December 2, 2019
Making the Most of Your Ad Campaigns
As we wrap up this blog series, the final takeaway we’d like to leave you with is how to make the most of your ad campaigns on Facebook.
So, how should your dealership best use Facebook to reach your audience? First, it’s necessary to define what you want each campaign to accomplish.
Designing a Facebook Ad Campaign
From a sales perspective, you can advertise individual vehicles, driving traffic directly to a specific vehicle display page (VDP). You can also let shoppers know about your dealership’s upcoming sales and community events.
From a service standpoint, Facebook ad campaigns about specials in that department can reach customers who haven’t been in for a while and win back their business, along with increasing loyalty for those who have.
The ability to segment your market allows you to reconnect with other leads, as well, such as customers about to come out of a lease, those in an equity situation who could get into a new car for the same or lower payments, customers who have declined recommended service in the past, and more.
These customers, who might have been lost leads at one point, can be brought back to life with the right message delivered through the right medium.
Facebook ads are also a great way to build brand awareness and connect with your customer, keeping your dealership at the top of their minds and making future marketing efforts more effective.
It’s important to remember, however, that Facebook’s reach goes beyond just its webpage and phone apps. Facebook’s display ads span multiple channels, which include Facebook Messenger (which we’ll examine a little later), display ads on different sites the shopper may visit, and on Instagram (also owned by Facebook).
Once you have a clear objective in mind, you can use the tools Facebook provides to dial into the audience most receptive to your message. When you combine these tools with the strengths of a marketing partner, Facebook’s true worth to your dealership comes into focus.
The Power of Lookalike Audiences
One of the most powerful tools available to Facebook marketers is the lookalike audience. With this feature, you can build a list of potential customers by using what you already know about your existing client base — an audience that looks like the customers you already have. This is generally the least-expensive audience for your marketing budget and is a great way of conquesting customers from the competition.
But the effectiveness of your lookalike audience is only as good as the data used to build the list in the first place. This is where your marketing partner can really make a difference in your results. While much of the data rests in your CRM and DMS, a quality marketing company will go beyond that, looking in areas such as the entire multi-channel behavioral data ecosystem of your dealership. They’ll also examine high-value lifetime customers, use advanced technology such as AI-driven buyer detection and automatically update these lists as new data comes in.
And, just as important as who is included in various lists is who should be excluded from certain audiences. By using tight DMS integration, exclusion lists help you avoid sending certain ads to people who have just bought from you or serviced with your dealership. This conserves your marketing budget while keeping irrelevant messages from reaching valuable customers.
Facebook Marketplace and Your Dealership
Another route dealerships can take in reaching Facebook users is by putting their used inventory up on Facebook Marketplace. In addition to Cars.com, companies like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds have entered partnerships with the platform. This has led to Marketplace becoming one of the biggest car buying sites online, used by 550 million people each month.
Vehicles are displayed to potential customers based on their location (the default is to display listings from dealerships within a 40-mile radius), and shoppers can filter their selection based on price, model and other criteria. The vehicles viewed will also begin to appear in that consumer’s regular Facebook news feed, keeping them fresh in the shopper’s mind. Clicks take them directly to the VPD on your website, and the consumer can make contact with the dealership via Facebook Messenger, allowing them to interact with you immediately.
When working with a marketing company, Marketplace becomes even more powerful coupled with dynamic inventory, where your dealership’s vehicles are automatically uploaded. This allows your entire inventory to be constantly updated and ready for shoppers to preview at any given moment. Also, dynamic inventory ads automatically cycle through all the images your dealership provides, so no additional creative effort is necessary.
Partner with a Pro
Facebook is one of the most powerful marketing platforms available to dealerships right now, but it can also be a complex undertaking. Partnering with a marketing company is essential to take full advantage of what Facebook has to offer. Integrating a dealership’s CRM, DMS and other systems with the tools offered by Facebook is key to getting great results, but most dealerships don’t have the staff available to do it all on their own.
Also, while it may be the biggest, Facebook certainly isn’t the only platform you need to have a fully realized social media marketing plan. In recent years, Facebook has started to skew to a slightly older demographic. To reach younger markets, Snapchat might need to be in the mix, with 78% of 18 to 24-year-olds regularly using that platform. And, while some might not strictly consider it to be a social media channel, YouTube also must be accounted for, with 73% of American adults regularly watching videos there.
Your marketing is most effective when it connects with shoppers where they already are. Take advantage of all the tools available to your dealership, including Facebook, and build relationships with customers that are constantly revitalized and will last for years to come.
Learn more about Outsell Social.
November 25, 2019
The CCPA, or the California Consumer Privacy Act, was a privacy law signed by California Governor Jerry Brown in June of 2018 becoming effective January 1st of 2020. The law is meant to enhance current privacy rights for consumers in California. Signaling a large shift in how consumer data is handled, the Act requires businesses – including automotive dealers – to change the way they collect personal data and information from their consumers.
What the CCPA Means for Consumers
The central goal of the CCPA is for California consumers to have greater control over the personal information that is gathered about them from companies and other entities. This “personal information” can be anything from their real name, alias, postal address, to their email address, social security number, driver’s license number, and passport number.
With the Act, consumers earn the right to:
- Know what personal information is being collected about them
- Access that same information
- Know if their personal information is disclosed, and with whom
- Know if their personal information is sold and the right to opt out of the sale
- Receive equal service and price whether or not they exercise their privacy rights
What the CCPA Means for Automotive Dealers
The reality that faces automotive dealers is that they collect personal information about consumers every single day. From a prospect entering their information into a dealership lead form to new customers handing over financial information for the purchase or lease of a car, it’s imperative that dealers have a strong understanding on all of this data to comply with the new law.
In the fine print, the CCPA applies to any business that:
- Has annual gross revenues in excess of $25 million;
- Possesses the personal information of 50,000 or more consumers, households, or devices.
- Earns more than half of its annual revenue from selling consumers’ personal information.
It’s important to note that not all personal information gathered by dealers are subject to the jurisdiction of the CCPA. For example, personal information collected under various privacy regulations like the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994 is not covered by the CCPA. Outside of financial information needed for the sale of car, the CCPA has a greater effect on the marketing, sales, and customer service side of personal information.
How to Stay Ahead of the CCPA as an Automotive Dealer
To stay ahead of these new privacy regulations, dealers need to be proactive on how they store and use the information they have on their consumers. Here are some simple steps you can take to make sure you are ready for the CCPA:
- Look over the vendors and third-party relationships you have to ensure that all consumer data for your dealership (CRM, DMS, etc.) is carefully examined and accounted for.
- Provide opt-out instructions and updated text about data collection policies on your website and other data gathering channels. Note that a toll-free phone number is mandatory, whereas a web form or email can be used as a second method for unsubscribing.
- Check that your dealership has a system in place to respond, address, and manage a consumer request. For instance, dealerships need to have a process that is technically feasible for consumers to access their data in a readily useful format.
It’s important to stay up to speed with the CCPA as the act will likely change as time goes on. When all is said and done, we recommend dealerships consult with their legal counsel to discuss the new compliance obligations that would impact their general dealership operations, data inventory, and customer relationships.
Still confused on how the CCPA could affect your dealership? Contact us.
November 22, 2019
Make the Most of your Marketing Dollars in 2020
With the end of the year fast approaching, you’re probably thinking about finalizing your marketing budget for 2020. According to NADA, the average marketing dollars spent per vehicle is around $628. To make the most of those marketing dollars, we’ve compiled some key trends and tactics for you to consider as you develop your budget for 2020.
1. Review your 2019 Budget and Performance
The first thing you should consider when budgeting for 2020 is to dive into your financial performance to plan from the previous year. Examine where you have received the best return on your investment from expenses such as ad spend, vendor partnerships, and more. But don’t be too quick to ditch vendors without careful consideration.
Ask yourself, “What did I hire this vendor to do?” and take the functionally of the product into consideration. For example, bounce rate. A bounce is generally considered a negative when it comes to Google Analytics, but this is not always the case. If a vendor sends a dynamic communication to a consumer, that consumer clicks on the communication, is directed to CONTACT US, then is immediately directed to the Google Maps app, this path would populate as a bounce. However, the vendor has met the expectation the dealer requested, to drive more traffic to the store. See the difference?
2. Evaluate your Dealership’s Ad Spend
Annual advertising budgets can be hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s a huge chunk of your budget. Start asking tough questions and dive deeper into reviewing attribution. For instance, has your paid search budget reached the point of diminishing returns? Is it focused on the geography where people buy and where you already dominate market share?
63% of dealers spend their budget on online advertising. However, consumers are often annoyed by ads popping up while they’re surfing the web. The answer isn’t to eliminate ads but to utilize a marketing partner who creates dynamic, personalized content for each individual. Once an ad is relevant to a person’s needs, it stops being white noise.
3. Growth is Slowing for 2020, Plan Accordingly
According to eMarketer, the growth rate of vehicle sales and auto part sales will decline by 0.3% in 2020. While that might not seem like a large number, given many dealers have already been seeing a downturn, this additional slowdown may require adjustments for dealership marketing budgets.
There is a “Holy Grail” of missed opportunity that lives within the dealership’s database, and the key to unlocking those opportunities is creating a 1 to 1 relationship using personalized content. If 6 out of every 10 car shoppers enter the market unsure of which car to buy, and we know that car buyers spend nearly 60% of their time online researching, then it is imperative to create a unique brand experience for each individual in order to drive interest to the dealership.
4. Understand Trends for 2020
Having a grasp of where 2020 is going – how people will be buying and behaving and what vendors and solutions will help you meet those trends – is critical when you are creating your budget. For example, take this insight from Walker – “customer experience will supersede price and product as they key brand differentiator in 2020” – in other words, a well-connected personalized communication experience will no longer be an option but a strategic necessity for automotive dealers in 2020.
Outsell/Polk/IHS data shows that the average sales cycle has grown since 2000 from 6 years to almost 7.5. And more than HALF of owners defect from their previous dealer for their next purchase. Understanding trends like these will help guide your decision process as you create your budget.
5. Prioritize with Intention
What are your dealership’s priorities this year? Is it market share? Better retention? What are your marketing priorities this year? Sometimes too many priorities means no focus on any at all. Pinpoint the things that matter the most and create your budget around them.
Over 55% of dealers say that their highest priority is improving conversion. If that’s also true for you, then it isn’t about quantity of leads but quality. The truth is consumers expect to be listened to, known, helped, and connected with, not only at purchase, but throughout their lifecycle. Everyone walking through your door, everyone in your CRM and DMS, and all the potential prospects in your primary market area want and deserve that same personalized experience. How do you do it? Regardless of your plans for 2020, the first priority should always be to the customer.
6. Review your Lead Handling Processes
We know that “not interested” doesn’t mean “never” and CRM blasts with every lease special won’t cut it. Consistent brand awareness, relevant messaging, and allowing the consumer to take the driver’s seat when doing their research need to be at the forefront. With your current process, does it still work, and if it does, how do you know?
Whether you have a BDC or not, you need to review how well you’re handling your internet leads, your phone opportunities, your service department. Are you being reactive and only handling those who come into the store or are you being proactive? And don’t forget to review how well your team is doing with initial unsold showroom follow up.
There’s no silver bullet you can employ when developing your budget. What you can do is take the time to really understand what is going to provide the most return on your investment, and ultimately help your dealership succeed in 2020.
Contact us to learn more.
AI-driven marketing found to increase loyalty, repeat business and service visits
Outsell announced today the results of a comprehensive, multi-year data study conducted with RXA and Experian. The study encompassed 5.6M consumer relationships across 960 dealers, and 18.7 million vehicle transactions – leveraged data from Experian’s Auto Response Analysis – including 2.5 million sales and 16.2 million service visits over a three-and-a-half year period. It examined the effect that AI-driven marketing has on customer loyalty, repeat business and service visits, and calculated the incremental lifetime value of customers due to AI-driven lifecycle marketing.
The study found that engaging a customer with AI-driven lifecycle marketing results in:
- 65% higher odds of that customer repurchasing at the same dealer
- A 25% increase in service visits over three years
- $427 in incremental profit per customer
“The study confirmed what Outsell has been telling dealers for years: that AI-driven lifecycle marketing improves customer engagement, revenue and profitability,” said Mike Wethington, Founder & CEO of Outsell. “This is the clearest picture we’ve seen yet of the impact that AI-driven lifecycle marketing has on the Automotive consumer. This concept is particularly important now, when auto sales are softening and dealers are looking for ways to increase retention, boost service and profitability.”
“The results are crystal clear: the best time to start AI-based personalized lifecycle marketing is yesterday, and the second-best time is today,” said Jason Harper, Founder and CEO of RXA. “The data shows that AI-driven marketing, like Outsell’s, increases customer value no matter what stage the customer is in.”
Wethington and Harper will be presenting additional details on the study at the 2019 Automotive Analytics and Attribution Summit, taking place Nov. 17-19 in Palm Beach, Fla. In a session titled, “Winter is Here: How AI-Driven Customer Lifecycle Marketing Is Your Best Defense in a Downturn,” Wethington and Harper will speak about how dealers can increase loyalty and profitability with personalized AI-driven marketing automation.
November 13, 2019
What’s New and What’s Changed
Welcome to part 2 of our blog series on converting unsold leads with Facebook – What’s New and What’s Changed – because Facebook has changed dramatically even in the past year.
In 2018, news broke of a political data firm, Cambridge Analytica, getting access to the data of more than 50 million users to gain knowledge of their preferences and potentially influence their behaviors and votes.
Facebook responded to public outcry by changing the ways it allows ad campaigns to target specific demographics. This included limiting data used by marketers to create customized lists. Data providers now have to be vetted and become “whitelisted,” and then agree to terms and conditions before they can use the full power of Facebook’s custom audience tool.
Custom Audiences allows users to upload email lists they already have in order to reach matching addresses on Facebook with targeted advertising.
The changes to this tool have affected some of the ways dealers can find an audience for their marketing, but it hasn’t removed Facebook’s potential value to your dealership.
In fact, Facebook recently gave automotive dealerships a new tool, upgrading the targeting capabilities of inventory ads to reach people who have been on other automotive or dealer-related websites (previously, targeting was limited to users who had only visited the dealer’s own site).
Some dealers using this new tool are seeing a double-digit percentage increase in user engagement while their ad spend actually decreased.
Plenty has changed in recent years for Facebook advertising, but the potential for converting prospects and unsold leads has never been stronger.
In our final part to this series, we’ll dig deeper to explain Making the Most of Your Ad Campaigns.
October 21, 2019
NADA’s recent article on the complicated data quagmire plaguing the auto industry is spot on. For auto retailers to truly leverage data to benefit their customers, the industry absolutely must find a way to securely and efficiently integrate data flows across all channels.
This means across technology partners, DMS providers, your OEM— everyone. And in the age of Amazon where a seamless flow of data is crucial to providing the dynamic, personalized experience customers expect (and receive in virtually all other industries), this isn’t a problem that can be ignored.
The good news, as the NADA article stated, is that some OEMs are finally turning a new leaf on how they approach data. The bad news is that many technology and DMS providers are making data integration even more complicated or hoarding data for themselves to use in ways that abuse customer privacy and hurt vendor integrity.
As Peter Welch, NADA President and CEO, said, “Dealers need partners—OEMs and vendors alike—willing to embrace this reality and work with dealers, not against them, in service of consumers.”
At Outsell, we truly believe what’s right for the dealer is right for the customer. In order to provide the best customer experience, vendors must embrace an open ecosystem in order to capture the data coming from all different directions.
It’s also time to stop abusing the data needed for our success and to start being more accessible and collaborative to achieve that success together.
October 3, 2019
The 3 Primary Marketing Options
Your marketing message gets the most traction when it’s delivered to places where consumers are already spending their time. In recent years, social media has increasingly become that venue, and the biggest player on that field is, and has been for some time, Facebook.
Not only is Facebook a proven method to connect with in-market vehicle shoppers, it’s also a great place to reconnect with and convert unsold leads.
In this three-part blog series, we’ll be covering:
- The 3 Primary Marketing Options
- What’s New and What’s Changed
- Making the Most of Your Ad Campaigns
First, is your refresher course on what’s available for marketing.
Facebook offers different methods of reaching users, but in general, your options include:
Your Dealership’s Facebook Page
This is the most basic of the options available but still shouldn’t be ignored. By posting on your dealership’s business page, you’ll potentially reach people who have liked and followed your page.
The effectiveness of this option has plummeted in recent years, however. Due to changes in the algorithm Facebook uses to share posts — a new priority to show posts from friends and family, rather than businesses — the estimated organic reach has dropped to between 2% and 6.5%.
Still, people researching your dealership will see your posts once they are on your page, so having a continually updated page — and not one that was started a few years ago and never posted to again — will work in your favor.
While organic reach has dropped for businesses, those willing to pay for exposure have many more options. Facebook offers a variety of tools for marketers to use, both to aim ads at the correct audience (by location area, generation, financial, life interests and other criteria) and to meet various objectives (brand awareness, lead generation, engagement, video views and more).
The company launched Marketplace in 2007 to compete with Craigslist, offering advertising for job openings, houses for sale and other items. Marketplace was closed down between 2014 and 2016, and then reopened with a new focus on buying and selling locally, competing with eBay and NextDoor.
Used car listings soon became a major part of this renewed focus and, in 2017, the company partnered with Cars.com and other third-party marketplaces to list used automobile inventory.
Which of these options are you utilizing?
Stay tuned for part 2, where we’ll discuss What’s New and What’s Changed.
Learn more about Outsell Social.
Speakers to address how to personalize the customer experience and increase engagement
Outsell announced today that it is presenting with customers on a panel at Digital Dealer 27 on the topic “4 Tips to Conquest & Retain More Customers with Personalized, Cross-Channel Marketing,” taking place August 20, 2019 at 10:00 am. The panel will feature speakers Charles Paul, Marketing Director at Scharmach Automotive Group, Chris Mathis, Internet Director at Jackie Cooper Imports and Valerie Vallancourt, Vice President of Marketing at Outsell, who will discuss how dealers can provide personalized experiences across multiple channels.
The customer journey today often includes a variety of devices and channels – and no two customer journeys are the same. Consumers that shop both online and in the dealership have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one avenue when searching for a vehicle. Additionally, companies that employ a cross-channel customer engagement strategy retain on average 89% of their customers. It’s imperative for dealers to provide personalized experiences across channels, especially in a slower market. During this panel, attendees will walk away with a better understanding of how to improve customer engagement with new cross channel marketing methods.
Key takeaways that the panelists will share:
- Understand what customer experience means to consumers today and how to personalize the customer experience at scale.
- Learn how to create an omnichannel approach to meet consumers wherever they are in their lifecycle.
- Learn how to orchestrate an end-to-end experience to increase overall customer engagement.
Charles Paul, Marketing Director at Scharmach Automotive Group, Chris Mathis, Internet Director at Jackie Cooper Imports and Valerie Vallancourt, Vice President of Marketing at Outsell
Mandalay Bay J, Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas
Tuesday, August 20 from 10:00-10:50 am
Outsell will also be at booth #841 showcasing the newest enhancements to the Outsell platform. Click here for more details and to sign up for a demo.
To register for Digital Dealer 27 and learn more about the agenda, please visit, https://www.digitaldealer.com/conference/education/agenda/
Dealers are tightening belts but continue to invest in Outsell
Outsell announced today that it hit its revenue plan for the first half of 2019, despite a weakened auto industry environment.
In the first half of 2019, U.S. auto makers posted six straight months of decline in new car sales after a historic bull run. That has naturally affected dealers’ spending in areas such as technology. Outsell however still managed to complete two strong quarters, with revenue on plan and bookings at 99 percent of plan.
Outsell makes dealers’ lives easier with AI-driven, automated marketing communications across channels. Outsell sends personalized communications on dealers’ behalf through various channels specific to each consumer’s lifecycle stage. Each communication is tailored to individual preferences, including specific inventory matching their needs. Outsell also helps dealers identify which consumers are in market (or back in market as it relates to previous customers).
“In a weaker sales environment, dealers need Outsell more than ever,” said Mike Wethington, founder and CEO of Outsell. “Outsell helps them be more efficient and effective with marketing dollars and has built-in reporting to show dealers how much return they are getting on every dollar spent.”
Just after the close of Q2, Outsell announced several enhancements to its core platform intended to help dealers improve the accuracy and efficacy of marketing campaigns, including:
- A Mileage Estimator that allows dealers to better predict what consumers might need so they can provide timely automotive service and vehicle offers and provide a better customer experience.
- Single Sign On (SSO) for security and a better user experience.
- A lapsed servicer preset filter to help dealers quickly identify consumer and vehicle information (including number of visits and VINs) and then easily download a quick call list that staff can use to drive visits to their service departments.
Predictive analytics help dealers tailor dynamic content to consumers
Outsell announced today that it has added a new Mileage Estimator predictive model to the Outsell platform. The Mileage Estimator allows dealers to better predict what consumers might need so they can provide timely automotive service and vehicle offers and provide a better customer experience.
Vehicle mileage is an important data point for helping dealers pinpoint where consumers are in their automotive lifecycle. Most dealerships however either don’t have access to the data for vehicles they don’t service, don’t regularly collect mileage when they do service it, or may not have the expertise to analyze the data they have. That leaves a data gap – one that’s now filled by Outsell’s new Mileage Estimator model, which establishes mileage patterns for every make and model and combines them with unique data it has for each consumer to more accurately calculate current mileage for a vehicle identification number (VIN).
“Enhancing our models and implementing the Mileage Estimator has had a major impact on the platform,” said Litded Davis, Vice President of Product and Program Management at Outsell. “We’re able to fill in missing information for dealers and consumers to better predict their service and vehicle needs. This helps the dealer drives sales zeroing in on the right consumer, which results in higher engagement for a happier and more loyal customer.”
Davis said that before adding Outsell’s Mileage Estimator, most dealers see between 60-70 percent of their database records unassigned to a consumer lifecycle stage. After adding Mileage Estimator, that typically drops to 30-35 percent, meaning hundreds or thousands of additional consumers are now eligible for communications across channels relevant to their individual lifecycle stage, personalized for them.
Other new Outsell enhancements include Single Sign On (SSO) for security and a better user experience, and a lapsed servicer preset filter to help dealers quickly identify consumer and vehicle information (including number of visits and VINs) and then easily download a quick call list that staff can use to drive visits to their service departments.