Social/Digital Media

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.

Search Optics dives deep into digital marketing trends

SAN DIEGO - 

Search Optics recently released results from its first annual digital marketing trends survey, which analyzed the needs, wants and decision-making strategies of more than 160 U.S. automotive dealers associated with a variety of leading automotive brands.

The phone survey, conducted in partnership with Incept Corporation, yields insight into critical digital marketing challenges facing automotive dealers today, as the importance of digital marketing rises.

“Digital marketing plays an enormous role in the success of today’s automotive dealers, from driving traffic to the lot to advancing the sales cycle through the use of digital strategies,” said Troy Smith, president and founder of Search Optics. “The survey provides clear insight into the greatest challenges dealers face as the speed of digital change in our industry advances at a rapid rate and winning more business depends heavily on their ability to keep pace.”

As part of the survey, Incept researchers questioned dealers about their expectations and satisfaction concerning digital marketing service providers.

Dealers who participated in the study unilaterally agreed that their most important goal with digital marketing is to obtain both results and a reasonable return on investment. More than 80 percent also said search engine optimization (SEO) is the most important service acquired through external marketing partners.

Additionally, dealers communicated a strong need for insights and strategic guidance from their providers.

According to the survey, SEO is the most popular service dealers seek digital marketing service providers for, followed by website, paid search, social media, email, display advertising and video services.

More information on the survey and its findings are available on the Search Optics blog in a post titled “Five Essential Questions to Ask Your Digital Marketing Service Provider.”

Boosting Facebook posts is smart investment for your dealership

TAMPA, Fla.  - 

Facebook for dealerships is a pay-to-play marketplace when you have a business page. It’s nearly impossible to reach your entire audience without putting an advertising budget behind it. This post will give you a basic understanding of Facebook boosting (advertising) and audience targeting to help expand the reach or your dealership’s messaging.

On all of your posts, you’ll see a (Boost Post) button, which brings up a separate window with options to reach more people. Facebook gives tons of options and if you are willing to experiment with some of your advertising budget, it’s definitely worth the investment.

Facebook Boost Audience Options:

  1. People who like your Page
  2. People who like your Page and their friends
  3. People you choose through targeting

The first two audiences are self-explanatory, but the third option is the most valuable one. Facebook gives you the ability to reach people on Facebook who don’t already like your page and display your posts to them. Utilizing this type of audience is how you grow your audience and how you grow your business.

You have a lot of options at your disposal and creating a well-defined audience is where you will see the best results.

What is a well-defined Facebook audience?

Instead of selecting one of the first two options, select (Create New Audience). Give your audience a name and determine who you want your ads to go to. You can target just men, just women or both. You can also target states, cities and even specific zip codes.

Pro Tip: Review your sales records and determine the top zip codes your current customers are from and target those.

Not only can you choose from gender, age and location, but you can also target by interest. Interest targeting lets you choose from a long list of options to help you reach consumers that may be interested in what you’re offering.

How to use interest targeting on Facebook 

Your dealership is hosting its annual open house and you have specific units in inventory that your dealership wants to sell. You can target people who have interest in those brands by selecting them from the list. Now you have targeted messaging which will resonate with the people you are trying to reach.

How to determine if you should Boost one Facebook post over another:

By now, we hope that you have learned from the LotVantage Marketing team that Facebook has decreased the organic reach for pages. Essentially, that means that in order for your posts to be seen by the fans you have following you, you will need to set aside some money for a marketing budget and spend it on Facebook Ads and boosting your posts.

In order to make the best decisions on which posts you want to promote, we suggest basing your choices on which posts will be most helpful to your audience and further your goals of promoting your brand awareness. The typical “happy customer” photos are not something we suggest boosting. However, the release of a new model, dealership offers and discounts, and useful product maintenance information are things worthy of Boosting.

In truth, knowing what will be worth spending your money on is going to be experimental until you see what gets you the most attention from your audience. Pay attention to the posts that are most popular and compare that content to those of which were less popular, and you will have created the most masterful plan of attack for your dealership’s Facebook marketing.

Mastering Facebook advertising:

If you find that you are unfamiliar with general marketing strategies and would like an introduction to Facebook Boosting, advertising and targeting, please email us at hello@lotvantage.com for more information.

Adam Goldberg is the marketing manager at LotVantage, a provider of digital marketing solutions for automotive, marine, powersports, RV, trailer and outdoor power equipment dealerships. He can be reached at agoldberg@thatus.com. You can also access more social media tips at motors.lotvantage.com/blog. 

CarMax begins home delivery program in NC

RICHMOND, Va. - 

CarMax is joining the development parade of finding ways to retail used vehicles without the buyer having to step foot on the lot. As outfits such as Beepi and Carvana gain steam, CarMax recently announced it is launching a test of home delivery in Charlotte, N.C.

Charlotte is the first city for CarMax Home Delivery, which allows customers to select, finance, test drive and buy a vehicle, as well as trade in their current model, all without ever going to a store. More than 20 years ago, CarMax claimed it had revolutionized the industry by delivering an “honest, transparent and high-integrity buying experience.”

CarMax says it’s now extending that “revolutionary” experience from the store to the Internet through the development of online customer-focused innovations.

Home Delivery is currently only available within a 60-mile radius of Charlotte. CarMax offers Home Delivery for no additional cost. However, like in-store purchases, a fee may apply for vehicle transfers from stores outside of North Carolina.

Each vehicle still comes with CarMax’s five-day money-back guarantee and a 30-day limited warranty.

“We believe in customer empowerment — it’s why we went into business more than 20 years ago,” said Jim Lyski, chief marketing officer at CarMax.

“We will continue to lead the industry by delivering the car-buying experience customers want, wherever they want it,” Lyski continued.

Just like CarMax’s in-store experience, Home Delivery users can receive personalized customer service throughout the shopping and purchasing process. CarMax specialists are instructed to help the customer find their ideal model, apply for financing and trade in their current vehicle.

Once the customer has chosen from the nearly 50,000 vehicles in inventory, CarMax will deliver the vehicle to the customer’s home or work so the customer can take a no-obligation, stress-free test drive.

In addition to test driving in their own neighborhood, customers can see how essentials like strollers or bikes fit in the car, or even how the vehicle fits in their garage. If the vehicle is “the one,” the customer can complete the purchase on the spot.

CarMax added that the company will utilize this test in Charlotte to gather valuable customer insights and learn the best ways to further operationalize this offering for potential future markets.

CarMax also recently piloted online financing on carmax.com, which allows customers to get prequalified for financing from the comfort and privacy of their home, and then finish their shopping experience more quickly in store. This new offering rolls out nationwide this fall.

5 ways dealers can use Gubagoo’s Facebook Messenger Integration

BOCA RATON, Fla. - 

Gubagoo, a provider of behavioral engagement and scoring technologies for automotive websites, recently rolled out what the company thinks is an enhancement that can offer complete and seamless integration with Facebook Messenger.

Gubagoo’s Facebook Messenger Integration is available immediately to dealerships using Gubagoo solutions.

“Today, consumers spend an average of 50 minutes a day using Facebook platforms, including Facebook messenger — that is 1/16th of their waking time,” Gubagoo chief executive officer Brad Title said.

“At Gubagoo, we are relentlessly focused on helping auto dealers connect and engage more effectively, in real-time, with their customers — and Facebook Messenger is, increasingly, where consumers are making their connections,” Title continued.

“With this new integration, customers can chat with dealerships like they chat with their friends: better engagement equals better customer service equals increased sales conversion,” he went on to say.

The new integration with Facebook Messenger can give customers another channel through which they can directly communicate with dealerships using Gubagoo’s 24/7 fully-managed, messaging capabilities.

Gubagoo’s customers can push inventory and offers directly though Facebook Messenger and, because it integrates with Gubagoo’s mobile app, dealerships will have real-time access to conversations taking place between customers and Gubagoo chat operators.

Dealerships using Gubagoo can now do the following through Facebook Messenger:

• Send Inventory

• Push video

• Publish offers

• Book service appointments

• Take calls

Gubagoo is one of the fastest growing and most effective chat and website engagement providers for automotive dealerships.

Gubagoo can track and score more than 22 million vehicle buyers every month through its B.E.A.S.T. scoring technology that generates more than 125,000 leads to dealerships every month. The company’s online selling tools — which can increase efficiency, control and conversion as well as improve the consumer experience at the dealership — include ChatSmart, TalkSmart and the recently launched and integrated RESQ platform for web and phone.

RESQ also can enable dealerships to monitor chat conversations in real time. Gubagoo highlighted some RESQ Beta site customers have experienced up to a 300-percent increase in lead-to-sales conversions in their dealership.

BW Dealership Advisors adds consultant to boost digital offering

COLUMBUS, Ohio - 

BW Dealership Advisors — a Brady Ware-affiliated retail automotive consulting firm dedicated to offering consulting, fraud mitigation, accounting and tax services — announced this week that it has expanded its services to help dealers attract and engage clients online. The new digital capabilities will be led by Nick Brunotte, who joined the firm as senior operations consultant.

With Brunotte's added expertise, BW Dealership Advisors highlighted that it can help retail automotive clients with the online customer engagement aspect of their business, including web presence management strategies, business development centers, customer relationship management software processes, website effectiveness and other digital efficiencies.

“Dealerships are increasingly seeking ways to help them stand out from their competitors and build stronger relationships with customers,” Brunotte said. “I look forward to putting my dealership operations expertise and digital experience to work for the retail automotive clients we serve at BW Dealership Advisors.”

The firm highlighted Brunotte brings hands-on experience in dealership general management and operations to BW Dealership Advisors.

The firm went on to stress that clients will benefit from Brunotte’s ability to identify and solve the specialized challenges faced by retail automotive dealers, as well as his expertise in strategies for improving the profitability of service and finance and insurance (F&I) departments.

Brunotte studied finance at the University of Cincinnati and has more than a decade of management experience. He is actively involved in the National Automobile Dealers Association and has F&I certification from United Development Systems (UDS).

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