Strathcom Media Blog

Digital Marketing for Dealerships

GOOGLE THINK AUTO 2017: FULL REVIEW

For those of you who enjoyed the brief highlight reel we released in September on Google Think Auto, here’s the full review. Enjoy!

Google Think Auto 2017

In September, we were fortunate enough to attend this year’s edition of Think Auto at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. The scenery of the event was different and so was the direction of the event. Instead of focusing on the four phases of the car buying journey, there was a ton of data presented on the the buyer’s persona. If you don’t remember what the four phases are, check out our 2016 recap of Think Auto for a good refresher. Continue reading “GOOGLE THINK AUTO 2017: FULL REVIEW”

Think Auto 2017

Google Think Auto 2017
Toronto Centre for the Arts, September 7, 2017

This past Thursday, we were fortunate enough to attend this year’s edition of Google Think Auto at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Although the venue changed from the usual scene at Massey Hall and the direction of the event was slightly different by not having individual dealers out (check out our blog on the upcoming Think Dealer events!), the content was useful and provided a different perspective on our ever changing Canadian car buyer market.

The focus of this year’s event was on buyers falling into three main buckets:

  1. First Time Buyer “The Newbie” – represents 20% of the Canadian car buying market
  2. Brand Loyalist “The Loyalist” – represents 37% of the Canadian car buying market
  3. Brand Switcher “The Switcher” (or the promiscuous as they like to call them) – represents 43% of the Canadian car buying market

Here are some highlights of this year’s study:

  • Video continues to be the hot topic going into next year, but the conversation has changed from OEMs being simply present, to being present in the right way and getting in front of the right audience.
  • The Newbies and the Switchers are the top two buyers heading to YouTube, but they are watching different content. The Newbies are focused on expert and peer reviews of vehicles while the Switchers are watching on the road and test drive videos.
  • On average, Canadian car buyers:
    • Will visit 2 dealerships (down from 3 last year)
    • Are in the market for 57 days
    • Will consider between 2 and 4 brands
  • 80% of car buyers said that digital will reduce the number of visits to a dealership, meaning they are using online resources to be more efficient
  • 54% of car buyers said that they will not contact the dealership before going there
    • This means that you have to WIN online to win the in-person visit!
  • Google will be hosting Think Dealer events across the country to present more dealership specific information

We will have a  complete summary to follow with more detailed info and stats, stay tuned!

Google’s Top 5 Principles from Think Auto

Back in the fall, we attended Google Think Auto and gave you our key takeaways. Now Google has given us their top 5 principles from their 2016 Think Auto research!

Google talked to 5,000 Canadian car buyers while they were in the “thinking”, “researching”, and “buying” stages and found out how Canadians shop for cars and how dealers can reach them in the key moments of their buying journey. We have summarized the results of their research and what these results mean for Canadian car dealers.

customer buying stages

Continue reading “Google’s Top 5 Principles from Think Auto”

Google Think Auto 2016: Full Review

For those of you who need more than a brief summary of think auto here is the big one, enjoy.

Google Think Auto 2016

This year, Think Auto was held in the historic Massey Hall. While the venue was definitely cool, the seats left something to be desired. The event featured a lineup of well known Googlers that took turns presenting different topics. Think Auto followed a similar path to previous years and updated a lot of the data points. There was a strong message presented again this year that OEMs and dealers are not living up to what the customer wants. One dealer group executive who attended the event told me he wasn’t quite sure he liked Google presenting itself as “the supreme overlord telling us how shitty we are at our jobs. We sold more cars than last year didn’t we?” Anyway, his words, not mine.

Sam Sebastian, the managing director of Google Canada, opened the event with a discussion about change which really set the tone for the whole day. Due to the fact that there are a lot of stats at Think Auto, I am going to use a lot of bullet points, this will make it easier for you if you are only looking for the numbers. Continue reading “Google Think Auto 2016: Full Review”

Google Think Auto 2016

Google Think Auto 2016
Massey Hall, Toronto, September 8, 2016

Another edition of Google Think Auto is in the books and, as always, it was an insightful afternoon from the online powerhouse.  The theme of the event was change, but this always seems to be the case with technology.  Technology drives change and creates the expectation of change.  We have all been talking about Uber, Air BnB and Netflix for awhile now, but it still remains relevant to be cautiously paranoid about someone coming to our industry and turning it upside down.  We need to continue to push forward and effect change.

Speaking of change, this year Google made some changes to their Think Auto study. They expanded their study from 3,000 car shoppers to 5,000 car shoppers which means that they have deeper data than they have had in previous years. This was also the first year that Google included a dealer-specific segment.

Here are some highlights from this year’s study:

  • Online video is continuing to become more important for consumers but is still not being fully utilized by the auto industry in Canada. Since OEMs are not producing the content, it is up to individual dealerships to start creating the content that customers are looking for.
  • The average car buyer is making 3 dealership visits, but:
    • 40% visit one dealer only
    • 23% visit multiple dealers of the same brand
    • 37% visit multiple dealers and brands
  • Prices and Payments and Booking a Test Drive are pain points for customers
  • 65% of shoppers have emailed a dealer
    • About half of customers are not happy with the timeliness or the quality of responses
  • Google is going to have a Dealer Digital Excellent Award this coming year

We will have a more complete summary to follow with more detailed info and stats, stay tuned!

Google’s Think Auto Conference 2015: What We Learned

2015-09-25_15-12-22

As an exclusive Google partner, Strathcom Media was once again invited to attend Google’s 10th annual Think Auto event in Toronto. This conference brings together all the movers and shakers in the industry, including OEMs and Google Partners (like us!), to discuss trends, the current state of the market, and give those in the industry important info and advice.

Don’t worry about missing out if you couldn’t make it. We attended, took notes, and recapped the most important info here for you!

  1. Be an inspiration. It takes approximately 26 days of thinking about a new vehicle before Canadians seriously consider buying one. It’s crucial during this “thinking” phase to promote vehicle upgrades, new features, and sales or incentives to motivate buyers to move from just thinking about buying to researching new vehicles.
  1. Be easy to find. On average, Canadians spend 19 days researching different vehicle makes, models, features, and pricing using multiple tools like OEM and dealership websites, 3rd party reviews, online videos, and other car-related websites. At this stage, the last thing you want is your site to be dumped at the bottom of a random search result page, so make sure your potential customers can find you quickly and easily.
  1. Be a resource. Once customers are done with the heavy researching, they’re onto the purchasing phase, which typically lasts 12 days. It’s at this point that buyers are visiting dealership websites, using multiple Internet resources, traditional media, and the advice of friends and family to help them make a final decision. Most Canadian car-buyers fall into three categories: The self-server, the facilitator, and the hand-holder. These customers may have decided to buy at this point, but that doesn’t mean they’ve decided to buy from you. Seal the deal by providing the right amount of guidance and information specific to each type of customer and their needs.
  1. Be a partner. The journey doesn’t end once the vehicle is taken home. Nearly 2 out of 3 customers have their cars serviced by the same brand or dealer, and half of Canadian buyers choose the same brand for subsequent purchases. This loyalty is almost exclusively due to good customer service, so ensure lasting success by working with your partners to provide customers with an excellent overall experience.
  1. Be timely. Canadians are buying vehicles in less time. In 2014, it took Canadians 66 days to purchase a new car, but this year it’s down to 57 days. With those numbers continuing to fall each year, it’s more vital than ever to make sure you reach your customers before the competition does.

Google always has tons of useful information for everyone in the automotive industry, so check back here often to see what other Google events and conferences Strathcom hosts and attends, including our upcoming Google LiveStream Event on September 30, 2015!

 

Google Think Auto Conference Toronto Recap

Google Think Auto 2013

On September 12, Strathcom Media attended the 2013 Google Think Auto conference in Toronto, Ontario. As with every event that Google puts on, this one did not let down: it was a great venue and the presentation was packed with valuable information.

What did we learn that could help the Canadian car dealer? Here is a highlight reel of the most valuable insights from the day:

  1. More consumers are shopping different dealers on the same brand.

  2. It’s all about mobile!
    mobile

    • Mobile users are 50% more valuable than desktop users
    • 40% of mobile users research with a mobile device inside a dealership
    • What are mobile users looking at?

      • Reviews
      • Inventory (photos)
      • Location and contact information for dealer

    • Mobile opportunities extend beyond sales. Make it simple and fast to book service, order parts and build & price
    • Give mobile users the ability to book a test drive

  3. Use all digital channels
    No conversions? Use all the channels
  4. Customers are moving faster than retailers in digital use and wants
  5. It is better to try and fail than to fail to try
    Fail Better Samuel Beckett

    • Fail faster! Learn from mistakes and improve your business.

  6. Use free Google tools (Google Trends, Insight for Search, etc.)

One interesting insight was how everyone is trying to crack the social media code with limited success, and yet they are willing to spend big money on it. Paradoxically, we know mobile is what consumers use and want, but we do not focus on it. It’s time to change that.

Another great Google event!  We’re looking forward to the next Google event that we are hosting in Ontario in October 2013.  We hope to see you there.

Automotive Conferences You Should Check Out in 2018

Group of people sitting in a row and applauding at conference.

 

Canadian International Auto Show

Toronto – February 16-25, 2018

AutoShow 2018 is excited present attendees with fast and furious opportunities and experience throughout this 10 day event! Check out the AutoShow’s daily schedule for amazing event content including prizes, promotions, a list of engaging speakers, and special events each and every day! Dealers are invited to a Facebook-hosted VIP party night on February 15th, as well!

For more information, follow the link below:

https://www.autoshow.ca/

 

 

CBT Automotive Conference & Expo

Atlanta – March 7-9, 2018 

Considered the most comprehensive and information packed event in retail automotive, this event approaches all aspects of the industry such as Marketing, Social Media, Sales Strategy, Fixed-Ops, Leadership & Management, Technology and so much more.

For more information, follow the link below:

http://cbtconferenceandexpo.com/learn/

 

 

NADA

Las Vegas – March 23-25, 2018 

The need for dealers to understand digital technology and marketing, as well as the effects on their respective businesses is a top priority at NADA Show. To boot, there’s usually a Canadian party on the eve of the show’s opening! Things get rolling Friday, March 23 at 8:30-5, and things wrap up Sunday, open 8:30 to 4.

For more information, follow the link below:

https://show.nada.org

 

 

Auto Remarketing Canada Conference

Toronto – March 27-28, 2018

Learn from the best at this annual event that brings together the remarketing and used-vehicle industry for 2 days of learning, sharing and networking to optimize your business. Form powerful connections and attend workshops with top dealers and executive decision makes. If you are in the used-vehicle industry or the remarketing industry, this event should definitely be on your calendar! Early bird registration is now open.

For more information, follow the link below:

https://arcanada.autoremarketing.com/

 

 

Women & Automotive Canadian Leadership Forum

Toronto – March 29, 2018

This one day forum full of speaker presentations and panel discussions is an innovative, game changer for advancing women into leadership roles in the Canadian automotive industry. As more women join the automotive industry, it is key to provide them networking and career advancement opportunities that strengthen them into leadership and decision-making roles. A great opportunity to both network and achieve goals together. We were honoured to speak at the first annual Women & Automotive conference last year, and we look forward to seeing you there this year! Early bird registration is now open.

For more information, follow the link below:

https://www.womenandautomotive.com/

 

 

Automotive Conference & Expo

Niagra Falls – April 11-12, 2018

TADA’s Auto Dealers Innovation Series and Ontario Dealer Day have combined to bring dealers an exciting conference that features presentations from high profile industry leaders that are experts in new marketing strategies and technology. Fill your brain with empowering sales strategies, leadership, and a look into the future of the automotive industry that is ever-evolving.

For more information, follow the link below:

https://www.automotiveconferenceandexpo.ca/

 

 

DrivingSales Presidents Club

Ft. Lauderdale – May 6-7 2018 

This specialized event focuses on critical operation discussions with real-life experts, and solutions are provided for the most challenging issues. Take home actionable strategies for your dealership and engage at a deeper level with dealer executives pioneering new practices for their stores and groups.

For more information, follow the link below:

http://drivingsalespresidentsclub.com/

 

 

DrivingSales Canadian Dealer Forum

2018 date & location TBD

If you’re not into the traditional conference style and just want to learn best practices you can instantly take back to the dealership, this is a great opportunity for you.

“The Canadian Dealer Forum was designed to be a very practical conference – a true forum where dealership executive teams can create an actionable business plan. You will walk away with a list of tactics you can apply the next day to drive results inside your dealership.”

For more information, follow the link below:

http://canadiandealerforum.drivingsales.com/

 

 

Google Think Auto

2018 date and location TBD

 

 

Best Practices For Automotive

Detroit – September 11-14, 2018

This conference will unite all levels of industry professionals to create an innovative event built around learning, networking and peer collaboration. This is more of a hands on, interactive experience that will open your mind and leave you with fresh ideas and best-in-class strategies to optimize your overall business performance. To stay up-to-date on conference updates:  #BP4auto

For more information, follow the link below:

auto.bestpracticeconferences.com

 

 

DealerTalk

Montreal – (date TBD)

Calgary – (date TBD)

Toronto – (date TBD)

Vancouver – (date TBD)

Does your digital marketing strategy need a boost? If you want to learn about the latest creative and marketing trends, DealerTalk is the conference to go to. This year’s theme is Dealership of the Future, and is sure to be full of great keynotes (including Gary Vaynerchuk in Toronto) and networking. To make sure as many Canadians as possible can attend, they host the conference in Montreal, Calgary and Toronto.

For more information, follow the link below:

https://dealertalk.ca/

 

 

Western Canadian Dealer Summit

Las Vegas – November 1-3, 2018

WCDS is a must-attend industry event with the Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan Associations joining together for what is sure to be an information-packed conference!

For more information, follow the link below:

westerndealersummit.com

 

 

DrivingSales Executive Summit

Las Vegas – TBD

If you are looking for a progressive conference to give you help you with your strategic planning, DrivingSales Executive Summit is where you want to go. This event brings all of the most progressive dealers and vendors together to have industry-changing conversation. Last year, our very own Business Development Manager, Alecia Wilson, spoke at DSES about best practices for hiring and retaining staff.

For more information, follow the link below:

http://www.drivingsales.com/dses/ 

 

 

Google ThinkDealer

Montreal – (date TBD)

Toronto – (date TBD)

Halifax – (date TBD)

Vancouver – (date TBD)

Calgary – (date TBD)

Last year’s Google ThinkDealer events were extremely informative for dealers and us! Google discussed how dealers are currently spending their advertising budgets, and how they should be spending more of it online. Google also released their Dealer Playbook – a step-by-step guide for dealers on how to advertise on Google and generate more leads. If you would like a copy of the Google’s Dealer Playbook, just let us know and we will send it to you!

 

We will continue to update this list as more dates and locations are confirmed, and please let us know if there are any other events we might have missed! To keep up to date on events we will be attending and speaking at, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter!

 

Think Dealer 2017 Events

Think Dealer 2017 Events

If you haven’t already heard, Google changed up their Think Auto event this year. Instead of bringing everyone across the country to the centre of the universe…Toronto… they decided to bring their wealth of knowledge across the country and host Think Dealer specific events in 5 cities between October 12th and November 9th. Lucky for us, we were still able to check out Think Auto and you can read up on our quick summary of the event here!

The goal of Think Dealer is to bring the latest industry stats and innovations to a location near you. The team from Google will be presenting their latest findings on what you can do at the dealership level to reach, engage and drive car buyers to your dealership!

Our team will be jet setting off to 4 of the 5 Think Dealer events (sorry Montreal) and we’d love to see you there. Here are the dates and locations:

  • Montreal – October 12th
  • Toronto – October 17th
  • Halifax – October 19th
  • Vancouver – November 7th
  • Calgary – November 9th

If you’re interested in attending one of these events, we would be happy to sign you up! Please reach out to info@strathcom.com and we’ll take care of the rest. If you’re looking for some more information, head to https://events.withgoogle.com/think-dealer-2017/. Or if you would like to attend Think Dealer in either Toronto or Vancouver but don’t want to splurge on a plane ticket and hotel room, enter our contest and we will not only foot the bill, but also hook you up with Strathcom, Facebook, and Google swag!

We look forward to seeing you at Think Dealer!

Facebook for Auto Dealers: Meh, Myth or Legend?

We’re all familiar with Facebook and that 18 million of us Canadians visit the site daily, but what’s in it for the dealership? As a dealership, can you utilize Facebook and all of its data for more than likes and shares?

Some dealers have remained skeptical and think successful advertising on Facebook is a myth. However, after reading the data in Facebook’s latest study, that myth is busted. Young woman using cell phone to send text message on social network at night.

Facebook has finally published their very own independent study based on Canadian Automotive shoppers. Surveying 1,500 Canadians between the ages of 18 – 64 who specifically planned on buying or leasing a vehicle in the next year, garnered some interesting results.

Key TakeAways for the Dealership:

  • “Nearly half (47%) of Canadian auto shoppers surveyed said they use Facebook to get information about vehicles and 29% said they use Instagram to do so.”
  • “74% of Canadian auto shoppers surveyed use a mobile device to do their research.”
  • “33% of Canadian auto shoppers surveyed said say it’s too difficult to find the information they need when researching a vehicle.”

A few great reminders:

"Canadian auto shoppers want control and easy access to information" according the the latest Facebook study

As shoppers get closer to the end of their buying journey, they start to whittle down the number of devices they do their shopping on to strictly mobile. Insights from this survey suggest this shift is due to the increased need for immediate, on-the-go answers.

Put it Into Action:

  • Shoppers prefer online shopping for the convenience but are insecure about their expertise and ability during the car buying process. Assuage their worries and streamline the process by engaging on Facebook and Instagram with how-to content across all stages of the purchase process and all departments of the dealership.
  • Assure shoppers that they are making the right choice by promoting your current reviews and happy customers, citing 3rd party reviews and promoting no commitment or low pressure programs
  • Use the vast amount of customer data available on Facebook to create custom content targeted to their specific needs. For example, create content around how to get financing, how the student purchase program works, and which vehicles are best as your ‘first vehicle’ targeted to students at your local University and Community College.
  • Be where your customers are and your competitors are not. It’s more cost effective to run a Facebook advertising campaign right now because you have less dealership competition, so take that early adapter advantage and run with it!

Now that Facebook has proven they’re a legend, ask us how we can make you into one and we’ll give you $500 to get started on generating more leads.

Read the full survey here.