-and-play modules that help your visitors interact with
your website. Examples include a video player, synchronized image rotation, virtual
assistant, specials scrollers, and quick navigation. The beauty of widgets is that they
can be adjusted and moved as you evaluate their effectiveness.

• Content – Consider the words you use on your website, how your visitors will
interpret them, and the overall style and tone of the website. Is your content generic
or designed with specific relevance for your customer base? Does it appeal to your
dealership’s target buyer segments, or is it for a general audience? The way you
present your content provides a prime opportunity to differentiate your dealership
from your competitors.

• Uniqueness—Do you offer your website visitors something they cannot get
elsewhere or display your content in a more accessible format than they’d find on a

competitor’s website? Is your credit application presented in easy, modular steps
when other dealers use one comprehensive page that overwhelms buyers?

In order to increase the engagement necessary for lead conversions, it’s imperative that your
content do more than sit there on your web page. People researching their next vehicle
purchase online are presented with a growing array of informational options to choose from,
so the words you choose and the interactive options available will contribute to your
dealership’s ability to build engagement that motivates these buyers to take the next step and
visit your showroom.


A conversion is the act of a prospective buyer taking a prescribed step forward in their vehicle
purchase process with you.

No matter what else you do in online marketing, if you’re not getting your web traffic to convert
to leads for your dealership that then convert to revenue-generating customers, you’re in trouble.
To get the best results, you’ve got to break this over-arching goal down into manageable
objectives you can both measure and manage for incremental improvements. Conversions
happen every time a potential buyer takes a step forward in their buying process with your
dealership. The cumulative process of these steps is your sales conversion funnel.

At the top of the sales conversion funnel is the process of your potential buyers finding you.
The two most common ways that this happens are through search engines and 3rd party
website listings or advertisements. Once a prospect has arrived on your site, it’s your
website’s job to motivate them to take the next step and incent them to reach out to your
dealership by providing some contact information and become a lead in the conversion

Once the potential buyer has transitioned from an anonymous website visitor to an
identified lead, the focus is on getting them to come to your dealership and drive the vehicle.

Conversion is king—both on
the Web and in the

Unless your site supports online sales, the primary purpose of your website in the new car
sales process is to generate leads for your sales team.

When your prospective customer arrives at your showroom the focus shifts to the more
traditional in-store sales process. Once they’ve taken a test drive and their interest level has
escalated, the focus shifts once more to closing the sale.

Each of the steps in the sales process is a micro-conversion. The less time buyers spend in-
between these micro-conversions, the shorter your sales cycle. The less leakage from the
process you employ to move prospective buyers through those conversions, the higher your
close ratios.

As an Internet marketing professional, you may not control the conversion funnel once the
buyer takes an in-store visit, but you need to track the entire conversion cycle in order to
understand the quality of leads you’re providing to your sales team.

If the in-store visits that your online marketing process is driving are not quality leads, then
it’s like trying to fill a bucket that has a big hole—putting more water in faster will still not
fill the bucket. The same is true with each step of your conversion cycle. If just one of the
steps is broken, the entire conversion funnel will be affected. You need to pinpoint the
leakage in your funnel to maximize its effectiveness.

Analyze and optimize each step in your conversion cycle:

• Search Engine Optimization – Make sure your title tags, keyword phrases and
meta descriptions are as effective as possible to ensure your website can be found.

• Website Interactions – Are there enough interactive opportunities and calls to
action? How clear are they?

• Navigational Preferences – Your high-value content needs to be as easy to find as

• Form Expectations – Is it clear to visitors what will happen after completing a Call
to Action? What are the benefits for doing so? Is this clear?

• Response to Inquiries – These need to be prompt and worthwhile for the reader.
Are you sending what was promised? Are they personalized? Are there links back to
your website?

• Appointment Setting – Whether done via email, online, or on the phone, make
sure the process is easy for the customer and gets confirmed through the medium it
was scheduled.

• Test Drives – Ensure that those arriving for a test drive are greeted personally and
that the vehicle they are interested in is ready and waiting.

• Sales Negotiations – Take care of as much of this process as possible online to
make the time spent in-store minimal. Does your website have an easy to use credit
application? Do you have all of the contact information you need?

• Customer Feedback Loop – Always gather insight to improve your sales process.
Take stock in what the customer has to say, and if appropriate, consider making the
changes suggested.

Each step in the conversion cycle needs to operate in synch with its predecessor and the
subsequent step. If you do this well, you’ll have a wide sales funnel that creates momentum
by consistently moving customers through the process. Never lose track of the expectations
you set for your buyers. If you manage your conversion cycle well, you’ll rapidly increase the
leads and sales from your Internet marketing strategy.

From Interactivity to Intelligence…the next step in the journey.

Interactivity is no longer a nice-to-have component, but a necessary element of your
dealership’s online marketing portfolio. By integrating the Interactivity elements, you’ll build
a solid foundation for online lead generation, lead qualification and accelerated online
marketing driven sales. Incentives, Engagement and Conversions all work together to help
you accomplish those strategic objectives.

In Review:

Incentives: An incentive works in concert with the buyer’s belief about the benefit they’ll
receive from taking advantage of a call to action.

Engagement: Engagement is the ability for your website to capture a visitor’s initial interest
and then extend their interaction with your dealership by providing the information they
want via an experience they enjoy.

Conversion: A conversion is the choice of a prospective buyer to take a prescribed step
forward in the sales conversion process with you.

But achieving interactivity is only the start. By incorporating the elements of the Interactive
fundamental, you’ll be exposed to a growing amount of information about both your
potential market and your actual leads. Gathering that information is great, but it’s how you
use it that plays into the Intelligence of your online marketing efforts, the second
fundamental of The Internet Trilogy.

Chapter 2


Interactivity is an essential fundamental for an effective Internet marketing strategy, but
without the Intelligence derived from the interactions you’ve generated, it’s all a shot in the
dark. We’ve talked about your customers taking control of their buying process and setting
the terms for engagement and conversion. To widen your sales conversion funnel, you need
to leverage the insights derived from their behavior and respond accordingly. Incremental
improvements are best achieved when you know what’s working and what’s not.

Intelligence is a two-layer fundamental. It can help you improve how you improve your
marketing programs to increase your leads and sales. In this case, it refers to the data and
information dealerships gather about potential buyers. But, Intelligence is also about the
value your prospective customer ascribes to the information you’ve provided—based on
their expectations. You can measure and learn what is working by the rate at which they
convert at each step of your conversion funnel.

The steps you need to take to leverage Intelligence for your dealership are 1) Analysis, 2)
Insights and 3) Action.

The Intelligence fundamental has two levels. On the first level, Intelligence refers to the data
and information dealerships gather about potential buyers. On the second level it
encompasses the content needs of your potential buyers—from their perspective. The right
mix of Intelligence components will move buyers through their purchase evaluations and
help them arrive at the right decision—the choice to buy their next vehicle from your

The use of technology to enable online marketing programs has essentially changed what’s
possible for ISMs and the dealerships they work for. In the first section of this eBook,

Interactivity, we showed you how the elements of incentives, engagement and conversions
all work together to create a continuous stream of leads with a higher propensity to
transition to customers. While Interactivity is the basis for longer-term engagement in our
increasingly digital world, the driving force behind incremental improvements in the
marketing process relies on the application of Intelligence.

The online behavior of your leads, as they interact with your website(s) and email nurturing
programs, contains a wealth of information about what prospective buyers want, what stage
of the buying process they’re in, and how well your programs are delivering on their

There’s an old saying about relationship building which goes something like this: You’re only
as good as your last impression. Internet marketing is the embodiment of that statement. You are
already aware that your leads have no real barrier to abandoning your dealership in favor of
another where they find their online experience more interesting and enjoyable.

Leveraging this second fundamental of The Internet Trilogy can keep that from happening.
If you’ve applied focus to utilizing Interactivity in your marketing programs, the way to gain
traction with those elements is through Intelligence.

In this second section of The Internet Trilogy series, we’ll focus on:

• How to develop and assess metrics with meaning for marketing programs.

• What you should learn from the actions of prospects as they interact with your
website and email marketing.

• How to take action based on the insights gathered from informational analysis.


Analysis is the process of measuring the impacts of your marketing efforts to generate
actionable information that allows you to improve your marketing tactics.

Gathering statistical data is great in theory, but if you aren’t gathering information in an
intentional, prescribed method so that you can act based on the data, then you reap little
benefit from that intelligence. This is why it’s critical to evaluate all of your online marketing
efforts for calls to action and the resulting interactions those calls produce. You may say that
your goal as an online marketer is to generate X number of sales per month. But that goal is
too broad to measure how you’re getting those sales. You need to define specific metrics,
tied to your specific marketing efforts to be able to generate actionable information.

By gathering intelligence about actions taken during specific steps of the conversion cycle,
you stand a better chance of gaining insight that can lead to measurable improvements. This
is not to say that general statistics can’t be helpful, but if you cannot think of how a resulting
piece of information would cause you to change your marketing efforts, than its questionable
as to whether that piece of data is truly useful.

For example, imagine that you have 5,000 unique visitors to your website in one month. Out
of those visitors, you received 250 inquiries. That puts your website visitor-to-conversion
ratio at five percent. But this broad form of intelligence won’t tell you why you only
converted five percent, or how to improve that ratio.

Knowing your overall conversion ratio is a good benchmark, but for you to impact that
performance level, you need to know what pulled those inquiries in and what didn’t.

The following are some suggestions for how to develop & analyze online metrics:

• Website Conversion Points – Which pages or forms were used by the leads who
identified themselves? Of those, which were the most consistently completed vs. the
forms that showed high exit rates without completions? Evaluate the lesser

For analysis to be useful it
must be focused on the
why of cause-effect
lead activities.

performers for improvements. What differences are evident?

• Web Page Bounce Rates—Which of your web pages are being abandoned at the
highest rate (that is number of abandons divided by number of visits to that page? If
your entrance pages have a particularly high bounce rate (over 25%), there must be a
reason. If those visitors came from search engines, analyze the keywords that people
are using to come to your site and make sure that those phrases are visible and obvious
on your page.

• Lead Nurturing—If you use an automated campaign tool to keep in touch with your
leads, analyze which leads are responding to specific communications. Can you A/B
test the subject line to improve your open rates? Is a certain type of customer likely
to click through to your website? Do you have an action plan when someone does
respond to an email (like have a sales person contact them)?

• CRM Progression—Once you’ve identified leads, you’re probably entering them
into your CRM system for sales activities. Measuring the length of time at each
stage, the number of interactions required to produce sales and identifying which
activities motivate the best response can help you pinpoint areas for improving the
sales process.

These are only a few ideas. Remember to focus on a behavior or action, and look for cause.
Analytics provide the best intelligence when they can be evaluated for cause vs. effect.


Insights are the intelligence that comes from analyzing the cause-effect behavior of your
potential buyers produced by your Internet marketing programs.

Analysis action-by-action
allows you to see where
marketing programs work—
and where they don’t.

In order to get productive insight knowledge, you have to look for incremental improvement
opportunities. You won’t achieve your online marketing goals simply by deciding you need
to generate more leads. Breaking your analysis down action-by-action allows you to see
where marketing programs work—and where they could be improved.

Web solutions and tools that are designed to provide dealers with a complete view of the
sales conversion funnel make discovering insights for improvement easier. But, imagine if
you had a system that not only generated the reports and analysis for you, but also provided
recommendations. Solutions that perform this feat are available today and can make
gleaning insights much less time intensive as well as taking the guess work out of which
actions to take.

Whether or not you have automated reporting or analyze your statistics manually, there are
additional things you can do to leverage your insights about the recent activity and results
driven by your Internet marketing programs. The key is to make incremental changes that
can be measured to ensure they improve the outcomes you’re focused on.

Consider the following opportunities to apply insights:

• Form Submissions—If your forms aren’t converting as many leads as you’d like,
try adjusting your fields. Do you really need their address, city, state, zip code at the
lead identification stage? Do you actually think they want to give you their work
phone number? Require as little information as necessary for your website visitors
to decide to identify themselves. Try changing one form on your website and
measuring the change in conversions for a period of time. Follow those leads and see
if the difference in the information you collect hinders your ability to motivate them
to follow-through and make an in-person visit to your showroom.

• Specials—Last month you had 3 offers advertised on your specials web page, but
only one of them produced a steady volume of leads. Assess each of the two that
didn’t perform against the one that did. Does that car appeal to your target market

more than the others? Is the description about the vehicle more enticing than the
text on the other two offers? Did the manufacturer do a big push for the better-
performing offer? The more intelligence you have about external influences the
better able you will be to decide if the problem is the content, the buyers’ orientation
or outside event influence.

• Homepage—Auto dealership homepages are filled with options. How effective are
all of your calls to action? What would happen if you shifted one call to action from
below the “fold” to above it, or from the left to the right side of the page, or
removed one of them? If your visitors play the featured video, do they have other
options from the video to get further information about that vehicle or to contact
you? Or do they have to go back to another page and search for those things?

• Email Communications—Whether or not you use an automated email campaign
tool or send each communication manually, you can learn a lot by your leads’
responsiveness. You need to have visibility about when they are opened, how many
times they’re viewed, if the links you provide are clicked upon and if they generate a
call back or an email reply. If your analysis shows that particular messaging generated
the most response, evaluate the messaging against the worst performing messages
and look for improvement opportunities. If the email replies you receive are all
asking for the same additional information, you should make including that
information standard.

• Navigational Paths—After analyzing the click paths of your website visitors it
should be obvious if they’re struggling to find something that you can deliver to
them more easily. Look for patterns and then go try them yourself. By clicking
where they did, you can simulate their experience and determine if there’s an issue to
be addressed. Something as simple as a contact link or phone number display on an
inventory page can be the difference between generating a lead and losing one.

There are many more opportunities to glean insights from your analysis of the online

behavior of your website visitors, but remember to look for the things that can make a big


Action is what you do with the insights that you’ve gained from your analysis.

When you apply the intelligence extracted from analytical insights, stay focused on
improving Interactivity. Applied Intelligence is only as useful as the actions it inspires auto
buyers to take. When combined, a dealer’s actions and their potential customer’s behavior
should generate forward momentum in the sales process.

Your ability to easily take actions you determine will produce desired improvements depends, in
large part, on your website platform. You need a Web solution that offers you the flexibility to
modify your content presentation, and, sometimes, even your template’s look and feel—without
a major development overhaul.

The ability to change your website quickly and easily is one of the most important factors in
selecting a solution. The longest lever an online marketer has is the ability to test, analyze, and
then take action to iteratively improve their website, email, or other digital media. If you cannot
change your website quickly and easily, you lose the most important tool you have in
optimizing your online marketing efforts.

The following actions are suggestions for applying intelligence to improve online marketing:

• Generate Customer Profiles—Utilize current customer knowledge to help you
update your content to meet buyers’ needs and expectations. If your words appeal to
Baby Boomers and your customers are Gen Y – you have an obvious disconnect.

Applied Intelligence is
only as useful as the
actions it inspires auto
buyers to take.

• Update Conversion Cycles—Look for patterns of behavior that indicate a shift in
your conversion cycle and then modify your actions to address it. This could mean
adding more nurturing steps, responding faster or adding incentives at a pivotal

• Modify Your Website—Be flexible about making changes to your homepage to
consistently entice your prospective buyers to spend more time with you. Getting
them to the information they want quickly is imperative. Attention spans are short.

• Evaluate Calls to Action—Given what you’ve learned about how receptive your
website visitors are to your calls to action, which of them can be improved? Try
changing the wording, moving the links and make sure every page has a call to action
that flows naturally from the intention behind your potential buyers’ visits.

• Tap into External Influences—Stay aware of your manufacturers’ promotions—
both on, and off the Web. Creating content that ties in with themes they’ve already
put a lot of push behind can help you pull more local buyers your way. Don’t forget
about social networking activities that invite customer reviews and referrals. You
can gain insights that help you align the words you’re using with the words they’re
using to gain credibility. They can also affirm what’s working and indicate areas for

• Automate Repeatable Steps—One of the most important traits a buyer looks for
in a dealer is responsiveness. By applying technology to streamline repeatable
processes—like inquiry response by phone or email—you can increase the time you
have available for other tasks. Just be careful to make sure that you keep insights
about your customers in mind when you do so. Faster will only have the result you
want if what you speed up works in the first place.

Much of the ability to take actions is dependent on your website platform. If your website
infrastructure is too rigid, or your tools don’t “play nice” with the rest of your system your
ability to impact your Internet marketing results may be somewhat limited.

From Intelligence to Impact…the next step in the journey

Intelligence can become your road map for improving the performance of your online
marketing. The power of the information available from today’s technology is in the
granular capability of reporting and your ability to analyze the metrics to determine the
actions you should take.

In Review:

Analysis is the process of measuring the impacts of your marketing efforts to generate
actionable information that allows you to improve your marketing tactics.

Insights are the intelligence that comes from analyzing the cause-effect behavior of your
potential buyers produced by your Internet marketing programs.

Action is the steps you take after arming yourself with the insights gained from analysis.

Thus far in The Internet Trilogy series, we’ve covered the fundamentals of Interactivity and
Intelligence. You’ve now, no doubt, developed a variety of ideas about how you can apply
these fundamentals to your online marketing programs. But there’s still more to come.

Once you are focusing on two-way interactions that help you build trusted relationships,
you’ll see an increase in customer acquisition driven by your programs, and you’ll want to be
able to consistently repeat that process while improving it.

In the next section, Impact, you’ll see how the successful execution of online programs
occurs when your dealership’s efforts have an impact on momentum, transition and

outcomes during the buyer’s journey. By harnessing the power of the Internet Trilogy, your
dealership will create a consistent, closed-loop process with built-in levels of assessment that
enables you to improve and innovate to keep increasing revenues attributable to the
effectiveness of your web marketing and related sales strategy.

Chapter 3


The Internet Trilogy fundamental that weaves together Interactivity and Intelligence into
quantifiable results is Impact. The beauty and, sometimes, the curse of Internet marketing is
fluidity. You have the ability to create interactive experiences and collect intelligence about
what online visitors are doing on your website or how they’re responding to your Web tools,
but the real benefit is in the Impact you have on vehicle sales.

As an Internet Sales Manager for an automotive dealer, you can implement interactive
strategies and act on intelligence, but if your tactics aren’t firmly aligned with your marketing
goals, then you risk failing to deliver on your lead and sales goals.

In the past, your marketing programs may have been measured by identified lead conversions,
but the application of and expectations for online marketing are changing. The future, which
may already be surfacing at your dealership today, dictates that technology should make
marketing results measurable. And once you can measure this impact on the dealership, you
need to show growth to validate that your department is contributing to dealership revenues.

This means you need a plan. You need to be ready to respond to each lead’s needs as fluidly
and dynamically as possible. This type of execution is difficult to pull off if you haven’t created
a strategy for each stage of the buyer’s journey, and made advance preparations for how you’ll
respond to them regardless of the stage they’re in.

In this third and final section of The Internet Trilogy, the focus is on Impact. This will combine
all you’ve learned in the first two sections and explores:

• How you determine and advance the momentum of your leads.

• The progression from anonymous website visitor to customer.

• Creating outcomes that validate your marketing programs.

Impact is all about setting goals and achieving successful outcomes from every Internet
marketing program. Because the Web is dynamic, the better your infrastructure, tools and
strategy, the faster you can shift on the fly to deliver what your prospective customers want.

But Internet marketing programs are not just about speed and immediate outcomes. The
current month’s sales figures are obviously of critical importance to your dealership, but so is
the long-term outlook for the reputation, brand and loyalty to your dealership from existing

Impact is about increasing lead generation momentum, transitioning leads from online
dialogue to showroom conversation and executing on both short and long-term objectives.


Momentum is the rate of recognizable action buyers take to extend their engagement with

While engagement depends on keeping your lead’s attention , momentum is all about
forward progress. If your leads remain engaged, but don’t take action, then you will struggle
with converting them into customers.

It’s imperative that the actions you take based on intelligence increase momentum.
Motivating website visitors to begin a dialogue with your dealership is the first step for
engaging new buyers, but increasing the commitment of existing customers to return for
parts, service and re-purchase is also dependent on the momentum of the relationships you

The way to improve momentum is to consider the fundamentals of the Internet Trilogy as a
closed-loop cycle for continuous learning and improvement. Just as poor, ad hoc marketing
programs start and end abruptly because there is no natural flow, so will the attention you
command from your potential leads. But, by focusing your efforts on continual
improvements you can measure and revise, your momentum will increase substantially.

Because momentum is the planned outcome of Interactivity and Intelligence, each activity
you undertake in regards to those components should have forward progression as its goal.

To Impact momentum, consider the following:

• Incentives—Consider the flow from one incentive to the next. Building momentum
from incentives means that each step should be obvious and engaging to prospective

• Engagement—Without engagement there is no momentum. Focus on capturing their
initial attention and then on what it takes to keep them. Look at presentation of the
informational resources on your site.

• Conversions—Momentum increases depending on how many of the steps in the
conversion cycle you can get website visitors to take. Make the flow natural.

• Analysis—Visibility into specific incentive responses, engagement with various
content resources and website visitor activity patterns can direct you to specific

• Insights—Focus on how each insight may impact your potential buyers. In order
for insights to drive momentum they need to correct or improve the buying

Iterative improvements are
the key to increasing the
impact of online

experience for your prospects. Simplicity is of paramount importance.

• Action—Creating interactivity and generating reports is great, but you also need the
capability to take action that improves conversion performance. Create a strategic
action plan and evaluate each modification based on its estimated impact to
momentum. Make sure the changes are fluid for your website visitors.

Momentum is a critical focus for improving the performance of your Internet marketing
programs. The components above are all integral to achieving lead generation, as well as
inspiring current customer loyalty for continued business.


Transition is the process of progressing through the sales conversion funnel--starting when a
prospect engages with your website as an anonymous visitor through his or her final
conversion into a customer.

Once you have momentum going, your focus needs to be on achieving transition. Once a
lead has identified themselves via an inquiry, improving the process for transitioning them
from online dialogue to in-person showroom appearance is critical.

This is likely a two-pronged exercise that includes both email and outbound telemarketing
campaigns. Transitions can be accelerated or halted based on the methods you use to
transition your prospects through each stage. If your email messaging is disconnected from
their experience on your website, then customers will stop to re-evaluate whether or not
you’re the dealer they want to do business with. Unfortunately, it’s often the initial
inclination of buyers to believe the worst of auto dealers, so work to establish your
credibility by delivering on the expectations set during their online experience with your

Average Lead Closing %:

Website leads – 16.6%

OEM leads – 8.9%

3rd Party leads – 6.7%

Because website leads have a higher close rate than OEM or third party leads, your ability to
execute on Transition by combining website activity with outreach opportunities can have a
huge upside.

Automated nurturing and response activities in combination with proper messaging can
impact the online-to-showroom progression to produce a noticeable bump in your close
ratio. Buyers want instantaneous recognition and response. Research shows that the faster
you can connect with the buyer, the better the opportunity you have for transition.

Leveraging a Web tool that instantly connects you by phone with the lead will make a lasting
impression about their importance to your dealership.

Transitions are best accomplished when your focus is on serving the customer, not on
selling the vehicle. Buying is an emotional process. Honor the customer by responding
quickly and competently to build trust. Trust is a key emotion that reaches beyond the logic
of business transactions—especially when the personal financial investment is high. The
advantage online marketers have with website-generated leads is that the person already has
an investment of time with your dealership and is responding to you, not to an
advertisement or an anonymous contact submission to a 3rd party site.

To capitalize on Transition opportunities, consider the following:

• Incentives—Transition opportunities convert better when the payoffs are perceived
as valuable, so make sure each incentive has a perceived important payoff for the
customer. Focus on these cause-effect interactions to transition leads.

• Engagement— Since transition is directly related to your leads’ attention level,
ensure that the online experience you are providing them is memorable and

• Conversions—Address each step in your conversion cycle to improve the natural
flow. Transition potential diminishes if the path isn’t clear or the effort expended too

• Analysis—Gather metrics about website activities you have the capability to impact.

• Insights—Look for opportunities for improving the usability of Web resources.

• Action—Ensure that your website platform and the tools you use are not only easy
to use but provide the capability for interactive modifications. If you can’t act on
insights, you’ll lose transition opportunities.

• Momentum—Impact momentum by focusing on your prospective buyers’
perceptions. Transitions that are intuitive are acted upon when momentum impacts

Transitions are the ultimate goal of Internet marketing. You have zero opportunity to
engage, convert or transition prospective buyers who are not incented to interact with you
based on the experience they have with your website and outreach communication
programs. Transitions are the outcome of all the steps taken during the conversion cycle that
produce customers.


Outcomes are the measurable Impact that validates your dealership’s Internet marketing

Return on Investment [ROI] is a common term. But, ROI comes in many flavors and can
impact decisions about the online marketing programs your management empowers you to
make. Showcasing the business achievements produced by your Internet marketing
programs is just as important for management endorsement as it is for continuous
improvement gains.

Based on the types of interactivity made available on your website and the nurturing and
outreach programs you run, you will have choices about how you evaluate outcomes. As
previously stated, conversion is king, but measuring other outcomes is also important.

Your Internet marketing programs have two purposes: driving conversions for the 30-day
window (short term), and building brand, reputation and credibility for longer-term
relationships with your existing customers for longer sales cycle buyers (over 60% of new car
sales are completed outside this 30-day window), repeat purchases, and parts/service

The following measurements validate short-term Internet marketing goals:

• Lead Conversions—Although the industry average for website lead conversion is
around 2%, marketers who embrace the Internet Trilogy fundamentals see
conversions averaging from 5—12% and have reached 26%.

• Sales Conversions—Since 1 in 6 website leads become customers, improving your
lead generation will have concrete impact on revenues. Isolate the outcomes from
every step in the conversion cycle to determine specific performance improvement

• Traffic Increase—70% of those start their research with a search engine, so your
opportunity to bring new leads to your site is directly related to the quality of your
search engine optimization. Focus on local search opportunities to attract highly
qualified customers in your market.

• Specific Conversion Activities—Measure the outcomes for each conversion
activity on your website. Incremental performance improvements will have the most
Impact. Knowing where and how visitors convert will provide much more insight
than merely knowing the number of leads your site generates.

• Incentive Campaign Conversions—Incentive offers acted upon tell you about the
preferences of your lead base. By responding to them in context, you have the
opportunity to impact your sales conversion outcomes.

• Response Timing—Response timing for inbound inquiries is a key to upping your
lead-to-customer ratios, as is measuring their response to your email outreach,
nurturing communications, and showroom appointment reservations.

These are just a few possibilities for short-term outcome assessment. Benchmark and
compare the results consistently to gauge improvements. Keep an eye on longer-term
outcomes as well.

The following measurements validate longer-term Internet marketing programs:

• Customer Satisfaction—The propensity of your existing customers to return to
your dealership for service is indicative of their satisfaction levels. Measuring
conversions on special offers made through digital outreach, as well as survey
campaign results can provide a good indication of customer satisfaction.

• Customer Loyalty—In addition to returning for service, do your customers return
to you when buying their next vehicle? Your Internet marketing programs should
include specific offers for new lease and purchase options at relevant intervals.

• Customer Reviews—Social media is increasing the ability for your customers to
publish their views about your dealership. Putting an outreach program together
that asks them to share their stories can provide useful feedback and testimonials for
your website that improve your brand and increase your credibility.

Measuring outcomes can be accomplished in a variety of ways. This is only a sample of the
outcomes you can monitor to validate the investment made in your marketing program.

Chapter 4

Putting the Internet Trilogy to Work for Your Dealership

Leveraging the Internet Trilogy produces valuable results and outcomes. The following are a
couple of examples of how embracing Interactivity, Intelligence and Impact have produced
successful outcomes for DealerOn customers:

• Bryon Casler had been the Internet Director at Williams Automotive Group for
several years before partnering with DealerOn. When he began leveraging
DealerOn’s tools his conversion rates rose dramatically. Now his website conversion
rates range from 8% to 15%. The monthly average conversion across all five websites
is over 9 percent. He and his staff of 10 are actively selling more than 1,000 leads per
month from their online programs.

• “DealerOn makes our websites engaging, thereby increasing our number of quality
leads and ultimately aiding our dealership in selling more cars. Of the 3,700 leads that
we anticipate this month, 70 percent will come from our own dealer website."
- Pat Hayes, Internet Director, Victory Automotive Group

As online marketing becomes the most effective marketing channel for your dealership,
creating a strategy to engage with and learn from your customers will become a core
competency for dealership growth. To get the best possible results, you need a vendor who
has the expertise and innovative outlook to help you consistently generate returns into the

DealerOn is a vendor with a lot of firsts. They were the first to develop a coupon-based
incentive campaign tool with the option to schedule a test drive, the first to create a virtual
assistant, the first to build the technology for an instant lead-to-phone connection, and the

Mastering theInternet Trilogy
will become a core competency for
dealerships who want continuous
growth from their online
marketing programs.

first to develop a virtual inventory program. But DealerOn doesn’t rest on their laurels.
They continue to be passionate about innovation.

Take a look at what’s coming in their v3.0 platform upgrade release:

• Video, lots of it!

• Video test drive reviews for all new vehicles

• Virtual Assistant 2.0 – Video driven interactive experience

• Upgraded Google Analytics engine for website statistics

• Smart Reports™ – Revolutionary new reporting platform that makes intelligent
website update suggestions and is F&I integrated

• Impact Specials™ 2.0 – Automated intelligent creation of specials

• The absolute best Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Platform in the industry
continues to improve with the following enhancements

• Dedicated city pages increasing geographic specific content relevance and

• Custom page names for ad-hoc content guaranteed to index better

• “Breadcrumb” navigation for even better indexing and usability

• Widget Vault™ expansion to include more interactive conversion tools

The real consideration when you begin to implement a strategy based on The Internet
Trilogy is the access you’ll have to high-value expertise helping you take full advantage of
your Internet potential. DealerOn‘s account managers and customer support teams have
expertise in online marketing best practices to help you grow your online business.

But it gets even better. DealerOn will pro-actively review your website performance and give
you actionable feedback on strengths and weaknesses. They’ve made it their mission to
learn what works in online automotive marketing for their customers. The DealerOn team
is committed to continuously developing and refining online marketing tools that deliver
results that far surpass industry averages.

There’s never been a better or more opportune time to take advantage of the benefits the
Web can deliver to your dealership. DealerOn invites you to learn more about how
Interactivity, Intelligence, and Impact can deliver online success beyond anything that your
dealership has ever achieved.

Please contact our DealerOn sales team for more information and to take a look under the
hood of our Web platform. Dial Toll free: 800-381-6604 and press 1 for sales.

About the Author

Navid Azadi is one of the founders, and the CEO of DealerOn, Inc. Navid is a ten-year veteran of
the web and technology industry. His career has included consulting and employment positions
with Fortune 500’s: Verizon, HP, and Peugeot. Working with the Internet since its infancy has
provided Navid with pervasive knowledge about best practices in website design, optimization,
and marketing opportunities for a variety of companies that have gained strategic growth through
embracing online opportunities.

About DealerOn, Inc.

Since 2003, DealerOn, Inc. has been helping automotive dealers gain the edge they need to drive
success through online marketing channels. By leveraging DealerOn’s website design and hosting
services, our suite of web tools and professional services, our customers produce higher online
lead engagement and conversions. DealerOn was founded by auto industry veterans to provide
expertise to automotive dealerships that empowers them to get closer to their customers by
harnessing the Internet with the latest web technologies.
DealerOn provides auto dealers with an in-depth understanding of consumer behavior, web
analytics, and automotive trends to develop and sustain an online profit center for the long

Visit our website at and our BLOG at
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Mixed Signals?

I posted this picture a while ago because I think its funny. One sign says "No Loitering" which means no hanging around right? Then not 2 feet in front of it is another sign telling me That I have to wait here in this line for 20 minutes. Which one am I supposed to listen too? Then it got me thinking. Uh oh right?

If a simple sign at a gas station carwash can trip me up; what do my customers think? I mean a car purchase is the second largest purchase maybe even largest purchase some people make. What am I doing to confuse things? Well in the car business we doALOT of things to make it harder on ourselves. We advertise payments with "No MoneyDown" and then in the small print we put something like does not include taxes and tags or destination or some BS like that. All in an effort to beat our competitors and still hold gross. Now I am not saying holding gross is bad. I will never say that,as a commission paid manager I need gross. (5% of nothing pays nothing) All I am saying is that we need to be a little more clearer in the way we do things.

I have been a manager at my store for a little over a year and have never used those tactics. The first time I went out to buy a car the car dealership did that to me and it pissed me off. All I remember saying is why cant you give me what you said you would? Ihad no idea that 15 years later I would be a sales manager at a car dealership, at that time was delivering furniture for a living.

With social media we can not afford to practice these ways of doing business. They will and do call us on every deceptive practice we use. This is a great time to be in car sales. I really believe (and if you have read any of my previous blogs you will agree) that social media will help the honest dealer and punish the bad ones. A dealership cannot control what other people broadcast about them. You need to take this very seriously. This is not all bad news though. I have personally changed an angry customer into an advocate just by tweeting them! You can use it to help your image too.

It all goes back to the golden rule. Any time I think of a way to sell a car, I ask myself if Iwould do this to/for my little sister. If the answer is yes I know I have something if not it gets scrapped. I am fortunate to work at a dealership with a great owner who shares those same principles.

Mixed signals? If you have them get rid of them. Be clear, Be consistant, and Be confident that if you dont someone else will.

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In the spirit of correct attribution, the above title is my cheeky take on Naughty By Nature’s OPP – if you don’t know what this song is, I can’t help you. An unpleasant event happened to me very recently that made this post a necessity. Someone ripped off my content, to pass it off as his own. It wasn’t borrowed or repurposed; it was blatantly copied and pasted, passed off as someone else’s and even shared across Twitter as someone else’s creation. Now don’t get me wrong; this is not the first or the only, or even the last, time this has happened. But this was one of the more offensive examples. Following it, I had several conversations with various folks on Twitter, sharing similar stories. I think there’s a need to talk about proper etiquette when repurposing and attributing, as well as how to protect yourself from stuff like this. I’m going to attack part 1 in this post, and part 2 in a later post. I wrote an article about 12 steps to finding a top-notch social media person, which became a solid hit on the Attensity blog, as well as on SocialMediaToday, where it was syndicated. It was picked as a leading story of the day, and even became the title of the daily content email that it sends to its subscribers (which is not a big deal to some, but I consider it an honor). It is still one of the more commented articles in SocialMediaToday. For a social media content producer, this level of engagement is a compliment of the highest order. While I was on my blogger high, I noticed that there was an article circulated around Twitter, which looked eerily similar. I clicked the link and saw the following (see below): My heart sank. There it was, the article I worked so hard on, lifted word for word, with no commentary, nothing that says: “Hey, I found this great article Maria wrote. I agree with A, B, C, which I’m posting below. I would also like to add X, Y and Z”. With Jeremy’s picture and name prominently featured at the bottom (see below) and with my article starting with the word “I thought,” it basically looked like Jeremy thought what I had written. There was a tiny attribution link at the bottom, which appeared as a meager attempt to cover one’s behind (CYA) in regards to attribution. I just don’t buy that as attribution, and it appears intentionally misleading. On further examination, the site was full of “repurposed” content. To make matters worse, all of this content was duplicated across two sites, both of which has been taken down. The site owner defended himself, saying that that his goal was to “repost gems” found around the Internet. In my opinion, there are enough quality aggregators and syndicates like SocialMediaToday, and they do a pretty bang-up job. So unless that’s your stated purpose, I’ll just assume you are ripping off content. I found it purposefully misleading when Jeremy tweeted this article, retweeted himself, and said nothing when others tweeted it as if it came from him (i.e. “Great article, Jeremy). See below: In my opinion, if you perpetuate wrong attribution, you are complicit in IP theft. Instead, you should correct and say: “Actually this article was written by so-and-so.” This was probably on of the most severe recent example of IP theft; unfortunately, it’s not the only one. I monitor social media for a living, so I have my ear to the ground, and find a lot of my content stolen. Sometimes it’s cut and pasted to look like the author of the blog wrote it, sometimes it’s presented as if I guest posted there, which I didn’t. I’m very deliberate about where I post, and I will always tweet links to such work. I should probably create a page on this blog linking to my work around the WWW. Yes, there are examples like this, of people outright stealing content. But there are also some people who are just bad at social media, or new at it, and clumsily do a bad job of attribution. So I figured I’d write the following 9 steps to ensure that these “mistakes” don’t happen again. First time around they are negligent; second time, they are pre-meditated intellectual property crimes. So here we go; don’t say I didn’t warn you: 1.Ask for permission: Duh! I’m sad to even have to write this point. You should always, always ask someone for permission to repurpose, if you are using more than just a simple quote. You should always link to the original site as well. Creative commons is there to protect creators and consumers of content alike. When deciding whether or not you can repurpose something someone else has written, make sure that it belongs in the category that’s OK to modify and build upon. 2.Add commentary: It’s OK to quote and post passages written by others. We, content creators, want people to use what we create; we want people to find value in it. We want our content to be discussed and debated, so please do use parts of an article, as long as you put your own thoughts around it. Don’t have time to provide your own viewpoint? Don’t have a viewpoint? Hmmm, perhaps blogging isn’t for you. Just sayin’… 3.Clearly quote: You must clearly demark the beginning and the end of the quote and say either before in the text “According to Mr. Smith, [insert quote]”. Remember how we learned to quote correctly in high school; nothing has changed. Plagiarism is still plagiarism. 4.Don’t start with “I” if it’s not you: Never start a quote with “I” or “Mine”, unless you clearly mark who is talking before the quote. Otherwise, it makes it appear that you did something and not the original blogger. Always put a lead in before a sentence that starts with “I” or “Mine”. 5.Use passages, not the whole thing: You should never post the whole post word for word. Borrow a section and put your own commentary around it (see #1). 6.Unless I wrote it for you, it’s not a guest post: It’s not OK to introduce the cut and pasted content as if this author guest-posted on your site. Unless you had a formal arrangement that this person was guest posting, it is NOT a guest post. 7.Give credit in your tweet: If you tweet or share an article that’s inspired by someone else, you should always mark it in a tweet (ht @name is a good approach; “ht” stands for “hat tip”). If someone retweets or shares an article you repurposed and credits you entirely, it your responsibility to point out that it was inspired or based on someone else’s. If someone tweets “hey check out this great article by @xyz”, and you are @xyz you should say “Hey, it was actually @abc’s”. 8.Attribute at the top: Always attribute at the top of the post, most people don’t read to the bottom. Having a little hidden link at the bottom doesn’t count as attribution; it counts as “CYA”. 9.Recognize the purpose of blogging: The purpose of blogging, is to share your unique viewpoint, synthesize the world through your own lens of experience. The purpose is not to collect keywords to drive traffic to your site, so that you can sell your social media “guru” services. By practicing best practices of attribution and preserving others’ intellectual property, you will come across as a thoughtful person. Instead of making bloggers mad, you will build relationships and alliances. In the end, this is what social media is about.
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For Real Results, Don’t Forget Your CRM!

There is endless chatter about social media in the dealer marketing world these days and why wouldn’t there be? Over 500 million people are using one of the “Big 4”—Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Linked-In. In addition, of the two-thirds of Americans who now visit social networking sites, 43 percent visit them more than once a day. Significantly for the retail industry, and automotive dealers in particular, 68 percent have become a fan or friend of a product, service, company, or group on a social networking site. Without a doubt, dealers need to harness the power of social media. Most of the social media chatter and discussion, however, currently revolves around dealership Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, while almost none of it focuses on one of the most powerful tools in a dealership’s arsenal…the CRM/ILM system.

Yes, tapping social networking can be a little overwhelming and tricky, but if you utilize your CRM and ILM systems, along with some key best practices, you can eliminate much of the confusion and create a straightforward strategy. For example, knowing whether or not a customer belongs to a social site is helpful (and you can do that directly through your CRM/ILM system, with the right plug-ins); but seeing how many friends or contacts that customer has on each site gives you a powerful advantage. Based on the user privacy settings, you can actually go directly from the CRM tool to a customer’s social media page to gain even more information about that customer.

Imagine the selling opportunity with a customer that has over 200 contacts on Facebook alone. If this “influencer” has a good experience at your dealership, then recommends your dealership to his/her friends via a post on the wall, and those 200 contacts have their own friends, the customer’s experience becomes viral across all of those contacts. Your marketing efforts can grow exponentially by targeting just one prospect and then spreading the positive message by word of mouth or, in this case, “text of mouth”! And this is just one opportunity you can leverage combining the right CRM system and plug-ins, as well as the following simple best practices:

1. Enhance your CRM data to include social media information for each of your customers and prospects.

2. Use the enhanced data to create outbound CRM/ILM-based campaigns that target social network influencers in your database.

3. Target your social media campaigns. Don’t just email the same content asking everyone to be your friend, make the request relevant to the recipient.

4. Train your store to review the social media data (recent posts, friends, etc.), in addition to the customer’s history of interactions with your store, before they interact with the customer.

5. Measure, measure, measure!

Bottom line: just as you should never forget your CRM and ILM systems when planning your email and direct mail campaigns, be sure to include these critical systems as you map out your social media plan…it is a lot easier than you think, just try it!

Mike Martinez is chief marketing officer at For more information about izmocars and iCRM social media plug-ins, go to
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Top of Mind Awareness, or “TOMA,” as referred to by marketers, is that product or service which a consumer thinks of first when considering a purchase. For dealers andmanufacturers alike, TOMA is on the top of their minds relative to their business and theircustomers.

It is no secret that over the last decade, both domestic and import manufacturers and dealers have suffered a loss in market share to mainstays like Honda, Toyota and Nissan, and are continuing to do so especially since we have been experiencing $3/gallon gasoline prices. Consumers are flocking to downsize or seek out a more economical ride when it comes to fuel costs.

We all know that these struggling manufacturers recognize that the products that they have to offer must be capable of being competitive in fuel efficiency, quality, style, and safety in order to be on the consumer’s checklist when car shopping. We also acknowledge that hey are now taking the steps necessary to correct this. But what happens to their owner base in the meantime? Or, more importantly, what happens to Your Owner Base while you are waiting for the right product mix to arrive that will motivate buyers to come back to your showrooms? More than likely, they will be lulled away from you or your manufacturer’s brand into the arms of one of these very formidable competitors.

For dealers faced with this challenge, the ultimate consequence will be continued loss of market share, customer base, and profits unless they decide to do something about it NOW!

Traditional advertising will not keep your customers loyal to you. One of the most incredible assertions dealers make to me every day is that when they are referring to their owner base, or their list of customers who have purchased vehicles or have had service performed at their dealerships, is that they assume they are “theirs.”

I am often compelled to challenge them on that assumption, since that was also the mindset of those Motor City manufacturers who churned out products each year knowing that “their customers” would be back to grace their dealer’s showrooms regardless of the products that they presented. Dealers seem to be anesthetized by the illusion that just because they sold or serviced a customer once, that their customers are then locked to them for life. My argument is that those customers are you customers for only as long as they are on your lot, in your showroom, or in your customer lounge. Beyond that, they are anybody’s customer. Toyota and Honda proved it.

On a smaller scale, but more importantly, let’s look at your business. What are you doing to retain the customers that you have previously sold or serviced? Do you even know who they are? Are you even maintaining a current data base of customers? Is it cleansed, merged, and purged regularly? Do you even know who they are? Are you even maintaining a current data base of previous customers sorted by sales or service, new or used? Are you tracking your customer visits? Frequency of visits and the amount of revenue each spends with you per visit?

This is your book of business and you need to nourish, cultivate, and protect this book as it you were the premier stockbroker on Wall Street. Once you have done this dirty work and have really spend the time and money necessary to get this data into a manageable format, you need to develop a strategy that will enable you to maintain constant contact through a series of “touch points” with your customers. I am not referring to the warm and fuzzy stuff you do while your customer is in your service lounge or in the showroom.

I am talking about keeping your dealership’s TOMA to your customers when they are not at your dealership. In order to keep a hold on your customers you need to be in constant contact with them. Develop a multi-channel marketing strategy that incorporates what you know about your customers into what you talk to your customers about when you do contact them. The most efficient method of staying in contact with your customers is through direct marketing. Direct marketing includes several forms of marketing media, including direct mail, internet, social media, and telemarketing. Sophisticated marketers know that the traditional media cannot reach customers with the level of personalization that is necessary to stay in contact with your customers. By employing direct mail, a dealer builds his own brand, and it is not as imposing as telemarketing can sometimes be.

Research indicates that Auto Buyers are turning to the Web to communicate with dealers via e-mail and they use search engines to acquire information about a prospective make, model, or dealer. The most effective choice for a retail dealer to stay in contact with their previous customers is direct mail. According to a recent study performed by Cap Gemini, consumers polled on whether they like to receive or if they would respond to a direct mail offer from an auto dealer told marketers that over 80 percent would prefer to receive and be “more than likely” to open and respond to an offer from an auto dealer. This percentage is much higher when the offer comes from the manufacturer or dealer pertinent to or known by the consumer. How a dealer chooses to use the power of direct mail is very important, too. Most dealers turn to direct mail as the “quick fix” that is going to get them through the month.

Direct mail has been a great source for providing the needed boost when sales lagged. Dealers love it because they can track its performance on an hour-by-hour or day-by-day basis. Employing direct mail in this way has been the cornerstone of the medium in the retail auto industry for the past 30 years. It has been proven over and over again to be an effective medium in driving traffic and sales in dealerships. What dealers might not see is that the medium has evolved as the auto industry has changed. It has matured into what should now be the foundation of a sound marketing strategy. Dealers must recognize the value of their customer database and the power of this medium that will get into the home when the salesperson can’t. It is the face of your dealership, your products, and your services, and you use it can help you or it can hurt you.

Many dealers look for the next new “hook” in their direct mail. A flashy new direct mail salesperson gets a dealer on the phone or in-person and lays out the latest and greatest gimmick that can “catch” the most uninformed prospect with an offer of “incredulous believability”. Some of these ads are violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act and dealers end up paying fines to their state attorney general’s office because the flash-in-the-pan direct mail company is insolvent.

Dealers use mail to target a beacon scores or FICO score range to prospects regardless of their affinity to your dealership or your manufacturer offering credit to those who can’t otherwise get credit. Buy using direct mail in this way does not help you hold onto your most valued possession — your former customers, as it may in some cases even alienate them.

If you run a newspaper, radio or TV ad, every dealer in the state knows what you are doing. If you mail your offer, no one knows your deal besides you and your prospective customer. Unfortunately, the opposite scenario holds true, also. When you least expect it, your former customers are receiving a personal invitation to test drive the latest new gas saver from your closest competitor. An, what do they think? “Hey, why didn’t my dealer invite me to his dealership? Maybe I will give Dealer X or Brand Y a try.” If you don’t keep in touch, I promise you, your competition will.

A dealer needs to touch their customer on a preplanned, regular basis, offering reasons for them to come back to your dealership for their vehicle needs. Each time you contact them, a dealer must give the buyer the warm fuzzy, show of appreciation. This can be accomplished by developing a VIP program, Preferred Coupons, discounts, test drive incentives, and savings offers. Give them a reason to come in and see your sales staff or service team. Your customers are just like you and me; we love to be appreciated and we love to be loved. Show the love. You’ll keep that TOMA with your customer base.

- Anthony J. TaCito, CEO

Original version appeared in the January 15, 2007, issue of Dealer Magazine.

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BDC vs. Sales Floor
Does your sales force communicate effectively with your internet/BDC department? If you are like a lot of dealers the chances are that the answer is “NO”. I have worked in a few dealerships over the years where I have experienced the same problems as an Internet director. Nowadays, I have been working with dealerships nationally on a training and consulting level where I still see the same problems arise.

So how do we fix this common problem?

I learned from my previous dealer about the power of having mandatory weekly meetings. I am talking about sales meetings with sales managers, sales consultants, internet/bdc coordinators, and the internet director. The meeting needs to be mandatory and held once a week. These sales meetings need to be a half hour to an hour long with the purpose of uniting the two departments together.
The meeting must cover any news or updates in the dealership regarding advertisements and store policies. If there is an advertisement running for that weekend, there needs to be a customized script or outline created for the BDC so that the calls are answered properly. This advertisement needs to be reviewed in this meeting so that everyone is on the same page when speaking to customers.

The biggest goal of this meeting is to allow both departments to see how they operate. The way to do this is to role play around the room the phone scripts using coordinators and sales staff. Also, it is important to role play the sales process of how the customer will be handled once they arrive to the showroom. It is important that sales consultants and sales managers know what is being said on the phones and how it is being said. Why? It makes a smooth transition from speaking on the phone with one person and working in the showroom with another. When the customer comes in and works with a sales consultant, there will never be a “he said, she said” situation because the sales representative will know what is being said on the phone and will have the knowledge to check the notes of the conversation in the CRM.

What will these meetings do to your people?

These meetings boost strong morale in the dealership. The meeting needs to be positive and motivational at the same time. While these meetings are serious, people need to laugh and enjoy being in that conference room for almost an hour. It is a great idea to have bagels and coffee in the room for breakfast. One of the most powerful things I did at the dealership was taking pictures and videos at these meetings for memories. We need to understand that people love memories and they appreciate being remembered. There is nothing more rewarding then to look at them one year later and remember how effective these meetings were.

As the communication improves in the dealership by utilizing this practice, both departments will work together. The sales staff in the dealership will start to see value in the internet department and will only show respect as they will realize that the BDC is there to help them make money. When you motivate and lead your people by building value in the right processes, you will only see positive change.
Let’s face it, when I left my last dealership I had sales consultants that were sad about me leaving because of how I ran my department. This is the effect that needs to happen in your dealership right now. If you are not having the success that you desire in your sales and BDC department performance, it is a great idea to consider how the departments communicate with one another.

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Automotive Internet Sales, Digital Marketing and Social Media Leviathan Sean V. Bradley, CEO of Dealer Synergy launches PHILADELPHIA, October 28 – Sean V. Bradley has been the leading authority for Automotive Internet Sales, Business Development, Social Media and Digital Marketing for over 11 years. Sean V. Bradley has solidified Dealer Synergy as the most advanced Training and Consulting team in the industry today. Dealer Synergy has thee most successful Internet Departments and Business Development Centers in the country. Sean and his Dealer Synergy team have set trends in the Automotive industry via the 13 different national publications that he writes for as well as the thousands of Dealer Principals, GMs, GSMs and Internet / BDC Directors he has trained. Sean V. Bradley recently launched the Automotive Industry’s Most Powerful and Useful Social Media / Networking site called (AIS). Automotive Internet Sales is built on the NING platform but totally customized by the Dealer Synergy Advanced Digital Marketing team. Sean watched a lot of the websites and social networking sites in the industry for years and identified their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (S.W.O.T.). There are some very good sites out there but most are done on a part time basis with little to no resources. Sean V. Bradley has created a complete team to build the automotive industry’s best resource for anything and everything Automotive Internet Sales related. is designed for Dealer Principals, GMs, Internet Directors, BDC Managers, OEM Reps, Vendors, Trainers, Gurus etc… There is NO hidden agenda, everyone is invited to join and participate. The only rule is that everyone needs to respect each other and provide valuable content and information for the community via blog posts, pictures, and video. AIS has a tremendous amount to offer the Automotive Internet Sales Community. Here is a breakdown of the site’s functionality: • Monthly Award for Automotive Internet Sales “Dealership of the Month”. And there will be an in depth interview with a SUCCESSFUL Internet Department / Dealership. • Like a “20 Group”… There is a “Best Idea” section of the site. • “Ask an Expert” section… • “Breaking News” Section. • “Social Media” section. • “Free Resources”… There are SO MANY things a dealership can do for FREE to improve their scenario… This section archives ALL of the FREE resources and ideas, tools, software and websites that can assist Dealerships get to the next level. • “Online Resource” section… There is a thorough list of online resources like AutoSuccess Magazine, Driving Sales, Dealer Refresh, InternetSalesManagers.Org etc… • “Online Reputation Management” resource section… • RSS feeds… • Industry Events Calendar… • Google Resources… • Various Contests and Give-a-ways… • And one of the most popular sections of the site is the “Top 10 Lists”… There is a VERY, VERY Thorough “Top 10 Lists” section, that has the “Top 10 List” for almost EVERYTHING! For example… The “Top 10 Website Providers”, “Top 10 Social Media Companies”, “Top 10 Automotive Internet Sales Trainers” etc… For more information on Sean V. Bradley, please go to or For more information on Dealer Synergy Inc. Please go to For more information on Automotive Internet Sales, please go to or Source - Synergized Media Sean V. Bradley – 856-264-0564
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Have you seen that Google is experimenting with a new Page One SERP design? I saw this today as I searched for Chicago Dealers and I was blown away how much Page One real estate was used for Google Maps listings.

I color coded the SERP in sections to show that:

  • Google Adwords was split on top and right shown in pink.
  • Two organic listings were displayed above the new maps region, shown in green.
  • That 7 spots were taken up with exploded Google Maps listings, shown in red.
  • The remainder of the organics were shown under maps which were cut off on the screen capture.
Google Maps Explodes Search Page

Google Maps Changes SEO Strategies

I don't see this type of display for all searches and maybe this is a new design for broad commercial searches but this is a game changer. What do you think?

What I can see is that Google review stars are SIGNIFICANTLY MORE VISIBLE which means that automotive reputation management processes must really be locked down. What I also see is that if you are not in the top spots for organic search, you will get crushed by this new design and experience significantly less clicks.

What I also would expect is that the Google Ads on the right side will receive less clicks. There is too much activity front and center that brings the consumers eye to the maps region. So this will also be a game changer for Adwords bidding.

Homework: Get your Google Maps listings updated with photos, videos, coupons, and make sure you have the geo-targeting set correctly. If this is a look at the future, the more complete and compelling your Google Maps listing is, the more calls and clicks you will receive.

If you need help, start by asking questions below.
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Despite the ups and downs of the last year, it appears the auto business is slowly moving upward on the activity meter. If this trend holds, 2011 should be a pretty good year for the auto business, but you need to start you planning now. Since we’re in October, it’s time to make plans to attend the NADA Convention in San Francisco February 5-7, 2011. To get the best hotel rooms and flights, you might consider booking now to save yourself the scramble later. This promises to be an innovative year on the exhibition floor. As in past years, there will probably be one, stronger theme throughout the hall. My prediction is Social Marketing. I think we can look forward to half the booth holders adding some form of social marketing to their offerings. This prediction is based on the trends we are seeing in the larger product businesses like Proctor & Gamble. Big business has discovered that you can reach a half million eyeballs using Facebook and engage the customer with the product for a lot less money than it costs to reach that same number of people using traditional media. Watch for auto dealers to ramp up their engagement with social media sources like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare. To the skeptics that say, “Consumers don’t want to communicate with an auto dealership on Facebook,” you are wrong. What consumers don’t want is to be hit with sales messages on Facebook. The secret to Facebook and all social marketing is the concept of “giving.” This is hard concept for us in the car business to grasp. The value of Facebook to an auto dealer is to make friends with people who will eventually need to buy a car. You don’t make friends by saying, “Hey we have cars on sale!” You make friends by saying, “Acme Ford is participating in the March for Breast Cancer. We will donate additional cash to the March for every person that signs up to be on our team.” Or, another “giving” form of social marketing would be to say, “If you’re a Mustang fan, check out the Mustang Club that Acme Ford has formed. Sign up today and receive our free book, The Ford Mustang: American Classic, just for joining the club.” Do you see the difference between trying to push people with sales messages instead of pulling them with “giving” messages? A good way to learn more about using social marketing for your dealership is to go on Facebook and see how other businesses are engaging customers. The ones with the most friends are probably doing it correctly. Once you have earned the trust of a lot of “friends” on Facebook, you can communicate with a ton of potential customers without spending anything in the way of media dollars. Zero is a really nice price for marketing. If you are not savvy at Facebook, find someone who is to handle your Facebook site. Just make sure they understand “giving” vs. pushing.
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