Tuesday, February 21, 2017

How Does Live Video Fit Into Your Dealership's Social Media Strategy?

Man takes photo with smartphone
Not so long ago, social media probably felt like just another wild fad. Dealerships questioned if it was worth signing up for social accounts and if it could really help their marketing. But after millions of posts, photos and GIFs, social media is still kicking, and dealerships everywhere are using it to build brands and foster loyalty.

Today you're probably feeling some of that same trepidation when looking at the onslaught of live video streaming. Is it a fad? Is it worth the time? Will anybody watch? While you might look at services like Facebook Live and Twitter's Periscope as the social media flavor of the month, you could be missing out if live video isn't playing a role in your dealership's social media marketing.

Let's take a look at some of the questions you might be having about live video streaming.

Why Live Video?

Live video offers your customers an unfiltered look at your dealership that they don't get from professionally-produced and scripted video content. TV and video advertisements are great and should play a role in your marketing, but live video brings something different to the table. It humanizes your dealership and gives your customers an opportunity to get to know the people behind the flashy ads.

Because many consider social media to be a poor source of leads, engagement is the metric that matters to marketers. Are people interacting with and commenting on your content? That's engagement. Forrester Research recently revealed that live video receives three times the engagement of pre-recorded video, meaning people are more likely to help spread your message if it's a live video.

Are People Watching?

Just as smartphones have been the driving force behind a boom in phone calls placed to businesses, they have also contributed to the explosion of live video streaming. Smartphones and mobile devices let you easily follow what's happening with your friends and favorite brands wherever you are. They also give you an easy way to broadcast yourself on the go.

With smartphones making it easy to view and records videos, 46 percent of all digital video consumption is now happening on mobile devices. The NFL recognized this when it decided to stream several games on Twitter during the 2016 season. The first stream had 2.1 million unique viewers over the course of the game. Sure, the NFL has a few more fans than a typical dealership, but people are definitely watching. Just don't expect millions of views from the start.

What Should We Stream?

You might be tempted to use live video to talk about your screaming hot deals and how customers should get down to the showroom today. DON'T DO IT! As we mentioned earlier, few businesses see social media as a good lead source. It's all about building loyalty, so you shouldn't be posting about your lot inventory all the time anyway. You shouldn't use live video to do it either.

Live video isn't traditional advertising. Don't get online just to read a script and then log off. Much like your regular social media channels, you should use it to interact with customers. Give followers the opportunity to have their questions answered by sales, service or F&I reps with a live Q&A session — but keep it brief. Remember the 2.1 million unique viewers of that NFL stream? Only one-eigth of that amount was watching at any given minute.

You can also use live video to promote big events. Are you grilling free hamburgers and hot dogs for a Memorial Day sales event? Use a live video stream to show your followers what they're missing. The video doesn't have to be about your great deals. Just give them a reason to visit your dealership and feel like they're getting something out of it.

What are some ways you can deploy live video streaming as part of your social media strategy? Do you have an idea for a unique way to interact with your customers from afar? Let us know in the comments.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How to Rescue the Leads That Get Away

Baseball player makes a leaping catch
The one that got away — we've all experienced it. Going all in at the poker table with a full house and losing to a four-of-a-kind hand. Waving goodbye to your middle-school sweetheart when they move away during the summer. Having a fish spit out the hook right before it lands in the net. Coming up short is practically a fact of life.

Dealerships often feel the same way about leads that slip away. These days, every lead can make a difference, but tracking down leads lost to unanswered phones, dropped calls or even bad customer service experiences can feel like a herculean task. Is it worth the effort and resources?

The good news is that rescuing lost leads doesn't have to be a nightmare. Here are some things you need to know about lost leads and how to save them.

Recovering From Bad Customer Service

Research firm Luntz Group recently revealed that 40 percent of Americans dread the idea of buying a new car. Basically, they're already cringing when they pick up the phone to call your dealership. That means the first impression is critical to make sure your buyers feel comfortable in working with you and your reps.

However, phone conversations don't always go as planned. A new sales rep might not have much training, and a flubbed pitch could lead to a frustrated customer hanging up the phone. The poorly trained rep will probably just move on to the next lead, and management will be none the wiser. But what if you could be notified when these types of calls happen?

Consider deploying a service that listens to and reviews calls going in and out of your dealership. A team of highly trained professionals can spot mishandled calls like the one above and let you know when a call needs to be followed up on to work out the problem. This way leads aren't left frustrated and telling their friends how unhappy they were with your dealership. Instead they'll be impressed that you took time to make things right.

Returning Missed Calls

Sometimes customers simply slip through the cracks. In an ideal world,  your dealership employees answer every call — whether they're to your sales reps' direct lines or a general line that a receptionist should answer. However, for various reasons, some calls just don't get through. And since many people don't leave voicemails, how will you know who needs to be called back?

It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking a customer will try to call again if they don't get through the first time, but that next call could be to a different dealership. If your employees aren't answering calls, customers might think they're not important to you. At that point it's not as simple as a call that slipped through the cracks — callers view lack of responsiveness as bad customer service.

Be sure you have a way to capture call information whether the caller leaves a message or not. It would also help if you could be notified that a call was missed and needs to be returned. You might not know exactly what the customer was calling for, but following up with a missed call can let customers know that you care and you want their business.

Letting leads slip away because you don't want to go through the trouble of following up or you don't have correct contact info is unacceptable in today's competitive market. What are some ways you've made sure your dealership's leads don't fall through the cracks?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Grill up Some Dealership Marketing Success

Grilled steak
The weather is starting to cool off, meaning that if your grill isn't reserved for football game tailgates, it's likely already in storage for the winter. But down here in Texas, it's almost always grilling season, and it's hard to beat a big, juicy grilled steak.

As easy as grilling the perfect steak might sound, steak is fickle and can become tough if you're not careful. Likewise, when your dealership is trying to create a rich marketing campaign, it's just as easy for things to go bad quickly.

If you're craving a delectable steak and want to make your dealership's marketing campaigns as enticing as a filet mignon from a high-end steakhouse, here are some tips for you.

Don't Overcook It

How you like you steak prepared — whether it's rare, medium or well done — is entirely up to you. While some of us might prefer a medium-rare steak, even a well-done steak can be tasty. But no matter how you like it, you usually cut into it to make sure it's not too dry.

Marketing campaigns can end up dry too. If you let a campaign run too long, it can start looking tired and overused to your potential customers. You need to make sure the campaign is producing your desired results. If it is, great job! If not, put it on pause and take it back to make it perfect. Be sure you have a way to measure marketing impact so you know when a campaign isn't generating leads anymore.

Know When to Keep It Simple

The temperature of your cooked steak can dictate flavor, but seasoning and marinades can play big roles as well. While complex marinades are perfectly acceptable, you should consider using a basic seasoning if you want the meat to speak for itself. Sauces and marinades can complement a prime cut of beef, but a simple sprinkle of salt and pepper will allow the steak's natural flavor to shine.

The steak, which is the focus of the flavor, is a bit like the message you want to convey in your marketing campaigns. Marinades, sauces and seasonings are like the ways you try to draw attention to your campaigns. It's easy to let the bells and whistles — such as a script-heavy website or a big PR stunt — take precedence over the message. Use only as many attention-grabbing techniques as you need, because using too many can smother your original message, leaving prospects wondering what you're even selling.

Occasionally Go Against the Grain

There are many cuts of steak to choose from when you want to grill some meat, but most are pretty similar in thickness and shape. If you want to try something really different, look at a "cowboy cut" rib eye — just make sure you grill it right. Since it's a thick, bone-in cut, the cowboy cut can't just be thrown on the grill for a few minutes. It takes longer to cook over low heat and must be flipped frequently. That time investment can create a dinner that's a little different and delicious.

It might take more time to see success when you stray from your traditional approach, but a new approach can be worth the wait if it's done right. Much like how you don't want to overextend your traditional campaigns or use too many bells and whistles, a new approach should follow the same pattern. Just be sure you take the time to make it right, because even a minor mistake can be expensive and damage your dealership's brand.

So how do you like your marketing campaigns prepared? Do you like to keep them simple and on-message, or do you go the extra mile to make them stand out? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Data-Backed Decisions Can Take Your Sales to Stellar Heights

Children pretend to be astronauts
Do you think the engineers planning the Mars missions haphazardly lob rockets into space hoping they make it to Mars? When billions of dollars of infrastructure and hardware are at risk, a ton of data collection and research go into every little decision.

Collecting and using data to make marketing, sales and training decisions can set you apart from your competitors, but ignoring the information available to you can send your dealership toward disaster. Here's how you can use the right data to your advantage.

Improve the Sales Process

Data collection needs to be a priority for your company so you can more efficiently direct your marketing and training efforts. Surveys after a sale can give you information on why customers picked a particular vehicle, why they picked your dealership and how they felt about the sales process. Recording and monitoring calls can also give you insight into how reps are performing.

For long-term improvement of your sales process, you're going to need more than just accurate contact data. Detailed demographics of your customers can reveal what kind of features they're looking for, how they feel about one brand over another and even where your sales process might be faltering.

Know What the Customer Wants

If you knew a customer were shopping for a certain type of car with certain features, wouldn't it benefit you to put a targeted ad in front of their eyes before they visited one of your competitors? Wouldn't you like to know some key pain points that might make them change their preferred make or model? Knowing what a customer is looking for before your competitor does gives you the perfect opportunity to strike while the iron is hot.

Data also gives you insight into which advertising methods are working and which ones aren't. Paying for ineffective advertising doesn't do anybody any good. Tracking lead sources, whether through phone calls, clicks or search terms will allow you to focus your efforts on the more successful sources.

Meeting Customers' Expectations

Dealerships are frequently happy to let sales figures do the talking. After all, if a rep isn't make sales, there must be a problem. Having access to performance data and being able to see where that sales rep is falling short can give you insight into how to improve their training. Don't buy into the myth that training should have a one-size-fits-all approach. Everybody has a different way of learning.

Meeting customers' expectations and providing stellar service can be the difference between them sticking with you or leaving for your competitor. Most Americans have given up on a transaction at some point because of a poor service experience, and the majority of those who have done so likely won't consider you again once they leave. Improved data analysis leads to better training and happier customers.

The next time you want to make decisions on the fly, take a moment to realize how much you can learn from the data. Otherwise, "Houston, we have a problem," because dealership margins are too slim for dealers to be making haphazard and unguided decisions.

Monday, October 10, 2016

[INFOGRAPHIC] Customer Service: The Forgotten Marketing Channel

How does your customer service look? If you've been neglecting training your staff, you might be suffering consequences you don't even know about. For example, did you know that 89 percent of consumers stopped doing business with a company after a poor experience?

Check out the infographic below for more shocking customer service statistics.

Infographic - Customer Service: The Forgotten Marketing Channel

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

(Snack) Attack Your Marketing and Sales

An assortment of snack foods
One of the most relevant subjects to the human race is food.

Brace yourselves (and maybe grab a snack); a lot of food talk follows.

We absolutely love food. And rightfully so — it’s delicious. Most of us consume it at least three times a day to keep our bodies going from sun up to sun down. We prepare it ourselves. We pay restaurant chefs to make it. We wait in lines of vehicles to take it on the go. The list goes on and on.

But perhaps the most underrated food form is the good ol’ afternoon snack. So grab your favorite tasty treat and nibble on these marketing and sales tips.

Take Advantage of Chip... Er, Cheap But Effective Options

A bag of tortilla chips paired with a nice big bowl of zesty salsa is a cheap but effective way to fill you up. Can a snack get any better than that? If you said no, you’re wrong. That might sound harsh, but we’re serious about our chips and dip here. The only downfall to this tasty snack is that some chips are going to break off into the salsa, leaving you half-chipless and completely dipless. It’s a sad but inevitable truth. But don’t fret, because your next dipped chip will return the savory goodness back to your eager taste buds.

Similarly, starting a new social media campaign is a low-budget way to upgrade your marketing. Posting on social media sites costs you nothing (except for a small portion of your time), but it can increase the reach of your marketing activities significantly. Unfortunately, new content is posted so often that some posts tend to get lost in the salsa that is social media. On the bright side, the accelerated content turnover allows you to post as frequently as you desire, so you can make up for any posts that get swallowed up.

Create the Perfect Mix 

Trail mix is quite possibly the most diverse (and deliciously nutritious) snack on the shelves. What makes trail mix so great? Every single ingredient is essential to perfecting the overall concoction. Each has an individual purpose. Without the nuts, you wouldn’t have the salty component. Without the M&Ms, you wouldn’t have the sweetness. Without the raisins… well, you get the picture. With every ingredient you add, the trail mix continues to improve.

With that in mind, implementing an advertising campaign with diverse components is an effective way to boost your marketing. Using a variety of platforms like social media, direct mail, mobile marketing and traditional media can increase your ROI by 24 percent. Each platform gives your company a better chance of reaching your target market, so add some new marketing channels into the mix for your next campaign.

Get It While It’s Hot!

Whether you prefer your popcorn buttered, salted, caramelized, or heck, even kettled, we can all agree that it's best when it's fresh and hot. Some like to savor the flavor and take time eating it, even setting it aside to save for later. We don't judge these outcasts, but we do have some advice: Don’t wait too long to eat it, or it’ll get cold and stale.

Leads are the same way — you need to capture them while they’re still hot. When new leads pop up, it’s crucial that your sales team take action immediately before the leads turn cold and stale. In fact, 35-50 percent of sales go to the sales team that contacts customers first. Responding with urgency so you’re the first to contact a lead can make a huge difference in your business’s conversions.

Want to chip in some of your own marketing and sales tips? Dip into the comments below to let us know.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

How Mario Can Help You Save Customer Calls

The classic Mario games presented a way for people of all ages — adults included — to have some video game fun. Whether you prefer to play the games on a Nintendo 64, GameCube or Wii, you’re bound to have a good time.
Animated video game landscape
You can learn a lot from these games, like how to dodge a Koopa shell, or how to strategically maneuver around other characters. Even better, you can learn how to up your game with customer interactions. Wait, what? That’s right; Mario can help your business. Let a couple of our favorite Mario games teach you how.

Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros. provides endless hours of obstacles and levels. Each world and villain creates a new way to challenge your gaming skills while helping Mario rescue Princess Toadstool from the evil Bowser.

Your company may have some Princess Toadstools that need to be saved too. The challenges you face when contacting customers probably aren’t turtle shells or fire-spewing plants, but poor call etiquette could be just as hefty a barrier blocking you from business prospects. Have no fear, there's a way you can rescue some of those mishandled calls.

Monitor your sales reps’ conversations when they’re talking to customers on the phone. By sitting in on calls or reviewing call recordings, you’ll be able to pinpoint what led to a lost customer and tailor employee training to limit that risk. As an alternative, you could outsource the call monitoring and have call evaluation professionals notify you of missed sales opportunities.

Mario Kart

Similar to Super Mario Bros., Mario Kart allows you to use devices such as banana peels, ink blots and Koopa shells to deter competing carts in the race. Mario Kart also has several racetracks with various hurdles such as icy roads and sand. Your business is also competing in a race. But instead of competing in a video game race, you’re seeing who can get to a potential customer the fastest. 

In Mario Kart it’s not unheard of to distract and sabotage competitors, but if you focus on boosting your speed and enhancing your abilities, you’re more likely get to the finish line the fastest. The same idea applies to your business. Instead of focusing on how to divert competitors, focus on how to reach customers the fastest. Since you’re 21 times more likely to qualify a lead by contacting them within 5 minutes versus 30 minutes, it’s imperative to increase your response time. To do so, dedicate an employee to lead response or invest in a tool that'll notify you of online leads. By increasing your response time, you’ll better your odds of winning the race to the customer.

What's your favorite Mario Game?