To continue the momentum started by our Women in Remarketing and Women in Auto Finance franchises, Auto Remarketing has launched Women in Retail, an awards program that specifically recognizes leaders on the retail side of the auto industry.
This inaugural class of honorees is spotlighted in the July 1 issue of Auto Remarketing, which includes Q&As with each recipient of the award.
Next up is Brooke Skinner Ricketts, who is chief marketing officer at Cars.com.
Auto Remarketing: What was your career path to the retail auto industry? Did you always see yourself in this line of work?
Brooke Skinner Ricketts: I’ve worked in automotive throughout my career. Prior to joining Cars.com, I led creative strategy for Volkswagen and GM on the creative agency side, ran the Detroit automotive brand strategy at Twitter and helped develop an automotive credit product at fintech startup Avant. It’s such an important industry in the U.S., and it has been a thrill to participate in the digital evolution of the business. My career has been defined by digital businesses with an eye toward optimizing marketing effectiveness through data-driven insights.
At Cars.com, we are lucky enough to have more than two decades of intelligence to help inform our marketing strategies and drive the success of our advertiser partners. I feel fortunate to be able to work in such an important and rapidly evolving industry where I can lend my expertise in data-driven digital advertising, growth marketing and brand building to help advance automotive retail.
AR: What are some of the top challenges (and opportunities) in the retail car business this year? How are you and your company addressing those?
Brooke Skinner Ricketts
BSR: As Cars.com continues expanding beyond listings to a full-service digital solutions provider, its portfolio of companies and technology has rapidly expanded this past year to help dealers get ahead of three trends dominating the auto industry:
• Digital retailing: As an increasing number of consumers want to complete more of the purchase process online, we offer an end-to-end digital retailing solution, Online Shopper: Redline, which can seamlessly integrate into virtually any website provider in 24 hours, on average. After turning on Online Shopper Redline, dealers report seeing up to two to three times more qualified leads, on average, to dealer websites.
• Social selling: Millions of consumers spend time on social platforms every day, and dealers need to be leveraging high-quality audience data to target the right shoppers, with the right message at the right time. Cars Social, our social selling solution that serves native ads displaying real-time inventory to Cars.com’s 80% unique, unduplicated audience on Facebook and Instagram, helps them do this. The solution gives dealers access to car shoppers on social media and delivers 4x more qualified leads. We also continue to help dealers reach and connect with car shoppers on Facebook Marketplace through our popular Social Sales Drive solution, which delivers a nearly 40 percent chat to lead conversion rate.
• Reputation management: We know consumers trust reviews more than any form of paid advertising or editorial content and that personal recommendations and reviews are critical to dealership selection. We have also learned that consumers want to read reviews about specific salespeople in the dealership and select who they want to work with before arriving on the lot. Salesperson Connect, a DealerRater solution on Cars.com that connects shoppers directly with salespeople and allows dealership employees to create profiles and collect reviews, results in an average 89% higher closing rate and leads that close 15% faster.
AR: What is a book you have read that has influenced or helped your career?
BSR: “Women Don’t Ask” by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. It helped me understand the importance of negotiation and discover my own style.
AR: Who is a leader, outside of the auto industry, that you admire and why?
BSR: I really admire Serena Williams. For me, she’s the epitome of grace and grit, and she continues to expand and extend her influence and leadership on and off the court, from entrepreneurial to investment to brand endeavors. She has strong principles, and she sticks to them. She works hard, is laser focused and totally ambitious — all while remaining a world champion tennis player and raising her young daughter.
AR: What accomplishment or moment in your career are you most proud of?
BSR: I’m most proud of the people I’ve helped grow. My mentor used to say that her job as a leader was to “water and weed,” so that we could grow. I take this role seriously, and I’m proud to say that many people who I’ve had the honor to help nurture are in leadership roles at some very impressive companies.