Google Archives | Outsell
A recent announcement from Google has many dealerships worried.
“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 MORE
This 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 12, 2011

Earned Media vs Paid Media

Many dealers are missing out on important tactics for utilizing their marketing spend effectively. HubSpot recently shared a video comparing earned and paid media and how to best combine the two for a profitable outcome. Earned media is content created by you that can be shared to bring people back to your brand, such as blog posts and videos. Paid media is spending your dollars on using someone else’s media to bring in customers, like banner ads, Google AdWords, or Groupon deals. In the video available on HubSpot, David Meerman Scott explains that combining earned and paid media is far better than the worst mistake of focusing on paid media alone. For example, press releases are a great way for earned and paid media to work together, using sites like PRWeb that charge to promote your content but it is still your content. Since earned media should be the main focus, it stands to reason why social media has become so important, because that type of content is often free and easy to utilize. Ralph Paglia of Automotive Digital Marketing shared an article about the apathetic view many dealers have about social media marketing. Most dealers admit that they do not consider social media a must within their marketing plan, despite saying that word-of-mouth is one of their most important marketing tools, and social media is really just another method of that same idea. Reputation management is also a fundamental reason to pay attention to social and other forms of earned media.
“While offline forms of word-of-mouth remain critical for all automotive franchise brands, and certainly for small or locally based independent car dealers and businesses of all kinds, social media also plays a valuable role by giving customers a wider voice for their dealership experience reviews, product and dealer recommendations and helping to amplify that voice beyond their immediate circle of friends, family and colleagues.” READ MORE
The best way to leverage your paid media is to see where you can incorporate earned media into those dollars spent. Use services like PRWeb to spread important news about your brand with press releases. Maintain your usual advertizing and paid media practices. But also make sure you are a part of the conversation happening online, because ignoring this new word of mouth may cost you more of those paid media dollars than you might anticipate.
Jon Friedman of MarketWatch recently commented on the newest social media craze Google+ and how easy obsession with the site is why “Google+ scares me.” Real fear might be warranted for those who fail to use the platform as the unique new tool it is. Google+ takes some of the key elements of Facebook and Twitter and makes the experience less cluttered, said Friedman. To start, users can categorize their contacts by 'Circles' so that every update they make doesn’t go to every person. Google+ also sports a unique feature called 'Hangout', allowing users to have a conversation with up to 10 people at the same time, a potentially useful tool for meetings across great distances. With over 25 million users gained in a month, some wonder if Facebook should be more concerned about their new competitor’s growth rate, despite remaining top dog with upwards of 750 million users. Google+ is also elitist, only allowing users if they are invited by existing users, though that could soon change. The lack of games like Farmville is a nice feature, since much of Facebook has been bombarded with online games that are not useful for businesses or most fan pages. Of course, makers of online games are poised to launch Google + games within weeks, says VentureBeat, maybe even days. Google + takes after Twitter in its otherwise simplicity, focused on status updates but without the restriction of 140 characters. What might have seemed like a novelty on Google’s part is clearly here to stay and could win out its competition. The problem for businesses doesn’t come from not being involved in social media this time, but in how they choose to engage in the over-saturation of social media sites. Google+ could be an unprecedented resource for businesses and business professionals, but as Chris Brogan noted in an article about “Social Media Fatigue” most people are tired of the process of signing up and ‘friending’ their contacts all over again to make the experience worthwhile. Many marketers have said that simple cross-posting is enough to utilize Facebook and Twitter effectively. Simply write a blog entry and then post the link to all of your followers and fans. But thinking of Google+ as just another carbon copy of that process would be a waste of the new approach to social media that Google is trying to give us. Brogan urges users of Google+ to use the site as a chance to do something different and start conversations for different reasons.
“The thing is this: we’re using these tools to enable new connections. We’re using them to make different kinds of business happen. We’re using these tools to help causes that matter, and so much more.” READ MORE
So for dealers and automotive professionals already involved with or looking to get invited to Google+, keep in mind that this is not the same old social media site. Do something different this time around and find new innovations to make your brand stand out.
Consumer reviews are becoming more and more of a challenge and source of fear for most dealers with widespread use of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter frequented by potential customers before they buy. While these reviews were once only found on Google Places or specific automotive websites, consumers are often doing their praising and complaining where the most of their friends and family can see it. Rather than see this as a negative aspect of the digital revolution, dealers need to start taking advantage. Dealer reviews online are the new word of mouth, and this word of mouth can reach far more prospects that much faster. Jillian Ney of Social Media Today recently gave dealers three main reasons to love the phenomenon: brand perception, innovation, and competitive advantage. Since reviews are everywhere a dealer might think to communicate with their customers, brand perception is everywhere too, and how your brand is perceived by current and potential customers is important.
“Why wouldn’t you want to know what your customers think of you? You then have the opportunity to use positive reviews and build relationships and possibly overcome any negative reviews,” said Ney. READ MORE
Staying ahead of your reputation management is key, and can also show you where you might improve and what your customers want and expect from you. Keeping track of what customers are saying also offers insight into your competition, because as easy as it is to find reviews for your dealership, the same is true for every one of your competitors.<?p> DrivingSales looked at how reviews can best be leveraged using examples from Prestige Volvo, rated the #1 Volvo dealer in the country. Prestige Volvo strives to ask 100% of their customers for a review after purchase or service, even for a possible video review, so that potential customers can see the videos and positive feedback about their dealership wherever they go. You can see the full video interview with Prestige Volvo here. Some new challenges have arisen lately for monitoring reviews and keeping ahead of brand perception. Google Places dropped third-party reviews the other week from the main page of Google Maps. Dealers that had some 100+ reviews now only list a few, since only reviews posted directly to Google are being displayed. DrivingSales and dealerELITE reported on the loss of this additional review aggregation. The important thing to remember in the fallout of the development is that Google Places is best used for its direct reviews anyway, and the loss of third-party reviews shouldn’t be discouraging so much as an incentive to ask satisfied customers to go to Google Places and review for themselves. That being said, don’t ignore reviews from third-party sites. Make sure you are on top of your reputation management, especially when it comes to social media sites where people tend to speak more freely. Embrace your reviews online, because that is where your brand is taking shape in the minds of consumers.
April 8, 2011

QR Code Revolution

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.”

MORE FROM PAUL POTRATZ

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.

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Going Mobile

Cell phones were the first mobile revolution. Now smartphones are the only way to go. Calling and texting isn’t enough anymore for the savvy consumer. Internet access and countless apps are a small part of what are becoming expected features in even the basest models.

Looking to the automotive world, there are apps for everything from navigation to checking tire pressure and demand is increasing for options beyond personal smartphone use in the car since being on the phone is a potentially dangerous distraction for drivers.

The Car Tech Blog reported on ways the automotive industry is trying to keep up with the smartphone revolution:

“Finding and implementing a way to safely integrate social networking and other apps in the car is more feasible than fighting the trend.”

Read More

The applications and features available with most smartphones are translating across the automotive industry increasingly progressively. This goes beyond stereo systems, navigation, and Bluetooth. We now have full multimedia systems available in vehicles that are as sophisticated as the most high-tech smartphone.

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