Why WordPress is one of the most used CMS in the industry

At Strathcom, we often talk about our  custom-built WordPress platform. But what exactly is WordPress and why does using it matter?

Storytime

WordPress's story

First, let’s answer the question: “What is WordPress?” WordPress is a content management system built on PHP and MySQL. It originally started out as a blogging software to replace a discontinued platform. It was built by two developers: Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little. In 2003, they launched the new WordPress platform that included a new templates and admin interface. Continue reading “Why WordPress is one of the most used CMS in the industry”

Think with Google – Online Video Planning

Camera lens with lense reflections.

The Think with Google resource gives us online video planning tips for success with online videos. The first tip is to be mobile-minded. Google’s research found that viewers who watched an ad twice on mobile had – on average – a significant lift of 23% in unaided brand awareness, and 47% in unaided ad recall.

Think with Google also suggests to put YouTube alongside TV. But for most small to medium businesses, this might not be as easy as it would be for big-box businesses. So what’s the alternative? Put YouTube alongside Facebook. Not only are you adhering to the first tip, but you’re also choosing to advertise on a platform where people spend their time watching videos. When was the last time you watched a video on Facebook? The answer is probably yesterday or when you were on your coffee break.

Facebook is also more measurable than TV because you can track conversions from pixels and generate leads right from Facebook through their lead ads objective. In addition to the ability to generate leads, you can also track performance and measure key performance indicators to see if it’s all living up to your expectations.

online video planning tips

You can read the referenced Think With Google content here. If you would like more online video planning tips, check out or previous post about YouTube or give our Online Marketing Team a call; and don’t forget to ask about how you can get $500 in bonus Facebook ad spend!

Hurry and Read This Blog Post – It Won’t Be Available Much Longer!

Act Now! This Won't Last Long!

We all know that companies use these tactics to try to get us to act on a sale, and we do! We all know that 99¢ is really $1.00, but it works! Our brain tells us we need to act before it’s too late. Marketers are using our own instincts against us, and there is nothing we can do about it!

reptilian brainIt all has to do with the Reptilian brain, millions of years of evolution, and a time when not getting that meal when the opportunity arose could mean death. It’s not that dire anymore, but we still have the faculties that cause us to make decisions based on urgency and abundance. I could talk about this for hours, but instead I’ll refer you to influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini and Neuromarketing by Patrick Renvoise, two great books that teach you how to use those faculties to your advantage.

One way Strathcom has incorporated this into our new website platform is a tool we call Silent Salesman.

When a user goes to the VDP (Vehicle Detail Page) of a vehicle they are interested in, they will still be met with the standard photos, description, pricing etc., but now they will also see how many people have viewed that vehicle and how many inquiries have been made on that vehicle. The more interest that is shown in that car, the more the user is going to want it. The more inquires the user sees for that car, the more it will trigger the reptilian brain to act in fear of missing out. It seems like a small feature, but it has tons of power.

silent salesman image

This is just one tool that Strathcom can add to your toolbox to sell more cars. If you’d like to know how you can enable the Silent Salesman tool on your website, drop us a line at info@strathcom.com. Sell more cars before the customer ever walks into your dealership!

Google Announces Allo & Duo – What does that mean for Google Hangouts?

With the announcement and upcoming launch of Google’s all new mobile-only chat app Allo and Duo, will that be the end of Google Hangouts? No way!

Google has confirmed that Google Hangout is a separate “standalone product” and it will continue to run with no interference from Allo and Duo.

Meet Google's new Allo & Duo app!

Continue reading “Google Announces Allo & Duo – What does that mean for Google Hangouts?”

AWS Elastic Beanstalk: Ideal for Automated Tasks

Throughout my time at Strathcom the Dev team has been presented with many interesting challenges. We have conquered some of them elegantly so that they won’t become a serious debt down the line and patched others with hopes of finding better tools to solve the problem later. My goal is that by sharing some of our successes and failures, you may be able to avoid the same pitfalls or find the right tool for the job before you. Let’s start with a recent experiment with AWS Elastic Beanstalk.

Almost like clockwork small seemingly one-off tasks come up again and again. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you have templated out the task so it only takes a few minutes to get it running. Your solution may even scale and tear down automatically. Even if you’ve done an absolutely fantastic job, what if you could get all of that in a system that had nearly nothing you need to manage? This is how we automated some of our maintenance tasks so that we never have to think about them again. They are easy to understand and, more importantly, maintain.

Using AWS Elastic Beanstalk to automate my task

Simple AWS Elastic Beanstalk setup

My ultimate goal was to be bottlenecked by a fear of bringing down one of our database servers. The prospect of being able to do that without affecting the end users experience was very attractive. I suspected that I could write a small uWSGI worker in one of our services and utilize all of the classes within the project that I needed – completely self-contained. This ended up taking about 100 lines of code including all setup and documentation. The endpoint itself is around 5 lines. Most magical of this setup is that you can put as many messages in the queue as you want and spin up instances to fit the time frame you need. In my case, I was able to pre-cache and size all of our new images for our users in about 4 hours (292k~).

Once the initial pattern was proven it was duplicated to deleting and redownloading corrupted images and in the future it will enable us to painlessly cleanup orphaned images. Most important to me it uses only existing production classes and code. If bugs are found in that code path we are one EB CLI command away from giving the workers the fix as well.

That’s So Maven

Customers want what they want. Companies can either adapt to ever-changing consumer demands or be left in the dust!

One example of changing consumer demands is in the automotive industry. As time goes on, fewer and fewer people become interested in getting their driver’s license despite owning a vehicle. According to the Federal Highway Administration, between 1998 and 2008, there was an 18.1% drop in the number of teenagers who got their driver’s license, and this number still continues to decrease.

Thanks to a new generation of car buyers, companies like Uber, and Google’s driverless cars, the automotive industry is changing and automotive companies are changing too. Most recently, General Motors announced their new car-sharing program: Maven.

“With more than 25 million customers around the world projected to use some form of shared mobility by 2020, Maven is a key element of our strategy to changing ownership models in the automotive industry,” says Julia Steyn, General Motors VP of urban mobility programs.

Maven will be launched in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but there are plans to expand the service in the future. It is free to join, every vehicle includes a fuel card, there are both hourly and daily rates, and insurance is included.

Here’s how it works:

  1. With your phone and the app, find and select a registered car in your area
  2. Start the engine (can also be done from your phone)
  3. Drive
  4. Fill up with the fuel card
  5. Return the car

GM isn’t the only manufacturer positioning itself for the change; BMW has DriveNow, Audi has Audi unite, and Tesla has recently announced Summon: an app that actually allows you to use your phone to summon your Tesla.

In a world where technologies and trends are always changing, the automotive industry is one industry that seems to be staying ahead of the curve.

Does Your Dealership Have a Behavioural Exit Intent Strategy?

Bounce Recovery – Convert More Users before They Leave Your Site

It’s a well-known fact that most users coming to your website don’t convert. Whether it’s because they are just starting to consider upgrading their current vehicle or simply researching what the latest tech features are, they are not always likely to fill out a ‘book a test drive’ form.

So if you’re spending all this money to make a kickass website with unique content, real photos of your inventory, how-to or introductory videos the latest and greatest auto features, what are you doing to convert all of those users before they leave your site?

Enter Bounce Recovery! Our Bounce Recovery technology will learn what your users are doing on your site and detects “exit intent”. We don’t target these customers with gimmicky offers and creative. We target them with relevant manufacturer incentives and price updates on new and used vehicles. We create offers that are designed to look and feel like your website, and at the end of the day, generate a lead that you may have otherwise not received.

Bounce Recovery2

How does this tool work? Every month we will take care of updating the manufacturer incentive and on top of that, we will also take care of updating your customers via email when the incentive changes each month.

This is a simple solution that requires no additional effort on your part. It can integrate with your CRM, is CASL compliant, can be used to create different messages for different pages, and it can be used for New, Used and Fixed Ops. It will grow your database and give you another opportunity to reach out to prospective clients who may not realize that there’s a new incentive that comes out every month.

Here is an example of what your potential customers could see in their inbox at the beginning of each month with the new incentive:

Bounce Recovery3

If you’re ready to start converting some of those users who are leaving your site, then give us a call so we can start helping you to build up your client list and generate more leads!

Turn Even More Website Visitors into Leads

Advertisers love the ability to follow around potential customers with remarketing ads because it’s a great reminder to customers of their ever growing list of wants, as the advertiser patiently waits until your will power is at its lowest and for you to finally return and make your next purchase. You may even be running these images ads for your own dealership.

Today, this is how most people search for new vehicles.

Now, what if I told you that you could have this same stalking ability but get your business in front of audience that is actively shopping for your products a second time? No more passive approach to remarketing, patiently waiting until a user is ready to continue down the purchase path. You can skip the waiting and now entice previous website visitors when they’re actively on the hunt again. How can this be? Well…

Continue reading “Turn Even More Website Visitors into Leads”

Changing The PPC Game with Google Customer Match

In the world of Google and PPC, there are currently only 4 ways you can target potential customers. These include:

  • Keyword searches
  • Past site Visitors
  • In-Market Audiences and;
  • Affinity Audiences

Recently, Google – in their infinite wisdom – decided to throw another targeting method into the mix and it is sure to float the proverbial boat of car dealers across the world.

Modern advertising involves targeting the individual.

Continue reading “Changing The PPC Game with Google Customer Match”

Turn Pictures into Cash with Instagram Ads

Since 2013, many big brand companies have been taking advantage of Instagram’s 400+ million member community by sharing high quality, image-rich content while driving results that matter. Thanks to the great success of these campaigns, Instagram has opened up their advertising product to all advertisers, internationally. No brand, budget or idea is too small to take advantage of this next wave of social media advertising.

Turn Instagram ads into happy customers and increased revenue!

Continue reading “Turn Pictures into Cash with Instagram Ads”

Strathcom at Dreamforce 2015!

What do you get when you take 160,000 people and stuff them into San Francisco for a week? One of the largest software and technology conferences in the world: Dreamforce!Strathcom was proud to attend Dreamforce '15

Continue reading “Strathcom at Dreamforce 2015!”

Google Tag Manager – Web code tracking management

Google Tag Manager to the Rescue!

Have you been drowning in a sea of code overload trying to keep track of your tracking codes on your website? If so, your savior has arrived! Google Tag Manager is a tool Google released this October to help manage tracking codes by keeping them all in one place. With this new tool you can enter and manage all of your tags in one location, and insert them onto your site with one little snippet of JavasScript code.

Monitoring the success of your website or Pay-Per-Click campaign wouldn’t be possible without strategically placed tracking codes placed on your website to see how users are landing on your site and where they visit before – hopefully – making a conversion by clicking a “contact us” button, or buying your product or service.

But implementing tracking codes can be a pain. Improperly implemented code can slow down your website and lead to inaccurate reporting data, and every time a new marketing tool comes out you have to retag many parts of your site. Often the worst frustration is waiting for a request to make it from a marketing department to IT – and by the time your tracking is set up, you could have missed out on valuable statistics that could have been used to improve your site and get valuable leads.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a tool your Marketing department could view and add tracking code themselves? That’s where Google Tag Manager (GTM) comes in. With an intuitive user interface, it makes it easier for marketing managers to get the data they need, and even gives your markets the ability to tag live and publish changes in seconds.

GTM has a number of benefits:

  • You can add tags any time without waiting. It’s easy enough for marketers to make changes without having to bother IT.
  • Automatic error-checking and faster tag load times mean more accurate tracking data.
  • Templates make it easy to copy-past and auto-generate your code.
  • You have the ability to set rules to fire which codes you want.
  • Asynchronus tag loading means tags will load as they’re ready, and in parallel with other page elements. This speeds up your site and prevents the clashing of other tags.
  • Multi-account support and user permissions give large corporations additional flexibility

Learn about all of Google Tag Manager’s current features at Google.

How does Google Tag Manager work?

After you create a Tag Manager account you will be able to create accounts and edit permissions for anyone who will need to access the account. You can work with your IT department to implement the solution on your site, and in some cases all it takes is a single snippet of code.

You can define sets of tags and rules within Google Tag Manager. Once these are made live, users will receive an up-to-date configuration in their browser where the correct tags will fire. Tags are loaded more quickly as the manager loads them asynchronously, and the rest of the page will keep loading independent of the tags. No longer will a single poorly-performing tag limit your page loading performance.

Before you make tags live, you can view them in the preview and debug view of GTM. This allows you to check that tags are firing on the right pages and at the right time.

How to get started:

  1. Get your team involved: Talk to your marketing and IT teams and see if Google Tag Manager could benefit your business.
  2. Implement GTM: either have your IT team install GTM themselves, or hire an outside source to set up your webpage.
  3. Determine your goals for measurement: Decide what key elements you want to measure. With GTM you can easily change these elements in the future.
  4. Migrate to the new platform.

GTM plans to add additional tag templates as well as other elements including reporting on tag firing, support for A/B testing tags, and more.

Strathcom's New Look

If you blinked, you probably missed it. Strathcom’s website has donned a new look! Thanks to our web team for making the transition as smooth and clean as the new design. You may also notice a change in our logo. It’s all part of a slew of changes that Strathcom has undergone in the past year. With our entrance into 2013, we decided that it was time to change our branding to reflect our changes in ownership and match our ambitious goals for the future.

What has changed? We are a new company with new owners. Our business is now purely automotive-driven, and we now focus solely on the Canadian auto industry. Many of us have automotive backgrounds and have worked with auto dealerships in the past. The auto industry has always been the primary focus of our company and it’s time that every part of our business reflected this fact.

To advance this aim, we are launching The Market Platform with a projected launch date of spring 2013. This revolutionary new system will streamline inventory management while incorporating all of the services and features you need in one place. Our development team has been working long and hard to make this dream a reality. As a product that defines our company, we have incorporated it into our redesigned logo: Strathcom Media Market Platform: by dealers, for dealers.

We have also updated our packages to provide our clients with a superior selection of services that make it easy to select exactly what you need to get the best return on your investment. We are making your choices easier:  when you subscribe to our dealer website solution, you have the choice between the essential Core Package and the comprehensive Premium Package. We also provide websites for Independent Dealers and a large number of customizable ad-ons depending on your needs. Contact us if you have any questions regarding these changes.

There were also many changes for our company in 2012. We hired 30 new employees, added new departments including Video, Online Marketing Managers, SEO department, Dealer training and representatives in BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. We also changed locations without breaking a sweat (or anything else in the process). We have changed. Our company is grown up, and our new look is representative of the new road that we are ready to take. We invite you to join us on that road.

Dealership Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs are a great way to reward customers for their continued support, learn more about their buying and shopping patterns, as well as create innovative marketing channels to drive even more business.  A quick look at some of the biggest loyalty programs out there today can quickly show you the power these programs have in retaining customers as well as driving new customers to adopt your product or service.  This works exceedingly well for transactional purchases, where buyers are constantly buying products that are somewhat necessary to their day to day.  Airmiles rewards for Gas purchases or groceries, or Aeroplan rewards at Rona or other locations, but what about Car Dealers?  On the surface, parts and service seems like a natural fit, but what about vehicle purchases, where the average customer is only buying a vehicle every 3-5 years on average?  How can you create a loyalty program that gives you the first crack at keeping them buying cars from you, as well as generating new customer business because of the value of that loyalty program?  Let me show you.

At Strathcom, we designed a loyalty program that is specific to Car Dealerships.  It is easy to manage, focuses on both the short and long term rewards for customers, and most importantly, helps dealers drive new business by leveraging their current customers and their social networks (Family, Friends, Co-Workers, and so on).

The loyalty card program we built is designed around rewarding customers who send you business.  Each customer is provided a unique “referral code” which is easily shared to friends via email, facebook, twitter and more.  Each time someone comes in and buys a car or truck with that code, the owner of the code (your current customer) is awarded a dollar amount on that card.  In addition, the person buying the vehicle is given a dollar amount off that car or truck purchase.  Everyone wins.

On top of the referral mechanism, there is a Service and Parts component.  The customers card number is stored in the DMS and points are automatically awarded every night to the customer at a rate you set.  By integrating this directly into the DMS, it removes most of the labor from the staff at the store, and ensures that points are awarded properly, every time.  The only time staff use the card management tool is to award referrals and to redeem dollars from a customers card.

To show you some statistics from a dealer group we have running the program:

Car Dealer Loyalty Program Stats

This screenshot is taken directly from their Loyalty Program Management Page (With permission).  As you can quickly see, with over 80,000 card holders and 3400 issued in the last 30 days alone the program is starting to get some serious user uptake.  In this case, the program has been running just about 2 years, and it now generates this dealer group OVER 13 vehicle sales EVERY DAY OF THE MONTH just from referrals.  Since January 1, it has added 2500 vehicle sales to the dealers totals.

This program at this group is not yet directly marketed, it is strictly through the Sales and F&I teams and then the customers excitement at earning alot of potential rewards.  Think of the possibilities at your dealership or dealer group?  Imagine the marketing opportunities in contacting every customer who has $100 on their card to sell them a $400 flush package?  The possibilities are literally endless.

I mentioned how excited some users get about people using their referral code?  This dealer group sees about 3 or 4 posts PER WEEK on the internet from card members asking (in some cases paying) other people to use their referral code:

Viral aspects of a Dealership Loyalty Program

If you want more information or would like to speak to someone directly about how a customized dealership loyalty program could help your store drive more sales today, please drop me a line directly ben(@)strathcom.com and I would be happy to help you starting selling more cars asap.

 

 

Customer Newsletters for Car Dealers

Ever wonder what kind of actionable data comes out of sending a newsletter to your database of car shoppers?  Lots.  If you apply the same logic that we have talked about with website analytics, you can learn a ton of valuable information about your customers and what is currently of interest, and create actionable contact lists directly from the data you collect.

Most good newsletter offerings allow you to tag the different links in your newsletters to analyze who is coming from your newsletter to your website (Better yet, tag the links with Google Analytics tags, more on this another time).  A good newsletter service should also allow you to track who opened the newsletter and clicked on what link.  This creates an instant list of customers who have shown interest in a certain product/service/feature that you highlighted in your newsletter.

So, you know exactly who clicked on exactly what in your newsletter.  What next?  Send them a very targeted newsletter specific to what they clicked on.  If they clicked on a service special, follow up with a service discount newsletter only to the people who clicked on it.  New model coming out, send them a deal/test drive offer, exclusive something or other, you get the idea.  Yes it is more work, but it is alot less than creating an ad for the paper, or planning a mailer campaign, and again, it is targeted, not Faith Based.  It is very similar to retargeting using Google.  (In Fact, if you really want to kill it, and Strathcom can gladly help you with this, you could put google retargeting audience codes on the landing pages from your newsletters so that not only do the customers get a specific second newsletter regarding what interests them, they get to see an ad for the same discount all over the internet…)

Its a cost effective way to learn alot about what interests your customers and a great way to drive targeted advertising to an already captive audience.

Google Retargeting for Car Dealers

We get alot of questions about Google retargeting and how our dealers can best leverage it.  This post is a quick primer on how Google Retargeting works, and how it can benefit your car dealership.

How Google Retargeting Works

Google retargeting uses a some custom code on your website to collect visitors in to audiences.  Audiences can be defined in almost any way you can setup your dealer website.  You could have the audience collection script only on New Vehicles if you wanted to retarget new buyers, or used vehicles, parts and services visitors, basically any area/page of your website can have it’s own audience collection.  You can even collect multiple audiences on the same site (Different audiences for New and for Used Cars).

These audiences are persistent, as it works by dropping a cookie on their computer, so Google can remember they belong to your selected audience.

After your audience size reaches a reasonable size, you develop display ads (Graphic ads or Flash ads) specific to the type of audience you collected.  If you setup retargeting to collect used car customers, then you want to show them used car ads.

Now that you have an audience and an ad, as your customer browses around the internet, anytime they are served a google display ad (These are everywhere on the internet, Kijiji, TSN, The Edmonton Sun, you name it, it is probably run by Google Display), they see the ad you created for that audience.

Google retargeting is really just persistent advertising for your customers who have been to your site.  You can control how long they see your ads, how often they see them, and the content of them.  It is a pretty powerful tool for direct advertising to customers who have shown an interest in your product.

Retargeting for Car Dealers

As I mentioned above, you can tailor make your audiences to your departments, which is fairly straightforward, but how can you really drive a customer back to your site to complete a conversion, or better yet, a sale?  A few ideas:

  • Model Specific Audience Collection.  This is alot more involved, but you could tag every <insert your dealer badge here> on your dealer site, new and used and retarget customers with a discount on your on make vehicles.
  • Body Type Specific Audience Collection.  Also fairly involved but extremely powerful.  If your market is bent towards a certain type of vehicle (Alberta = Trucks), you could tag all your New and Used Trucks and serve ads regarding the benefits of buying a new truck from your dealership.
  • Service Customers.  You could tag customers who Submit a service lead, and offer them upsell work between their conversion and their appointment.  Maybe with them having seen 25 flush ads after they already have an appointment, they will be more receptive to the Transmission flush you offer them when they come in.

The possibilites are endless, and like everything, a great retargeting strategy comes down to time, money, and effort.  Don’t get started with retargeting if you are not going to properly manage every part of your campaign or don’t have the resources to handle the different aspects of ad creation, audience collection, and so on.  You will literally be throwing money away.