September 19, 2011
Why Ban Potential Selling Tools?
The point of restricting access to any website is to ensure your employees are spending their time wisely and getting work done. Why waste the effort of watching each employee’s every move if they aren’t having issues of productivity, especially when the most often restricted sites can be valuable tools?
“Today’s Facebook and Twitter and Youtube, these things are just modern-day smoke breaks. No one cared about letting people take a smoke break for 15 minutes 10 years ago, so why does everyone care about someone going to Facebook here and there, or Twitter here and there, or Youtube here and there? Those aren’t the real problems in the office.” -Jason Fried: Why work doesn’t happen at work
DealerRefresh has a very interesting blog article and following discussion around “Does Your Dealer Block Social Media” and why for most people in the automotive industry blocking social media is not the answer to productivity issues. If employees are going to get work done, they will. If not, they won’t. Moreover, blocking social media sites could be blocking potential avenues for additional sales and connections with consumers.
There is, however, a need for a social media policy, whether those sites are banned or not, because the legal issues coming up in court for employees and employers are in part due to lack of understanding of what is allowed and why. The need for such a policy has come up on several automotive community sites in recent months, including KainAutomotive, and the type of trouble a dealership can get into if social media is not used responsibly. But to ban social media sites altogether is not the answer.
Employees that are not allowed to check their regular social sites will simply turn to their phones, or look for a way around the ban, which often takes more time away from their work than if they were simply allowed their occasional 15 minute social media smoke break.
One way to better utilize employee time on Facebook for business purposes is to include in your social media policy that they make a point of posting to your dealership fan page and keep those conversations going. Paul Potratz mentioned some important social media policy tips at the Automotive Digital Marketing community, and also how interacting with customers on social media enables your employees to better connect with consumers on a personal level.
Dealerships should have a social media policy to address important concerns and legal issues, but don’t go so far as to entirely ban all of those sites. You could be actually lowering productivity, and will most certainly be cutting yourselves off from important leads and ups that you won’t find anywhere else.
July 25, 2011
Outsell Announces Continued Strong Performance & Upcoming Major Platform Upgrades
Minneapolis, MN, July 25, 2011 – www.outsell.com – Outsell, one of the leading digital marketing software and services providers, announced continued strong performance in Q2, 2011 as well as major upgrades to the Outsell Digital Engagement Platform to be announced in Q3. In 2011 Outsell continued to experience strong growth, with year-to-date revenues up 64% over 2010.
“Outsell’s Digital Engagement Platform has proven to be a definitive digital marketing solution for some of the major players in the American automotive industry,” said Outsell CEO Mike Wethington. “In Q3 we’re going to take the platform to the next level with a new intuitive interface and extended functionality that will be really exciting for our clients.”
In major highlights for Q2, 2011:
— Outsell continued to roll out the Digital Engagement Platform to Toyota & Chevrolet dealers in conjunction with Saatchi & Saatchi and Agency 720 respectively. The Outsell Digital Engagement Platform is available via exclusive agreement with select manufacturers and their advertising agencies of record.
— Outsell’s Campaign Operations sent 31.2 million messages to automotive consumers in the Q2 of 2011, communicating with over 10 million American consumers a month. The Outsell Live Chat service continued to maintain a lead capture rate in excess of 50%, and Outsell executed SMS campaigns to over 16 thousand consumers for a select group of client dealers, doubling the number of opt-in subscribers from Q1.
— Outsell rolled out a proprietary Strategic Alliance Framework methodology called “The Outsell Success Framework”. This methodology is a seamless, forward-looking framework designed to manage the relationship between Outsell and its partners, clients and dealers. The framework supports rapid scaling and streamlining to improve sales and results from Outsell’s distributed marketing platform network.
— Outsell augmented the Leadership Team with Former IBM Executive Richard Scheig joining the organization as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Scheig has a strong track record of leading world-class technology sales teams in the software industry with some of the world’s largest organizations. Prior to Outsell, he was a Vice President at Unica, and a key player when it was acquired by IBM (NYSE:IBM). Scheig was responsible for revenue generating activities, including the development of selling and field marketing strategies in some of largest and most strategic company wins including Cisco, Wal-Mart, Hilton, Schwab, Visa and Best Buy. Click Here to learn more.
About Outsell LLC
Outsell (www.outsell.com) is a digital marketing software and services company that is transforming the way that brands engage with consumers. The Outsell Digital Engagement Platform offers clients the ability to consistently engage with consumers across distributed sales networks from the national to local level. The intuitive, easy to use platform leverages advanced and actionable analytics to optimize communications with intelligent campaigns across all channels. Working with leading organizations like ADP, Omnicom and Saatchi & Saatchi, Outsell’s platform has created the fastest path to drive measurable incremental sales for over 1,500 dealers from leading automotive brands.
Purchase Behavior is Key
J.D. Power and Associates published a white paper in April about “The Death of Demographics: Why Targeting by Purchase Behavior is Most Effective in Automotive Marketing.” This comes as no surprise to those within the digital marketing field, because the onset of so much new technology has shifted the way marketing power is focused.
Looking at demographics such as gender, age, and income are no longer enough for informing on the best marketing and advertizing practices. We need data on the consumer lifecycle. We need to be able to look at and measure the consumer’s buying behavior to predict how and when they are going to buy in the future.
“Demographics, more so than many other tools, has proven to be a much less effective tool in the automotive space, particularly with regard to new-vehicle buyers. The most popular models overall are typically the most popular regardless of the particular demographic.”
June 13, 2011
Members of KainAutomotive on Vendor Best Practices
In March, Outsell Marketing Associate, Amanda Meuwissen, began a discussion on KainAutomotive about “Vendor Saturation”. The responses were opinionated and sometimes heated, bringing up some important points in looking at what dealers really want from their vendors.
The original prompt for the discussion was as follows:
The automotive industry is not short on vendors for dealership needs, everything from website creation and support to mobile marketing campaigns are readily offered. Most vendors focus on one area, maybe a couple, and offer those services only, meaning a dealership has to go to several different places to get everything they want.
Would you prefer a single vendor for your dealership that offers everything (chat, email marketing, video, website, mobile, great reporting and analytics, etc.) or do you prefer utilizing multiple vendors to get the best out of each individual service?
If you are using multiple vendors, even if one company might offer, for example, website building and online chat, but you only use them for the website and have a different company run your chat program, what is it about a particular service that makes it better than another and worth paying an additional vender for even if the first vendor offers multiple products?
At first the responses that came in seemed fairly clean-cut. Jason Manning, Desk Manager for O’Donnell Chevrolet Buick, pointed out that more vendors mean more competition, which leads to better pricing and better products. His opinion was that companies with specializations in a single product would normally do a better job because they could focus all of their attention and innovation on that single product.
Steve Stauning, Founder of pladoogle, LLC, added to the point, “The do-it-all companies I’ve seen in automotive are a lot like the first Fax-Printer-Scanner-Copiers that came out on the market ten years ago: They could not do any of these things well!”
Those first responders to the discussion seemed to agree that larger companies trying to do it all had trouble offering any one good thing, and should focus on improving the products they already offer rather than adding anything new.
Later additions to the discussion disagreed.
June 6, 2011
What Makes A Good Facebook Fan Page?
The Audi USA Facebook fan page has been called one of the best on the web. A recent study found their fans to be even more engaged than that of world famous teenage heartthrob and pop star Justin Bieber.
Among pages with more than 100,000 fans, Audi had the highest number of “Likes” for any given status update. Usually, brands that have a higher number of fans have lower engagement on what they post from day to day. Some think their high scores could be the result of recent Like-gating, when people have to “Like” the brand in order to participate in special offers, but that only accounts for overall fans, not “Likes” on individual posts.
While Audi was not listed among the 35 Creative Facebook Fan Page Photo Strips from Social Fresh, many other automotive brands were, with very similar looks and feels to the Audi page. Among those listed were GMC, Buick, and Lexus.
So what makes those pages successful? What makes them visually appealing and ripe for consumer engagement?
Simple steps like having a clever and eye-catching photo strip (the line of five photos across the top of the Wall page) can help intrigue potential fans, and keep current fans interested in updates. Most fan pages start on the Wall page, so the photo strip is the first thing a browser sees when they click your page. Other successful Facebook pages differentiate themselves by having a Welcome page instead of going straight to the Wall.
Using Audi as the example, one thing they do right is content. They supply Livestream video, product information, and even an interactive app looking at stories of the Audi Quattro from real customers. This allows for them as a brand to interact with customers almost as personally as a dealer does.
Another tactic for maintaining a great Facebook fan page is to make use of the Discussion app. Get your customers talking about you. Get them talking with each other. What does Audi and other popular automotive industry Facebook fan pages have in common? Their usage of unique apps, as well as creative use of the apps Facebook offers naturally, like a regularly updated Wall with status updates customers are compelled to “Like”.
This can be done with interesting news as well as offers, so keep your posts fresh. At the end of the day the reason for Facebook fan page success is the same no matter the tactic you choose.
April 28, 2011
AutoNation First Quarter Revenue Up 17%
Congratulations to AutoNation and the announcement of their successful Q1 results. AutoNation is America’s largest automotive retailer for new and used vehicles and reported a record net income for their first quarter of 2011. New vehicle unit sales increased 23% overall.
While this is exciting news for AutoNation it is also good news for the automotive industry at large, as those results are reportedly in line with others across the nation. Despite harsh economic times, the crisis in Japan, and continuously rising gas prices, sales and revenue are seeing a huge increase over last year.
Mike Jackson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for AutoNation, said:
“While the underlying recovery in consumer demand for autos remains on track in the United States, due to Japanese supply constraints throughout the remainder of 2011, we are revising our planning assumption for 2011 full-year U.S. industry new vehicle sales downward from 12.8 million units to mid-12 million units. Based on current information, we see significant reductions in vehicle shipments from Japanese manufacturers through year-end, with the resumption of normal shipment levels in early 2012.”
Mr. Jackson added:
“Our diversified business model is resilient and adaptable. We are confident we can manage through the challenges presented by Japanese product constraints. We also continue to be optimistic about the long-term recovery for the U.S. auto market.”
Read the full article from PR Newswire here.
Congratulations again to AutoNation and good luck heading further into Q2 and the remainder of 2011.
April 8, 2011
An Automotive Industry Game Changer
There has been some unrest since Google dropped support of QR Codes last week and seems to be leaning toward another technology, near-field communication (NFC) chips. Google has said that previous businesses with QR Codes linking to their Google Places pages will continue to work. The company is merely investigating alternative options.
Despite Google’s recent move, don’t underestimate the current viability of QR Codes. They are easy to produce and use, and have been appearing more and more to the average consumer, whereas NFC chips are not as widely known. Waiting on this technology to see what comes out ahead could be disastrous.
Paul Potratz and his “Think Tank Tuesday” for automotive industry tips has had two short videos on the use and tracking of QR Codes, with a huge emphasis on the importance of getting involved now to stay ahead of the industry curve:
“[Smartphones are] a game changer for automotive sales and for marketing and for the simple fact of how the QR Code comes into play.”
He seems certain that dealerships not using QR Codes for advertising are missing out on dynamically reaching tens of thousands of smartphone savvy customers, and he is not alone.
March 21, 2011
Japan and Automotive Industry Forever Changed?
The events of the March 11 quake and resulting tsunami in Japan have been the hot topic for the automotive industry and the world. Aftermath repercussions from the devastation are still being discovered and long-term effects are difficult to predict.
National Geographic reported:
“The magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck Japan [March 11] was powerful enough to shorten Earth’s day by 1.8 microseconds and throw an extra 6.7 inches (17 centimeters) into the planet’s wobble, scientists say.”
Japan itself was permanently moved 8 feet by the events. There are some benefits to the data that was recorded, however. A better standard for predicting future quakes is possible if precursors to the March 11 quake can be identified.
Damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant raises additional concerns that have yet to be officially or completely kept under control.
While the cumulative consequences of the quake and tsunami have affected all of Japan, those in the automotive industry turn their attention to the damage and ramifications the disaster will have on production and shipments. Toyota, Nissan, and Honda all put many of their plants on hold.
February 14, 2011
Spotlight on 2011 Sales Plans
John Brunson, Marketing Manager for Moritz BMW, MINI & Cadillac in North Arlington, TX, chatted with Outsell about plans in 2011 to increase sales and customer satisfaction. You can listen to the audio file or read the transcript of our interview below.
February 1, 2011
Outsell announces 31% growth in 2010 & the rollout of a new Digital Engagement Management Platform.
Minneapolis, MN, February 1, 2011 – www.outsell.com – Outsell, the leading Digital Engagement Management (DEM) Platform provider to the automotive industry, today announced their annual results for 2010. Despite the instability of the US economy in 2010, Outsell had a strong financial year, generating a 31% year-over-year increase in revenue in 2010 along with continued profitability.
“Outsell’s growth is directly related to the evolution of the American consumer’s digital communication habits,” said Mike Wethington, CEO of Outsell. “Companies are waking up to the reality of a new marketing landscape in which consumer messaging is both highly personalized, as well as deeply interlinked across channels. Due in large part to the extensive leveraging of multiple sources of online and offline data by the platform, the Outsell DEM Platform’s early-adopters in 2010 are now positioned ahead of the market for the coming year, and are making significant gains.”
Currently the Outsell DEM Platform is only available via exclusive agreement with select manufacturers and advertising agencies. More information is available at: http://www.youtube.com/user/outsell#p/a/u/2/Ez2pqBXlA6c
Other Outsell highlights from 2010 are as follows:
— Outsell announced the successful rollout of a brand new Digital Engagement Management Platform. After 18 months of intensive development and piloting, the platform was rolled out to dealerships belonging to 3 of the top 5 major automotive manufacturers in the US. The Outsell Platform has consistently generated 5:1+ ROI results, with some dealers seeing in excess of 30:1.
— Major new functionality was released within the Outsell Digital Engagement Management Platform, including new and easy to use reporting layouts, a powerful sales & opportunities mapping tool that allows users to see geographic representations of their campaign results within customized Google Maps, and the “Consumer Purchase PathTM” – a readership/purchase event timeline for each individual consumer. Outsell also increased the volume and diversity of the campaigns available within the platform; in particular Outsell rolled out a new campaign offering targeting mobile/SMS users called “The Mobile Service ClubTM” with outstanding results.
— Outsell’s Campaign Operations sent 94.5 million messages to automotive consumers in 2010- a 45.6% year-over-year increase in Digital Subscriber messages sends. Live Chat lead volumes also increased by 20% in 2010, generating high-value sales, service and sales support opportunities to dealerships, while maintaining industry leading response times of less than 5 seconds.
— Outsell engaged Korn/Ferry International, a leading talent management firm, to develop and execute a talent and leadership development program for key Outsell associates. This included an overall organizational scaling plan. Outsell & Korn/Ferry successfully completed the rollout and training on a new set of core competencies with the first cohort of associates – this training is aimed at the continued development of Outsell associates to position Outsell for continued sustainable growth and rapid expansion.
— Outsell continued to increase staffing through 2010, especially in the campaign operations and strategic alliance management functions, and announced several new hires and promotions to key positions in the organization.
About Outsell LLC
Outsell (www.outsell.com) is revolutionizing the way brands engage with consumers. Our digital engagement management platform makes it easy to manage consumer engagement more profitably.
Outsell The Intelligent Marketing Company TM