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.
All Dealer Inspire websites were set up with a GA4 property to collect data so that when Universal Analytics shuts down, you’ll have a full year’s worth of historical data to reference and use in comparison performance reports.
We began pushing website engagement events that adhere to the Automotive Standards Council (ASC)to all our GA4 properties. The ASC’s goal is to support the industry’s best interest in creating universal standards and guidelines for the transition to Google Analytics 4. As a founding member of the ASC, Dealer Inspire is committed to the ongoing development and improvement of this automotive specific implementation of GA4.
Released our GA4 101 Training Session where our Analytics Team covered how to make the transition from UA to GA4, the key differences in platforms, exploring the new GA4 interface, and understanding the basics of reporting & metrics.
Released our GA4 202 Training Session where our Analytics Team covered in-depth reporting, engagement metrics, conversions, events, and how we integrate the Automotive Standards Council specifications for GA4.
Universal Analytics is sunset, and Google Analytics 4 is here to stay!
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.
GET MORE GA4: Be sure to check out DI Training Camp for more resources that’ll help you get acclimated with Google Analytics 4
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!
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.
Brook Barker and Anoop Tiwari talk about GA4 LIve With Lopes at NADA 2023
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 13 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. We also recommend asking your vendors if they adhere to the ASC specifications to be sure you are receiving the most reliable and consistent data.
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. OLD METRICS WITH NEW DEFINITIONS
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 UA metrics that have had their definitions revised, along with some new metrics that are 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)
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.
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:
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: GA4uses 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. INSTANT INSIGHTS – JUST A CLICK AWAY
Speaking of machine learning, GA4 also has an Insights & Recommendations section where they’ll show some trends they are seeing in your data and give you quick recommendations on how to best utilize your traffic/resources.
You can even ask questions within the insights section such as;
“How many users did I have last week?”
“What are my top events by user?”
“How many new users this year?”
11. 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.
Also, in UA each conversion type would only fire once per session. In GA4, events that you’ve toggled on as conversions will fire as many times as they are triggered during each session.
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.
12. 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
13. 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 13 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 take a little trip back in time. The year was 2012, and as a part of our dealership’s setup at a local summer festival, we were going to give away the hot, new iPad2 to generate more hand-raiser leads than ever using a QR Code.
What actually happened though was we spent way too much time educating people on what that giant, blocky black and white code on the sign was and the app they needed to install on their phone to scan it.
It was like working at the Apple Genius Bar…but only in 90 degree heat…and with people who didn’t really want to be there.
It turned out that people really only wanted to enter to win the iPad if they could do so quickly and easily. Like, you know…by writing their name, email address, and phone number on a little slip of paper and then jamming it into a cardboard box.
No one wanted to download a special app (over a 3G cellular network) just to scan a weird looking code thingy and then have to type their name, email address, and phone number on a tiny virtual keyboard. Who had time for that?!
Looking back on it all these years later, I think it’s pretty clear why this promo didn’t work as intended:
The smartphone was barely 5 years old, and only 45% of adults actually owned one.
Those who had a smartphone saw it as device of utility — not necessity.
There was too much friction in the digital experience compared to the traditional one.
So after that weekend long experience of #qrcodefail, my main takeaway was utilizing QR Codes in your digital marketing strategy may have been the right idea, but it was definitely the wrong time.
THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW
Fast forward to today and things are different now, aren’t they? 94% percent of adults between the ages of 18-49 now own a smartphone. In just a few short years our phones have become physical extensions of our bodies that we can’t live without.
Ten years ago, if I realized that I left the house without my phone, I would have been like “oh well, whatever”. If that were to happen today? Yeah…I’d freak out, and I’m guessing you would too.
So say what you want about the early days of QR Codes, but you can’t deny the fact that they laid the groundwork for some of the tech that’s been implemented inside of today’s most popular apps.
Scanning a digital code with our phone is now near ubiquitous thanks to apps like Venmo, Spotify, and SnapChat where sending come cash, loading up a playlist, or adding a friend is as simple as pointing your phone at a code.
Then there’s the game changing fact that your phone’s naitive camera app can now instantly recognize a QR Code and prompt you to visit the encoded destination all on its own.
Also, like many other aspects of our lives, COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of technology and irrevocably changed consumer behavior. Today, it’s hard to go somewhere and not see a QR Code — they’re everywhere. From Home Depot to Taco Bell, businesses big and small are using QR Codes to direct people to schedule an appointment, order online, download an app, and so much more.
And you know something has gone mainstream when you see it on a Super Bowl commercial. Coinbase spent $13 million dollars on a 60 second spot that showed nothing more than a QR Code sailing across the screen. Not talking cats. Not expensive celebrities. Just a colorful, blocky code paying homage to the classic DVD screensaver of yesteryear.
That QR Code alone drove over 20 million users to the Coinbase website within that one minute where users were able to claim $15 in free bitcoin for signing up. The traffic and brand awareness benefits alone makes this a #qrcodewin!
If you’re still uncertain about the power of QR Codes, consider this: As of Chrome version 85, creating a QR Code has become a standard feature of the world’s most widely-used web browser. You simply right-click on any web page and select ‘Create QR code for this page’. It’s as easy as two clicks — making QR Code generation more accessible and convenient than ever.
TIPS FOR USING QR CODES IN THE DEALERSHIP
If you’re ready to revisit the idea of using QR Codes at your dealership, I’ve put together a few creative ways that you can incorporate them into your shopping experience and marketing materials to drive engagement with your customers.
PROVIDE A MORE ENGAGING EXPERIENCE IN THE SHOWROOM
You could create and print QR Codes to place on the vehicles in your showroom so that when scanned would do any number of things, like open a:
Digital brochure for that vehicle
Video review or walkaround of that model
Video highlighting an F&I product or available accessories
Model landing page on your website
VDP for that specific vehicle
VRP with available inventory for that model
VIRTUALLY CONNECT ON THE LOT
Sometime shoppers just feel more comfortable wandering your lot before coming inside the showroom, or prefer to take a look at your inventory after hours and on weekends.
Just because these folks are out there alone, that doesn’t mean you can’t virtually be there to greet them. You could certainly use the showroom QR Codes above on the vehicles on your lot — or you could take it up a notch and provide the casual tire-kicker with an even better experience by providing a(n):
Easy way to connect with someone inside the dealership via chat.
Video from your owner or GM welcoming them to your dealership.
While we all understand the importance of reviews and the role they play in helping other shoppers choose to work with your dealership over your competition, you may not realize how review recency plays a factor in calculating your overall review score.
The short version is that as reviews age, they become less relevant to shoppers. So it’s not how many total reviews you have that matters most — it’s how often you’re getting reviews. Printing and placing review reminders on the desks of your salespeople and finance managers is an easy way to utilize QR Codes that lead to the specific, positive outcome of increasing your review velocity.
Now, it’s cool if you want to create a QR Code that will take someone directly to Google or DealerRater to leave their review. But it’s always good to have an even distribution of reviews on all the various platform. So a better idea would be to actually create a landing page that contains links to all the platforms where you have a review presence on your website. Then you can use that url to power your QR Code so that when scanned, people can then select their favorite review platform such as Google, Facebook, DealerRater, Cars.com or Yelp.
IN YOUR MARKETING
While QR Codes can definitely play a role in keeping your in-store customers engaged, you can also incorporate them into your traditional marketing channels to drive digital engagement.
For example, if you’re sending a direct mail piece with service coupons to your customers, include a QR Code that links to your service scheduler to easily generate appointments.
For any print advertising you run, support your vehicle acquisition efforts by using a QR Code to open up the trade-in experience on your website.
You can even empower your salespeople to include a QR Code on their business cards that would link to their personal profile page on DealerRater that highlights their personal reviews.
IN YOUR COMMUNITY
And to take this post full circle, you can (and should) use QR Codes just like we did back in the day in your grassroots marketing to drive sign ups for a giveaway or to create brand awareness in your community. And you don’t even need to go all Coinbase and spend $13 million to do it!
If you’re like most dealerships, I’m willing to bet you sponsor your local 4th of July fireworks, the high school football team, a local festival, and/or maybe even a farmer’s market, right?
How about using a QR code on your signage or handouts for a free carwash for everyone at the event? Or maybe 10% off their first oil change or service appointment?
Today all the barriers have been removed, and using a QR Code in your grassroots marketing efforts is a great way to get new folks engaged with your dealership while also showcasing all the good you do within your community.
BONUS #PROTIP: TRACK WITH UTM CODES
While there are plenty of paid QR Code apps that you can use to track the number of scans each of your codes get, there’s an easy (and better) way to track them for fee. Since you can take any text string and turn it into a QR Code, that means you can also incorporate UTM Codes for those times when you want to take a visitor to a landing page on your website. It might look something like this:
Then you just copy that link, and paste it into the QR Code generator of your choosing. Each time that code is scanned, you’ll be able to see those visits within Google Analytics 4, and how they led to real conversions on your website. It’s a simple way to track how often your QR Codes are being scanned and which experiences your customers are finding to be the most “scan worthy”.
We’re always up for talking about creative ways to help our clients upgrade their digital marketing game. Want to talk about QR Codes or any other digital marketing strategies and tactics? Just give us a shout!
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
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?
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!
WHAT👏 A 👏 YEAR 👏 it has been. 2021 flew by, but before looking ahead to new tactics and strategies, we’d be remiss if we didn’t take a moment to reflect on some of the ways our amazing dealer partners got creative with the Dealer Inspire Connected Platform to move the needle during a very challenging year.
Teaming up with their DI Performance Managers, our clients did some serious outside-the-box thinking to really take the lemons that the inventory shortage and global pandemic gave us, to turn them into some pretty delicious (and strategic!) lemonade.
We were so impressed with how these digital hack-tics were implemented to optimize our client’s digital platforms, we just had to show some off LIVE on Inspire+. The show is called Dealer Hackers, and you can watch it on demand right now.
And whether you’re watching the show or reading this guide, remember — these digital hack-tics came at no additional budget or cost — just pure creative and collaborative thinking. How cool is that? And the best news is that you can do it too. So without any further ado, here are the top seven, peer-tested Dealer Hacks of 2021 that you can use in 2022 and beyond!
1. START TRADE-IN CONVERSATIONS FROM ANY LINK
With inventory being low, Delano Chevrolet Buick GMC wanted to make sure that every website visitor knew just how much they wanted to buy their car. In order to get that message out there, they used the Personalizer technology built into the Dealer Inspire Web Platform to create an experience where each visitor would be served a prominent message, on both desktop and mobile, prompting them to get an instant appraisal for their vehicle.
And while that messaging and use of the Personalizer tech is great, Delano truly hacked the system by creating a special hyperlink in that message that when clicked, opens up the automated trade-in flow within Conversations. So instead of enticing a shopper with a highly actionable message only to take them to a long, outdated form to fill out (that the user will most likely abandon), they’re instead having a friendly trade-in conversation from the comfort of a familiar chat window.
We knew this would be one of our top Dealer Hacks of the year when after just a few weeks of being implemented, Delano Chevrolet Buick GMC saw an immediate 71% increase in Conversations conversions.
Impressive, huh? Talk about the power of using your digital platform to work harder and smarter with some simple changes to your homepage! Setting it up is dead easy too. You can actually take any element on your webpage, be it a text link, an image, or a CTA button, and code it to open the Trade-In flow within Conversations with just one click.
For visitors that are already on your website, use this code in your hyperlinks to start the Trade-In evaluation process:
<a onclick="DIConv.startConversationWithVisitorMessage('Value My Trade')">Value My Trade</a>
If you want to bring someone to your website from an external source, like an email or social ad, and automatically begin the Trade-In evaluation process on page load, then use this code:
Ditching forms and replacing them with chat based experiences that convert? I’ll call that a win all year long!
2. GET IN THEIR (APPLE) WALLET
The DI Wallet has long been a key feature of the Dealer Inspire Website Platform that allows your visitors to add service coupons to their Apple Wallet (Android too!) — complete with push notifications when the user drives through any number of geofences that you define.
Pretty cool tech for sure, but leave it to our clients to take it to the next level. Even though DI Wallet is really for digital fixed ops coupons, this past year we saw many of our dealer clients hack the tech and use it for their vehicle acquisition strategies as well!
It’s one of those things that’s genius in its simplicity. Instead of creating a service coupon, you create a Trade-In Bonus Coupon for whatever amount you want. From there you promote the offer with a VRP Banner or a Homepage Personalizer that is only displayed to users visiting your website using a mobile device. When they tap that banner or that message, they will have the option to add the coupon into their Apple Wallet. And when they do, you’ll now be embedded by their side in their most trusted device waiting to remind them of that trade-in offer whenever they should drive nearby your dealership.
These wallet passes are a snap to set up too in the backend of the Dealer Inspire website platform. Just simply navigate to the wallet section and the coupon creator tool makes it easy to see what you’re editing and how it will appear to your customers.
Reading this on your iPhone? Tap here to add this coupon to your Apple Wallet
3. CREATE A CUSTOM “0 SEARCH RESULTS” PAGE
In today’s world of limited inventory, it’s crucial that you don’t lead your website visitors to dead-ends on the vehicle search results pages. The last thing you want is a shopper feeling disappointed that you don’t have what they’re looking for, so they bounce from your site and head back to the search engines to continue their shopping journey with a competitor.
Land Rover Palm Beach and other Myers Auto Group stores understood the challenge and fought to engage more of their visitors on their website by customizing their “0 Search Results” inventory pages to make them stickier amidst the inventory shortage. With the help of the DI Solutions Engineers, this forward thinking auto group created a custom page with appealing imagery and custom language to inform shoppers of the global chip shortage, along with CTA’s to encourage the shopper to connect with their team via text, chat, or phone to discuss current availability, along with vehicles that were allocated and in-transit.
The reality is that inventory is down for everyone, so it’s critical that you double down on selling your experience instead of the actual vehicle — which is exactly where this strategy comes in. You address the concern head-on by educating your shoppers about the shortage, and then you offer your services as the solution. Your friendly sales experts are there to be personal shoppers for your customers and aid them in finding their dream vehicle!
4. TAKE PRE-ORDERS WITH VIRTUAL INVENTORY
There’s certainly more than one way to hack around the lack of inventory. Our friends at Ens Toyota were selling their available and incoming inventory so quickly, they knew they needed to do something different to let customers know that their lot wasn’t as empty as it seemed.
They opted to take a unique approach by creating virtual inventory for each of their most popular models and trim levels, with eye-catching pre-order badging. The benefit to adding virtual vehicles to your inventory feed is that shoppers are still able to explore those VDPs, and discover all there is to know about that vehicle — all while learning that your dealership has the ability to make the shopping experience a ton easier simply by placing an order with the manufacturer.
If you like this inventory hack, it’s something that you can certainly implement at your dealership with the help of our team. Here’s what you do:
Identify the models and trims you’d like to create virtual inventory for.
In your IMS, create a fake VIN and stock number for each model and trim that you’d like to appear in your inventory feed.
Create an eye catching main image for each vehicle that shows the vehicle, and also includes pre-order badging (see the example above).
Upload your newly created main image to the appropriate virtual vehicle.
Once complete, contact DI Support to map your newly created virtual inventory to the designated vehicle results pages.
Because of variances between IMS’, you may want to start with creating one test vehicle first, and then working with the DI Support team to determine if there are any special needs required to successfully map the virtual vehicles in your IMS to your website.
5. VEHICLE CONFIGURATOR FTW
While the global chip shortage carries on, it does seem that inventory levels will remain uncertain throughout 2022 and into 2023. Due to its prolonged nature, we have found that more and more customers are heading to Google to search for things like “Can I buy a car directly from the factory?”, or “Where can I order a car?”. To meet this kind of shopping intent, your website needs to be equipped to not just rank for those keywords, but to convert on those shoppers in a meaningful way.
City Cadillac recognized this trend early on, and created an entire digital strategy predicated on driving traffic to the Vehicle Configurator tool on their website that sets up customers to build, price, and ultimately place an order for the vehicle of their dreams.
The messaging is consistent across homepage sliders, VRP Banners, and top level menu items to ensure every customer knows that “Building your next Cadillac has never been easier” #chefskiss.
Want to know more about Vehicle Configurator? Check out this fresh DIHOWDOI that shows you the ins and outs of the new tool!
6. GREET YOUR CUSTOMERS IN ANY LANGUAGE
One of the newest features of Conversations is the ability for dealers to create and display their own proactive greetings to their website visitors after a predetermined period of time has elapsed.
Our client at Advantage Auto Direct is a bilingual dealer, and they really wanted to encourage their Spanish speaking community to engage with their own Spanish speaking team members via chat.
To do so, they created a proactive greeting in Conversations to let shoppers know that whether they speak English or Spanish, they can connect with their team to get their questions answered in whatever language they’re most comfortable using.
Since implementing the bilingual greeting, Advantage Auto Direct is now answering 10% of their chats in Spanish, compared to less than 1% of chats prior.
What makes this hack even better is that your team doesn’t even have to speak a multiple languages in order to use it. Because Conversations speaks 52 different languages all on its own, you can use the included In-Chat Translations feature to instantly translate both incoming and outgoing messages in real-time, giving you the ability to communicate with your shoppers in their native language.
7. SUPERCHARGE YOUR CAREER POSTINGS
In today’s environment, car dealerships (like most other businesses) have many job openings across all departments that they’d like to fill with qualified candidates.
Our client at Kelowna Nissan is no different, and they wanted a way to manage their own job postings on their website. So we came up with a solution to hack the blog that’s a part of their Dealer Inspire website which would allow the dealership’s HR Manager to do just that.
This is a pretty simple trick if you want to try it out as well. All you need to do is create a new blog post for each of your open job positions, and include all the relevant information, along with a link for candidates to actually apply for the job. Once all of the content is in place, you assign it a specific category, like Careers, and publish it to your website.
From there you simply create a new Careers landing page and include a special shortcode that will populate the page with all of the published blog posts matching that category. For example, if you call your category Careers, the shortcode would look like this:
The advantage here is now you have a centralized landing page on your website to highlight all of your current job openings, but you can now also use that page along with those individual career posts in your content marketing strategy to help spread the word about your open positions.
LET’S GET CREATIVE TOGETHER
The Dealer inspire Web Platform was built on WordPress for a reason. To empower dealers like you to innovate and create an online presence that serves the needs of your business. So whether you’re doing it yourself (which you totally can), or are working with your Performance Manager, there isn’t a better suited platform out there to bring your digital marketing strategies to life. Doesn’t that just hit ya in the warm and fuzzies?
But seriously, that’s what we want for all of you heading into 2022. Don’t accept the status quo. Shake things up. Push the limits and don’t be afraid to break things! Testing strategies during an uncertain time can feel like a big risk, but without that risk you wouldn’t have the big rewards! So bring it on, 2022, and let us help 😉
Do you have a Dealer Hack that you want to share with your peers in the industry? I’d love to hear all about it! Just shoot me an email, and it just might show up as one one of the top Dealer Hacks of 2022!
Want to roll with any of these hack-tics on your website? If you’re already a part of the DI family, simply reach out to your Performance Manager to discuss. Not a DI client? Drop us a line and let’s chat about how we can help you, today!
THIS JUST IN… Online reviews MATTER. Groundbreaking, right? 😜 Alright, we know most dealers have been building their digital reviews for nearly a decade now, but we have to ask: once you get them, what are you doing with them?
While many of our dealers have reached incredible feats of collecting hundreds and thousands of positive reviews on third-party platforms, few are giving those happy customers the starring roles on their website and digital ads. Now more than ever, new shoppers want to know the safety, quality, and convenience of your experience — and there is no better way to tell them than with 5-star ratings and reviews. Using your top promoters on your own platforms just makes sense to build trust and give shoppers the confidence they need to choose YOU.
But Katie, you say, “Shoppers can easily find thousands of my great reviews on DealerRater, Cars.com, Google, and Yelp,”
That’s fantastic! But getting ratings and reviews on third-party sites is just the beginning. If you’re not sharing all of those shiny stars yourself, you’re missing a huge opportunity to build trust and increase conversions in your own marketing. (I’ll get to that in just a bit!)
Today I’m going to share five easy ways to amplify the voices of your happy customers, so they work harder acrossall of your marketing channels, not just review sites.
Your reputation is your most valuable asset, so let’s not keep it a secret. With your reviews on solid footing, it’s time to showcase your stars on YOUR platform. These are proven strategies I personally recommend to my clients with confidence because they are highly effective, easy to implement, and don’t cost you more than a little time and effort (which we can do for you!). In my book, that makes these hot tips 5-star rated.
1. Turn Happy Customers Into Homepage Heroes
“Welcome to Katie’s Kia” may be a very nice greeting for visitors to your website, but could it be stronger? ABSOLUTELY. After all, we know your customers are cross shopping. You may only get a moment to make a first impression, so every word on your homepage needs to hook shoppers and show them why they should buy from you.
At Dealer Inspire, we’ve found reviews are the perfect way to start engaging visitors and building trust the minute they land on your website. When you dedicate a homepage slider containing a recent review quote with a link to more reviews — you can immediately give shoppers a view into how well they’ll be taken care of.
They’ll see that you take pride in your experience and that customer feedback is important to you, all while getting comfortable with your team and proven service.
I’ve been blown away by what this simple shift has done for clients. As we’ve tested homepage reviews — engagement has skyrocketed. Check this out:
You can also use Dealer Inspire’s Personalizer™ tool to make sure customers see fresh reviews whenever they return to your site. By showcasing new quotes with each visit, you reinforce your credibility and establish trust in your entire dealership team.
2. GIVE REVIEWS THEIR OWN LANDING PAGES
Don’t make shoppers investigate your reputation across platforms — have a page on your website that syncs your 4 and 5-star reviews from Google, Facebook, DealerRater, and Cars.com all in one feed. This dedicated landing page for your reviews (which is free out of the box at Dealer Inspire) gives your SEO efforts an extra boost, increases engagement and time on site, and provides a much needed hub to both showcase and solicit reviews.
With all of your best customer feedback in one place, it’s easy to build trust! That’s why I also recommend sending a link to this page to any leads you’re working. It builds confidence and can help you close the deal. It’s also a perfect destination for email campaigns and other communications you have with your customers.
3. Build a Page To Build Reviews
48% of shoppers say that reviews need to be less than two weeks old to make an impact on their decision¹, so it’s important to be constantly generating fresh reviews.
By building an engine to drive reviews on your own website, you can easily include it in your process and marketing. Feature the most important platforms to be present on, and give customers the option to leave feedback where they are most comfortable.
This is the perfect destination to use when asking customers to leave a review after they take home their new ride. Once they’ve had a chance to give their new car a name, show it off to their work buddies, and pick out a new license plate cover — it’s your moment to shoot them a text with a link to this landing page.
We recommend texting within the first 24-48 hours. Often that’s all it takes. But to give yourself the best shot to have that text message result in a positive review, include a picture. We found that 50 percent of all review requests that include a picture will lead to a review²!
The bottom line is that your customers are usually happy to share their experience with the world, and a simple text message with a photo linking to a well designed landing page makes getting that review easy.
4. Showcase Your Top-Rated Sales Stars
Just like you wouldn’t let a customer aimlessly stroll through your showroom without assistance, you can begin making 1:1 connections with your digital showroom shoppers by introducing them to your top-rated salespeople on your staff page and VDPs using Salesperson Connect™ from DealerRater®.
Not only can your visitors choose who they’d like to work with, but they can also schedule 1:1 appointments with them right on your website, making those shoppers more likely to show up and purchase — because leads generated from Salesperson Connect™ have a 2.5x higher close rate³ compared to standard website leads.
5. Power Up Your Ads With Promoters
Nothing beats the words of your customers. A happy car buyer sharing their experience is way more impactful than any claim or offer you can make. So instead of tooting your own horn or offering a rock bottom price, I recommend incorporating reviews into your digital ad campaigns. They’re free to use and they WORK!
Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:
Show social shoppers what sets your store apart: Build a targeted social campaign to introduce your store to local in-market shoppers who may not have discovered your dealership yet. Our video templates that showcase dealership reviews and awards are consistently among the highest performing for our FUEL: In-Market Video partners.
Show your stars in Google ads: An easy way to boost conversion is to incorporate reviews in your paid search campaigns. Google has an ad extension that will allow you to show your star rating and review count within your Google ads. If your dealership has at least 100 unique reviews in the past 12 months with an average rating of 3.5 stars or better, you’re eligible to activate this extension.
Another opportunity to shed some light on your dealership’s reputation in your paid search ads is by incorporating a sitelink to the review aggregation page on your website.
WE CAN MAKE YOUR HARD-EARNED REPUTATION WORK EVEN HARDER
Your dealership’s reputation is your most valuable asset, so let’s work together to show it off. Whether it’s a new campaign featuring reviews, homepage testimonials, or a website hub for all of your great customer feedback, let’s see what we can do to turn your well deserved reviews into bottom line results.
NADA has selected four Dealer Inspire leaders to take the big (virtual) stage at this year’s show, so if you’re registered, come by and watch them drop some advanced marketing knowledge focused on increasing dealer ROI. These workshops will give you complete, connected strategies to drive performance and efficiency across your inventory, fixed ops, and sales profit centers.
Here’s a sneak-peek of what you can expect from our workshops, as well as their totally-real Rotten Tomatoes® score from the critics! 🍅⭐️
TURN YOUR MARKETING INTO A TRADE-IN MACHINE
Tuesday, February 9, 11:30 am – 12:30 pmEST Jason Stum, Director of Strategy
Fortune 500 companies and “industry disruptors” are out-marketing dealerships in the ultra competitive game of pre-owned vehicle acquisition. Learn to transform your marketing into an omnichannel trade-in machine that can continuously acquire new inventory and customers. This framework will give you a competitive advantage with new acquisition tactics that the big box retailers haven’t even thought of yet.
WIN BACK YOUR FIXED OPS MARKET SHARE IN SEARCH
Thursday, February 11, 3:30 pm – 4:30 pmEST Cara Garvey, Digital Advertising Director Mary-Grace Wilson, SEO Director
With car dealers still navigating the fallout of fewer car sales due to the pandemic, keeping your dealership’s service bay full is more critical—and challenging—than ever. Dealerships have to focus on marketing their superior (and safe) service experience, and then capture the search intent of the valuable customers looking for service nearby. This session will show you how the 1-2 punch of digital advertising and search engine optimization can give your service department the competitive edge over national chains and local repair shops.
WEBSITE DESIGN MISTAKES THAT ARE COSTING YOU CUSTOMERS
Watch On Demand Nate Jones, Director of Product Design
Making website design decisions based on your gut and what one person thinks looks good can end up costing your dealership hundreds of customers by affecting mere percentage points on your conversion rate. Measurement, experimentation, and iteration are essential to optimizing your website, and our designs are based on years of those user behavior results. Nate will identify the 11 most common dealer website mistakes that cause users to bounce, and then show you how to fix each one of them so that your website guides more of your visitors to convert into customers.
LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR STRATEGY
Whether you’re going to NADA or not, our team is always here to discuss your specific strategies and how we can take your ROI to the next level. Just reach out and we’ll get to work, because there is no time to waste in future-proofing your dealership.