Professional Community for Car Dealers, Marketing, Advertising and Sales Leaders
What is the single most cost effective way to get direct access to a consumer? If you said anything other than through a mobile device, then you are wrong. Mobile devices are proliferating at an exponential rate and nearly 40% of all Internet traffic now, is on a mobile device. Mobile marketing reached $2.7 billion in 2011 and is expected to grow 84% annually, hitting $5.7 billion by 2014!
Mobile devices and phones are here to stay. We have now moved into an era where our access point to the world, is held in our hands. We are no longer tethered to a computer in our home, our office or at Starbucks. We have reached the state now, where 9 out of 10 mobile searches lead to some form of action and half of those lead to a purchase, 70% of which take place within 60 minutes of that search.
As Ripley so aptly put it, “Believe it or Not,” 2013 celebrates the 20th year milestone of the first text message being sent. Why is this so important to us? Let me explain it to you like this. The early adapters of the Internet, from 1996 to 2000, reaped the hugest profit and sold the most cars. The second wave of dealers that adapted the Internet as a lead-gen tool, 2001 to 2006, spent eight times the amount of the early adapters in an attempt to catch up, those that came after, lost out completely on the gold rush. It’s only now that in the last three or four years that the Internet has become a level playing field for everybody. No one dealer has an advantage over another, except in the area of “best Practices and follow up.”
So again I ask why is this so important to us? Simply put, we are now in the “early adapter stage” of the mobile marketing revolution, and those that get on board now during the next twelve to eighteen months will fair the best, build the largest list of loyal customers, and turn the average $1,700 PVR into $10,000 plus. Jeanne Hopkins said it best, “mobile is a "once-in-a-generation shift in the way consumers connect with brands. And it's going to have greater impact than radio, TV, and the personal computer - combined."
AdvertisingAge puts it this way. “It's clear that retailers who don't embrace Mobile phone technology in the coming year will be left behind.” Understand, mobile is not leaving any time soon. In fact it is growing at such a rapid pace, that manufacturers can’t keep pace with the demand.
A Word About Apps And Why They Fail To Sell Cars.
I have been asked by several car dealerships here in the Los Angeles area that have had apps developed for them, “why don’t people download them and when they do, why don’t they use them or leave them installed?” Well I could give you a long philosophical answer, but the real reason is very simple. Apps are for the “hyper-loyal,” texting is for the masses! That’s the bottom line. Fans or customers of a particular brand will download an App for special deals, but then generally turn it off until the need arises.
Apps are here to help make our lives easier in some way and to be reused over and over again. Very few companies have figured out a way to make Apps profitable, but more importantly, businesses need to understand most people turn off Apps to save on battery drain, and if there isn’t a real need for it, they uninstall it. App’s that succeed generally have buzz about them and have developed demand for them. No demand… equals failed App… equals lost investment.
The one profitable segment regarding Apps and the App market, is the developers themselves. The buzz on the street for some time now has been “you need an App”, or “your company needs an App”, “if you don’t have an App, you’ll be left behind and you’ll lose money”. HOGWASH! Owning a company that does App development, this could not be further from the truth. Now in some cases I agree, an App could be created, but most times you can do the same exact thing with a mobile website and pay half of what you would pay for an App.
What Is Advertising?
Before I get into the whole crux of this article, I need you to understand one thing about sales and advertising. I need you to have the right mindset with the understanding about using other tools to aid in making sales. Now since I am not in front of you, I can’t ask you this question and let you respond. So here is the question: What is advertising? Please think about this for a moment before you read on. What ever answer you came up with, it’s wrong!
This is advertising, in three words…. “Salesmanship in Print”, or boiled down, Salesmanship. When you create any type of sales piece whether a direct mail piece, a sales letter, a classified ad, a yellow pages ad, you are creating a salesman. Salesmen need to be trained, up-trained, tested, and put to work. Not all salesmen are created with the same purpose. Some are there to get your prospect to take the next step in the sales process. For instance email us right now, or pick up the phone and call, etc. Think of everything from this point on as a salesman and treat it as such. It makes it easier to fire them when they don’t do a good job for the purpose they were created for.
The Anatomy Of Generating Leads On The Frontend
I’ve often heard in the last few years that print is dead, yet every Sunday like clockwork, I see at least fifty classified page ads for all the special deals going on at any given car dealership. Every week I get a minimum of one mailer, but generally more, and recently a not-so-local Mercedes Benz dealer went fifty miles out of his way to canvas my neighborhood by leaving a large mailer on my doorstep. Doesn’t look to me like print is dead… at least not yet.
So how does your dealership set up a mobile marketing plan to capture leads and sell more cars? Let’s begin by going back to our print media: ads and direct mail. Generally we include dealer name, some kind of catchy headline, pictures of the cars, the sale prices, small print etc., and then publish in the newspaper or send out the mailer. This is one of our salesmen.
The Virtual Tour
Now it’s time to bring our salesmen into the 21st. century. How do we do that? It actually is quite simple. If you haven’t already seen some examples of texting being used for marketing purpose let me give you one. To receive a free widget, Text the Word “WIDGET” to 12345. Now the user will get back a text with pictures, or a video, or a coupon of some kind, engaging that customer to take further action.
So how do we apply that to our salesmen? We do everything the same as before, except now we add one extra line of text (Like in my example) to each vehicle that is in the advertisement. NOTE: I would highly recommend using the last six digits of the VIN number for a particular vehicle. It helps to keep things in order.
So our ad would look like this, bold headline, pictures, prices, and each listing now includes “Virtual Tour” Text 734917 to 12345. Now the prospective viewer gets back a text with all the details about the vehicle, which also includes a link to additional pictures, video(s), and an extra discount if purchased within a certain period of time. But we don’t stop there. We also include a line of text that says something along the lines of: “Click to schedule a test ride.” This takes them to another form that goes straight to the Internet manager. It will have the UPS name, phone number, the time they would like to come in, and anything else you ask for.
One of two things can now happen. One you have just captured a mobile number for your growing mobile list, and you can follow up with a text to that person to see if they found what they were looking for if they didn’t ask for a demo. Two, if they did ask for a demo, you have just captured a valuable high-converting lead. UPS won’t go as far as to give you their contact information unless they are in BUY mode.
Don’t Abuse Them!
Now if they haven’t asked to be removed from your list, and they didn’t ask for a demo, then once a month or every two months, send them a special unadvertised offer to get them onto the floor. Be clear with them, this is unadvertised for them only. But be forewarned! If you abuse them, you will lose them, and once you lose them, they are gone forever. They will not come back and join your list.
So do you want a real life demo? I’ve set one up just for this article. Get your mobile phone out and text the word “AUTODEALER” TO 71441. In a few moments you will get back a text with the same info I mentioned earlier. You can now see what the person on the other end will see.
This is just one example. Let me give you some examples of what some other dealers are doing with SMS marketing around the country. Fox Chevrolet in Maryland, during the Cash for Clunkers program, broadcasted a mobile call to action via 10- and 15-second promos encouraging people to text-in on Hearst's Baltimore 98 Rock radio station.
In total, nearly 500 listeners texted the keyword FOX to the station’s short code, with nearly 300 of those attending a special day-long event that resulted in the sale of 17 new cars and 17 used cars, in addition to the two $98 used cars that were awarded.
Nimnicht Chevrolet in Florida employed a similar strategy over an eight-week period of time using a contest. The dealership generated 4,000 mobile opt-ins. Using a double opt-in process, the program created 370 workable leads (9.25%). They discovered that when the value of 370 double opt-in participants specifically interested in the purchase of a new car was analyzed, the ROI for the campaign (even when combined with radio dollars spent) was extremely high.
Lauren Dozier, director of marketing and advertising, for the Nimnicht Family of Dealerships noted the following statements, "Utilizing mobile has allowed us to build a stronger and deeper brand relationship with potential new customers," she said. "As an added bonus, we were able to analyze the strength of our radio partners by judging the mobile response, which has helped us plan our marketing more efficiently.”
“Mobile addressed several challenges for us," Ms Dozier said. "First, simple SMS helped us build a one-to-one relationship with both current and new customers. It allowed us to communicate with them and actively drive sales," she said. "Second, mobile helped us stand out from surrounding dealers; our advertisements stood out, had fresh call-to-action statements, and generated immediate tangible leads. Finally, mobile has helped us monitor our advertising and measure each ad’s effectiveness."
Honda and Toyota of Seattle, they took a little different approach. They used sandwich boards and a large banner in busy intersections, as well as targeted ads in small neighborhood newspapers. The results are just as impressive. With new signage the dealership saw one to two opt-ins a day but with a high conversion rate to parts and customers.
The dealership has also generated several test drives and says that “the sooner you go big on signage, the better.” Although one or two hits per day did not seem like that many hits, there turns out to be a surprisingly high conversion rate of these hits into customers.
Matthew Turnbull, head of technology at Honda and Toyota of Seattle, “We are seeing one to two new text customers a day and growing," Mr. Turnbull said. "Each new text customer is a new set of eyes on our mobile site and that is a great first impression, given that without this technology we would not have had that opportunity."
What Impact Does This Have On Your Bottom Line?
Let’s take a quick look what this means in real numbers. Let’s say that you’re a small dealership that sells on average 100 cars a month and we want to move our numbers by 10%. Let’s break that down.
The NADA tells us that national average closing ratio is 20%, so that means if you sold 100 cars, then you had a total of 500 UPS, 400 of which you did not sell.
20% of 500 = 100 cars sold. NADA math, not mine.
If we want to move our numbers up and increase our sales by 10% that would mean ten additional sales for the month. Using these new methods I believe you could pull that off with out any problem. What would a 10% increase look like?
The NADA tells us that the national PVR average is $1,700, so 10 additional sales times $1,700 equals $17,000. Keep that increase for all twelve months, and that adds $204,000 to our bottom line. Would that not impact your dealership? Let’s take that a step further and say we only did half of that, five extra sales per month. That is still $102,000 additional income over and above what you were already doing. These number are very doable, and all you need to do is to adapt to the 21st century way of advertising.
In part two, I’ll cover how to turn UPS into customers when they don’t purchase, how to turn them into possible Be-Backs down the road, and how to work the back end to explode the life-time value of a dealer’s customer from the average $1,700 PVR to over $10,000.
Until next time!