While most people slow down and unwind a little during the second half of December in anticipation of the upcoming holiday season, car dealers work harder than ever to close as many deals as possible before the big ball drops to ring in the new year.
So that means right about now you’re hopefully finally catching your breath and reflecting on how your dealership dealt with the challenges that 2020 presented, and how your business can grow in 2021.
If 2020 was good for anything, it showed us that your digital platform is your most valuable asset and taught us a lot about the good digital habits that are helping dealers win in this changing landscape. If we can all take what we learned and really commit to those habits year-round, we can take dealer ROI to the next level in 2021 while future-proofing the dealership experience for years to come.
So without any further ado, here are some New Year’s Resolutions that’ll help your dealership win 2021!
1. LOSE 10 LBS. (ON YOUR WEBSITE)
In the past two decades, we’ve looked to our websites to just generate leads so your team could then reach out and set appointments after they’re gone. But with customers now expecting and sometimes needing to complete more of the car buying process remotely, 2020 proved your website needs to be so much more to make the most of every opportunity.
Your website truly needs to be a digital dealership, where shoppers can quickly find vehicles, get their questions answered, and connect with friendly experts on your team who can start guiding them down the Road To The Sale to purchase, just like in-store.
That starts with having the right messaging (with live video) and digital retailing solutions that work seamlessly with your website experience — as well as the right commitment to using those tools — but assuming you already have those, let’s resolve to making sure shoppers can easily find them.
As dealers added new solutions in 2020, websites have put on a lot of excess weight with buttons and widgets that get in the way of guiding shoppers down clear paths — wasting opportunities on shoppers who give up trying to find instant, easy answers to their questions like “can I afford it?”. This excess weight is something that happens to all of us, especially around the holiday sales events, but now is the perfect time to reevaluate your website experience to foster a healthy conversion rate in 2021.
Not all buttons have the same value for you or the customer, so funnel your traffic to the buttons that are more likely to drive sales (not just form-fills). For example, a shopper who quickly filled out an [Unlock Extra Savings] form to see how it affected the price (someone will be in touch to tell them later) is not as valuable as the shopper who clicked [Explore Payment Options] and instantly personalized their payment, valued their trade, saved an account on your website, and started to add accessories and insurance products — so send more shoppers that way.
By taking a deeper look to discover website design mistakes like too many conflicting CTAs, or disconnected shopping experiences that are causing your customers to bounce instead of convert, you can make a serious impact in your business KPIs without spending more advertising dollars to acquire more traffic.
2. START WORKING OUT (YOUR DEALS ONLINE)
Once you have shoppers clicking the right buttons to start the buying process on your website — make sure your team is there to help them! These engaged shoppers exploring payment options online are just as valuable as the opportunities that physically walk into your store, so it’s important to staff your digital showroom and build the habits that will continue and close those deals that start online.
Instead of creating a dead-end to their online experience and forcing them to come in for an appointment to learn more, you have the tools to keep up the momentum and guide them closer (or all the way) to purchase online. Of course many customers will still want to visit the dealership before signing, but the further you can get them into the process online, the more likely they are to follow through and stick with your dealership. They may have submitted leads with other websites, but you’re clearly positioned to win if they’re actively working a personalized deal with you.
Whether they’re on your website in the moment or just left, watch how easily (and instantly) you can pull online shoppers back into the buying process by simply texting the kind of personalized question or recommendation you would offer in the showroom.
No matter what digital retailing solution you have, it needs to be backed up by your dealership’s people and processes, so now is the perfect time to re-acquaint your salespeople and BDC agents with your tech stack to ensure they understand how they can quickly close more deals like these, more efficiently.
The days of “just get ’em in” are officially over. In 2021, resolve to stop saying “just get ’em in” and instead say “let’s go Online to the Sale!“. You’ll have happier customers, and a happier team.
3. BE SMARTER WITH YOUR (ADVERTISING) MONEY
By the end of 2020, something else that became clear was that targeting audiences in your Digital Advertising campaigns was about to get a tad trickier than before.
With Google updating their Personal Advertising Policies restricting your ability to target specific zip codes, combined with the impact of COVID-19 on your business — it’s critical that you reevaluate not just how you’re spending your budget — but on what platforms, and which geographical areas you’re targeting.
The first thing you can do is reassess which areas your dealership did the most business in last year, so you can ensure you have optimal coverage with your paid search campaigns. You don’t want to start the new year by overspending in geographical areas that are no longer providing a sales ROI due to shifts in consumer behavior, and underspending in areas that have historically proven to lead to sales.
The easiest way to do this is to use your CRM or DMS customer data to plot your sales on a map to visually highlight your highest converting areas. You can then use that visualization to work with your Dig Ad provider to adjust your targeting as needed to maximize your spend.
Another recommendation is to use that data from your CRM or DMS to add a customer match layer to your audience targeting on your Google and Facebook ads that’ll help ensure you’re staying in front of all your sales and service customers when searching or surfing. Keeping your dealer’s brand top of mind is going to be more critical than ever in 2021.
You’ll also want to consider how to maximize the reach in your defined geo-targets by diversifying the platforms that you’re advertising on besides Google. For example dealers who have been advertising on Microsoft Bing have seen a 36% higher Impression Share and a 77% higher Click-Thru Rate compared to their same ad campaigns on Google.
Lastly, 2021 will officially usher in the era of true in-market audience targeting with highly valuable first party data. It’s critical that you understand what audience data you’re using to power your advertising, because it can be the difference between guessing and knowing that you’re targeting people who actually want to buy a car.
For example, powered by Cars.com’s 25 million monthly active shoppers, FUEL: In-Market Video has a 100% pure in-market audience, so you know every penny spent is getting in front of local shoppers who are looking for a new vehicle in the short term. Watch the difference that made for Julie Chisum’s advertising ROI at Toyota of Cedar Park!
As we start the new year, it’s a perfect time to rethink and refine where your dollars are going — and resolving to continuously optimize through the year.
4. BE MORE PRESENT (FOR SERVICE KEYWORDS)
COVID-19 brought many challenges, but in a weird silver-lining kind of way, it also helped reveal some opportunities that you have to improve the overall operations of your dealership.
If your dealership had to shut-down the sales side of your biz because of the pandemic and you were only able to operate your service business for a period of time — you probably focused on your Fixed Ops marketing in a way you haven’t in years. And as a result, there’s a good chance you had your eye on the local big box and independent service centers that are aggressively marketing to steal your market share.
Make this the year that you finally fix that leaky fixed ops marketing and resolve to build up your service department’s digital marketing to the same level as your sales department, so you can fend off these competitors and win back customers.
The first step is making sure you’re set-up to capture the local high-intent searchers who are looking for service providers like you. By having the right paid, organic, and local search strategies in place for your service department, you can show up first three times in front of these valuable customers.
Considering upwards of 70% of searchers are on mobile, that top placement is critical for capturing those valuable customers — since only the very top placements are visible without scrolling down.
To take your strategy to the next level on the SERP and beyond, check out our Fixed Ops Marketing Strategy Webinar so you can get the tips, tricks, and info you need to get up and running with a comprehensive cross-channel digital marketing strategy. This year you can optimize your dealership’s service presence to not just fend-off, but overtake, the competition (and without breaking the bank to do it).
5. SPEND MORE QUALITY TIME (WITH YOUR HAPPY CUSTOMERS)
A decade ago, review generation was all the rage because we recognized just what powerful (and free!) positive reviews could and would do for our business. However, it’s possible that over the past couple of years you may have lost sight of keeping your reviews fresh because you felt that your dealership had “enough”.
It’s understandable if your focus shifted from generating new reviews to other matters you felt were more pressing, but you really can’t ignore the fact that 97% of shoppers use reviews to choose their dealership, and 86% of shoppers don’t consider reviews over 3 months old helpful (BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey Dec. 2019).
Those two stats should tell you that you need to constantly be driving new, positive reviews each and every week. But it’s 2021, so don’t think you can rely on the same tactics you did a decade ago to drive new reviews, because this year it’s not just the review that will matter — it’s the actual words in the review that will give your dealership the boost it needs.
BONUS RESOLUTION: MAKE YOUR BROWNIE DIFFERENT
Oh good, you’re still reading! Remember way back at the beginning of this blog post when I said that your digital platform was your most valuable asset? Well, I should probably amend that statement to say it’s your digital platform AND your people that are the two most valuable assets your dealership has.
When it comes down to it, consumers often see dealerships as all being the same because many dealers tend to look the same, and say the same things. For example, I personally worked for three different dealerships that each claimed they had the largest inventory in the state — and I can assure you, for two out of those three dealers, that wasn’t the case.
If you virtually attended REFUEL 2020 then you had the opportunity to see famed entrepreneur, Jesse Itzler, tell the story of how a college marketing professor changed the trajectory of his young life by asking him one simple question during his final presentation — “what makes your brownie different from all the other brownies on the market?”.
The point Jesse goes on to make is that no matter what you do, there are thousands of other entities doing the exact same thing. So how are you going to do to stand out? How will people know that your dealership is different that all the rest?
To answer that question, we say that in 2021 you should embrace (and market) the people and processes — the customer experience — that truly make your dealership different. Don’t settle for the same old USPs that you’ve been relying on for years. Develop your your real “Why Buy” message and tell the world what it is that you and your people do and offer that no one else does, and why should that matter to car shoppers in your market.
That unique ingredient will make all your marketing efforts perform better, all year.
LET’S MAKE 2021 THE BEST YEAR EVER, TOGETHER
Everyone here at Dealer Inspire knows just how challenging 2020 was for our car dealer partners. The pandemic still isn’t over, and new challenges are going to be thrown at us along the way, but together we have everything we need to win this year.
If you would like to talk about your dealership’s overall marketing strategy for 2021, just drop us a line and we’ll schedule some quality time to talk things over.
Wishing you and your team nothing but the best in 2021 and beyond!Let’s Talk Strategy
For many of us, the last few months have already changed the way we work forever. For dealers, it’s become clear just how essential digital retailing tools are for adapting to this new, digital-first normal. But tools don’t just do the job by themselves — someone needs to hold the nail and swing the hammer.
Adding the right solution to your website is a great first step, but to truly adapt your business to maximize revenue and scale efficiently you have to fully connect the tool with your marketing and sales strategy.
As so many dealers across the country unwrap their first digital retailing tools and give this online car buying thing a shot, we wanted to put together a starter guide to help you check the most important boxes for maximizing the ROI of yours. Let’s break it down.
ABOUT DEALER INSPIRE (THAT’S US!)
While all of the following tips should apply to any digital retailing solution, I can’t not point out that Dealer Inspire is best equipped to execute on these best practices by being the only website, digital retailing, messaging, connected marketing, and reporting provider — partnering with you to create one seamless online to in-store experience.
Step 1: Clear The Path To Purchase
If you don’t clear the way for the customer journey on your website, the new tool you’re paying for can get lost in the weeds of too many other CTAs — wasting countless opportunities on shoppers who give up trying to find the answers and experience they’re looking for.
Not all buttons have the same value for you or the customer, so funnel your traffic to the buttons that drive the best outcomes. An easy way to start this spring cleaning is by identifying the buttons that are redundant or create dead-ends for the user, including links off-site and lead forms that ask for information but give no immediate answers in return.
A lead from a shopper who quickly filled out an [Unlock Extra Savings] form to see how it affected the price (someone will be in touch to tell them later) is not as valuable as the shopper who clicked [Explore Payment Options] and instantly personalized their payment, valued their trade, saved an account on your website, and started to add accessories and insurance products — so send more shoppers that way.
It’s (understandably) tempting to want to add more paths to generate more leads, and removing buttons can feel like you’re removing opportunities — but the opposite is true. Our dealers who see the most dramatic increases in the volume and quality of their leads are the ones that commit to providing the best shopping experience and then focus their traffic to it.
Having your website and digital retailing provider be one in the same is key so they can seamlessly sync the experience from one tool to the other, and optimize your UX based on performance without any restrictions of you needing to coordinate between vendors.
Step 2: Treat Every Lead Like A Walk-In
This is the biggest step, because leads don’t keep the lights on. For dealers to grow sales (at lower labor and advertising costs) we need to fundamentally shift our thinking around leads as an industry. Now more than ever, we need to view websites as your digital storefront (even your primary storefront), and take the same level of customer service you expect in-store, online.
So, imagine if a customer walked into your physical store interested to browse your inventory and discuss financing — and you gave them a clipboard with a form, asked them to fill it out, and then told them you’d be in touch sometime soon to answer their questions. Letting that shopper walk out of your physical store without trying to help them in the moment would be crazy, and yet hundreds of shoppers are likely having that same exact experience on your website every single day.
Bob in your digital showroom is just as real as he would be in your physical showroom, so you need to engage him just like you would there. That’s why it’s critical to seamlessly pair your digital retailing tool with an advanced messaging platform like Conversations™ that can simulate your helpful customer service with instant answers, helpful materials (vehicle details, brochures, videos), and live video chat to talk face-to-face and show the customer around the vehicle. Just like you would in-store, you need to be able to sit down with him and talk through the specific financing options he’s looking at and collaborate to close the deal. Basically, you just need the tools to be available to help customers online, the same way you wouldn’t leave your physical dealership completely unstaffed during business hours.
If you don’t catch the online shopper in the moment, you should still treat them like a walk-in. That means not using the old lead form follow-up process. These shoppers have saved and customized specific vehicles and explored payment options, so your follow-up needs to acknowledge that specific progress they made and seamlessly pick-up where they left off — just like they had an appointment with you yesterday and are now back in your showroom. Automated emails and uninformed phone calls will cause a total disconnect in their customer experience — making them feel like they need to start over — so it’s critical for you to treat them like walk-ins you already know.
While it’s worth a whole other blog to talk about, texting is the best way to follow-up with these customers for a personalized experience that actually starts a conversation, because 76% of follow-up phone calls will go unanswered (likely far more now that iPhones block unknown numbers). Your paired messaging platform can make this follow-up process seamless so your team isn’t texting from their personal numbers.
Step 3: Plug In Your Showroom
Now that you’ve set-up the ideal online car buying experience, you need to make sure it doesn’t break when a customer actually walks into your physical store. Just like follow-ups, you need to make sure your dealership and team are greeting these customers as previous walk-ins who have already worked with you.
Like everything else, there’s a technology and a people aspect to perfecting this — but they can both be powerfully simple.
From the people side: all you should need to do is make sure your sales team is familiar with the tool on your website. If a customer walks in and says they’ve nailed down their perfect deal based on their credit, trade, and preferences — and your team doesn’t know they could do that on your website — then you’re setting up some awkward conversations unlikely to sell cars. As long as they know about the tool and can pull up that customer’s progress with it, your team should be in position to have a good day.
From the technology side: you should set-up devices with welcome screens (or even just print signage) that immediately validates to your walk-ins that the progress they made online allows them to ”skip the line”, like a Disney FastPass+. Instead of feeling like they need to re-introduce themselves and start over, they can instantly jump ahead to buying time. This is the kind of experience that customers will write home about, building your review reputation while increasing your close rate.
With our solution, for example, you can accomplish this by simply pulling up your website on any internet-connected device — customers just need to type in their phone number or email address to instantly pull up their personalized Online Shopper™ “Garage” and seamlessly continue their deal. Check it out.
Step 4: Connect Your Marketing
Ok, now that you’ve created an amazing experience for customers online and offline, you need to make sure they know about it. By incorporating “online car buying” throughout you website and marketing messaging you can expect to increase the high-intent traffic you’re driving to your platform.
- Landing Page. Every campaign needs to start with a good destination. Add a landing page to show website visitors that your dealership offers online car buying, how they can get started, and most importantly why it makes their shopping experience better.
- Website Creative. From homepage sliders and personalizers to VRP banners, make sure your visitors know from the moment they hit your website that they can go the distance online. It could make all the difference between a bounce and a buyer.
- Search Advertising. Digital Retailing functions as both a strong USP and a fresh CTA, meaning your PPC strategy can get a boost as well. Update your ad copy to highlight your online experience, add “Buy Online” as a sitelink extension, and create campaigns related keywords.
- Email Marketing. Being able to shop online is also a great message to re-engage your existing customers nearing their next vehicle. Once you’ve got your platform rocking, set-up a drip email campaign to drive your customers directly into your buying experience.
- Display Advertising. The ability to complete the whole process in your pajamas is going to turn heads today, especially for consumers actively in the process of shopping. Using Cars.com Display gets you in front of local car shoppers as they’re shopping, putting your brand in front of the best audience, at the best time, with the most powerful message.
- Video Advertising. With people stuck at home streaming twice as much video*, and you set-up to offer the ideal home car buying experience, it’s the perfect time to capitalize on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and OTT advertising to drive more shoppers to your website and digital retailing tool.
By having all of your technology and marketing managed by one provider you can keep your entire digital presence in sync to maximize conversions and ROI. If one piece is updated before the other, or your website doesn’t fulfill your marketing message, you can create disconnects in the customer journey that will cause them to bounce along the way, which would be a bummer.
Step 5: Grow Your Reputation
Updating your marketing messaging for online car buying will make a big difference, but that message is no longer quite as unique as it was even a few months ago. Every competitor can say they offer online car buying — because they have to right now — even if they just have a lead form button that says [Buy Now]. You need to back up your claims with the experience and your most important proof point: your happy customers.
97% of shoppers use reviews to choose the right local dealership*, and now more than ever, reviews that mention online car buying, home delivery, and general convenience and speed are going to make all the difference. Make sure you’re soliciting feedback on your great customer experience across platforms to grow your most powerful differentiator in the market: your reputation.
*BrightLocal 2019 Local Consumer Review Survey, December 2019
Step 6: Connect Your DMS
If you follow each of these steps so far, should you expect to see significant results that impact your bottom line? Yeah, I definitely think so — but the only way to know is to actually look at your bottom line. Connect your sales data into your reporting platform to see the sales generated specifically from your digital retailing solution. If you’re not driving real sales from it then there’s something wrong with your tool or your process and you need that reporting to make informed decisions for your business.
Recap: Have A Platform Partner
Bottom line, you can’t add a widget to your website and expect your business to adapt. You need your team using a tool to build a seamless end-to-end experience that drives sales, and the only way to do that is to have a partner that can connect every part of it for you. We built our company and our platform to do exactly that, and we’re here to help. Put us to work.
Disclaimer: I am not an attorney, financial advisor, or legislative expert. Each dealer should consult their relevant advisors before making decisions. The purpose of this blog is just to share information I’ve gathered as I have been following the development of this bill closely to see how it can help our dealer partners.
As you may know, the “CARES” (‘Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act was just signed by the President of the United States. I wanted to provide a quick summary of this bill as I understand it because it may help you. It’s essential to understand at least how it works before taking drastic action.
First off, you will see many headlines about the bill being a $2 trillion stimulus package. If you’re like me, you immediately think, “Great, but how does this help me or my dealership/business?” In many cases, the answer to that question is well beyond the scope of this message. However, in this instance, one important section of the CARES Act is designed to provide relief to “small” businesses like you.
THE MAIN POINTS YOU NEED TO KNOW
- The CARES Act created a new kind of SBA loan that a lot of small businesses will be eligible for that can be used to cover basic costs — and under certain circumstances, the entire loan amount can be forgiven.
- The loan can be used for certain payroll costs (including commissions), employee benefits, operating costs (rent, mortgage interest, utilities, interest on preexisting debts).
- The loan size generally equates to 2.5 times your average monthly payroll from the previous year, excluding comp above $100K/employee (with some adjustments if you already have an existing SBA loan).
- Loans would be available immediately through existing SBA-certified lenders, including banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions. Here is a website that should list the eligible lenders https://www.sba.gov/. It’s pretty hard to navigate so I would check to see if your bank is an eligible lender. Nonetheless, the list will expand quickly due to the authorization powers of the Secretary of Treasury.
A FEW CAVEATS
- The amount forgiven is limited to the principal borrowed.
- The points above apply to small businesses that employ less than 500 people.
- The maximum loan amount is $10 million.
- Conditional upon the business retaining your employees and payroll levels during the covered period (March 1, 2020, through June 30, 2020).
- If you reduce salaries (pay cuts), the number of employees (layoffs), or both during the covered period, then the loan amount available for forgiveness is reduced by the amount of any reduction in:
- Number of employees
- Wage reductions in excess of 25% of the total salary or wages of the employee during the most recent quarter
- However, If you rehire or end the salary reduction before June 30, 2020, and eliminated the layoff or salary cuts, the loan amount eligible for forgiveness is not affected
CARES ACT RESOURCES
So, in short, there is a great opportunity that you should be looking into. The precise calculations and eligibility requirements are tricky, beyond the scope of this blog post, but this gives you the overall framework. The bill encompasses a ton more (as it is 800+ pages). Here’s a link to a few other resources:
DEALER INSPIRE COVID-19 RESOURCES
While this may assist with expenses in the short term I know that selling and servicing cars is the most vital component to your success. Our team has put together the following videos and resources this week to help you adapt your digital marketing for the situation. Please take 10 minutes today to review as I can know they will help you.
VIRTUAL WALKAROUND CTAs
Our website and messaging tools can work together to help bring the dealership experience online for your customers stuck at home. Watch how adding one CTA on your inventory can launch a virtual appointment with your team using live video chat.
GUIDE: HOW TO HAVE CONVERSATIONS THAT SELL
Beyond video chat, there are many other ways you can utilize instant messaging to connect with customers and go deeper into the buying process online. In this guide, we’ll show you how you can take different approach to chat and turn what used to be a lead-gen tool into a closing tool.
HOW TO USE GOOGLE MY BUSINESS DURING COVID-19
Clear and up-to-date communication is more critical now than ever, and Google My Business (GMB) is one of the most important ways to get the essential status updates on your business to customers. Watch this quick video to learn how to take the first step of updating your hours, and then check-out our complete guide to leveraging GMB’s other features right now.
OPTIMIZING PAID & ORGANIC SEARCH FOR COVID-19
Our team is monitoring rapidly evolving search trends and providing recommendations on where to optimize your budget and efforts as paid and organic search intent shifts. For Dealer Inspire partners, our team is proactively making these changes to optimize your budget. Check out the live webinar we hosted this week, or dive into the guide on our blog.
CARS CARES RESOURCES
As part of the CARS family we also wanted to make sure you were aware of several resources Cars.com is providing to help dealers get through this time, from financial relief and free chat to Virtual Appointment and Home Delivery badging.
JOIN 10,000 DEALERS TO KEEP AUTO OPEN
Lastly, please take action today. We need 10k signatures to help keep car dealers open as vital businesses on the Federal level.
We are living in an unprecedented time, and the way we ran our businesses just two weeks ago needs to adapt for the new normal of our communities practicing safe social distancing. This virus has brought uncertainty and significantly decreased foot traffic to many industries including ours, but there is good news for dealers: people are still shopping for cars, and we already have everything we need to connect with them and help them purchase.
While this is no doubt a challenging time, there is an opportunity here to triple down on customer service and communication to create new loyal customers. We need to work together on solutions that make your dealership’s experience shine online — and I believe we can do that today by taking a different approach to chat.
IT’S NO TIME FOR SMALL TALK.
Chat has been around forever on dealer websites, but as an industry we’ve always just thought about it as a lead generation tool. For a BDC, the strategy in any message thread is to convert the initial question into an appointment as fast as possible — but with customers less willing to come in for appointments, we need to think differently and extend the conversation way further into the buying process. And you can do that today by simply changing your approach.
We built our messaging platform (Conversations™) from the ground up exactly for this deeper level of customer engagement — and while our more advanced features have (transparently) gone underutilized with this old chat mindset, they are ready to connect you with stay-at-home customers out of the box. Whether it’s showing shoppers around a vehicle with live video or working through all the details of their payment plan and delivery through texting — simple conversations can sell cars. Get a glimpse of how it’s done from this demo with Jason, and then I’ll break it down in the guide below.
DON’T BE A STRANGER. BE A VIDEO.
Most people don’t have long conversations with strangers, so try to make sure that website visitors see you as a real live person behind those chat bubbles. While authentic conversation (and perhaps a joke) will go a long way, video is worth a million words. With Conversations™, you can create videos and then save them to your Glovebox to drag and drop into any future conversations.
For example, you could create quick walk-around videos of the new models on your lot, introducing yourself with your front-facing camera and then giving a tour of the vehicle. Helpful videos like this that feature YOU, the person they can actually buy from, goes a long way to making the customer feel connected and confident to take next steps.
This also works great for sharing service updates, creating the kind of modern and transparent experience that creates lifelong customers by showing the care you’re putting into their maintenance and repairs.
CLICK BUTTON TO BE A VIRTUAL DEALERSHIP.
When it comes to bringing the kind of conversations you have on the showroom floor online, no feature is more powerful than live video. You can instantly turn your chats into old-fashioned face-to-face conversations, whether it’s to tour a vehicle live, or just to (virtually) sit down at your desk and talk through payments and recommendations. Watch how adding one CTA on your inventory can launch a virtual appointment with your team.
Even if consumers aren’t in the right mood (or clothes) to do a live video, the fact that you’re able to offer it sends a clear signal that you’re able to do business differently to help them during this time. Promote that your team is here to take the shopping experience virtual, and you’re likely to engage more of these shoppers who want to buy but don’t want to browse a store right now.
TEXTING LEADS TO LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS.
Even stuck inside and bored, consumers are not likely to stay on any website for long. Asking for their number to text will help keep your conversation going well after the shopper leaves your website, because you can continue to text back and forth at their convenience offline. Taking the conversation to text also takes the pressure off of providing quick responses to keep them online, and lets you provide the most valuable and helpful responses to help them purchase.
In Conversations™, you can add a phone number in a chat directly to their customer profile, and then quickly send them a text to start a new thread via SMS.
DIGITAL RETAILING IS JUST A DIGITAL CONVERSATION.
“Online car buying” and “digital retailing” have been constant buzzwords in our industry over the past few years, and while I believe it’s essential for dealers adapt tools like Online Shopper™ to help consumers make purchase decisions online (especially today), I also think the concept of digital retailing has been confused and overcomplicated.
This is Suzanne. In 2010 my dealership got a Craigslist lead from Suzanne, who lived 300 miles away in St. Louis. We spoke over the phone, talked through her payment options until they worked for her budget, and then she flew into Chicago to pick-up the car from me. THAT WAS DIGITAL RETAILING! If I could do that with Craigslist and a telephone, you can absolutely provide a home car buying experience through chat and text.
Offer to help shoppers figure out their best payment like YOU are the digital retailing tool. Ask them they’re preferred monthly range, how much they’re thinking of putting down, what trade-in they have, etc. — and be inputting the numbers on your end using your digital retailing tool or DMS. That way you can provide real-time payments based on their answers, and even transparently share a screenshot to show your work and confirm the numbers. From there, all you need to do is print the deal and deliver it with the sold car.
STAY WITH THEM WHEREVER THEY GO.
Before you bump elbows and say goodbye to your customer, this one last tip can help keep them tied to your dealership for all future service. Program your Conversations™ SMS number into the vehicle’s Android Auto or Apple CarPlay as a contact for “Service”, and show them how they can voice text you to connect with your service department whenever they need you. Check it out — I made a video about this a few years ago.
WE’RE ALWAYS HERE TO CHAT.
All of us are anxious during this uncertain time, including your customers. Offering the ability to do business on their terms from home, and taking the time to really help them with a conversation tailored to their needs, will restore the confidence in shoppers to buy.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to discuss these strategies or any of the other ways we can help you during this time. At DI we believe it’s our responsibility to help dealers future-proof their business — it’s what we’re here for.
Every dealership has its own story, so why do so many choose to blend in online? When it comes to your staff, your offerings, or your surroundings, your dealership has its own character. Watch Dealer Inspire/Launch Digital Marketing Account Manager Erin Hipple discuss how to separate your dealership from your competition. For more information contact Dealer Inspire at 855-dlr-inspire or Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every dealership has its own story, so why do so many choose to blend in online? Whether it comes to your staff, your offerings, or your surroundings, your dealership has its own character.
A very important way to distinguish yourself is through search engine optimization, more specifically content. Too often, we see dealerships sold duplicate content packages. This is a strategy that plugs your dealership name into generic content. Then, this content is published on a variety of dealership websites throughout the Web. This sort of strategy will ultimately hurt your ranking in Google, and hide you from potential customers.
More importantly, implement the strategy of unique content. Answer your customers’ questions, use keyword research, and make sure your user experience is simple and to the point. Utilize headings, pictures, and simple lead forms. This will ultimately increase your conversions and bring about meaningful leads that impact your KPIs. So remember – keep your content important to your audience, relevant to your offerings, and unique to your dealership.