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Instant Offer on the Street with Brian Kramer

October 4th, 2022 by

START YOUR INVENTORY ENGINE

Accu-Trade gives consumers instant and transparent cash offers for their exact VINs on your Dealer Inspire website. Combined with your local customer service to conveniently complete the transaction, it’s a selling experience no one can beat.

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Now Streaming on Inspire+: The Day The Data Stood Still

September 12th, 2022 by

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“One of the best sci-fi themed webinars ever made, built with ambitious special effects, a lurid soundtrack, and a powerful conversation about migrating to a new data measurement platform before it’s too late.

Critical Consensus
Rotten Potatoes

WATCH NOW ON INSPIRE+

REWIND. REWATCH. REPLAY

Inspire+ is the first (and only) streaming service that produces original, monthly content specifically for the automotive retail industry. Replay your favorite moments from The Day The Data Stood Still or watch from the very beginning. Enjoy the show!

Google Analytics 4 is Coming: 12 Things You Need to Know

July 11th, 2022 by

On July 1, 2023 the marketing measurement landscape will change dramatically when Google sunsets the current version of Google Analytics (known as Universal Analytics) which has been in place since 2012, in favor of their new service – Google Analytics 4 (aka GA4).  

It’s important to understand that GA4 isn’t just a slightly updated version of the Google Analytics experience that you’ve been using to collect and organize data for the past decade. This is a completely new system from top to bottom that — while different from what you’ve been used to — ultimately gives you more flexibility to measure user experience and marketing performance data across your website.

For those of you with Dealer Inspire websites, you’ve already been set up with a GA4 property that is collecting data as we speak so that when Universal Analytics shuts down, you’ll have a full year of historical data in GA4 to reference and use in comparison performance reports. 

If you don’t have a Dealer Inspire website and you aren’t sure whether you have a GA4 property created for your website or not, then you’ll want to check with your website provider to ensure that one has been, or will be, created for you in a timely manner. If you wait until the last minute to create the property, you’ll be missing out on having any historical data to reference once GA4 becomes the only analytics platform available.

With that said, this guide is meant to get you comfortable understanding and navigating the main differences between the outgoing Universal Analytics and the all-new Google Analytics 4 so you can prepare as needed to officially make the switch well before July of 2023. 

More of a listener than a reader? Want even deeper context? Watch our latest live streaming event The Day The Data Stood Still on demand over on Inspire+. We take you through some of the most notable changes coming to GA4 and discuss what you need to do to prepare before the big day arrives!

WATCH ON DEMAND


WHY IS UNIVERSAL ANALYTICS BEING SUNSET?

Before we get into the differences between Google’s old and new measurement solutions, you might be wondering why Google is even sunsetting Universal Analytics in the first place. The simple reality is that Universal Analytics was built during a time when the desktop computer was the main device for surfing the web, and session data was more easily observable from cookies. 

As you know, the web today is much different than it was a decade ago. Today it’s a mobile-first web. It’s cross-platform. It spans devices. And most importantly, the premium on privacy is at an all-time high and the cookieless future is upon us.

Simply said, Google Analytics 4 was built to measure the way the world consumes information on the Internet today relying on machine learning and statistical modeling. In addition to being built for the modern web with a privacy-first mindset, GA4 was also built to be a more flexible platform that can adapt for whatever the future may hold.   

So now that we know “why”, let’s dive right into the 12 things you need to know about Google Analytics 4 before making the switch.

1. PROPERTY “VIEWS” ARE NOT A PART OF GOOGLE ANALYTICS 4

In Universal Analytics (henceforth referred to as UA), you could create multiple account “views” of your analytics property that would allow you to apply different filters, create various segments, and feature customized reports for each view — all while maintaining a “master view” of unfiltered raw data.

One of the most major, and immediately noticeable, changes in GA4 is the removal of these account “views” as all data manipulation is now done on the property itself. This streamlines the data into one single reporting property where you’ll find up to 3 data stream types: Website, iOS app, and Android app. 

Why This Matters: Many third parties set up their own “views” of your data within UA to be able to track and measure the metrics they feel are most important. With GA4 that capability is gone, so you’ll need to work with those partners to make sure that they’re pushing their intended events and actions to your property ensuring consistent reporting.

2. GA4 INTRODUCES AN EVENT BASED MEASUREMENT MODEL

While UA is very much based on tracking independent session data, GA4 aims to give you a complete view of the customer lifecycle with an event-based measurement model that isn’t fragmented by platform or independent sessions.

Because of this dramatic shift, it’s important to note that the data between UA and GA4 won’t match between these versions due to these different models.

Why This Matters: This will start looking at the users and audiences of your website/app for shopping behaviors vs a session, meaning that we will be more in tune with the actions and behaviors of the customers (clicks, page interactions, etc).

3. COMMON METRICS THAT ARE BEING UPDATED OR REPLACED IN GA4

For years, you’ve relied upon certain metrics within Google Analytics such as Bounce Rate and Conversion Rate to inform the effectiveness of your marketing and website experience. With GA4 however, some of those common KPIs will mean something different than what they used to, and some won’t be a part of the new platform at all.

For example, in Universal Analytics, Bounce Rate was defined as the percentage of single page sessions in which there was no interaction with the page. In Google Analytics 4 Bounce Rate is the percentage of sessions that were not engaged sessions. In other words, Bounce Rate is now defined as the inverse of Engagement Rate, one of the new metrics that are a part of GA4. 

With the new measurement model mentioned above giving you better insight into how users are moving across your purchase funnel, it was necessary to provide more meaningful metrics that present a clear picture of your key objectives.

Here are a few of the common UA metrics that will not be a part of the GA4 experience:

UA Metrics Being Redefined

  • Bounce rate (inverse of Engagement Rate)
  • Conversion rate (separated into User Conversion Rate & Session Conversion Rate)

UA Metrics Being Removed

  • Pages per session
  • Avg. session duration

Newly Introduced Metrics in GA4

  • Engaged sessions (default is 10 seconds on site or triggered an event marked as a conversion or viewed more than one screen)
  • Engagement rate (engaged sessions compared to total sessions)
  • Events per session
  • Avg. engagement time per session

Why This Matters: Google is focusing more on users and their engagement in GA4. This data will provide a better understanding of your engaged audience — the ones who are taking action on your site searching for their next vehicle.

4. NEW EVENT CATEGORIES IN GA4

With the previous changes mentioned, it only makes sense that the way events are tracked would change within GA4 as well.

Within UA, events are all defined using Category, Action, and Label. GA4 simplifies things by using an event name with parameters to see identified custom dimensions and metrics associated with the event.

There are four types of events  within GA4:

Automatically Collected Events: As you might guess, these are the events that are automatically tracked once you’ve set up your GA4 property. 

Enhanced Measurement Events: These are also automatically collected once GA4 is actively collecting website data, however these can also be enabled or disabled depending on how meaningful each event is to measuring your key objectives. 

Recommended Events: These are events that Google recommends you setup based on what industry you’re in. Typically these are broad, and for an industry like automotive retail, probably won’t be widely applicable.

Custom Events: These are going to be the most important and powerful events to set up, as they’ll provide insight into how every engagement within your digital ecosystem plays into the overall experience of your website. With custom events you can track engagement with your inventory, your media, your messaging platform, your digital retailing experience, and pretty much anything that’s a part of your website. 

At Dealer Inspire, our Connected Platform will be set up with custom events within GA4 to track engagement with your Website, Conversations, and Online Shopper.

Why This Matters: GA4 allows for more flexibility with each event and will provide more insightful and meaningful reporting. With that, it will be critical to work with your third-party vendors to ensure proper events are created within your GA4 property to track the engagement with those tools.

5. GO DEEPER WITH FEWER REPORTS IN GA4

As I’m sure you know, Universal Analytics has many out-of-the-box reports that are immediately available for users to inspect various aspects of user activity. For example, in UA there are twenty  standard Acquisition reports — in GA4 there are only three. 

Instead of a long list of predefined reports that try to cover every use case, GA4’s simplified reporting interface was made so that it would be easier to spot key trends and irregularities in data, while also providing you with powerful tools to build your own reports to quickly reference the information you care about.

Why This Matters: While on the surface having fewer standard reports within GA4 may seem like a downgrade, it actually gives you more flexibility to create your own collection of custom reports that’ll provide deeper and more meaningful analysis for your key objectives.

6. SEGMENTS & COMPARISONS IN GA4

In analytics parlance, a segment is simply a subset of your data, and they’re extremely useful for drilling down and focusing on a group of users based on common attributes or conditions. For example, of your entire set of users, one segment might be users who arrived at your website via organic search.

In UA, segments are saved for future use and are available in most standard and custom reports. In GA4, comparisons take the place of segments.  Just like segments, comparisons allow you to narrow down and analyze a specific subset of data, but don’t have the ability to be saved for future use. 

For example, let’s say you built a comparison to examine your mobile website traffic and you noticed that the engagement rate for these users has decreased over time. You could then determine when the trend began, and match that up with any changes that might have been made to your mobile website experience that could have caused that drop in engagement and correct the issue. 

7. FEWER DATA RETENTION OPTIONS IN GA4

The ability to reference historical data is essential for performing granular and comparative analysis over time. When it comes to data retention, UA has the following options; 14 Months, 26 Months, 38 Months, 50 Months, or Don’t Automatically Expire. This means you are able to access historical data within the Universal Analytics interface based on the above choice, for potentially a lifetime.

In GA4 however, retention of user-level data only has two options available: a default period of 2 Months along with an option to increase that time period to 14 Months. With longer, or even lifetime, data retention options no longer available, you may want to consider developing a data export strategy using GA4’s BigQuery integration to warehouse your analytics data in a secure and scalable platform.

Why This Matters: With the default retention period being 2 Months, at minimum you should make sure that you’ve enabled the 14 Month collection option within your GA4 property to ensure that you’ll always be able to compare YoY data.

8. MORE DEFAULT CHANNEL GROUPINGS IN GA4

Google Analytics 4 also comes with revised default channel groupings that more accurately reflect the various ways traffic can be driven to your website without needing to set any rules to make sure it’s bucketed correctly. 

There are a total of 16 default channel groupings spanning the categories of manual traffic, Google Ads traffic, and DV360 traffic. Most notably though, the following additions to the channel grouping specifically will make it easier to understand where your traffic is coming from:

  • Paid Social
  • Organic Social
  • Paid Video
  • Organic Video

It’s worth calling out that with Universal Analytics, you could customize your channel groupings to match your UTM structure for your various marketing campaigns. With the new groupings in GA4, you’ll need to customize your UTM structure to match the channel groupings.

Why This Matters: By having better visibility into your specific marketing channels, combined with the new engagement metrics tracked within GA4, this will allow for more easily digestible data to determine the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. 

9. GA4 HAS A NEW DATA-DRIVEN ATTRIBUTION MODEL

All Universal Analytics properties were set up with the default “last click” attribution model, meaning the last touchpoint a user took on the site before conversion would get 100% of the credit for that conversion. 

GA4 however is able to assign attribution credit to more than just the last click, and helps you understand how your marketing activities collectively influence your conversions using a cross-channel data-drive model. 

While you can change your attribution model in GA4 to Last Click, First Click, Position-based, or Time Decay — using the cross-channel data-driven attribution model gives equal conversion credit to all touchpoints on a conversion path, showing you more clearly the effect your marketing is having on your ROI. 

Why This Matters: GA4 uses machine learning which provides a custom attribution model based on your historical data that will automatically adapt  as we head for the cookieless future.

10. GOING FROM GOALS TO CONVERSIONS IN GA4

Speaking of conversions, we want to make sure we discuss the changes happening here too because it’s a notable difference from what you’ve been used to. In Universal Analytics, you’re probably familiar with “Goals”. For example, you could create a destination goal, such a “thank you page” that’s loaded after a user submits a form, and the number of times that destination goal fired would reflect the number of conversions for that action.

Because Google Analytics 4 is an event-based tool, those goals from UA would all be configured as events now. So if you want to track conversions within GA4, you have to configure your event tracking first. 

From there, you can then tell GA4 which events should be marked as conversions simply by toggling them on, and you can have up to 30 toggled on at any given time.

Why This Matters: In Universal Analytics, goals were configured separately from events, and were only triggered once per session. In GA4 conversions may be triggered multiple times per session, giving you better insight into your overall user engagement.

11. GA4 OFFERS FEWER OPTIONS TO FILTER DATA

With UA, you had the ability to apply filters that would limit or modify the data in a view. For example, you could use a filter to exclude traffic from particular IP addresses, include only data from specific subdomains or directories, or convert dynamic page URLs to readable text strings.

With GA4 eliminating having multiple views of your property, they’ve also reduced the ways you can filter your traffic only providing two options:

  • Internal Traffic: Filter event data that you’ve identified as internal traffic
  • Developer Traffic: Filter event data from your development devices 

12. ANNOTATIONS ARE NO MORE IN GA4

Last on our list of differences between Universal Analytics is Google Analytics 4 is the removal of annotations. I’m not going to lie, this one hurt me in particular because I’m big on notes. For those unfamiliar, annotations were a way for you to manually record within your property when you made notable updates to things like your website, strategy, or budget. You could then overlay those annotations over your reports to quickly recognize positive or negative effects as a result of what was updated.  

Why This Matters: If you’re an active user of annotations, then it will be critical to implement a process for recording those notable changes in a separate space, such as a spreadsheet.

And that’s it! Those were the top 12 things you need to know to get ready for GA4. Keep in mind that Google will continue to iterate and refine the features and capabilities of their newest analytics platform over the years to come, so there is always a chance that something that’s missing in GA4 now, could make a triumphant return in the future. 


STAY AHEAD OF THE GAME

By staying ahead of the game and proactively preparing our partner’s websites for the transition to Google Analytics 4, we’re fulfilling our mission to help future-proof your dealership so you can sell, buy, and service more vehicles, more efficiently with a proven ROI backed by real data.

Want to know more about how we can help you grow your dealership’s business? Drop us a line and we’ll show you how.

LET’S TALK!

The Importance of ADA Compliance for Car Dealership Websites

May 5th, 2022 by

In light of the growing number of ADA related lawsuits, it is critical that your dealership addresses the overall accessibility of your website for shoppers with disabilities. Beyond the legal ramifications, enabling your website to effectively convert the largest number of potential customers is critical to maximizing your ROI.

DEALER INSPIRE + AUDIOEYE

At Dealer inspire, we’ve been at the forefront of offering accessibility solutions to our clients. We partnered with AudioEye to make their “Ally Toolbar” software available for use on your Dealer Inspire website.

Available to all users of your website, this assistive technology provides a fully customizable experience users can tailor to their individual needs, regardless of their device type, language preference, or preferred method of access.The Ally Toolbar includes controls for:

  • Displaying dyslexic fonts
  • Making adjustments to color contrast, font size and navigation
  • Keyboard controls
  • An audio player to read content aloud
  • Voice controlled navigation

Our AudioEye integration also provides ongoing optimization to continually increase the accessibility of your website and help ensure that you stay up-to-date with all current and future ADA accessibility regulations.

For something as complicated as ADA law and its accompanying guidelines, deploying assistive technology from an expert partner like AudioEye lets you rest assured that your website is open and accessible to the largest audience possible – all while protecting you against potential litigation.

HOW DO I SETUP MY WEBSITE TO MAKE IT ACCESSIBLE?

We even use AudioEye® here on our website, give it a try to see it in action.

Providing AudioEye accessibility tools for your customers is a seamless addition to your website for a monthly fee, which covers the full Ally Toolbar, ongoing AudioEye support, and constant optimization to increase accessibility and stay ADA compliant.

If you’ve yet to opt-in to using AudioEye at your dealership, please do not delay any longer. Tap the button below and we’ll be in touch shortly to help get you set up!

Get AudioEye

6 Automotive SEO Tactics That Really Work

April 4th, 2022 by

Long before we ever built our first website, Dealer Inspire started out as an SEO Agency. It was through those early experiences when it became clear that trying to implement SEO best practices on websites built with other automotive web platforms was not very efficient, and oftentimes not as effective as it could have been due to technical limitations. The natural next step for our company to take was clear — we needed to build our own web platform so we could provide our partners with optimal SEO, UX, and conversion optimization.

So whether you’re receiving our SEO services through an OEM partnership, or you’ve signed up à la carte, you can rest assured knowing that you’ll be receiving a holistic SEO strategy that’s tailored specifically for your dealership, your region, and your goals. This is super important, because when it comes to SEO, there are two truths that you can count on:.

  1. You can’t be cookie-cutter with your approach to SEO. Each dealership is unique, and what works for one, may not work for another.
  2. There are no shortcuts or magic bullets that’ll instantly shoot you to the top of the SERP. Effective SEO that returns a positive ROI requires research, market analysis, and patience

So with that out of the way, I want to share six real and timely case studies from our dealer partners that show how our collaborative and custom approach to SEO provides proven results that drive a positive ROI. 

1. CAPTURE ORGANIC PRE-ORDER INTENT

With the ongoing inventory shortage affecting the entire automotive industry, our client at Dependable CDJR wanted to fill their sales pipeline by taking more pre-orders from in-market shoppers. The only problem was they didn’t have the proper content or site structure for search engines to understand that their dealership was the most relevant answer to related “order” searches for their brand of vehicles.

In an effort to establish their authority for these keywords, our team created and published a pre-order landing page on their website that explained in detail how the process worked and why a car shopper would want to customize their vehicle and order it directly through their dealership.

60% increase in order keywords 30 days after page was published
65% increase in conversions YoY

After publishing the new landing page, the next step was to ensure that it was easily discoverable by both search engines and real people by linking to it in the main navigation menu, in addition to creating other carefully selected internal links to the page.

The results of implementing this pre-order focused SEO tactic was impressive. Dependable CDJR saw a 60% increase in keywords containing the word “order” driving traffic to their website, in addition to a 65% increase in conversions year over year! 

2. BE THE VEHICLE ACQUISITION SOURCE

Aside from increasing the importance of having a pre-order strategy in place at your dealership, having a comprehensive vehicle acquisition campaign is pretty much required during the prolonged inventory shortage. 

Morrie’s Auto Group was on the forefront of implementing this strategy, and they took it to the next level by opening up dedicated car buying centers across three states. To help build their website’s authority for related “sell my car” and “trade-in my car” keywords, we started with a singular landing page that explained the process and allowed consumers to get a value for their vehicle.

237% Increase in keywords 30 days after page was published
296% increase in organic traffic since location pages were added (Jan 20, 2022)

Because Morrie’s had three buying centers in three different states, we wanted to make sure each center could have hyper-local relevance to consumers in those areas who are searching for where they should trade-in or sell their vehicle. To accomplish this, we created locations pages for each of their buying centers using the primary page as the parent. 

Since we added those location pages, organic traffic to all of the pages, including the parent page, is up 296% and they’ve also enjoyed a 237% increase in total keywords that their website now ranks for. 

3. ENHANCE YOUR CONTENT WITH ORIGINAL VIDEO

When the Dealer Inspire SEO Teams plans future content with a client, we always try to align our recommendations with the dealer’s stated goals and missions. For Triple J Guam, one of their missions was to enhance the relevance of the content we were creating for them even more by including their own custom created videos.

To that end, we now collaborate heavily with Triple J team based on what models they have in stock or what new models are arriving soon so they can go out and physically shoot videos on those vehicles that can be embedded on the page at the time of publishing. 

20% increase in total website keywords MoM
11% increase in total organic traffic YoY
18% increase in total organic ROI YoY

The chef’s kiss to this model specific content strategy is making sure that all of the content is easily found (and crawlable) for users (and search engines too!). To do that we created an informational hub page that neatly organizes the content that’s available on the site by OEM. 

Since implementing this collaboration and overall technical structure, Triple J Guam is seeing a 20% increase in keywords, an 11% increase in organic traffic, and an 18% increase in organic ROI. 

4. FLEX YOUR FIXED-OPS ADVANTAGE

For years, the most progressive car dealers in the industry have partnered with Dealer Inspire so they could achieve their goals using the most flexible platform on the planet. Sussex Honda is one of those dealers who is constantly looking to do things differently, and we’re always thrilled to partner with them to see those goals to fruition. 

In light of the global pandemic, Sussex Honda wanted to reinvent the way area residents could visit their service department in a safe and convenient way. To do that, they installed Express Self Service Kiosks outside of their service lane that allowed customers to drop-off their vehicle for service, and also pick it back up when service was completed. 

Their SEO Specialist took the information that was provided, and immediately began researching how to best make an impact in the organic SERP. After reviewing the keyword data, it was determined that targeting variations of “service kiosk” keywords would be more effective due to having good search volume and an attainable difficulty score. 

23% increase in keywords 30 days after page was published
158% increase in organic goal completions YoY
30% increase in organic sessions YoY

From there we created their Honda Express Self-Service Kiosk landing page that included detailed information teaching customers how to use the kiosk, and the benefits of doing so. We also made sure to include their custom how-to videos that showed folks exactly what to do when they arrived at the dealership. 

That page is seeing a 23% keyword increase along with a 30% increase in organic sessions. The total performance of the entire website has benefited as well with a 158% increase in organic goal completions. This is just another great example of how creating content to help educate users already on your website can also turn into a leading source of organic entrances to your site as well.  

5. GET MORE TRAFFIC WITH LESS CONTENT

Have you ever wondered to yourself, “is there such a thing as having too much content?”. It’s a fair question to ponder and on the surface it may seem like an easy “no” for an answer — especially if you’ve been taught over the years that “Content is King”. 

Well, believe it or not, there is such a thing as having too much content, and it’s something you need to be aware of so you can look for the warning signs and ultimately prevent any deciline in your organic traffic. 

While content on your website can be evergreen and still maintain high quality and relevance many years after it’s published, sometimes your content can become outdated and cause your keyword rankings to wildly fluctuate. 

That’s what was happening with our client at Biggers Chevrolet. They had years and years of custom content published on their website, but as those pages became less relevant due to age, organic positioning and traffic began to fall off. 

42% increase in keywords over a 90 day period
$18,000 SEMRush Traffic Cost ROI Calculation

Knowing that there was an opportunity to regain organic impression share, the SEO Strategist assigned to Biggers Chevrolet took a deep dive into their content library to identify which content was no longer driving traffic and could be removed from the site. From there they set up mass redirects of the old content to more relevant pages on the site, and cleaned up all the previous internal links to prevent presenting unnecessary 404 errors to users. 

Undertaking the technical audit of their website and implementing the proper fixes has paid off in a real big way. BIgger’s Chevrolet has seen an 42% increase in organic keyword positions 1-3 and enjoy a monthly SEO ROI of $18,000 and climbing. This proves that you don’t necessarily have to add more content to get more organic traffic. Sometimes you can just clean up what you already have and get even better results. 

6. IMPROVE YOUR NON-BRANDED PRESENCE

All dealers are going to see a mix of branded (keywords that mention your dealer’s name) and non-branded (keywords that don’t mention your dealer’s name) keywords driving organic traffic to your website when you inspect your analytics. 

The goal is to have a solid mix of both so that you’re able to maintain organic visibility both for people explicitly searching for you, and for people searching for the products and services that you provide.

If a majority of your traffic is coming from branded search, that means you’re not providing additional value and relevance to searchers about other aspects of the car buying and ownership experience. And if you skew too far into non-branded search traffic, that could be a signal that you haven’t done an effective job of marketing your dealership in general. 

Our amazing partners at Toyota of Cedar Park found themselves struggling with their non-branded traffic, and being close to a major metro market like Austin, Texas ranking for non-dealer name terms was a priority. 

1114% increase in non-branded traffic Q2 2020 vs. Q4 2021
229% increase in organic conversions YoY
237% increase in organic sessions YoY

To help address this imbalance, we developed a strategy to heavily focus on model research so they could connect with higher funnel shoppers who may not have discovered their dealership yet. In our research we found that the local competition in the Austin area wasn’t doing a very good job of providing informational content about Toyota vehicles in general. So we hyper-focused our content strategy on research and high funnel topics to capture the attention of shoppers early on in the research process. 

Taking this collaborative approach to Toyota of Cedar Park’s content strategy worked. When looking at the breakdown of traffic during the most recent quarter compared to when they started SEO services, they have seen a 1114% increase in non-branded traffic, a 237% increase in organic sessions, along with a 229% increase in organic conversions.

GROW YOUR ORGANIC RESULTS

When it comes to choosing a provider for your dealership’s SEO services, be sure to partner with one who provides a holistic and collaborative SEO strategy that aligns with your goals – not some off the shelf, cookie-cutter strategy that’s not tailored to your needs. Our SEO Team at Dealer Inspire would love to collaborate with you on the best approach to start improving your organic presence today. Drop us a line and let’s talk!

Let’s Talk SEO

Power-Up Your Pre-Order Machine

February 9th, 2022 by

The combined effects of the pandemic and global chip shortage have drastically (and maybe even irrevocably) changed the landscape of the automotive retail industry. The resulting inventory shortage that began in early 2021 continues into 2022 with no tangible signs of easing up this year. 

As a result, we’ve seen a shift in consumer behavior amongst car shoppers. After decades of being able to just show up on a dealership’s lot and then drive off a couple hours later with the exact vehicle (or close enough to it) they wanted, car shoppers are discovering that with the lack of inventory, that just isn’t possible today — unless they’re willing to settle. 

And when it comes to the second largest purchase most people will ever make, “settling” is not at the top of a lot of people’s list of things they want to do. 

Like many other advancements that became popular as the result of the pandemic — such as curbside pickup and at-home delivery — placing a pre-order for your next set of wheels at your local dealership is the newest trend among car shoppers

According to a recent Cars.com survey, 41% of recent shoppers plan to pre-order their next vehicle through a local dealer. 

What that means for you is that when it comes to your marketing strategy, you can’t just rely on campaigns targeted to shoppers who are displaying active buying intent based on vehicle year, make, and model, or being classified as “in-market”. You also have to expand your reach to make sure you’re able to make an impression with local shoppers who are exhibiting “pre-order intent” too to ensure you’re reaching those people with a highly relevant message that meets their intention. 

We recently dropped a new show on Inspire+ called You’ve Got Pre-Orders that’ll walk you through what it takes to execute a holistic marketing strategy focused on filling your sales pipeline with pre-orders. 

WATCH NOW

But if you’re at work right now and can’t kick back to watch the show, don’t sweat it because I’m going to give you some of the best tips from our expert team right here, so keep on reading!

OPTIMIZE THE USER EXPERIENCE ON YOUR WEBSITE

If a shopper is just coming into the market for the first time in four or five years, there’s a real good chance that they may not be aware how much the car shopping experience has changed in the past two years. That’s why it’s important to update your website with pre-order messaging so it’s front and center on all of the most visited shopping pages on your website. 

From your homepage and main menu, to your VRPs and even your chat tool, it’s critical you show your visitors that they can order exactly what they want from you, regardless of where they may be on your website.

But the real question you need to answer is this: What is the user experience going to be like when a shopper on your website engages with your pre-order messaging? Are you going to take them to a landing page that explains the process, along with a CTA to contact you? Or can you provide an even better experience that’ll deepen the connection between the shopper and your dealership?

While a landing page + CTA is a classic marketing combo, that’s not necessarily going to fulfill the need for instant gratification that we’re all accustomed to in our shopping experiences these days. 

The preferred solution is to let that customer actually build the exact vehicle in your lineup that they want — right on your website — using the Build & Price tool that’s available to install on your Dealer Inspire website.

If you’ve ever configured anything online, like a new computer, the latest iPhone, or an Ikea kitchen, then you know that feeling you get as you dial in all of the specifications to meet your specific needs. It’s a non-stop dopamine rush as you tick off your options and upgrades. That’s exactly what’s in play when shoppers use our Build & Price tool. With each selection they make, starting from model and working their way down to trim, options, and colors – shoppers are not just getting excited about their next vehicle, they’re mentally committing themselves to seeing the order through to completion. 

Once their vehicle is built, a shopper will be able to see the price as configured, and then you’ll be able to reach out to them to confirm their vehicle preferences, and work through the rest of the details for completing the pre-order. 

CAPTURE ORDER INTENT IN THE SERP

Once you’ve prepared your website to convert visitors into sales opportunities, then you can begin marketing that experience. Like most questions that need to be answered, a majority of people will turn to search engines to get the information they need to make an informed decision. We can see the increasing trend in searches related to ordering a vehicle steadily increasing year over year, so it only makes sense to make sure that between your SEO and SEM efforts, you’re able to capture the attention of searchers exhibiting both Research and Ready to Act search intent. 

ATTRACT THE RIGHT BUYER WITH SEO

Today, car dealers who focus on optimizing their website and related content around pre-orders have a chance to get out to an early lead over their competitors. When it comes to SEO, it’s best to make sure you’re covering both types of intent through your content, on page optimizations, and your off site signals as well.

The SEO team at Dealer Inspire discovered that Google will return top local results for Ready to Act search queries (i.e. Order a new Make)  tailored to the specific location of the searcher if there’s relevant content available from a local source (hint: like your dealership’s website).

And that’s why local signals are really important for these types of queries: the proximity of the searcher to your dealership is going to be a top ranking factor. But at the same time, if you don’t have quality and relevant content that answers the shopper’s question, then you won’t show up at all.

So if you don’t already have a landing page that details all aspects of placing an order for a vehicle with your dealership, that’s the first place you’ll want to start. The page should be a comprehensive piece of content that’s optimized not just for keywords and user intent, but provides relevant and engaging content that’ll drive the visitor down the funnel to conversion.

If you want to create a pre-order landing page that cracks the top of the local search results, then follow these best practices:

  • Match your H1, Title, and Meta Description to user intent
  • Use visually appealing imagery
  • Provide a video that explains the process
  • Embed reviews on the page from customers who’ve ordered from you
  • Include a comprehensive FAQ that directly answers all related ordering questions
  • A CTA to engage with your dealership’s order process

Remember, the goal isn’t just to have relevant content that ranks, you want that content to convert those visitors into real sales opportunities. So whether you’re using our Build & Price tool, or have a different user experience, be sure that you have a prominent CTA in place on your landing page to encourage each visitor to take that critical next step toward placing their order. 

MAKE A GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION WITH YOUR SEARCH ADS

On the flipside of the SEO coin, is your SEM. Here we’re only going to focus on campaigns that cover the Ready to Act intent versus the Research intent. You’ll want to have search campaigns set up in Google Ads specifically to cover these types of searches. 

Again, aligning your ad headline, copy, and sitelinks  to match exactly what the searcher is looking for is the best way to encourage the searcher to engage with your dealership’s experience. 

Also think about how you can provide a more optimized ad experience. While your ad’s main CTA might take the user to your newly-created, information-rich pre-order landing page, you can also remove that step and use a sitelink like “Build Your Honda” to take that shopper directly to the Build & Price tool with just one tap. 

Starting with your base search campaigns in, you can also run your pre-order campaigns across social, display, and video platforms. Check out You’ve Got Pre-Orders on Inspire+ to get the comprehensive breakdown on how effectively reach shoppers looking to order their next vehicle across all channels and devices. 

PERFECT YOUR PRE-ORDER FOLLOW-UP

As you effectively implement your pre-order strategy, it’s critical that you design a specific follow-up process for these sales opportunities. While your CRM is probably programmed to automatically follow-up with all leads that originate from your website, I’d highly recommend creating a specific drip campaign for pre-order leads — or even shutting it off entirely.

Remember, your customer just spent quality time on your website building the perfect vehicle of their dreams, so if the first outreach they receive from your dealership is an automated email from your CRM that’s providing basic information about the car they’ve already built and asking when they can come in — well, that’s a fail. 

The first thing you should do once you receive that pre-order lead, is to follow up immediately with a text confirmation to continue the conversation while it’s still fresh and exciting in your customer’s mind. 

The goal is to confirm the details of the vehicle that they just built, and go over next steps to set expectations for timing and delivery.

Once you have that order placed with your OEM, it’s imperative that you maintain regular contact with your customer as they wait for their vehicle to arrive at your dealership. This is where an email drip campaign can be most effective. Send out weekly or bi-weekly emails that include additional information about your dealership and the vehicle they ordered to keep them excited about its arrival. You can also supplement those emails with additional text or email messages that contain information about the progress of the build as you receive them in your system..

Then lastly, once your customer’s vehicle has been delivered, you’ll want to follow up again and ask them to share their story about pre-ordering a vehicle at your dealership with an online review.

Remember, shoppers just coming into the market for the first time in five years may not know that ordering a vehicle is even an option. But what we do know is that they’re going to read the reviews of dealerships that they’re considering doing business with before deciding whom to contact. That’s why it’s important you get those positive reviews that specifically mention how easy it was to order a vehicle from your dealership.

From there, you can then complete the circle by using quotes from those glowing reviews on your website and in your marketing to drive even more engagement with your pre-order process.  

LET’S TALK PRE-ORDER STRATEGY

As placing an order for a new vehicle becomes mainstream, it’s critical that your dealership doesn’t miss the opportunity to make connections with these shoppers. The team at Dealer Inspire is here to help you launch a holistic marketing strategy that drives relevant traffic to your website and convert it into more sales opportunities to fill your pre-order pipeline. Drop us a line and let’s talk about how we can work together. 

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