The Online Shopping Effect

On March 15, America launched “15 days to Stop the Spread of COVID-19.” Since then, many businesses have been forced to close.

Most Americans are forced to work from home. Schools and colleges are closed so kids are home. Sales have slowed at nearly every business. It doesn’t take Artificial Intelligence to see that vehicle sales and service has slowed dramatically at the dealerships that Outsell serves. One need only look at the shop, showroom floor or lacking incoming lead flow.

As an industry, however, we are in a different place than we were in the last recession in 2008 and 2009. Today we have technology to give us insights into the things we can’t readily see from floor traffic or repair orders.

Through Outsell’s delivery of millions of customer lifecycle engagement messages each week, our program has visibility into shopping activity across channels. Outsell’s unique  Buyer Detection driven by artificial intelligence judges shopping intensity and has proven to accurately predict near term sales.

HERE IS WHAT THE DATA SHOWS:

Like other sources, Outsell sees that sales and service transactions have declined.

Fewer consumers have engaged with dealership messages; however, the level of engagement of those who are engaged has only declined by about half the rate of sales and service declines. In addition, we also see a slight increase in total clicks for those consumers that are still engaging.

Outsell captures the dealership content that consumers engage with. This table shows that there is no decline in engagement with Shopping Content, which indicates that shoppers still have  the same intensity to buy.

Outsell’s proprietary Buyer Detection models predict when shoppers are ready to buy. It uses online engagement, social activity, along with other dimensions of artificial intelligence. The total number of shoppers with intensity of 8, 9 and 10 has  declined but by less than half the rate of overall sales decline.

Outsell Buyer Detection still sees a substantial number of shoppers actively intending to buy when the lockdowns are lifted.

WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN TO DEALERSHIPS?

The data from a variety of sources says that shopping activity remains at reasonable levels. Shopping intensity or “seriousness” of those still shopping remains high. When the lockdowns are lifted and “normal” business activity returns, these active shoppers will return to dealerships to purchase. Dealerships must continue communicating to keep their stores on the shopping list.

Progressive dealers will take these actions:

  • Communicate regularly with active shoppers as well as ALL consumers.
  • Provide timely content, updated incentives, vehicle listings, and even special offers.
  • Moderate calls to action and tone to respect current events.
  • Provide options for remote sales and service.
  • Highlight community responsibility, safety, and care for staff.

Prove to online shoppers and engaged customers that your dealership is the right place to go now AND when the market breaks. The data is clear that a surge is likely coming. Now is the time to prove character, prove value, and showcase unique capabilities to serve consumers.

Contact Outsell to learn more or visit our COVID-19 Strike Force Resources page.

Outsell Donates Laptops and Network Switches to DeLaSalle High School

Outsell donates tech to local Minneapolis high school

Caring is one of the seven core values Outsell holds itself accountable to. We are continuously dedicated to giving back to our community, which includes our Caring Committee made up of volunteers from across the company and empowered leadership opportunities for Associates to make an impact in the world around us.

Just before the Memorial Day holiday, Outsell donated 15 lightly used laptops and 4 Network Switches to DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis. We also had an opportunity to share with the students about Outsell and what we do.

During our Q&A session, we received quite a few highly intelligent questions from students that were centered around data security and the ethics that come with offering our artificial intelligence-driven marketing platform to automotive dealers.

The staff and students were exceptional and it was wonderful to engage with them. We will be keeping our eyes open for other opportunities to send more equipment their way as it becomes available. Additionally, we are discussing with DeLaSalle an opportunity for Outsell Associates to potentially volunteer as mentors for their AP Computer Science and AP Engineering courses during the 2018-2019 school year.

Thank you, DeLaSalle, for being such marvelous hosts! We hope you make good use of the equipment and look forward to future partnerships!

Outsell named one of the 10 Best Small Companies to work for in Minneapolis

Outsell’s number one value is Customer – Customer First—which includes our customers, end-user consumers, and Outsell Associates. This value as well as the other values important to how Outsell has shaped itself since its founding in 2004 is part of what we attribute to our successful growth and positive company culture.

Recently, career consultants Zippia named Outsell one of The 10 Best Small Companies to Work For in Minneapolis.

Outsell is a company that helps automotive dealers keep their products in front of their customers throughout a product’s lifecycle. Employees of Outsell love the way that the CEO and company’s values are reflected in company culture, as well as the excellent technology used by the company.

Thank you, Zippia, for recognizing that Outsell’s consistent track record of growth and profitable innovation is a result of our ability to attract and retain outstanding individuals that want to make a difference.

Learn more about the Outsell Team HERE.

Outsell Delivers What Dealers Want at #NADA100

#NADA100 was an event to remember for Outsell

Outsell attended the New Orleans convention with a brand new booth to greet dealers and received remarkable reception on the design. Several convention-goers stopped by just so they could take photos of the booth.

We couldn’t be more pleased with how the booth represents Outsell and how we engage customers, being inviting from all sides for continual traffic that helped build some fantastic relationships for the new year.

It was especially rewarding to have dealers and other vendors come up to us, remembering when we were a smaller presence with a more subdued booth along the back wall, and remark on how clear it is that we’ve grown as a successful solution for dealers and have become a major player in their digital marketing efforts.

old versus new outsell nada booth
NADA 2016 vs NADA 2017

We convened our first-ever Customer Advisory Board (CAB) the Thursday of the convention to start the event on a high note, gaining great feedback on the Outsell platform, guidance on product direction, and how we can better serve our clients.

One CAB participant, Kristy Elliott, Executive Manager at Sunshine Chevrolet, said:

“The Outsell platform has become an integral part of our overall marketing process. I welcomed the opportunity to participate in Outsell’s Customer Advisory Board, because it gives me a chance to network with peers from other dealerships, and to have an impact on Outsell’s product direction.”

outsell customer advisory board

NADA continued to be a win for Outsell when we were announced as a top marketing solution for auto dealers at the Automotive Website Awards, created by PCG Companies. The AWAs provide car dealers with an independent review of automotive technology, and we were honored to be counted among the select few recognized.

“Winning products in the marketing solutions category are those that we believe can help dealers to sell more cars in a digital age, as they are designed to increase the sales opportunities that dealers can have with in-market shoppers,” said Brian Pasch, Founder, PCG Companies.

awa award with pcg companies

We’ve also seen some great momentum surrounding the new features and products launched at NADA.

Outsell Social Ads integrates with a dealer’s campaigns to:

  • Reach the unreachable in their database
  • Keep active shoppers engaged
  • Acquire and engage net-new prospects
  • Entice lapsed service customers back to their service bays

Additionally, Outsell launched:

  • Single Consumer View: for dealers to view everything they know about a customer in one place including current vehicle, service and sales history, and engagement with past marketing campaigns.
  • Automated Review Solicitation: giving dealers the ability to automatically request reviews from customers and guide them through the process of posting those reviews.
  • CDK Integration: as a CDK integration partner working toward certification to ensure quick, simple and secure connections and data sharing.

“All these new enhancements are designed to help simplify the process of engaging consumers across channels and individualizing offers and content for auto dealers’ customers, including reaching customers via their preferred channel,” said Bryan Harwood, Outsell’s CTO.

It was an exciting way to kick off 2017 and we are carrying the momentum from the show throughout the organization.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by the booth! We hope you enjoyed learning more about Outsell and how automating your marketing efforts utilizing technology featuring artificial intelligence increases consumer engagement.

We’re also happy to see that our Outsell branded socks were a huge hit. We’re a fan of them too.

outsell socks

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Outsell’s Bryan Harwood Joins Panel of Experts on Intellectual Property Rights

Last week, Outsell’s Chief Technology Officer, Bryan Harwood, spoke as part of a panel of experts on enforcement of intellectual property rights for a delegation from Pakistan.

Under the auspices of the Pakistan-U.S. Cooperation, representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan; Federal Judicial Academy, Pakistan; Commercial Law Development Program; and U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, came together with an international mission. Learning about the enforcement of IP laws in the Unites States, the delegates from Pakistan hoped to return home better informed to build out their own newly establishing practices.

Harwood was joined on the panel by The Honorable James D. Smith, Chief IP Counsel for Ecolab, and Kevin Rhodes, Chief IP Counsel for 3M. Harwood was asked to participate to offer a small business perspective. Smaller companies tend to be less concerned with patents and focus more on the protection of trade secrets.

“It was an exciting opportunity to share the stage with such esteemed colleagues, providing our peers in Pakistan what expertise we could share about topics they are only just beginning to explore,” Harwood said.

pakistan deligates

As part of the American Inns of Court, which “inspire the legal community to advance the rule of law by achieving the highest level of professionalism through example, education and mentoring,” this event was a prime example of international cooperation in the technology community.

Star Tribune Names Outsell a 2016 Top Workplace

Honored for a second time as a progressive company in Minnesota

Outsell announced today that the Star Tribune has named Outsell one of the Top Workplaces in Minnesota. The 2016 Top Workplaces special section was published in the Star Tribune on Sunday, June 26. The report can also be found at www.StarTribune.com/topworkplaces2016.

Produced by the same team that compiles the 25-year-old Star Tribune 100 report of the best-performing public companies in Minnesota, Top Workplaces recognizes the most progressive companies in Minnesota based on employee opinions measuring engagement, organizational health and satisfaction. The analysis included responses from over 73,870 employees at Minnesota public, private and nonprofit organizations.

The results of the Star Tribune 2016 Top Workplaces are based on survey information collected by WorkplaceDynamics, an independent company specializing in employee engagement and retention.

“This recognition is an honor and a testament to the talented group of employees at Outsell. We are extremely pleased to be listed among the other top workplaces in Minnesota,” said Mike Wethington, President and CEO, Outsell. “Our goal is to create a culture that brings out the best in our employees that continue to develop the best customer engagement solution for our customers in the automotive industry.”

Star Tribune Publisher Michael J. Klingensmith said, “The companies in the Star Tribune Top Workplaces deserve high praise for creating the very best work environments in the state of Minnesota. My congratulations to each of these exceptional companies.”

About 2016 Top Workplaces Award
To qualify for the Star Tribune Top Workplaces, a company must have more than 50 employees in Minnesota. Over 1,555 companies were invited to participate. Rankings were composite scores calculated purely on the basis of employee responses.

Social Impact: 8 Tips to Manage Your Online Reputation – at Digital Dealer 20

Bryan Harwood, Chief Technology Officer at Outsell, will be presenting next week at Digital Dealer 20 on Social Impact: 8 Tips to Manage Your Online Reputation.

Primary Learning Objectives:

  • Understand how social media tools can help you successfully identify and respond to online reviews.
  • Learn how to manage your online reputation and address customer reviews.
  • Gain a better understanding of social media marketing response management and social/review site best practices.

Session Description:
In 2016 the focus on social media marketing will be on response management and general social and review site best practices, including reputation management and responding to online/social reviews. This presentation will explain the social media tools available that can help dealers identify and respond to online reviews, a task that can be very time consuming if done manually.

Session Time:
Thursday, 10:30am-11:20am

Speaker Bio:
Under Bryan Harwood’s direction and leadership, Outsell continues to evolve its robust customer engagement platform by bringing innovative marketing solutions to the automotive industry and especially for the dealerships that can greatly benefit from their tools that will help them identify customers ready to buy, improve customer interactions and drive sales. Bryan Harwood is an innovative technology leader with a depth of experience building out data and transaction processing systems on a massive scale for global enterprises. At Outsell, Bryan leads the Development and Infrastructure team focusing on the development and scaling of the Outsell Fuel Customer Engagement Platform.

Be sure and stop by Outsell’s booth as well, Booth 919, and check out more events we’ll be attending later this year right HERE.

Social Tips Series – 3. Content Best Practices [VIDEO]

We’ve previously covered best practices for both review and social sites, but what about content best practices? Here are several useful tips for staying ahead of the social curve.

Did you enjoy this video? Access our Insights library HERE.

Social Tips Series – 1. Review Site Best Practices [VIDEO]

As part 1 of our tips video series for social and reputation management, here are 6 tips to help keep yourself in the running to be #1 of the 1.2 dealerships shoppers will visit.

If you’re using social media as a broadcast network and ignoring your online reputation, you’re missing out on a chance to meaningfully connect with your customers and prospects.

Did you enjoy this video? Access our Insights library HERE.

3 Key Strategies to Diversify Your Social Presence [VIDEO]

Your business needs to diversify its social media portfolio by developing a content and engagement strategy for a variety of industry avenues. Amanda Meuwissen, Marketing Specialist at Outsell, shares three strategies for effectively diversifying your social presence.

Did you enjoy this video? Access our Insights library HERE.