Make an Effort, Not an Excuse – How to Merchandise Your Inventory Effectively

How to Merchandise Your Inventory Effectively
Dilbert’s friend Wally, the perpetual voice of reason.

Last week, we hosted a webinar to discuss How to Merchandise Your Inventory Effectively. In this webinar, we talked about the fundamentals of e-commerce websites, different variations of structuring your inventory listings, and Strathcom’s four best practices for well-merchandised inventory. But rather than put the cart before the horse, we want to make sure we share this important public service announcement:

If you’re in the business of selling vehicles, you need to put your inventory on your website.

You were probably told this a few years ago, and we’re still telling you this now because it often doesn’t happen. The reasoning is pretty simple, too: if you can’t be bothered to put in the effort required to show a customer why they should do business with you, they won’t be bothered to put in the effort to go looking for it.

Think of it this way: buying a home is the largest purchase the average person will make in their lifetime. If you were selling your house, and your realtor didn’t put a listing of your house on MLS online, you’d probably be pretty upset, right? Chances are good that potential buyers wouldn’t even know your house was for sale unless they happened to drive by and see the sign on the lawn. And even then, they wouldn’t be able to go online and find the listing to learn about how many bedrooms or bathrooms it has, peruse the square footage or other house specifications, or look at pictures of how the house looks inside. Those potential buyers would probably have a greater chance of finding other homes, listed by other realtors, who did the best job possible of showcasing the house in that online listing so that the potential buyers would want to book a viewing and hopefully make an offer.

A vehicle is the second largest purchase that the average person will make in their lifetime. Why would your dealership want to do things any differently?


To learn more about how to best structure your online inventory for your customers, plus our Big Four Best Practices, be sure to check out the recording for “How to Merchandise Your Inventory Effectively”.

Want to be the first to know? Join our mailing list to ensure you’ve got a front row seat to the next webinar!

A Vending Machine for Supercars?

The year is 2017, and seeing the advances technology has made over the past few decades, it’s hard to imagine where we might go from here.

For now, it appears we’ve reached a milestone. As far as vending machines go, this may be the greatest iteration. A Singapore dealer, Autobahn Motors, has created a 15-story vending machine – its sole purpose? Dispensing supercars.Supercar Vending Machine in Singapore

Stacking German and Italian engineering marvels on top of each other allows all to enjoy the architectural goodness on display by this vertical dealership.

If you find yourself lucky enough to be shopping for a vehicle from Autobahn’s collection, you’ll be treated to a once in a lifetime experience.

Customers are greeted at ground level where they select a car for inspection via a tablet. The selected vehicle is then transported by a “fish bone” elevator system to the showroom turntable on the ground level–all within two minutes. Not the car you were looking for? Well, in that case, the process repeats itself all over.
The vertical system is an excellent workaround of Singapore’s scarcity of space. This unique system allows ABM to store up to 60 vehicles and stand out from the competition.

More details in the video below:

https://youtu.be/0OBciQhVu24

Clarity on Conversions: what is actually being reported to you? Leads?

Do you know exactly what your online providers call a conversion? What they call a lead? If you cannot definitively answer that question it might be time to have a chat with them.  Although there seems to be endless oversight in the automotive industry, there is no industry standard for what we call a lead or a conversion.

hand holding mobile smart phone at blurred car for sale in showroom background

Most people would agree that a form completion, email, text, chat or clicks-to-call all represent a lead as a consumer is engaging directly with your business. Sounds fair.

Unfortunately, some take it a step further. Over the past year we have seen more and more dealers boast about leads, conversions and cost per acquisition only to have no sales at the end of the customer journey (I don’t like funnels) to match the increased online performance.  So why is that? What we see are some providers calling anything a conversion or a lead.  Like what you ask? How about clicking through from a SRP to a VDP –  is that a lead?  What about VDP views or time spent on VDP? One dealer was even lead to believe by a provider that YouTube video impressions/views were a lead!  $0.11/conversion sounds great, but do you consider that a lead?

Close up of an lcd screen with statistics of a generic website on Google Analytics website. Google Analytics interface is a google tools that allows to analyze and monitoring website trafficNow I want to be clear, all of the above mentioned actions are definitely important to measure.  We track them and call them significant actions, other people will break it down into Micro and Macro conversions.  The point I want to make is you need to have a clear understanding of what your provider labels a lead, a conversion and a significant action and here is why: if you don’t understand or have complete transparency in your reporting you will focus on the wrong aspects of your business.

If your reporting tells you that online leads are raining in (like points from McDavid) but sales are not, you might focus on lead handling, sales process or something else when in fact the real issue is with leads and conversions.  So have the conversation with your partner and make sure the definitions are clear.

Couple warning signs to look out for:

  • If your partner will not give you access to Google Analytics, you should be concerned.
  • If your partner will not use Google Analytics, you should be concerned.
  • If your partner will not sit down with you monthly and review the reporting that they send you, should be concerned
  • If your partner will not show you the back end of Google AdWords or Facebook and show you how your money is being spent, you should absolutely be concerned.

For more information about leads vs significant actions, don’t hesitate to give our team a shout.

WHY SHOULD CHRYSLER DEALERS USE STRATHCOM?

Strathcom Media is one of a few Chrysler Digital Certified Providers in Canada, but what makes us the number one online advertising provider for your dealership?2017-Chrysler-300

We are a recognized Canadian Premier Google Partner. Why is working with a Google Partner better?

Google Partners are well-versed in all things AdWords and must continuously meet Google’s standards to maintain partner status. Being a Premier Google Partner means Strathcom employees have certifications that are current and they are on top of the rapidly changing developments in Paid Search. This means we offer a competitive advantage to our clients and that you are receiving the highest quality customer service.

Being a Premier Google Partner also allows Strathcom to test Google’s beta features. When Google releases a new application or update, Strathcom gets to take part in beta programs before it is available to the general public.  This means that your dealership can leverage the advantages gained by using Google marketing features before your competition even has access to it!

Google encourages ongoing experimentation and requires Strathcom to demonstrate that we are actively doing split testing on ads to ensure the use of different keywords and messaging. A Google Partner that doesn’t continue to maintain Google’s standards can have their badge removed.

We are also a Facebook Preferred Marketing Partner, which – similar to being a Premier Google Partner – means that we have access to more insights and access to more training from Facebook. In fact, on December 3, we will be co-hosting a webinar with Facebook to discuss ways that Chrysler and other FCA dealers can take advantage of the slick tools that Facebook has to offer. If you are a Chrysler dealer, you can register for this free webinar here. If you are not a Chrysler dealer, we will be hosting Facebook webinars with other OEMs in the future, so stay tuned!

2017-chrysler-pacifica-first-drive-review-car-and-driver-photo-665923-s-450x274Aside from being a Premier Google Partner and a Facebook Partner, what sets Strathcom apart from other companies? First, Strathcom is focused exclusively on the Canadian automotive industry. Our knowledge and experience gained in this industry over the years allows us to know firsthand how advertising online has changed and we have adapted with it. With our knowledge, we can help you improve the results you are getting online, get an edge online in the  automotive industry, generate more leads and increase your brand awareness.

We also offer transparent monthly reporting on account performance, such as impressions, clicks and conversions. Our Paid Search analysts hand write a monthly report which outlines achievements and recommendations for your account. Reporting data is pulled directly from your Adwords and Google Analytics accounts – which you will also have full access to!

The best part? We are a Chrysler Digital partner that can help you claim co-op dollars through online advertising. Not sure what you need? Work with us to customize a campaign to your dealership. Mix and match Social Media, Search, Display, Remarketing, and even Hyper (re)Targeting packages until you get exactly what you want.

For more information, please visit: http://www.strathcom.ca/chrysler/ and register for our Facebook Webinar for FCA Dealers.

Do Car Dealers Still Rip People Off?

sleazy car salesman

If video killed the radio star, perhaps the internet killed the sleazy-car-salesman stereotype. Of course there are always going to be salespeople that only have their own best interest at heart, but thanks to the internet it is much more difficult for car dealers to manipulate a customer like they could back in the ’70s and ’80s. All a customer has to do is enter the information for the vehicle they want into Google and can determine right then and there if they are getting a good deal.

As discussed in an article from Dealer Bar, the auto industry is very unique in that, “As consumers, we don’t blink an eye when buying a couch or a shirt that brings in 50% or more profit to the retailer, but car dealers often struggle to make 4% off of a vehicle sold”. Of course dealerships are still making money, but this distinction is something that car buyers should consider.

This is great news for car buyers! We can now make more informed buying decisions and we should no longer feel so intimidated when visiting a dealership. I think as car buyers we can begin to view the process this way:

“They aren’t your enemy. You want to buy a vehicle and they want to sell one. Your goals are aligned.”

Dealer Talk X 2016 – Calgary

DealerTalk X Calgary 2016This past Thursday we were fortunate enough to attend the 2nd annual Dealer Talk X event in Calgary. It was amazing to see how the event grew and evolved in just one year. As always, there were some amazing speakers and here is a quick highlight reel of what they had to say.

The day started off with an inspirational keynote from the 2010 Canadian Olympian Gold Medalist, Jon Montgomery, titled Dreaming Big and Living Bigger. “Things are only out of your reach if you put them there” was the overlying message throughout Jon’s presentation. We all face so many challenges on a daily basis, but some of those challenges exist to push us further; we just need the drive to get there and to celebrate the small victories along the way!

For the first breakout session we listened to Rick Johnston talk about behavioural economics and how the consumer buying cycle has changed, but not in the way you think. Most buyers still go through these 6 phases: Meet & Greet > Fact Finding > Vehicle Selection > Present > Demo > Write-Up, but what has changed drastically are the Fact Finding and Vehicle Selection phases. It’s not uncommon to have a customer walk into the dealership and say “I want a 2016 Honda Civic EX-T in lunar silver metallic, what’s your best price?” So if that’s the case, have your salesmen adapted to this shift? If the customer is coming in to buy and ends up leaving without a vehicle, where is the disconnect? Just because customers are coming into the dealership already set on a vehicle, it doesn’t mean that you can’t provide them with different options for things like financing, leasing, warranty packages, etc. Don’t limit yourself just because the customer says they want to finance the vehicle for 72 months. Give them options.

Our second breakout session was with David MacDonald. David spoke to us about market strategy and financial research and how it pertained to 3 demographics: Albertans, women, and millennials. This was a data-heavy session, so it was perfect for us data nerds!  For Alberta buyers, here were the top three reasons why customers wanted to purchase a newer car:

  • 29% Previous vehicle had too many kilometers
  • 28% Newer or different features in their vehicle
  • 27% Treat myself to something newer

The decision process varied  from rational (too many km’s) to emotional (I work hard so I deserve this).

Here are a few more stats to get you thinking:

  • 85% of Albertans are searching on a desktop or laptop
    • 42% are also searching on mobile, but they tend to go back to desktop to dig deeper into research
  • 73% of Canadians said having no-pressure sales was the number one thing that mattered to them
    • 48% of Canadians also said they want an easy to navigate website
  • 42% of recent car buyers and future intenders in Canada are women
    • 87% of all car purchases are influenced by a woman
  • 60% of millennials will graduate with debt ($40 to $50k)
    • Millennials also lean more towards used vehicles: New – 46% and Used – 54%

Another important takeaway from this session was when David took us through the advertising mediums each demographic uses the most. For each demographic, newspapers were on the bottom and radio didn’t even make the list. Something to think about if you are using either of these to advertise.

After lunch, we got to listen to Rohn Jackson chat about changing our demographic targeting. He brought up a great example about how the data on him as a buyer says he’s a 32 year old male (so a millennial), but when he walked into a dealership with his wife and 6 month old son, he wasn’t seen as a millennial, he was seen as a parent in need of a family vehicle. So if that’s the case, why do we focus on demographics like age and gender? Why not focus on parents? His main message was: don’t focus on a product segment, focus on a people segment.

The day wrapped up with an invigorating keynote from Scott Stratten. If you haven’t heard him speak at an event yet, you should! The overarching theme of his presentation was customer service and how it affects your brand. From doing something as simple as responding to tweet, to going through the amazing sequence of events that the Ritz Carlton staff did to return a stuffed giraffe, (if you haven’t heard the story about Joshie, check it out here), the stories that your customers (or staff) write are usually the ones that stick. The most common issue is that customers simply don’t feel as though they are heard and it’s amazing what an immediate response can do to defuse a situation and how it can start to build a story for your brand.

If you would like to see any of the presentations, they will be posted on the DealerTalk website in a couple of weeks. A big thanks to DealerTalk for putting on another great event, we look forward to coming out again next year!

photo with Jon Montgomery and his gold medal!

10 YouTube Fundamentals

Google sign

We were lucky enough to attend Google’s Video Ignite event at the New York Chelsea office. It was a great event packed with a ton of useful content that we would like to share with you!

Video has been gaining popularity for quite some time now; video even had its own section at Think Auto this year, which was a first. Most of us would agree that we would rather ‘watch’ the internet as opposed to ‘reading’ it, but how do you become successful at utilizing video? Karolina Chodkiewicz, Senior Strategic Partner Manager, YouTube Content Partnerships North America with Google was so kind as to share the top 10 fundamentals of YouTube:

  1. Shareability
    Does your video appeal to users in a way that will encourage them to share you video? Having great content is key, and here are a few things to keep in mind when developing a strategy for your video: is it topical, is it valuable, and is it relatable?
  2. Conversation
    Is there an element of your video that speaks directly to your viewers? This could be content added in the main video or as supplementary content. Think of calls to action and video descriptions!
  3. Interactivity
    Are you able to incorporate your viewers into your content? Are you able to spark a conversation in the comments section and get them involved with what you’re doing?
  4. Consistency
    This is probably the hardest fundamental: updating your video content regularly. We all get busy and forget to make time. Having a schedule and specific video format in place will be key. You also want to make sure you’re portraying the right personality and voice in all of your content.
  5. Targeting
    Do you have a clearly defined audience? You can set your targeting at the video level, show level, and even channel level. Targeting your videos will give you more opportunity to speak to different audiences.
  6. Sustainability
    If the audience loves it, can you make more of it? Meaning, if you spend $40,000 on a video that everyone loves, do you have the resources to keep making videos to that level? Can you continue to hire the right crew for your video?
  7. Discoverability
    Will your content be found? Not every video can go viral, but are you choosing topics that are trending or evergreen (like how-to and DIY videos). Go check out google.com/trends to kick-start those creative juices!
  8. Accessibility
    Can every single video be appreciated by a brand new user or do they need to sit there and watch multiple videos to understand what you’re trying to get across? If you want your content to be shareable, you will want to make sure it’s accessible as well.
  9. Collaboration
    Is there a way to feature guest stars? More and more viewers are relating to YouTube Creators as being more like them compared to traditional celebrities. This means that they take their opinion seriously!
  10. Inspiration
    Is the idea for this video coming from a genuine place of passion and does it fit your overall brand? You want to create unique content that aligns with your brand identity and excites your viewers!

Karolina and her team researched the top performing YouTube channels and found that they all incorporated a combination of these 10 fundamentals which were key to building their success. We’re not suggesting that you need to incorporate all 10 of these items in every single video, but keeping 2 – 3 in mind is definitely a good place to start.

If you’re looking to get some videos created and would like some help coming up with a strategy, don’t hesitate to give our team a call!

Notepad

Head on over to your site and take a look around. Have you ever wondered how your site traffic finds what they’re looking for? Today it is all about efficiency: how quickly something can be done, with as little pain as possible. (Hello, Keyless Go!) But wait – what about customer service? Isn’t buying a car supposed to be a memorable experience with the best team of people helping you out every step of the way?

Coffee cup and notepad with pen on wooden tableAs you are probably aware, the journey to purchasing a vehicle starts way before the customer walks through the door. How is your dealership supposed to make that first impression and keep their interest? Why not start with your website?

Introducing Notepad! Strathcom has recently created a whole new level of options to help your dealership hold the attention of the valuable traffic coming to your website. The Notepad feature combines the best of both worlds, creating efficient customer service.

Add Notepad into your site, and users will be greeted with a small tracker that automatically tracks which vehicles they are looking at. Why do we say this is the best of both worlds? Because we do the work for the user! With no login necessary, your potential customers aren’t distracted from their main focus – your inventory! From there, your site will keep track of which cars the user has shown interest in; plus it gives them notifications of price changes! And finally, next time the user heads back to your site, Notepad will be there to remind them of the units they looked at last time so they don’t have to start at square 1. If the car has been sold since the last time they visited your site, Notepad will automatically remove it.  It’s quick, easy, and ever-so-painless!

Notepad is just one of many great tools that Strathcom is now offering. So sit back and let us take care of the heavy lifting!

For more information on Notepad and our other website personalization tools, give us a call today or subscribe to our newsletter.

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Should You Use Responsive Ads?

In addition to Expanded Text Ads (ETA’s) Google has also recently released Responsive Ads – are they right for your business?

Depending on the website, you can feature different combinations of your Responsive Ads. A short headline with the description, a long headline and a description, or a short/long headline. All this means is that your ad will have more opportunities to reach your target audience while they spend their time online. Note that long headlines and description lines are 90 characters, while the short headline is 25 characters. They also allow for branding, since Google allows you to upload a logo and an image.

Increase your brand's awareness by including your logo

One concept to think about when using responsive ads is the number of characters you use in the headlines and the description lines. The possible combinations would mean that your ad will take on ad spots where your ad would make no sense without a concise message in the headlines. Additionally, because of the lack of control (i.e. telling Google an ad can only show if the description line shows), Google might feature your description but only half of it – due to the size of the ad. In other words: don’t say more than you need to!

Another point is that Google can’t show you previews for every type of ad , so the creative you come up with might not meet your expectations on different websites. It all heavily depends on where the ads are shown. I suggest controlling this by finding strong performing placements/websites where they show and excluding mobile apps at the campaign level.

Consider how to target the mobile market

At the end of the day, you should take advantage of responsive ads since they offer more than Google Text Ads. However, like anything else in an AdWords account, monitor them closely. You can let Google find strong performing websites, but rein in control right away when you find them. Don’t let these responsive ads run rampant! As soon as performance dips for an extended period of time let Google find better performing websites or change your creative and repeat the process.

Car Parts & Service: The Auction Your Dealership Is Missing Out On

The hard truth: winter is coming. And with winter, comes white walkers snow and ice that require consumers to switch from their summer to winter tires. Car parts and services search queries happen year round, but many queries see huge seasonal peaks that your dealership should be capitalizing on.  With the looming seasonal change upon us, is your dealership ready to face the long night?

Continue reading “Car Parts & Service: The Auction Your Dealership Is Missing Out On”