October 24, 2011
“If a user provides new information about a business they know — or if our system identifies information from another source on the web that may be more recent than the data the business owner provided via Google Places — the organic listing will automatically be updated and the business owner will be sent an email notification about the change.” READ MOREThis program has existed in the past at Google Places with a 60 day window, but now the frequency of updates will change. The question some dealers are asking is how much is Google going to trust in these third-party edits? The end-goal may be to keep their databases more accurate, but potential human error is much greater coming from outside sources than from the businesses placing themselves on Google Places to begin with. There is some benefit in the program, as it also encourages users to keep their own pages accurate, which can only be a good thing for dealerships when so many consumers look for information and reviews on Google first. These changes sparked some debate on the DrivingSales automotive community. One pro of Google’s changes is that dealers need to keep their pages more accurate, which they should be doing already, but the con comes from questioning just how accurate these outside updates are going to be. An indisputable point made in the discussion is that dealers should not be using Google Places exclusively for their reputation management. Google Places is useful for dealers, partially to send customers there to add reviews that will help elevate their reputation, but also in monitoring what is being said. This does not mean, however, that a dealership should consider Google Places the only location they can accomplish this, especially after Google dropped third-party integration from other review sites this past summer. Are you concerned about this and other changes with Google Places, or are you remaining calm in the interim as suggested by this recent article on DealerRefresh? Regardless, don’t put all of your reputation management eggs in the one Google basket. Keep an eye on as many review sites as you can to best monitor what consumers are saying about you. Image by: Chris Hamilton
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 READ MORE or WATCH the videoDealerRefresh 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.
May 9, 2011
Engagement Over Eyeballs
Companies often have difficulties with social media because it is about having a conversation, and it is easier for individuals to engage in conversation than businesses. Companies need to remember that they still have individuals within them and individual parts, and need to engage in social media like an individual as well.
Think of a consumer, whether Dave down the street, or Dave’s Diner, the business down the street. The consumer doesn’t only get messages from one aspect of a company trying to reach them, they get separate communications from different departments, for different features and specials, and occasionally from individuals too, creating a din of noise around every consumer that is almost impossible to sift through. That type of interaction needs to change.
Regardless of who your desired customers are, you want to talk with them, not at them, to successfully engage in the social media sphere. Getting them to talk with each other about your company and products is even better, because it solidifies and enhances that engagement.
March 7, 2011
Leading the Conversation
Social Media and Online Marketing can mean something entirely different to different marketers as well as different industries, but for most the goal is the same, to drive more traffic to the company’s main website and potentially gain more customers and closer relationships with current customers.
The largest areas this is done regularly and successfully is through blogging, Facebook, and Twitter, but what are the best ways to use those tools?
The key elements that come up again and again from professionals using social media is to have a plan, make sure the different aspects you are using are integrated, and listen to your customers.
Blogging as a company is different than running a personal blog. It can’t be about the hit count or the amount of comments on posts, if any, but about the content you are putting out there being relevant and important to the consumers who find their way to your site. What to write for a blog post is as important as who you are trying to reach. Customers aren’t interested in only hearing about how wonderful your dealership is, what specials are going on, or that great testimonial or customer experience.
Those things are great spaced out with other content, but people are fickle. They want variety. Too much of the blogosphere, Facebook, and Twitter, are filled with more of the same. Stay current on automotive news, trends, and interesting facts as well.
And please, don’t take the route so many other budding social media savvy dealerships have taken and fill your tweets with superfluous ‘What’s your favorite color?’ and ‘Tell us what you did this weekend?’ questions. That tactic isn’t original or relevant.
Do make your posts and comments fun, however. Social Media is supposed to be fun, that’s why people spend so much time there. Tracy Gold in her article, “What I Learned About Social Media from Angry Birds,” said it best:
“Sure, people read articles to learn what’s going on in their field, and they watch how-to videos. But no one is going to remember your brands’ boring breakdown of how to install WordPress. They’re going to remember the posts that made them laugh, and the tweets they think are clever. So if you’re just churning out the same-old, same-old content, stop it! Think about how you can make sure that you’re keeping social media the way it’s supposed to be: fun.”
February 21, 2011
As Seen in the Chat Room
The demand for good customer service is higher than ever, especially when many consumers feel they are not receiving the customer service they deserve. Having at least someone who can speak and read Spanish, and other languages in some cases, or having some sort of program to translate customer interactions is also becoming an expected feature for all companies.
In the Outsell Live Chat Center we now have more English and Spanish speaking agents than English speakers alone to meet the demand for 24/7 bilingual assistance for all of our participating dealerships.
We decided to include the bilingual option and hire Spanish speaking agents after seeing the demand coming into chat. Several times a day a customer would come in either immediately speaking Spanish or asking if the agent could conduct the chat in Spanish, which could cost the dealership a potentially viable lead.
“Demand is being driven by an increasingly global economy as well as a large share of non-English speakers in the United States.”
This is not a new development. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, starting from 2008 and continuing until 2018, employment of translators and interpreters in the US is expected to increase by 22%.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the disconnect between demand for foreign language speakers and plans to learn a foreign language. People entering higher education and the job market are not taking advantage of opportunities to learn Spanish or Chinese despite the increasing demand for those and other language speakers.
Employees with those language skills are going to become much more valuable in the coming years due to lack of availability, while the demand on companies to provide at least bilingual assistance to customers will only keep increasing as well.
How are you being smart about bilingual demand?
Photo By: David Vignoni
January 10, 2011
As Seen in the Chat Room
As we kick off the new year, looking back on ways to improve sales tactics and marketing techniques is a number one priority for most company brands. One obvious area any company should look at is their website, especially for dealerships when online research is becoming a more frequently used customer tool.
The Montreal Gazette had a helpful article on rebooting digital marketing tactics, listing several tips on what to ask yourself this year as you prepare for 2011, including:
Does your website suck? There has been such a focus on social media that many business websites look tired, out-of-date and lack the functionality consumers expect. It might be time for a refresh or an overhaul of your website.
Everything starts with the website once a customer decides to check out a dealership online before heading to the store. The Outsell Live Chat Center gets feedback on hundreds of dealership websites daily. There are several common complaints and expectations our chatters receive when dealing with consumers online.
December 27, 2010
The Social Influence
In 2010 the face of digital marketing continued to evolve with many new developments and potential directions ahead in 2011. A recent article in the Business section of Mashable, the top source for news in social and digital media, discussed predictions for the future of digital advertising.
Most notable for those of us in the automotive industry may be their #3 prediction: Influencers Will Be the Celebrities of the Social Web, the idea that many consumers are making decisions based on what they are reading on social sites, like reviews and comments on Facebook, Twitter, and others.
In our previous interview with Stephen Higgins, Social Media Manager for AutoNation, he stressed the importance of being in those spheres because of the influence the simplest comment on a social media site can have on consumer behavior.
The prediction that companies will be turning more and more to social media to market their brands rather than using outside marketing tactics is not a new idea, but certainly increasingly true as we move into the next year. Not having a presence in those areas is something consumers are starting to notice, expecting that even the smallest company or store will not only have a website, but also a Twitter account, LinkedIn, Facebook Fanpage, and more.
Facebook “Likes” may also be a more important factor in influencing consumers than the industry has yet to fully realize. The video below that was included in the Mashable article sums up some of the reasons why Facebook is so important.