Social/Digital Media

Dealers lose $380K over missed service opportunities with Gen Y

CLEARWATER, Fla. - 

Dealerships are losing an average $380,000 annually in service revenue as a result of missed opportunities to digitally engage with and retain millennial car buyers, according to a study released by AutoLoop on Tuesday.

As the purchasing power of this key demographic expands, modifications to digital engagement strategies will be required to increase low millennial retention rates, says the provider of auto industry marketing and customer relationship management solutions.

AutoLoop's 2016 Digital Engagement study suggests that significant gaps in dealership service experience has resulted in a service customer retention rate 12 percent lower than previous generations, as well as a customer referral rate 50 percent lower.

"By 2020, millennials will command $1.4 trillion annually in purchasing power and represent 30 percent of total retail sales, so it's important that dealerships know how to win their business," Doug Van Sach, AutoLoop vice president of analytics and data services, said in a news release. "Although millennials as a whole are more brand-fickle than other generations, it's a mistake to believe they are incapable of becoming loyal customers. Our research uncovered opportunities in several key areas for dealers to better cater to this elusive demographic."

The survey revealed that dealers have notable shortcomings in three key areas, according to AutoLoop.

  1. Insufficient online presence for service department

  2. Lack of digital engagement (with tools such as online scheduling, mobile apps, SMS/text notifications and eCommerce)

  3. The in-store service experience

"Dealers need to dramatically increase digital and mobile advertising for their service business, particularly on third-party websites," said Van Sach. "If they don't, they risk losing millennial shoppers to competitors, especially tire retailers and quick lube chains."

Millennials are seven times more likely than other generations to be swayed by a digital ad, according to AutoLoop.

The company found that 41 percent of millennials were influenced by a digital ad before their last service visit and that 75 percent of millennials are highly influenced by online reviews, compared to 56 percent of Gen X-ers and 32 percent of baby boomers.

Thirty-seven percent of millennials prefer to make service appointments via a website or a mobile app, compared to 25 percent of Gen X-ers and 17 percent of baby boomers. But in spite of their preference, they are particularly less likely to make an appointment, according to AutoLoop.

"These results indicate that many dealerships are still not using online scheduling tools and, in particular, mobile scheduling," Van Sach said. "It's critical that dealerships integrate their marketing and appointment programs so they can convert more millennial service shoppers into customers."

According to AutoLoop, only 48 percent of millennials always make an appointment, whereas 57 percent of Gen X-ers and 69 percent of baby boomers.

“Despite the high level of digital research by millennials, dealers are routinely outspent by aftermarket companies in digital advertising — if they are visible at all,” AutoLoop said.

Millennial shoppers also prefer SMS communications from the dealers far more, according to the study. Sixty-six percent favor SMS/text notifications, while only 46 percent of Gen X-ers and 21 percent of baby boomers.

"Most dealers still don’t use SMS to keep customers informed throughout a service visit, and very few dealers have eCommerce options," said Van Sach. "Given these gaps in the digital experience, the lower service retention rates among millennials are no surprise."

Sixty-three percent of millennials said they would like to pay by phone, compared to 51 percent of Gen X-ers and 24 percent of baby boomers, according to the study.

Millennial respondents who participated in the study cited the following three reasons as to why they prefer to pay by phone:

  1. Getting their vehicle faster (49 percent)

  2. Avoiding the checkout process (35 percent)

  3. Avoiding the service advisor (16 percent)

Another in-store experience gap AutoLoop points to is the presentation of inspection results.

Millennials lack of understanding of their inspection results has had a significant negative impact on referral rates.

Only 51 percent of millennials understand their inspection results, compared to 58 percent of Gen X-ers and 63 percent of baby boomers.

"Dealers need to focus on improving their in-store experience if they want to retain millennials' business and get more referrals," Van Sach said. "We recommend monitoring service advisors for process compliance and implementing technology that educates consumers and offers more choices, such as mobile tablets, service repair videos and pricing and financing options."

Additionally, AutoLoop’s findings suggest that millennials chose a service center for price and financing options far more often.

“This generation values being presented with different price and financing options for services,” AutoLoop said.

Thirty-two percent of millennials were found to choose a service center because of price and financing options — which is two times more than non-millennials — who are most likely to select a store due to their use of OEM parts and the expertise of technicians.

The 2016 AutoLoop Digital Engagement study surveyed 1,000 auto consumers and analyzed the purchase behavior of more than four million customers representing 1,000 dealerships throughout the U.S.

To view the study visit, http://autoloop.net/life-after-loyalty-whitepaper.aspx.

Alfa Romeo, Ford & Kia Super Bowl ads bring web traffic spike

SAN FRANCISCO  - 

During Super Bowl LI on Sunday, media, insights and marketing solutions company Jumpstart Automotive Media monitored auto shoppers visiting its portfolio of publishers in a time-trended series to see how traffic fluctuated when ads aired.

Alfa Romeo, Ford, and Kia saw the highest share of traffic throughout the game according to the data and insights published in company’s annual advertising performance report released on Tuesday.

Alfa Romeo, the top performing brand of the night, aired three commercials during the game.

“One minute after the first commercial aired, overall site traffic increased tenfold, and four of the top five searched terms included Alfa Romeo. After the second commercial aired the site reached its highest numbers in traffic and eight out of the top ten searched terms included Alfa Romeo,” said Jumpstart in a news release.

In a seperate analysis, Cars.com reported a 1,179-percent spike in online traffic for the Italian car brand’s pages.

Meanwhile, Jumpstart indicated that the most popular Alfa Romeo model searched for was the Giulia.

“The Super Bowl is one of the most exciting categories for brands to go after, and this year’s auto advertisers made especially impressive moves,” said Jumpstart vice president of marketing and strategic insights Libby Murad-Patel in a news release.

“Of course, it’s not unusual for automakers to weave current events and themes into their Super Bowl spots, but we saw this year’s advertisers take that concept to a whole new level—especially on the political front. From Ford (mobility) and Kia (eco-consciousness) to Audi (equality) and a never-before-seen post-game production from Hyundai, these brands built new experiences, connected with consumers in new ways, and proved that the love of cars and driving really is stronger than ever.”

The five brands that drove the top increases in traffic also had the highest share of active pages viewed in the two minutes following the run of their ad. 

Below is Jumpstart's recap: 

Alfa Romeo Giulia "Dear Predictable"
Length of spot: 30 seconds
Placement in game:Fourth Quarter
Share of active pages: 60%

Ford "Go Further"
Length of spot: 90 seconds
Placement in game: Between coin toss and kickoff
Share of active pages: 40%

KIA Niro "Heroes Journey"
Length of spot: 60 seconds
Placement in game:Third auarter
Share of active pages: 28%

Lexus LC 500 "Man & Machine"
Length of spot: 30 seconds
Placement in game: Second quarter
Share of active pages: 25%

Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster “Easy Rider”
Length of spot:30
Placement in game: Third quarter
Share of active pages: 10%

Car shoppers look to Twitter for offers & discounts

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - 

Consumer interest in offers and discounts on social media networks is growing: 44 percent of sales customers and 47 percent of service customers who use Twitter follow a dealership for access to offers and discounts, according to recent study.

That is one of the multiple trends social media and digital engagement company Digital Air Strike found in its sixth annual Automotive Social Media Trends Study released on Tuesday.

The study highlights consumer behaviors on social networks, review sites, and mobile devices related to the car shopping, buying, and service experience throughout all major U.S. geographic regions.

Digital Air Strike includes findings from 2,000 car buyers and 2,000 service customers who purchased or serviced a vehicle within the past six months.

“The annual Trends Study gives us very useful insights that help us build the industry’s most ROI-driven social media and digital engagement solutions,” said Digital Air Strike co-founder and chief executive officer Alexi Venneri in a news release.

“It also helps us evaluate which social media networks, including review sites, will continue to play an increasingly large role in the vehicle sales and service process.”

Top trends covered in the study include:

  • Shoppers’ increased their reliance on online research. 79 percent of car buyers and 68 percent of service customers responded that the internet helped the most when researching car dealerships.
  • 87 percent of car buyers and 90 percent of service customers who participated in the study said online review sites influenced and helped their dealership selection process.

  • Cars.com and Kelly Blue Book were selected by car buyers as the top and most helpful review sites.

  • 68 percent of sales customers and 51 percent of service customers used a mobile device to research dealerships.

Digital Air Strike executives will be at the NADA Convention and Expo in New Orleans to answer questions regarding the study at booth 3553.

Tips for proactive digital marketing strategy

CHICAGO - 

All too often, marketers count on passive digital marketing strategy when they could be taking a more proactive approach that is more efficient, says Eric Brown, president of LotLinx Media Holdings. 

“The Internet itself is evolving, that’s opening new doors for marketing execution for the local dealer and allowing for a more proactive strategy versus a more passive strategy where dealers can highly target the best prospects in the market, as well as their databases,” said Brown.

Brown said dealers need leave their showrooms and “start knocking on the doors around the neighborhood in a digital sense.” 

“With or without sales decline you’re seeing already sort of the evolution of the internet being reflected in digital strategy available to automotive dealers,” he said. “The Internet of Things is tying together the data in a way that allows auto dealers to take a more proactive approach to their ad budget as opposed to a passive approach.” 

A lot of media, particularly traditional media in addition to some traditional internet media, such as automotive portals are passive in their approach, according to Brown. 

“They do a lot of marketing through their general audience and hope that audience will show up in their virtual showrooms,” he said.

Additionally, Brown points out that with the internet of things, there is an abundance of data to understand who is precisely in the market and what they are showing greatest consideration for in terms of vehicle purchase — allowing dealers to target shoppers with much more specificity and greater cost efficiency.

“The Internet of Things is changing the landscape for a dealer in terms of the capabilities that are available to them,” said Brown. “The efficiency and cost effectiveness of those techniques are dramatically greater than the more passive traditional media.”

Brown predicts that the market will soften in 2017, but it’s not going to be substantial. 

“The trend line is pretty consistent and we still have a fleet that’s more than 10 years in age so there may be some softening as you see a climb in interest rates,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to be dramatic, certainly nothing like we lived through in 2008, 2009, 2010. We are pretty much where we were in 2006.” 

Brown also spoke of the impact of the new Trump Administration.

“What the new administration does from an import/export scenario can have some influence,” he said.

Additionally, he acknowledges that there’s potential the new administration might have a positive impact as well, depending on what they do from an infrastructure investment standpoint.

Edmunds unveils new site design, brand identity

SANTA MONICA, Calif. - 

Edmunds opened the first major business day of 2017 by debuting a refreshed logo and what the company described as a “completely reinvented online experience.”

Officials said this launch marks the most dramatic change Edmunds has ever made to its site design, and the first time it has changed its logo this century. The company is also dropping the “.com” from its name, and will now be known simply as “Edmunds,” a reflection of the fact leadership believes that Edmunds has grown beyond a pure website offering.

“The world of automotive retail is evolving rapidly, and Edmunds is evolving right along with it,” Edmunds chief executive officer Avi Steinlauf said. “The changes we’re making to our site and brand demonstrate our commitment to significantly improving the car shopping experience for consumers and our dealer partners.”

The company explained Edmunds new site was designed from a mobile-first perspective to ensure a seamless experience for vehicle shoppers as they navigate between their desktop computers and mobile devices. Based on extensive feedback from consumers, Edmunds said its designers simplified the overall look and feel to emphasize strong visuals and eliminate clutter.

“The result is a site that’s engaging and attractive for consumers, and also gives advertisers attractive options to create meaningful, integrated messages that shoppers are more likely to interact with,” Edmunds said.

The majority of pages on the Edmunds site rolled over to the new experience on Sunday. More pages will be added on a rolling basis as the development team continues to monitor the new site’s performance.

 “When we first set out to develop the new Edmunds site, our objective was to create an emotionally engaging experience that makes it easy for visitors to quickly discover all of the information they need to make smart car-buying decisions,” said Eugene Park, Edmunds chief product officer. 

“In early testing, we’ve found that mobile users are twice as likely to return to our new site compared to our legacy experience and we’ve significantly improved bounce rates and page load times,” Park continued.

The company said the objective with the logo redesign was similar: create a refreshed brand icon that effectively conveys that Edmunds is a friendly, trusted source anyone can turn to for comprehensive car shopping expertise.

Officials pointed out the new logo brings the car icon front and center with a warm smile and a wink, demonstrating the playful joy that can be had when you find the perfect car quickly and easily. Edmunds also softened its overall color palette and is emphasizing lifestyle-focused imagery on all its platforms to continue the approachable theme.

Edmunds developed its new brand identity in collaboration with Santa Monica-based RED Interactive Agency.

Edmunds is inviting the media, dealers and automakers to learn more about the new brand and site later this month at its booth at the National Automobile Dealers Association Conference and Expo in New Orleans.

The company is also planning to use the show to give a sneak preview of some of the other innovations it’s developing in tandem with some of the world’s most influential tech companies.

Steinlauf added, “2017 will be a landmark year for Edmunds. This is only the beginning.”

PureCars named Bing Ads Select Partner

CHARLESTON - 

On Thursday, PureCars announced that it is a Bing Ads Select Partner, and now joins a number of other small and medium-sized business partners in the advertising industry that have demonstrated expertise in driving growth using the Bing Ads platform.

“We are honored that Bing recognizes us as a valuable partner for their automotive clients,” said Jeremy Anspach, chief executive officer of PureCars. “With the majority of car shoppers going online to research before even setting foot in a dealership, giving our dealers an all-encompassing digital marketing strategy is crucial. It’s our goal to help dealers take the guesswork out of search architecture and digital advertising, and working with Bing now rounds out our strategy even further.”

PureCars said the new partnership illustrates the effectiveness of the company’s data-driven engine to help dealer clients maximize their bottom line. Additionally, Bing’s advanced targeting by demographic capabilities allows PureCars to supply dealerships increased search engine marketing offerings.

“At Bing, we pride ourselves on selecting ad partners that already stress relevancy and have an in-depth understanding of search, and PureCars does just that,” said Jody Doran, director of partner development for Bing Ads at Microsoft. “As a Bing Ads Select Partner, PureCars’ dealers can now even more efficiently serve to consumers tailored advertisements.and meet their end goals of reaching car shoppers in all the right places.”

Bing’s three-tiered program that provides support, service and solutions, to partners places them into three categories: Partner, Select, or Elite.

PureCars has been a Google SMB Premier Partner since December of 2014.

Cars.com now features DealerRater consumer reviews

CARY, N.C. - 

DealerRater announced that, on Wednesday, Cars.com began to feature its database of online consumer reviews. The integration expands the reach of DealerRater and broadens the current review platform of Cars.com.

“This is the first tangible evidence of being part of the Cars.com family, and it’s a win-win for both our brands as well as the industry,” said DealerRater chief executive officer, Gary Tucker.

In July, Cars.com chief executive officer and president Alex Vetter explained to Auto Remarketing the company’s decision to acquire the car dealer review website.

Consumer reviews posted on DealerRater now appear on Cars.com, alongside the reviews the site collects.

“What we’ve developed is what we think is the most powerful consumer review in the industry and that’s because of the reach that it has,” said Tucker. “We’re very excited about the expansion of our footprint, if a dealer earns a review on DealerRater that one review will show up on DealerRater.com, Cars.com, Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, the dealers own website, Facebook and Google.”

Since encompassing DealerRater reviews, Cars.com has adjusted its dealership ratings to only reflect reviews posted within the last two years.

DealerRater said this change is beneficial to both consumers and dealerships because more recent reviews are most helpful during the car shopping process as well as allow dealerships to gauge current consumer satisfaction best. Tucker said, “On Cars.com, prior to this change it was a lifetime rating, there was no time period and DealerRater has always had the two-year window.”

DealerRater collected about 70, 000 reviews last month and is on track to get over a million reviews in the next year, according to Tucker.

“As consumers see our content in more and more places we think we’ll continue to see growth in DealerRater reviews,” said Tucker.

Just last month, DealerRater reached a notable milestone when it collected its 3 millionth online consumer review.

Amazon Echo, similar devices mean digital advertising changes

CARY, N.C. - 

Artificial intelligent devices like Amazon’s virtual assistant smart speaker, Echo, makes it easier for consumers to purchase items from its online store, paving the way for future online vehicle shopping and research using virtual personal assistants.

Information that is spoken to software on a device that processes the natural and conversational voice of users are likely to be more detailed than ones typed on a screen.

The speech recognition capabilities of Alexa, the artificial intelligence brain of Amazon Echo and similar products like the recently released Google Home designed to detect and recognize voices allow users to speak as if talking to another person.

“About one in five consumers are likely to use a mobile or wearable device to research and buy vehicles online and from our perspective, this means that car shoppers will be comfortable making purchases on a device like Amazon Echo,” said PureCars chief executive officer, Jeremy Anspach.

Similar to how people speak to wearable devices like a personal assistant, Anspach expects that will happen with Amazon Echo as well.

Searches such as “used BMW for sale” or “used BMW 328 for sale” typed into a search engine are common, but more detailed queries spoken to a voice controlled device could sound like “I’m looking for a used BMW 328 with Bluetooth navigation and preferably silver for sale for under $30,000 find it,” according to Anspach.

Dealer’s digital advertising providers having the right tools in hand is vital to leveraging any imminent detailed searches.

“As Echo and other devices like it expand, there’s going to be more decisions that need to be made related to where to buy media,” said Anspach. “That’s not a shift that the dealer is going to need to think too much about, it’s the confidence level they have in their provider to know that the ad budget is spent appropriately.”

Anspach went on to say, “The dealer today is already investing in traditional and digital media, where the dealer needs to make a wise decision is whether his provider is one who can understand which vehicles on the lot need to be marketed and on what media.”

Echo uses Amazon Web Services to recognize and respond to requests processed in the cloud.

Amazon continues to gain third party support for the Echo; there are currently more than 3,000 apps for the device.

Alexa has the potential to be integrated with a number of other appliances and products including cars.

11 findings from post-election shopper survey

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - 

CarGurus conducted a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers to gather their opinions around how the recent presidential election will impact the automotive industry and their plans to buy a vehicle.

Overall, survey findings showed many expect both vehicle and gas prices to increase, and even more expect to see fewer government incentives for environmentally friendly vehicles, but that will likely not impact the decision to buy one.

CarGurus learned the following based on the presidential election results:

• 35 percent think auto prices will increase.

• 8 percent think auto prices will decrease.

• 57 percent think auto prices will stay the same.

• Almost half (46 percent) think gas prices will increase.

• Almost one quarter (21 percent) think gas prices will decrease.

• Almost one third (32 percent) think gas prices will remain the same.

In addition, the survey uncovered the following:

• 70 percent noted that the election will have no impact on their decision to buy a U.S. or foreign-made vehicle

• 75 percent expect to see fewer government incentives to buy efficient models like electronic vehicles and hybrids, and 25 percent expect to see more

When asked what impact a reduction in government incentives would have on the likelihood to consider purchasing an electric vehicle:

• 67 percent said it would not have an impact on their decision

• 17 percent said they would be much less likely to consider an electric vehicle

• 16 percent said they would be somewhat less likely to consider an electric vehicle

The CarGurus survey also found that younger respondents were more skeptical in their post-election opinions. They were more likely than older shoppers (ones 55 and older) to believe gas prices will increase, with 60 percent of 18 to 24 year olds thinking gas prices will increase as opposed to 44 percent of respondents aged 55 or older.

Additionally, almost 10 percent of younger shoppers also said they would delay decision to buy a vehicle and almost 10 percent of 25 to 34 year olds planning to spend less on the vehicle since the election.

“Our survey uncovered that while the election may have produced a level of uncertainty related to some issues like car and gas prices, others such as an affinity towards an electric vehicle remain largely unaffected,” said Sarah Welch, senior vice president of consumer marketing at CarGurus.

“It will be interesting to watch how this unfolds over the coming months and years, especially with the theme of financial prudence and caution coming from the younger generation,” Welch added.

The survey’s full findings can be found here.

DealerRater reaches 3 million consumer reviews

WALTHAM, Mass. - 

DealerRater has announced that it received its 3 millionth online review last month.

The site published its first consumer review on Jan. 3, 2003 and has since grown its platform as reviews have become progressively vital to the car shopping process.

"Hitting 3 million reviews is a significant milestone for DealerRater and our industry," said Gary Tucker, chief executive officer of DealerRater. "We witness the importance of reviews every day as tens of thousands of car buyers visit DealerRater to read and write reviews about their dealership experiences.  The fact is that consumers are seeing less and less distinction from one manufacturer's product to the next – customer experience is where deals are won and lost."

In celebration of the milestone review, DealerRater said it will recognize both the dealership and the consumer associated with the review.

The monumental review came from a Hickory, N.C., customer who purchased a new car from Hendrick Honda Hickory on Oct. 30.

"We congratulate DealerRater on its terrific accomplishment," said JR Fredell, Hendrick Honda Hickory general manager. "They provide a terrific platform for our customers to tell others about their experiences. We're thrilled that our focus on employees and serving our customers has often been rewarded with five-star comments throughout the years."

Additionally, DealerRater offers a product that it said is the first of its kind in the automotive industry.

Earlier this year, the car dealer review website began to allow consumers to both review individual dealership employees and connect with them in real-time.

DealerRater helps dealers answer to reviews by allowing them to respond to negative reviews and address the situation with an unsatisfied customer.

Currently, the company’s review model exclusively scores dealerships based on recent reviews that are written within the last 24 months.