Win the Customer Now to Maximize Your Year-End Sales

by Josh Vajda, Director of Inside Sales 17. December 2013 05:41

It's been a great year for car sales, and if you're like most dealers, you want to close out the year strong. What is your Internet marketing department doing to ensure that ready-to-buy customers will choose to visit your dealership?

 

By now most of us have read or heard the statistic from J.D. Powers and Associates, that customers visit an average of 1.8 dealerships in person before purchasing a vehicle. I believe this one statistic is the most transformative statistic in terms of its impact on Internet marketing and the sales process. Quite simply, it means that you win the customer before they set foot in your showroom.

 

Ideally you want to accomplish this by outshining your competition along every step of the customer's purchasing journey. You want to have presence where consumers are conducting research on various makes and models; you want to have useful information and conversion tools on your website; you want to give great customer service and prompt communications if they call or e-mail your dealership to gather information; you want to be able to give them accurate pricing and payment information, and you want to have great online reviews when the customer researches dealership reputations.

 

But at crunch time, giving customers an extra incentive to visit you before the end of the year may be just the thing that gives your dealership the edge. Incentive offers like ShowProSM offer a small financial incentive to a customer if they come in and take a test drive.

 

For customers who are seriously in the market and in the process of narrowing down which dealership to buy from, visit or test drive incentives have been proven to increase the show rate for appointments. Almost every dealership we work with reports closing rates over 50% for Internet appointments that show, so we know: if you get them in, you make the sale.

 

While most dealerships will see a spike in lead volume the last week of December, they’ve also seen a drop-off in sales from leads over the last 3 months. See that as an opportunity to recapture customers right now. I recommend using incentive cards as a tool to re-engage "dead" leads and target customers who may be interested in key vehicles. Here are two campaigns you can put together right now:

 

1) Create a list of prospects from the last six months who did not purchase a vehicle. Send them a holiday message with an incentive card of $25-50 to come in and take a test drive.

 

2) Is your manufacturer offering any incentives for particular models, or do you have any models that are overstocked right now? Some manufacturers are offering bonuses to dealerships that sell a particular number of a certain model. Offering a financial incentive to come in and test drive that particular model is a very cost-effective method for helping your dealership to reach this goal. At an average price of less than $50 per show, and an average close rate on appointment shows of nearly fifty percent, this more than pays for itself.

 

This time of year many people are grateful for every extra dollar they can get; and $50 is a tank of gas, a dinner out, or an extra gift for a loved one. Incentive marketing works best when the reward is time-sensitive, so end-of-the-year sales offer a great opportunity to draw new customers who might have otherwise chosen a different dealership to visit.

 

 

Two Must-Have Videos In Your 2014 Marketing Plan

by Admin 11. December 2013 07:59
Josh Vajda, Director of Inside Sales with www.autousadealers.com shares two types of videos for your 2014 marketing plan that are guaranteed to get your dealership noticed.

Three Credit Trends to Help You Sell More Cars

by Admin 20. November 2013 10:59
Many car buyers were taken out of the market over the last few years due to tight credit, and may not understand the market provides them with new options. Josh Vajda, Director of Internet Sales for www.autousadealers.com shares tips on how to leverage the latest credit trends.

Financing Tools Deliver the Most Valuable Website Leads, According to Auto Dealer Internet Marketing Survey by AutoUSA

by Admin 11. November 2013 07:34

Fort Lauderdale, FL – November 11th, 2013 — AutoUSA Internet Sales Solutions (www.AutoUSADealers.com) today announced the results of its 2013 annual auto dealer Internet Marketing survey. Financing tools such as online credit applications and trade-in calculators deliver the most valuable website leads, according to respondents. Other significant results from the survey identify pricing and affordability as the most commonly heard sales objection from consumers, while Internet departments' biggest challenges include lead volume and staffing issues.


"We believe the most successful dealerships have effective Internet marketing strategies, and this annual survey helps to identify how well some of those strategies are performing in current market conditions," said Phil DuPree, President of AutoUSA Internet Sales Solutions.


The survey was conducted during September and October and summarizes results from 147 respondents, including Internet sales managers, sales managers, BDC marketing and senior management.


Customer Sales Objections

When asked what the most common sales objection is from customers, the top response was "our price not in line with customer expectations" (28 percent). Other responses were "customer can't get financing" (19 percent), "customer confidence with the economy" (14 percent) and "customer can't afford a new vehicle" (12 percent).


By contrast, in AutoUSA's 2011 Internet marketing survey, not meeting the customers' price expectations was the least-common objection (10 percent). Also in 2011 "didn't have desired model available" was the most common sales objection (25 percent), followed by "can't afford a new vehicle" (14 percent).


"The difference in sales objections compared with two years ago is consistent with what we see in the marketplace; consumers are finding ways to work themselves through the process and further down-funnel," said DuPree. "And while the economy may have improved somewhat, pricing and affordability are still major hurdles for many consumers."


Internet Department Challenges

Survey results indicate that dealership Internet departments are facing a new challenge in 2013. "Not enough leads" (26 percent) is the most cited challenge for Internet departments, which is quite a turnaround from two years ago, when "keeping up with lead volume" (31 percent) was the number one challenge.


According to this year's survey, Internet departments' biggest challenges behind lead volume are related to staffing. Twenty-one percent of respondents cited "not enough staff" as the biggest challenge, while 19 percent stated "quality of staff," and another 18 percent chose "staff does not adhere to processes." Additionally, 18 percent complained their "marketing budget is not large enough to meet objectives," and only 17 percent cited "keeping up with lead volume" as their number one challenge.


"It's interesting that while Internet departments appear to be spending more than ever on search optimization for their websites, they are not getting their desired lead volume compared with two years ago," said DuPree.


Lead Volume and Quality

When asked, "which website conversion tools or add-ons results in the most leads (including phone calls) from your website?" respondents ranked the following: online credit applications (52 percent); chat applications (50 percent); trade-in calculator (37 percent); coupons (20 percent); online service appointment scheduler (19 percent).


Survey participants were also asked to rate the value of leads that they received from their websites. The most valuable are "VIN-specific used vehicle leads" (76% rate as "the best" or "pretty good"); credit application leads (73% rate as "the best" or "pretty good"); new vehicle leads (66% rate as "the best" or "pretty good"); chat leads (51% rate as "the best" or "pretty good"); trade-in leads (45% rate as "the best" or "pretty good") and lastly, general contact info (27% rate as "the best" or "pretty good").


"Inventory leads and leads from financing tools appear to be the most valuable to dealers, which makes sense because once customers start engaging with a website conversion tool they are probably serious shoppers," said DuPree.


Internet Marketing Budgets

In spite of the commonly cited statistic that more than 90 percent of consumers begin their search for a vehicle on the Internet, the survey found that most dealers do not allocate a majority of their budgets to Internet marketing. In response to the question, "What percentage of your overall advertising & marketing budget is spent on Internet marketing?" survey participants shared the following:


  • Ÿ 50 percent of dealers spend less than 30% of budget on Internet marketing
  • Ÿ 37 percent spend between 30-60% of budget on Internet marketing
  • Ÿ 13 percent spend more than 60% of budget on Internet marketing


On the extreme ends of the scale, 10 percent of dealers spend less than 10% of their budget on Internet marketing, while only one percent of dealers spend 90-100% of their budget on Internet marketing.


However, in response to the question "do you plan to increase your Internet marketing budgets in 2014?" 59 percent of respondents responded "yes."


Survey respondents were also asked, "In which areas do you plan to allocate the majority of your Internet marketing budget in 2014?" The responses were:

  • ŸWebsite SEO/SEM (54%)
  • ŸLeads from inventory sites, i.e. Cars.com, Autotrader.com, etc. (51%)
  • ŸIndependent leads from AutoUSA, Dealix, Autobytel (33%)
  • ŸSocial Media (23%)
  • ŸE-Mail Marketing (22%)
  • ŸVideo production and marketing (17%)
  • ŸReputation Management (14%)
  • ŸOnline ads (14%)


Finally, the majority of dealerships are optimistic for a profitable 2014. When asked if they believed they would sell more vehicles in the coming year, 85 percent of respondents claimed "yes, my dealership will sell more vehicles in 2014 than in 2013."

 

About AutoUSA Internet Sales Solutions

 

AutoUSA Internet Sales Solutions brings the best-in-class tools to increase Internet sales and lower costs for automotive dealerships. Leading products include Payment ProSM, a payment-based pre-qualification tool for dealer websites; ShowProSM incentive program, proven to turn more leads into shows; Leads&ListingsSM, providing the highest quality, new and used car email and phone leads from 100+ sites; PowerListingsSM 2.0, helping dealers increase traffic to—and leads from—their social media sites; and AVA Virtual Sales Assistant, helping dealerships manage more leads at a reduced cost. AutoUSA products are currently benefiting thousands of active dealers all across the U.S.

 

For more information, visit AutoUSA’s web site, subscribe to our blog at http://blog.autousadealers.com, follow us on Twitter @AutoUSALeads and “Like” us on Facebook at /AutoUSADealers

 

Financing Tools Key to Moving From Online Marketing to Online Sales

by Admin 24. October 2013 07:30
Customers are demanding more convenience in the car buying process, including shifting more of it online. One of the keys to moving the sales process online is financing. Josh Vajda, Director of Inside Sales with www.autousadealers.com shares the three features that every online payment marketing system should have in order to capture and convert online shoppers.

How to Communicate with Mobile Internet Leads

by Admin 24. September 2013 08:16
More consumers are shopping for cars on mobile devices, but if your dealership's Internet processes have been designed for the computer, it may be time to rethink how you are communicating with mobile customers. Josh Vajda, Director of Inside Sales with www.autousadealers.com shares three tips on how to effectively estabish rapport with mobile leads.

Five Benefits of Shop-By-Payment Tools

by Josh Vajda, Director of Inside Sales 29. May 2013 18:18

I’ve often advocated in my blogs the benefits of quoting a price to customers who submit leads with a price inquiry. If the customer is submitting leads to more than one dealership, not providing the price will likely eliminate you from consideration.

 

Yet, according to CNW Marketing Research, 70.5% of people finance their cars. That means the vast majority of Internet leads will take the price quoted to them and then try to determine what their monthly payment will be. As we all know, monthly payments can vary based on the consumer’s credit score, the dealership’s finance programs and the specific vehicle the customer wants to buy. So the customer searching for the lowest priced vehicle today may still not end up with a vehicle that fits within their monthly budget for the next 60, 72 or even 96 months!

 

If we can move the conversation from price to payments, we can identify the right vehicle earlier in the process, saving the customer time and aggravation, and saving the dealership gross. One way to shift the conversation to monthly payments is to offer and promote payment—and shop-by-payment—marketing tool on your dealership’s website. A shop-by-payment tool allows consumers to search your inventory based on what their ideal monthly payment is and displays inventory based on real, credit-qualified payment quotes. An estimated or teaser quote can set the wrong expectation, but one based on the customer’s actual credit and the dealership’s finance programs sets both the customer and the dealer up for success.

 

Allowing consumers to shop-by-payments on your website offers the following benefits:

 

1)    Keeps Customers on the Dealership’s Website. Customers come to your site to find answers, not more questions. If you are asking the customer to provide all their information, such as what their credit score is or what interest rate they may qualify for, they may have to go off of your website and find the information on another site. A shop-by-payment tool allows the customer to see all the inventory on your website that they qualify for, without having to look for the information somewhere else. The tool is also interactive, enabling the customer to adjust payment ranges, down payments and other information so that it engages the customer, keeps them on the website longer and results in higher conversion rates.

 

2)    Protects Customers’ Privacy. Real payments can be quoted to customers without requiring them to enter in personal information, such as date of birth or Social Security Number, and without having a negative impact on their credit score. This is appealing to customers and allows them to play around with various terms and different vehicles, further engaging them and bringing them that much closer to the sale. Since most good-credit customers don’t want to affect their credit score until absolutely necessary, the result is often more leads from customers with higher average credit ratings.

 

3)    Credit-Analyzed Leads Close at a Higher Rate. The ability to analyze a consumer’s credit online brings them one step closer to the sale. Closing rates for these leads are typically much higher than for unqualified leads, often exceeding 20%.

 

4)    Streamlines the Sales Process. Providing real payment quotes on VIN-specific vehicles sets the customers’ expectation on what they can actually afford to buy, versus what they would like to buy. This eliminates unnecessary time that salespeople spend trying to sell a car that the person can’t afford, while also eliminating the “embarrassment” factor for the customer if they can’t afford the car they really want.

 

5)    Keeps Dealers in Control of Financing. Providing real payment quotes shifts the customer’s focus from what the bottom-line price is to what they can afford to pay every month. This allows dealers to set their own prices and financing terms and gives them more flexibility in negotiations, unlike lead services that force dealers into price wars in order to deliver the lowest price for the consumer. Ultimately, this results in higher gross profit margins for the dealers.

 

 

Providing a shop-by-payment tool helps to engage customers, keep them online and bring them closer to the sale. Today’s payment marketing technology delivers real benefits to both dealers and consumers, resulting in high-quality, credit-analyzed leads that close at rates much higher than traditional Internet leads. To see a demo, visit www.anywheremotors.com

Three Things Every Dealer Should Know About Internet Marketing

by Josh Vajda, Director of Inside Sales 26. April 2013 09:45

The broad term “Internet Marketing” encompasses a fast-changing industry. In the past two years, “new” developments such as mobile, social and reputation management have quickly become mainstream, while the effectiveness of “old” methods such as banner ads and e-mail marketing have been debated.

 

While dealers should be aware of the latest technologies, ensuring that perceptions about the Internet and its capabilities is extremely important too. Here are three things every dealer should know about Internet marketing:

 

1) The Internet Creates Buyers, Not Shoppers

 

Given a choice between greeting a showroom customer and working an Internet lead, most salespeople would choose the former; simply because they believe they have a better chance of closing the showroom customer in the short term. Many dealers (and salespeople) still view Internet leads as “Internet shoppers” who are potentially difficult to work with or even reach.

 

The reality is that, whether they’re in your virtual showroom or your physical showroom, they’re a buyer. Maybe not today, but statistically the Internet customer is highly likely to buy within 90 days.

 

94% of car buyers begin the process online, according to recent estimates, yet most dealerships attribute less than 30% of actual sales to Internet leads. Why the discrepancy? Most consumers do research online but instead of submitting a lead, they decide to call or walk into a dealership when they’re ready to buy. Because of all the research they can do on their own, though, customers today visit only 1.4 dealerships before purchasing a car, down from 4.5 in 2005, according to J.D. Power.

 

And, according to a recent study by CAR-Research XRM, only 25% of people leave showrooms because they are “still shopping.” The rest leave because of inventory, financing or some other issue. These customers are ready to buy, the only question is, are they buying from you?

 

2) Internet Marketing is More Than a One-Person Job

 

If I asked you, “Who is in charge of your Internet marketing,” would you answer, “The Internet Sales Director?”

 

To be effective, Internet marketers need to have knowledge of and take advantage of all facets of the Internet. This means managing the dealership’s website and SEO, e-mail marketing campaigns, and being the resident CRM expert.

 

In addition, Internet marketers should know how to properly leverage and manage the dealership’s presence on independent auto shopping, research and review sites, the manufacturer website, social media sites and reputation management sites. Finally, they need to keep up with the latest trends and create strategies for search marketing, payment marketing, mobile marketing, banner advertising, e-mail marketing and video marketing.

 

That’s a lot for one person to keep up with, let alone the time needed to work the leads that come in as a result of all that work. To stay competitive, dealers need to allocate the appropriate budget, training and resources for their Internet departments. According to a recent article in Ward’s Auto profiling the top 100 e-dealers, successful Internet dealers typically spend 40% or more of their overall advertising and marketing budget on digital.

 

3) Evolve Your Communication

 

Most dealers are probably not Internet gurus; nor do they want to be. Several years ago, the perception was that this was okay. Hiring an “Internet nerd” who could run the Internet operations was the norm. But staying competitive today—and maybe even survival tomorrow—depends on how successful your dealership’s Internet marketing program is.

 

Every manager needs to understand that customers can engage with the store and its sales staff anywhere online. They need to stay abreast of trends, direct strategies, manage processes, hold teams accountable and respond to customers’ online concerns and opportunities—wherever they arise. One click, one call, one person doesn’t work any more.

 

What do you think dealers need to know about Internet marketing?

To Pre-Qualify or Not to Pre-Qualify Internet Customers?

by Admin 13. March 2013 11:09
Since more than 80% of your customers are likely to finance or lease a vehicle, when is the right time to bring up this potentially touchy subject? Is it better to pre-qualify or not to pre-qualify your Internet leads? Josh Vajda, Director of Inside Sales for AutoUSA, shares some tips. www.autousadealers.com

Top Ten Tips From “The Best” at Digital Dealer

by Josh Vajda, Director of Inside Sales 4. December 2012 05:54

 

In October, we facilitated a panel called “The Five Things in Common That Successful Internet Departments Share” at the 13th Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas. We were thrilled to have over 200 attendees and want to thank our panelists for doing a great job. We decided to share some tips from our panelists for the benefit of all who couldn’t make it to the conference in hopes that you’ll find it as helpful as the attendees did.

 

Our panelists included:

- Greg Coleman, Director of Business Development & E-Commerce Director, Lexus Store of Lexington & Toyota of Nicholasville

- Justin Brun, E-Commerce Manager, Acton Toyota of Littleton

- Richard Tolsma, Internet Manager, Dan Wiebold Ford, Idaho

- Ray Fenster, President & CEO, RayFenster.com, LLC

- Dennis Colome, Vice President Sales & Marketing, eXteres Auto

 

Here’s a summary of some tips from their discussion:

 

1)      Boost your phone call volume without paying additional money: “Make your phone number prominent on every website page. In addition, include your phone number in the website page title and description.” – Ray Fenster

 

2)    Relevance is content, not just keywords. “Don’t ‘keyword stuff’ your website search terms, i.e. don’t go after every city in the state. Google is onto this and no longer allows it.”  – Dennis Colome

 

3)    All leads are created equal. “Our dealership uses a strict 180-day process for follow up. Once a lead reaches 60 days with no contact, then the process becomes automated.” – Richard Tolsma

 

4)    Turn your “dead” leads into service opportunities. “If a customer isn’t ready to buy a car, give the lead to fixed ops to market and see if they can get that customer in for service. Something like 80% of service customers will buy a new car from that dealership. The closing percentage goes way up.” – Ray Fenster

 

5)    Don’t be afraid to share pricing, just be smart about it. “Be up front in your pricing, but be sure to give the customer several pricing options. Give them the price for the vehicle they inquired about, then follow up with second and third pricing options that are lower.” – Dennis Colome

 

6)    Generic responses don’t add value to the conversation. “Respond to specific questions and concerns in the customers’ initial e-mails. Also acknowledge the source from where the lead came; for example, if you get a lead from ZAG American Express, mention something about the program and how exclusive it is and how happy you are to be working with them.” – Justin Brun

 

 

7)    Have a pricing strategy. “When responding to pricing questions, use a “we start as low as” strategy and show the customer the option, i.e. a Toyota-Corolla. Giving them the lowest price on the lowest model will set their expectations and they usually upsell themselves. The vast majority of our customers buy a different vehicle than they originally inquired about.”  – Greg Coleman

 

8)    Be patient. “Third party leads typically research five to six vehicles on the third-party sites because they are looking for unbiased info. When they submit leads they are often three to four months out, so work with them for a while. True ROI has to be measured over time.” – Dennis Colome

 

9)    Know Your Market. “We perform a competitive analysis via e-mails and mystery shopping websites and third-party sites, and build a pricing matrix based upon the information gathered. On new vehicles we found our competitors are just showing the MSRP; so by displaying that number minus any available rebates, we automatically show a lower price than what’s in the market.” – Greg Coleman

 

10)Trends are worth more than ‘snapshots’. “When you report to management, they want to see results. Whatever program or product you are reviewing, show 30-day, 60-day and 90-day snapshots so they can see trends as to what’s working and what isn’t. Don’t be afraid to get rid of what’s not working. Not all products work for all dealerships.”  - Ray Fenster

 

Which is your favorite “top tip?” What are you doing in your department that works? What’s your “top tip” to share with other Internet sales personnel? 

 

Archive