Social/Digital Media

Facebook announces new mobile ad features for auto companies

MENLO PARK, Calif.  - 

Facebook announced this morning that the social media giant is launching new mobile ad features designed to help auto companies grow their customer base and reach new shoppers.

No doubt about it. Mobile devices have changed and continue to change how people shop for vehicles. In response, Facebook announced a new set of mobile features for its dynamic and lead ads for auto.

The dynamic ads allow manufacturers and dealers to upload their new and used vehicle inventory with details such as make, model and year.

“It then automatically generates ads that show the most compelling vehicles to the right audiences—driving them toward vehicle detail pages, lead submission forms or other valuable places,” Facebook explained.

Facebook has also enhanced its lead ads for auto, which work to simplify the process of discovering and capturing intent from Facebook users interested in dealership inventory. Lead ad viewers are sent to a form that is pre-populated with their relevant contact info, such as their email address. Interested shoppers can then submit directly through Facebook to obtain information from that dealership, including offers and quotes.

A blog post from Facebook’s auto division focusing on the new mobile features explored how in order to be successful in the auto industry today, you simply can’t afford to wait for customers to find you—you need to reach them. Facebook’s two new mobile ad features are supposed to help auto dealers do just this.

“The people coming into a dealership are just a small subset of your potential customer base—and that's why it's helpful to generate intent before they arrive to your location,” the blog post stated.

And more and more car shoppers are doing much of their research online — and making purchase decisions, as well, before even getting to your lot. 

Serving up what online shoppers want

That means ads need to serve up what these online shoppers want. Facebook’s dynamic ads are showing people vehicles tailored to them and their interests. The dynamic ads not only allow manufacturers and dealers to upload their vehicle catalog with relevant details such as make, model and year, but they also automatically generate ads that show the most compelling inventory to the right audiences. The ads then lead shoppers toward vehicle detail pages, lead submission forms and more.

“With a single integration, you can make sure that your most relevant vehicles are always being shown to potential auto buyers—allowing you to focus on closing the sale,” the Facebook blog post stated.

One of Facebook’s early testers for these ads is Edmunds. Madhura Sengupta, director of advertising product technology at Edmunds, had this to say:

“We’re excited to partner with Facebook on a new dynamic ad solution for the automotive industry that builds on Edmunds’ extensive shopper insights to create the most relevant, personalized and informative ad experience and helps drive shoppers to their perfect car,” Sengupta said. “We are seeing promising upstream results from our early testing, and are thrilled to continue to develop this offering for both our dealer and OEM partners.”

Cox Automotive is also testing the new dynamic ads, and the company’s director of product Adam Pavkov stated, “early results have proven the product to be an effective solution for driving key onsite shopping activity.

Reaching more potential customers

When shopping for vehicles online, if a customer is interested in a vehicle, they want to connect with the business as quickly and conveniently as possible. That's where lead ads come in. 

“Facebook lead ads have been enhanced to simplify the process of capturing intent from people who are interested in your vehicle offering,” the company shard.

How? By creating an in-app experience that makes it easy for potential customers to sign up for information from your dealership, including offers and quotes.

"Lead ads for auto make it easy for people to sign up for information from your dealership, such as offers and quotes,” Facebook shared. “People are sent to a form that is pre-populated with their relevant contact info, such as their email address. They simply confirm what information they want to share with you, and voila—you have a lead.”

 

 

 

Dealer interactions with car buyers drive highest sales satisfaction

COSTA MESA, Calif. - 

Despite an array of online resources available to car shoppers today, interactions with dealership sales staff just before purchasing leads to high sales satisfaction, says J.D. Power. 

As vehicle technology features become more advanced, shoppers largely depend on dealership experts to instruct them on how to use new technology, according to the latest U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index Study by J.D. Power.

Forty-one percent of mass market buyers and 33 percent of luxury buyers want to hear about all of their vehicle's features and controls during the delivery process.

Additionally, 65 percent of shoppers who had a sales consultant show them how to use specific features on their personal devices said it was both a “very effective” tool and that they feel more comfortable accessing apps and websites from their vehicle.

“While customers are preparing themselves online with the best information and negotiation tactics, they still prefer to interact with a salesperson or product specialist prior to buying a vehicle,” J.D. Power automotive retail practice vice president Chris Sutton said in a news release.

“Dealers can't control a customer's pre-purchase activities, but they should be prepared to positively influence areas that will affect a customer's likelihood to buy as well as their level of satisfaction. An example is to post photos of actual inventory to their website or engage with shoppers via text messaging or phone calls. Be sure that online specials are up to date and easy to access from the dealer's site. These simple things go a long way toward earning a sale and satisfying a customer,” Sutton explained.

Additionally, for the second consecutive year, the study ranks Buick highest in sales satisfaction among mass market brands.

Buick received a score of 808, and MINI ranks second among mass market brands with a score of 803. GMC ranks third with a score of 793.

With scores of 830, for the first time, Lincoln ranks highest, in a shared spot with Mercedes-Benz, followed by Infiniti with a score of 821, and Porsche with a score of 818.

The study’s findings also highlights the power of follow-ups with car buyers.

While 80 percent of mass market buyers and 87 percent of luxury buyers said they were contacted by the dealership following a purchase, according to the study, only 32 percent of mass market buyers and 51 percent of luxury buyers received a second follow-up explanation of vehicle features.

The study measures satisfaction with the sales experience among new-vehicle buyers and rejecters, who browse a dealership and purchase elsewhere.

Buyer satisfaction is based on six measures, including dealer personnel (28 percent); delivery process (21percent); working out the deal (18 percent); paperwork completion (16 percent); dealership facility (13 percent); and dealership website (4 percent).  And rejecter satisfaction is based on five measures: salesperson (40 percent); fairness of price (15 percent); experience negotiating (15 percent); variety of inventory (15 percent); and dealership facility (14 percent).

The study is based on responses from 28,989 car buyers who purchased or leased a new vehicle in April or May.

Study: Online car shoppers looking for engagement on dealer websites

INDIANAPOLIS - 

New research on online car shoppers released on Tuesday shows that car buyers are looking to engage with sales reps on dealership websites. In a new book from marketing technology provider PERQ — “Engage: No More Lead Traps! How to Improve the Online Experience to Increase Sales” —  the company contends car buyers expect what they call “a guided sales experience” directly on the dealership site.

PERQ puts it like this: “When a shopper goes through multiple interactive online experiences, he/she is three times as likely to purchase as someone who fills out just one static lead form,” according to research from its recently released book.

Further, when users are only offered a static form, research from PERQ showed those same shoppers exiting the dealer website as soon as 40 seconds after completing the form.

“Dealership websites should not be simple lead traps,” said Scott Hill, executive chairman and co-founder of PERQ, who co-authored the book.

“And if your website is built that way, you’re losing out. Car buyers actually want to engage on dealer websites because that’s where the transaction gets complicated, and its where they have the questions that will actually matter to the sale. And they want answers to their questions without being forced to speak to a salesperson,” he continued.

PERQ contends this process acts as an online variant of what a salesperson does in a showroom. Ultimately, it seems engagement and website personalization can potentially improve close rates for in-market shoppers.

“Most dealers would never allow their showroom experience to be like the website experience,” said Russ Chandler, co-author and product marketing manager at PERQ. “Their expectation is that the sales team will engage, inform and provide a critical value to the car shopper. It’s the same online, except your website is doing the initial relationship-building. Our data shows that customers expect that kind of approach at the online retail level. It’s not about lead traps. It’s about selling cars and building customer loyalty.”

To request a free hard copy of “Engage: No More Lead Traps! How to Improve the Online Experience to Increase Sales,” contact Muhammad Yasin via email. To download a copy click here. 

 

AutoGravity surpasses 1 million users

IRVINE, Calif. - 

AutoGravity has reached over 1 million users on its platform where car shoppers can browse thousands of used-vehicles and get personalized finance offers in minutes.

Since launching in 2016, the company has grown its user base by ten times in just one year.

“We empower car buyers, dealers and lenders with a cutting-edge digital retail solution,” AutoGravity chief marketing officer Serge Vartanov said in a news release. “AutoGravity eliminates ambiguity by linking monthly payments to actual cars, saving consumers time and creating efficiency for dealers and lenders.”

This year, users have requested more than $1 billion in vehicle financing via the AutoGravity platform, according to the company.

AutoGravity provides car shoppers with real-time inventory and shows users which dealerships carry the cars they browse so they can search for financing from the same indirect lenders those dealerships work with regularly.

“I bought my car last week and used AutoGravity. I applied online on my phone at lunch and within 10 minutes I had a call from the dealership,” Deb Tebbs, president and chief executive officer of Cascade Sotheby's International Realty said in the news release.

“This was the easiest car purchase ever. AutoGravity shows users everything they need to buy any dealership car, down to the mileage, options and photos, and gives them the peace of mind of selecting the rate, lender and payment that's right for them, Tebbs continued. 

AutoGravity’s key automotive lender partners currently include Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, Volkswagen Credit and Hyundai Capital America.

Additionally, AutoGravity has also built partnerships with the top five U.S. dealer groups, which includes a network of over 2,000 dealers.

Auto industry social media response rate high, but response time slow

CARY, N.C. - 

While automotive comes in as the industry least likely to be complained about in a top 10 list of industries most complained about on social media, the industry still has room to improve its response time, shows recent consumer data from Sprout Social.

“People don’t buy cars everyday — so while maintenance issues and product questions can pop up anytime, they may not have as much reason to negatively call out auto brands as they would for the CPG brand that, for example, makes the cereal they eat for breakfast every morning,” Sprout Social director of content Lizz Kannenberg said in an email interview.

“The potential payoff for complaining about your car is different than it is when you complain about your cereal; whereas you might get a coupon for a free box if you complain about your o’s or flakes, you’re unlikely to get a comparable ‘make good’ from an automaker.”

At 12 percent, the automotive industry average response rate on social is higher than the all-industry average at 11 percent. But among the list of 10 industries examined in the Q3 2017 Sprout Social Index, automotive also came in as the No. 6 industry needing the most help with social customer service.

“While the volume of consumer complaints may not be as high, people aren’t getting the responses they’re looking for when they do reach out,” Kannenberg said.

The auto industry’s average response time to consumers on social is 13.5 hours, the second longest average response rate out of 15 industries, according to the study.

“Responsiveness on social is crucial to how consumers view a particular brand. Think through how people are welcomed when they walk into your showroom, dealership or garage. You wouldn’t ignore them point-blank. Extend the same type of welcome to people who reach out to you on social to build the brand, and the customer relationships, that will pay dividends in terms of long-term loyalty,” Kannenberg explained.

Via Survata, an independent research firm in San Francisco, Sprout Social surveyed more than 1,000 consumers online between July 10 and July 14 for the study.

CarNow commits to PCG Google Analytics specification for auto industry

ATLANTA - 

CarNow announced Wednesday it has partnered with PCG Companies to support open standards for Google Analytics events and goals.

The company’s platform is now certified to be compliant with the PCG Google Analytics specification for the automotive industry.

Consumer interactions on the CarNow platform will be visible in Google Analytics using predefined event names and goals, according to CarNow.

“I am excited to be joining PCG Companies to support this open standard for Google Analytics,” CarNow co-founder and vice president of sales Tim Cox said in a news release.

“Our company has built its reputation on delivering outstanding dealer-centric software and transparent reporting. We love that our dealers can see our conversions and engagement in all of their marketing campaigns.”

PCG Companies created the public specification to enable automotive dealers to verify marketing reports and claims through Google Analytics. The specification was just published last year.

“Dealers do not always trust the reports that their technology partners provide,” said Brian Pasch, founder of PCG Companies. “CarNow’s timely participation in a larger movement for greater transparency and attribution confirms the integrity of their leadership team and product roadmap.”

Additionally, CarNow said it has been collaborating with PCG Companies to determine the key engagement indicators in both the Visual Sales Messenger and BuyNow products.

Cox and CarNow vice president of business development Aaron Baldwin will represent the company at the upcoming Automotive Analytics Attribution Summit (AAAS) in Boca Raton, Fla., from Nov. 8 to 9.

Web engagement steady; online traffic dip less steep

ATLANTA - 

This year’s end-of-summer online car-shopping drop was less notable than prior-year seasonal changes, according to new Dealer.com data.

Dealer.com’s October DataView index found that total dealership website visits in September dropped by 6 percent compared to August.

Meanwhile last year, Dealer.com found a 9-percent drop in total traffic in September compared to August. And in 2015, the monthly contrast was 10 percent.

Dealer said the Houston area saw a significant drop in both traffic to Dealer.com websites and leads submitted to dealerships, following Hurricane Harvey.

But about a month later, activity returned to normal levels just after a spike, as Houstonians shopped for cars to replace those damaged in the storm.

In Florida, following Hurricane Irma, there was also a drop in web traffic before the hurricane's landfall and returned to normal levels about five days after the storm. But there was no spike to follow in Florida, which suggests that the damage in the state was not as severe as Houston’s, according to Dealer.com.

"A critical value of the DataView reporting is providing context and understanding around cyclical industry trends such as seasonal fluctuations," Cox Automotive Media Solutions senior director of analytics products James Grace said in a news release.

"As dealers continue to carefully monitor the sales climate, the October reporting points to continuing demand and purchase intent from U.S. consumers."

Consumer engagement in September was generally consistent with how it has been through the rest of the year, meaning SUVs remain popu;ar and mobile traffic is climbing.

More specificially, 35 percent of all VDP views were SUVs, making it the most popular segment. Mobile has climbed to the point where it is now accounting for 57 percent of total VDP visits, according to Dealer.com.

Car Wars introduces AI-driven call assistant for dealers

DALLAS - 

Call tracking and marketing analytics company Car Wars recently launched a new artificial intelligence (AI) service designed to help dealers connect more callers after first introducing the automotive industry to its CRISP methodology three years ago.

“Phone calls are precious, yet every inbound call is handled in a similar inefficient way. The calls hit the same bridge or receptionist who struggles to connect the caller to the right person. Callers end up frustrated and speaking to ill-informed employees or no employee at all,” Car Wars automotive vice president Mike Haeg said in a news release.

Using AI, Car Wars’ new Cari Connect, a CRISP Agent Responding Intelligently, service analyzes DMS data and previous inbound, outbound and text conversations to determine if the caller is a new or existing customer.

When Cari Connect recognizes an existing customer, it can identify which agent handled the prior call and direct the appointment opportunity directly to the agent who last assisted the caller.

This step helps speed up the sales process because returning callers won’t need to repeat information to uninformed agents, according to Car Wars.

When a call reaches an agent, Cari Connect provides them with useful information to assist the caller. And agents also have access to the existing customer records during live calls.

“The Cari Live Calls dashboard provides the ability to actively watch calls without spending time looking through each agent's dashboard or activities,” said Arianna Goodwin, BDC manager at Asbury Automotive Group.

“The capability to click the ‘Open In CRM’ button while on phone calls has also been a huge time saver. I’ve easily been able to find active opportunities that have not been entered into our system; [Cari Connect Live Calls] has saved countless deals for our dealer group since we’ve started using it,” she went on to say.

Acura presents redesigned CPO site with new alert, sharing features

TORRANCE, Calif. - 

Acura has introduced a revamped certified pre-owned vehicle website, AcuraCertified.com.

The new completely redesigned site built to simplify the online CPO vehicle shopping process allows shoppers to compare vehicles and easily share their selections online, Acura announced Wednesday.

"With the booming growth in Acura Certified Pre-Owned sales and tremendous increase in online and mobile vehicle shopping, we are relaunching the Acura CPO site to offer users a more seamless and interactive experience," American Honda manager of auto remarketing, certified pre-owned Dan Rodriguez said in a news release.

"Based on input we received from our customers and dealers, we've reengineered our Acura site to make comparisons simple, and help shoppers make the best choice for a used vehicle."

In addition to a new vehicle alert feature for the most up-to-date vehicle availability, the new site now includes both a vehicle recommendations tool and an interactive payment calculator.

Two other key features on the new site include inventory alerts, where shoppers can create an alert to be notified when a particular vehicle is available and vehicle shareability, which allows visitors to share information about vehicles they are interested in with friends and family.

Tesla, Toyota among top 'talk-worthy' brands

NEW YORK - 

When it comes to social influence among automotive brands in the U.S, Tesla Motors and Toyota are a step ahead of many of their respective luxury and mass market competitors. This is according to Engagement Labs' latest TotalSocial ranking that measures brand performance among automotive brands in both face-to-face and social media conversations.

The recent analysis follows the company's first ranking in April. Brands to rank in the top 10 have earned the highest TotalSocial scores.

While Ferrari remains the top-ranked brand, within the last six months, Tesla has distinctly jumped ahead four spots to capture the No. 2 ranking, and Toyota climbed two spots to take third place.

Tesla’s social influence spike during the past six months, particularly offline, can be attributed to the introduction of its first mass-market car, the Model 3.

Though the Model 3 rollout included an opulent live-streamed launch party, despite having no advertising budget, Tesla has leveraged its image as an innovative brand, according to Engagement Labs.

"The automotive industry continues to perform better offline than on social media," Engagement Labs chief executive officer Ed Keller said in a news release. "The ability to drive consumer conversation offline and online has a powerful impact on sales, and automakers aren't yet harnessing the full potential of social influence."

While Tesla has dominated in offline influence, Toyota has stronger online sentiment and online influence scores compared to six months ago.

Another brand to show strong online influence is Kia. Though the brand did not make the top 10 ranking, it currently carries the highest overall online score.

Though other luxury brands such as Audi and BMW, dropped two and three positions, respectively, overall luxury and sports car brands continue to dominate the list.

Meanwhile larger domestic brands such as Chevrolet, Ford and Jeep struggle to make the top 10, Honda remains in the top 10 even after dropping two spots in the past six months.