Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What's on Your Plate for New Year's Day?

All the presents have been unwrapped and the holiday decorations put away. Now that 2014 has come to a close, it’s time to think about what 2015 is going to bring. If you’re like most people you’re hoping for wealth, good luck and progression. Others are more focused on health and fitness.

With so much emphasis on diet and exercise as resolutions, you might not expect food to be a tradition on New Year's Day. But don't be fooled — Baby New Year expects you to eat the following things to ensure a happy new year.

cooked greensCooked Greens


It’s simple. When cooked, the leaves of greens like cabbage, collards or kale look like folded money. Eating them is said to be symbolic of economic fortune. So eating a heaping bowl of greens means you’re going to rake in the dough in 2015 (obviously).



blackeyed peas Black-eyed Peas


These legumes, consumed predominantly in the southern United States, are a staple on New Year’s Day. During the Civil War, the town of Vicksburg, MS, ran out of food while under attack. They found sustenance in black-eyed peas, which from then on were considered lucky.


bacon

Pork


Are you achin’ for some bacon? Because you should be. It turns out that pigs are a symbol for progress because as they root themselves through the ground they push forward. That being said, pork has become the traditional meat for New Year’s Day. So you heard it here first: Bacon equals progress (as if you needed another reason to eat bacon).


Now that you know what should be on your plate, we hope that you have a Happy New Year filled with good fortune, good luck and forward progress. And bacon. Lots of bacon.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dealerships: Use the Winter Lull to Get Ready for Marketing in 2015

Line of cars covered in snowBaby, it’s cold outside!

As the temps drop, employees at your dealership will likely get to spend more time inside and less time on the lot, because chilly weather isn’t exactly conducive to vehicle sales.

People are completing more and more of the car-buying process online from the comfort of their warm and toasty homes. But this is good news for you! Remember earlier this year when we reported digital ad spend in the auto industry is expected to increase in 2015? This prediction aligns perfectly with your customers’ online car research behaviors. Whether it’s online or on the lot, it’s important to reach your prospects wherever they are in the buying cycle.

This winter, make sure you’re ready to start off 2015 strong with solid digital marketing practices. To help you get ready for the digital wave, we’ve put together a few of our favorite posts on digital marketing topics from the past year:

What digital marketing practices are you most excited about investing in next year?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

[INFOGRAPHIC] The History of the Telephone

From Alexander Graham Bell’s harmonic telegraph to Steve Jobs’ iPhone, the telephone has evolved from a basic method of communication to the mini computers we depend on for pretty much everything. Check out our infographic below to see just how far the telephone has come.

history of the telephone infographic

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Three Times Typos Cost Businesses Big Bucks

Sheet of paper reading "Allways chek for speling erors"Ever made a typo you regret? We've all been there. Maybe your boss became Brian instead of Bryan in that email you sent this morning. Maybe you added a few extra letters to a report you were working on when you dropped your coffee mug on your keyboard. Maybe you used the wrong "your" in an email to your one coworker who was an English major.

These typos are no biggie. You can just shake it off and move on. But other times, typos are a BIG DEAL. Sometimes they cost you money — and lots of it. Don't believe us? Here are three times when businesses had to shell out some cash to fix some not-so-little typographical mishaps.

A Lottery With the Best Odds Ever


Several years ago a dealership in Roswell, NM decided to try hosting a lottery to generate some buzz and give sales a little pick-me-up. The plan was that the dealership would send out 50,000 scratch tickets, and one lucky person would get a $1,000 cash prize. But after the marketing company made a little oopsie and printed 50,000 winning tickets, the dealership found itself on the hook for $50 million.

Marketing on a 'Tights' Budget


UK-based e-tailer tightsplease.co.uk is a perfect example of how a small typo can have a major impact on profits. Tights Please's online sales were cut in half as the result of a category page displaying "tihgts" instead of "tights." The company realized just how much money the spelling mistake had cost when the company's revenue per visitor doubled after the error was corrected. Recognizing the value of error-free copy, Tights Please started a new campaign asking consumers to spot typos on its site. For every error spotted, the business offered to donate £1 to charity. 

L.L. Who?


Vanity numbers can be amazing for making your company stick in people's minds and encouraging people to call — but not if you misprint the number. Clothing retailer L.L. Bean learned this lesson the hard way when it used the toll-free prefix 800 instead of 877 in the number LLB.KIDS. As a result, a company in Virginia started getting lots of orders for kids' clothing. Eventually L.L. Bean bought the number from the other company, but it cost a pretty penny (actually more like millions of pretty pennies).

Sometimes typos happen. We're all human, after all. But it never hurts to have a few pairs of eyes double and triple check anything with words, dollar signs or phone numbers on it. Catch mistakes before they're published to save yourself some embarrassment, lost sales and money.

Have you ever seen or heard about a disastrous typo? We want to know! Share your story in the comments. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Lead Management: A Recipe for Success

Thanksgiving dinnerThe Halloween decorations have been put away. You’re starting to hear Christmas music playing on
the radio and in department stores. But wait a minute…what about Thanksgiving? That fantastic time of year when the air is crisp, the leaves are wonderful shades of orange and yellow, and there’s just one thing on everyone’s mind: lead management.

Wait, what?

Yep, you read that correctly. We know you thought we were going to say turkey, but lead management and cooking Thanksgiving dinner actually have a lot in common. Don’t believe us? Keep reading.

You Need Top Quality Ingredients to be Successful


You know the saying “You get out of things what you put into them”? Well that couldn’t ring more true for both making Thanksgiving dinner and lead management. If you put good stuff in (See what we did there? Stuff in…stuffin', as in turkey and stuffing), you’ll get good stuff out.

Cooking Best Practice: Unless you want to upset Aunt Bea and Uncle Joe, don’t sacrifice the quality of your ingredients for the sake of price or convenience. For instance don’t ruin the sweet potatoes by buying the ones in the can. Sure the fresh ones are more labor intensive, but when you put that delectable spoonful in your mouth, your efforts will be totally worth it.

Lead Management Best Practice: To successfully grow your business you need to know more than just the source of your phone calls. You need a lead management solution provider that offers options such as tracking campaign effectiveness, call recording and online lead tracking.

Preparation is Key


Anything worth doing is worth doing well. And if you want to do something well, you have to prepare properly. Whether it’s cooking a turkey or managing leads, you can’t just jump in blindly. Bad, bad things will happen if you do.

Cooking Best Practice:  Give the turkey enough time to thaw. Check. Remove the giblets. Check. Season the bird on the outside and the inside. Check. Set the oven to the correct temperature. Check. Forget any of these steps and it could spell embarrassment when it’s time to carve. Follow these prep steps and you’ll end up with some succulent, food-coma-inducing poultry (tryptophan is no joke!).

Lead Management Best Practice: Who answers your phones and processes your leads? That’s right, your staff. So obviously they should be prepared. If they’re not, they could end up losing leads. 78 percent of potential customers will take their business elsewhere due to poor customer service. Proper training can mean the difference between closing a deal and losing a customer to another dealership.

The Devil Is in the Details


Details. They are so important, yet no one likes to talk about them. Forgetting the details can lead to an epic fail. Remembering them can equal pure awesomeness.

Cooking Best Practice: You put the turkey in the oven. Did you remember that you have to baste it often? You remembered to make everyone’s favorite pumpkin pie, but did you set the timer? And most importantly, did you remember to get the cranberry sauce? See…it’s all in the details.

Lead Management Best Practice: Having the best trained sales reps and the best lead management tracking tools means nothing if you don’t know how they’re all performing. Use an ROI reporting tool to figure out if your advertising campaigns are working. Filter and monitor your staff’s calls to know how they are responding to leads.

What's your recipe for success? Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What Are People Saying About Your Service?

So you’ve run several marketing campaigns to drive customers into your dealership. You’ve made sure that your prices are competitive. You’re even staying up to date on what’s trending and adjusting your promotions accordingly. Why do you feel like you’re forgetting something?

Because you are. You’re forgetting that good customer service is the butter to your service department's bread. Sure, you can have one without the other, but they are soooo much better together.

Don't let service fall through the cracks.


We'll bet you didn’t know that 74 percent of calls to a dealership are to inquire about parts and services. And a whopping 64 percent of in-market car shoppers say that a service department's reputation is a factor when choosing where to purchase a vehicle. Keeping those stats in mind, it would make sense to put your service department's customer service pretty high on your priority list.  Remember, the main reason for customer churn is poor customer service.

Woman telling secret to another woman

Customers talk… a lot.


A happy customer will tell four to six people about their experience. On the flip side, a dissatisfied customer will tell nine to 15 people about their experience. Which would you rather have, considering it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one negative experience?

Your service department should be providing top notch customer service whether a customer is spending $50 or $50,000. Cars don’t last forever, so wouldn’t it be awesome if a loyal customer bought a new car from you because your service department treated them so amazingly? Just let that marinate for a minute.

When performance is measured, it improves.


Are you wondering how to find out what quality of service your service department is providing? We thought so. Using call recording software can reveal exactly what your staff is saying to customers. Your staff will be encouraged to provide better service if they know they're being recorded. Voice recognition software can take things one step further by automatically scanning calls for keywords or phrases that you want (or don’t want) to hear from your staff.

Have tales about the awesome way your service department treats customers? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How to Monitor Calls Without Weirding out Your Staff

Bad communication between businessman and businesswomanAs every great customer service leader knows, call monitoring is a great way to make sure your
staff’s phone skills accurately reflect your brand. It's a perfect way to identify areas where you could have taken advantage of a sales opportunity with a customer. And it's a phenomenal way to eavesdrop on your employees and hound them for every little mistake they make.

Wait! One of these things is not like the others. The first two statements are true: Call monitoring is essential to protecting your brand image and making sure you take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. It shouldn’t, however, involve breaching your employees’ trust and sense of security. If an employee is dissatisfied, it affects their tone, their attitude and their ability to build rapport with callers.

To monitor customer interactions without damaging your relationship with your team, follow these four tips.

Let Your Team Know What You’re Looking For


Set concrete guidelines prior to reviewing calls. Review and understand your current call handling processes and establish parameters for labeling a call successful or not. Don’t assume they can read your mind.

Give Quick and Specific Feedback


No one likes enduring long harangues about what they did wrong — especially if the mistake happened days, weeks or even months ago. Approach your staff as soon as you find a potential problem and give very specific examples and reasons for the corrections. Don't be afraid to give honest, actionable feedback.

Look for Positives While Correcting Negatives


Reinforce employees’ strengths while driving home constructive criticism. Email each employee specific call recordings that demonstrate areas in which they need to improve. Periodically find examples of good calls and share them with your entire staff. Who doesn’t like a nice ego boost?

Use a Professional Opinion As Backup


If you use professional call evaluation services, you know they can be a life saver. The notifications you receive as part of the service allow you to quickly follow up on and correct mishandled calls. But these reports can also be helpful for staff coaching sessions. By referring to an objective, third-party assessment of an employee’s less-than-stellar phone performance, you don’t have to be the bad guy. 

Don't underestimate the impact of a well-designed phone training program. By letting your employees know what you expect of them and giving them the feedback they need to succeed, they’ll work hard to make the most of every phone call. For tips on helping your staff rock each conversation, check out our post on phone etiquette. (If you’re a fan of “The Voice,” you’ll want to read this.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Modern Dealerships Need to Be Fast on the Draw With Lead Response

Clock reading, "Timing is everything"
Dealers, we’re going to get straight to this point, because we don’t have much time. The point is this: As soon as a lead comes in, you need to respond to it. Within 5 minutes.

Consumers have almost all the research tools they need online, all the way up until the test drive phase. And some don’t even opt for the test drive anymore. Today, the average buyer visits about two dealerships before making a purchase. You want to be one of them.

To do that, you have to do whatever it takes to answer the phone when leads call, respond to their emails as soon as they hit your inbox and take action on web forms before the lead has time to visit the next dealership’s website.

Now go respond to some leads! Need help immediately knowing when a lead comes in? Let us know  we can help.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hyundai and The Walking Dead: Three Lessons From Product Integration

The post-apocalyptic landscape of The Walking Dead, television's most popular show about zombies, may not seem like the ideal place to put your product. However, Hyundai's unconventional decision to integrate their product with the show may be proof that their executives are really using their braaaaaains (see what we did there?).

So far Hyundai has linked their brand to the show with exceptional product placement, sweepstakes, commercials and even a zombie themed app. All of this is helping Hyundai convey a cool, youthful brand image to the 17.3 million viewers that tuned in to watch the show's fifth season premiere October 12. They even won the Word of Mouth Marketing Association's Driving Engagement Award earlier this year.

You may be wondering why the Hyundai/Walking Dead pairing works so well. Luckily, we have answers. The marketing tactics working in their partnership are the same things that can make your dealership's marketing successful.

Customization Is King


The Walking Dead edition of the Hyundai Tuscon
Image source: Elhart Automotive Campus
Capitalizing on the hype created by their integration with The Walking Dead, Hyundai developed a custom, limited edition Tucson. The car will help form an even deeper connection with fans and remind them of the show. Plus, the ride looks sicker than someone who's been bitten.

Customization helps shoppers make a more personal connection with a product or business. For instance, creating a custom phone greeting is one way your dealership can forge a deeper connection. Unique welcome messages provide additional information about ongoing deals and allow conversations to start out on the right foot. This provides your employees with an immediate advantage when they pick up the phone.

Rules Are Essential


It isn't an accident that the green Hyundai Tucson used by the survivors on The Walking Dead always seems to be pristine. The agreement Hyundai has with the show specifies that the car can't mow down zombies or otherwise act like a tank. As a result, the survivor's Hyundai has been given a hero role: It's the trusted, clean and dependable vehicle someone uses to make a quick escape.

Much like Hyundai, your dealership needs to make rules that work in your favor. Compliance with the Do Not Call (DNC) list is extremely important; you don't want to contact people who would rather not talk to you, and fines for violations can become expensive. Make sure you use a DNC compliance tool while making calls to potential customers. It will help keep you compliant with the registry so you aren't slapped with any big fines.


A ragged zombie stands precariouslyRelationships Matter


Hyundai has been accepted into the fold because it seeks to communicate with viewers in the right way; their messages are spirited, fun and, above all, not overbearing. As a sign of the fans' love for Hyundai and the green Tucson featured on the show, a parody twitter account for the car has even been created.

When building a relationship with customers, your dealership should focus on developing great communication skills as well. One way to make sure employees are treating customers right is through the use of a call recording system. Being able to record and review calls allows you to catch and correct any mistakes quickly so they won't plague the dealership.

For more information on building a strong bond with potential customers like Hyundai has, make sure to take a look at these five tips.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Three Dealership Mascots That Make People Want to Buy Cars

Advertising has changed a lot over the past several decades, but one method that dealerships aren’t showing any signs of abandoning is the use of mascots. Why? Because, let’s face it, car buying can be intimidating. When consumers associate, say, a cute dog mascot with the dealership instead of a stereotypical (and unfortunate) image of an unethical salesperson, the dealership instantly becomes more approachable. Let’s take a look at three notable examples of mascots done right.

Mr. Nice Guy

Mr. Nice Guy caricature on a yellow background
Source: Conicelli Autoplex
With the slogan "A nice place to do business," Conicelli Auto Group in Pennsylvania actively combats the idea that the dealership is out to cheat its customers. But a few years ago, the dealership decided it wanted more than just the catch phrase and began brainstorming ideas for a mascot. 

After shooting down the idea of a stunt squirrel, Conicelli settled on a caricature of Mr. Nice Guy himself: the dealership's now-retired founder, Dom Conicelli. Now, Mr. Nice Guy is seen all around town, thanks to the dealership's "I Spy Mr. Nice Guy" contests, in which customers place a Mr. Nice Guy magnet on the backs of their cars. Whenever a Conicelli employee spots a magnet, the customers wins an instant prize, which is usually a gift card or prize pack and an entry into a drawing for a grand prize.

Max the Dog


Bill MacDonald didn't have to look hard to find a mascot for his Ford dealership in St. Clair, MI. The mascot, as it turns out, was right in Bill's backyard — literally. He’s Bill's very own fluffy white dog, Max. With his charm and flowing locks, Max is the perfect candidate for Bill MacDonald Ford's commercials. He even stars in his own cartoon!

Max the dog cartoon
Source: Bill MacDonald Ford

Bill has found that Max is also one of the best traffic drivers he has. He brings Max to work with him in the morning, and people flock to the dealership to meet him. In fact, Bill says Max has brought in new customers that wouldn't have shopped at the dealership otherwise.

The Frog


Preston Automotive's mascot, The Frog, has its own Facebook page. Whenever one of The Frog's Facebook friends has a birthday, the dealership staff films a personalized rendition of "Happy Birthday" for the birthday boy or girl. (Now that’s taking personalization to a new level!)

The Frog standing over car brand logos
Source: Preston Automotive Group
The lovable amphibian got its start with the Maryland dealership in 1984, when Dave Wilson, who is now the dealership's president and CEO, exclaimed, "Everybody would love to have a frog!" during a brainstorming session.

Since then, The Frog has appeared in commercials, on the hoods of cars in the lot and customers’ hands when they purchase a vehicle (that's right — everyone who buys a car gets to take home a frog too!).

 If there’s anything Mr. Nice Guy, Max and The Frog can teach us, it's that the most successful mascots represent a personal connection to the dealership's leaders. When creating a mascot, the personal element is key, because consumers can then relate to the dealer as a person, not just an impersonal entity. And when that happens, guess what?

Consumers begin to trust your dealership more.

And then they begin to get curious and want to know more.

And then you have the opportunity to engage them by letting them pet your dog or stopping them in their cars and giving them money or by sending them "Happy Birthday" videos!

And then they buy cars.

It's amazing what a mascot can do.

P.S. Got a mascot you're proud of? We want to hear about it! Tweet us at @855Callbright.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Q&A: Geoff Talks Call Tracking

Geoff, Tony and Jonny in front of a Callbright booth display
Geoff (left) having a Rubix Cube race
with Tony and Jonny at NADA 2014
So our sales guys like talking about call tracking. (Go figure.) They eat, breathe and live call tracking. (At least they make it seem that way.) So we snagged one of 'em and convinced him to answer your burning questions about call tracking. Everyone, meet Geoff.

Q: First things first. What's your background in the call tracking industry?
A: I’ve been in the call tracking industry for over seven years, primarily in various sales and support roles.

Q: Tell us about the first time you heard the term “call tracking.”
A: When I started working for Callbright in June of 2007. I knew that companies recorded calls, but I had no idea of how much information could be gathered from a phone call.

Q: What's different about call tracking today versus 10 years ago?
A: A lot has changed in the past 10 years. Call tracking used to just count how many calls each ad source was generating. Now Callbright offers total call management — we not only track calls, but we record them and even integrate the calls with multiple CRM applications. We can also track and record outbound phone activity and immediately connect salespeople with customers who have submitted Internet leads.

Our newest addition is our Call Rescue service, where we listen to customer calls and inform them of a missed opportunity. This gives them the chance to try and recover a sale, thereby closing a huge profit leak. We really help our customers manage all aspects of their call management.

Q: What is one thing businesses are surprised to learn about call tracking?
A: They are always surprised how much room they have to improve in just handling incoming calls and routing them to the proper place.

Q: What is the most important call metric businesses should track?
A: How many of your calls actually convert into sales and how much money they're generating.

Q: What is the number-one call tracking don’t?
A: Don’t kid yourself that you know what’s working and what’s not — put a number on everything!

Q: What should businesses look for in a call tracking provider?
A: Make sure that your provider is an actual call tracking company that can develop new products based on customer feedback. Many companies offer call tracking from third-party providers. Callbright develops and supports our own product with our workers here in the USA.

Q: Anything else you want to add?
A: Over the last few years, there's been a lot of focus on the importance of the Internet in the research and sales process. Many people had de-emphasized the importance of phone calls. Now, with so many people using mobile devices to conduct business, the ease of clicking a number to make a phone call has increased the importance of the phone call in the sales process.

That's all for now, folks, but if you have more questions, tweet them to us at @855Callbright.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Learn From the Model T Ford on Its 106th Anniversary

Model TToday is the 106th anniversary of Ford’s Model T, a special car that changed the automobile industry forever. Not only did it introduce new mass-production methods, the Model T also changed the notion of the automobile entirely, shifting it from a luxury item only the rich could afford to a necessity available for everyone.

The exciting features of the Model T are what made it so special. Embracing these same qualities can turn your dealership into a success story as well.

Marketing Niche


In his autobiography, Henry Ford fondly recalls announcing that he would make his car available to the customer in “any color he wants, so long as it is black.” While this plan may not have been the most accommodating, Ford was a shrewd planner and knew exactly how he wanted his product to be treated.

While only offering vehicles in one color is somewhat extreme, you can still learn from Ford’s strategy. Find what makes your dealership special and use it to stand out from the dealership next door (and the one next to that). Maybe you offer a fancy gift with every new car purchase. Maybe all of your big trucks come with trucker hats. Or maybe all your cars are black. Whatever it is, find your niche and stick to it!

Diversity


Although you might not have guessed it from the color options that Ford offered (or lack thereof), he was actually pretty comfortable with the flexibility in how his cars were used. A large part of the American economy during the Model T’s reign was agricultural, so many of Ford’s customers saw the vehicle as an opportunity for better farming. Customers converted the Model T into a tractor so often that some companies sold prefab kits to help them reconfigure their cars.

That means it’s time to start selling tractors at your dealership! Well, maybe not, but you should still customize your vehicles. If a customer is ready to make a purchase, but really wants tinted windows, offer to take care of the tinting yourself! And utilize your service center as much as you can. Those guys know what they’re doing, so why not give them a chance to soup up some cars? They might just end up helping you find your marketing niche!

Customer Care


Henry Ford wanted to be sure any man could own a car and enjoy the open road with his family. As a result of this noble goal, Ford would pass along the savings from his innovative assembly methods to his customers by continuously lowering the price of the car in its years of production.

Ford had a real passion for cars and people. Your business exists to sell cars to people, so make sure you remember you’re selling cars to people. These are people with lives, families and jobs. If your sales team can keep that in mind, they can better connect with them, build rapport and, yes, make the sale.

The Model T changed the automotive industry forever and its success has taught those in the industry many lessons. To take a look at how far the industry has come, check out this infographic about the car dealerships of today.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Three Ways to Get Customers to Your Dealership This Fall

The season for pumpkin spice lattes and Ugg boots is upon us. Autumn officially starts this week, so we can't help but think of how different businesses use the season to their advantages.

Gap has a fall discount code, Starbucks releases their fall-only Pumpkin Spice latte and Yankee Candle has an entire line of candles dedicated to fall.

We know you're not selling lattes and candles, but your dealership can use similar tactics to attract more customers. Here are a few tips on how you can use special discounts, limited time offers and pumpkin overload to pump up your business this fall.

Special Discounts


When temperatures start to drop, vehicle maintenance becomes pretty important. Most people know that cooler weather affects their cars but might not know how to prepare for the changes. Use this as an opportunity to draw customers to your dealership for quick check-ups on their cars with a little discount.

Rather than sending out a direct mail piece that could be thrown away, broadcast a prerecorded message reminding customers to prepare their cars for cold weather. Include a "weatherizing discount" for a limited time to attract customers. You can even go so far as to personalize the messages with the customers' names and unique vehicles (if you don't know how to do that, we know a guy).

Limited Time Offers


HubSpot found that limited time offers produce nearly a 10 percent higher response rate from customers than a regular offer. Capitalize on this by offering fall colors at a discounted price or handing out fall freebies with the purchase of fall-colored cars. As HubSpot mentions in their research, limited time offers create a sense of urgency and prompt customers to buy. Don't let that get away from you!

To track the effectiveness of your offers, include a unique toll-free number (TFN) on your emails, in your phone calls or on direct mail pieces. By giving each of them a different TFN, you'll be able to analyze how many people call about the different offers and therefore easily measure your ROI on the campaigns.

 

Pumpkin Overload


We're not suggesting that you serve pumpkin lattes and fill the air with pumpkin scent (although if you did, it would be heavenly). But rather, be the host for a day at your local pumpkin patch to increase your dealership's brand awareness. There are plenty of dealerships around most towns, so you have to do something to make yours stand out.

Send invitations to your local customers and prospects to get them familiar with your name and generate buzz. To make it a fun event, host a contest in which there is a winning pumpkin somewhere in the patch. The prize can be a free oil change, tire rotation or any other maintenance service. Getting involved in your community shows customers that you care and helps strengthen their loyalty.

What are some things you do during the fall at your dealership? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What Should You Do With Your Dealership Marketing Budget?

eMarketer predicts that total digital advertising spending in the auto industry will increase from $5.85 billion in 2014 to $6.56 billion in 2015. We're hoping you have plans for all that money, but if not, you can make checks payable to Callbright. Just kidding. But seriously, don't blindly spend it, don't burn through it, and don't toss it in the air to make it rain.

Digital marketing iconsIf you're going to spend more in the digisphere, you'll need an attack plan to make sure you're successful. Digital advertising can range from social media to YouTube to paid search campaigns. To help you get started on your attack plan, we've come up with a few tips.

Social Media


Most businesses are already on social media, but just being there isn't enough. You have to post interesting and relevant content to keep your readers (who should be prospects or customers) following you. Start out by following industry experts so you can get an idea of what content generates activity.

Once you've nailed down your content topics, check out these tips to craft an awesome tweet. But don't let a perfect tweet go to waste — post it at the time it'll get the most action. If you don't know when that is, post at different times during the day for about a week to see what time generates the most activity for your content. The average best time to post or tweet may not be your best time, so take the time to do an experiment to get the most out of your social media accounts. 

Videos


Commercials have always been big in the auto industry, but now online video ads are becoming more popular. Online videos allow auto brands and dealers to create a story around their products and develop a more intimate relationship with their consumers. After all, over 20 percent of Internet users visit YouTube every single day.

We'll be honest: Creating a video campaign takes a lot of creativity. You'll have to make your video stand out from the rest, and you can't stand out without Jean-Claude Van Damme doing an epic split atop two 18-wheelers in reverse. Make sure you convey your message and include a call to action, such as a unique TFN so you can track the ad response. Add a little bit of finesse, and you've got yourself a video campaign! Check out this post for more video advertising tips.

Paid Search


Dealer Marketing suggests that you focus on finding pay-per-click keywords that are relevant to your dealership and write really good ads. Easy enough, right? Wrong. You need to do experiments to see what keywords drive the most traffic, what headlines catch the most attention and whether you perform better on the Search Network or Display Network. In Google AdWords, that's easy with the Campaign Experiments tool. Another helpful tool in AdWords is the Keyword Planner. It'll help you find keywords and will give you traffic estimates for those keywords.

No matter which network you choose, one common element of awesome ads is a killer headline. You want to draw people in, but not give a blatant sales pitch. Once people click on your ad, they want to see something relevant to what drew them in. Don't forget to link your ads to relevant content or you'll get penalized big time. Here are a few more paid search tips if you're a first-timer.

Do you plan on doing any of these things with your dealership's marketing budget? Let us know in the comments!

Friday, September 12, 2014

[INFOGRAPHIC] A Brief History of Call Tracking (And Some Other Stuff Too)

Marketers have been so spoiled with today’s call tracking technology that sometimes it’s easy to forget about the dark ages of managing calls.

The days where toll-free numbers were boring ole sequences of numbers that people had to write down to remember. The days where people launched marketing campaigns and just hoped for the best. (Attribution? What’s that?) The days where people had to pay close attention on a phone call, because once they hung up, they couldn't go back and listen to the recording (oh, the horror!).

No doubt about it: We've come a long way.

So in honor of the awesomeness of vanity numbers, call recording and intelligent speech-recognition technology, here’s a brief history of call tracking (and some other things too — you know, for context). 

a history of call tracking


Thanks for coming with us on our time-traveling adventure! Now don't be selfish. Share the knowledge.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How Dealers Can Win Smartphone Shoppers

The word "mobile" with a bull's-eye for the O
Dealers: Take a moment to look down at your hand. Is there a smartphone there? Yes? Now take a look at your next 10 prospects’ hands. Are there smartphones there? We’re going to guess yes! eMarketer predicted last year that 2014 would be the year mobile usage surpassed desktop usage, and it looks like they were right on the money.

Speaking of Money…


As mobile usage increases, consumers in the market for cars are using their smartphones to research dealerships and vehicles prior to and during a dealership visit. Cars.com has picked up on this trend and offers dealers tips for keeping up with the mobile movement in an e-book called “Navigating Mobile Marketing: A Dealer’s Guide to Winning Smartphone Shoppers.” Here are a few of our favorite tips from the e-book:
  • Test special offers. Bringing in new traffic is about showing shoppers you can meet their needs better than those other guys, so experiment with offers to see which are most effective at converting shoppers.
  • Make it easy for prospects to respond to you — and then respond to them. Save your prospects from unnecessary button-punching by implementing clickable numbers on your website and in your emails so they can call you at the click of a button. (Just make sure your salespeople have brushed up on their phone skills. See below.) If they submit an inquiry via your web form, be ready to respond ASAP, or else they’ll be on to the next dealership in their search results.
  • Have a good sales team on your side. Make sure your sales staff is trained to adapt to mobile shopping behavior. They should be understanding of shoppers using their phone for research, match each prospect with a deal that really meets their needs and treat them with respect and honesty. Having a great staff is key to generating positive online reviews for your dealership as well.
Want more mobile marketing tips? Go download the e-book!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Saved by the Lead Management

Saved by the Bell cast
Courtesy of NBC Universal Television
With the new TV movie “The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story” soon to air on Lifetime, we’ve got the show that embodies the early '90s on our minds. Aired on NBC from 1989 to 1993, “Saved by the Bell” follows Zack Morris, Kelly Kapowski, Screech and gang through their shenanigans as they learn to balance school and their personal lives.

Even today, you’ve gotta love the show’s iconic hairstyles, “vintage” clothes and, best of all, its catchy theme song. While the song is probably best known for the awesome graphics that accompany it, we’ve actually noticed that the problems mentioned in the lyrics can be related to lead management problems.

In case you don’t see the connection right away, we’ll break it down for you and even offer some solutions. We’d like to apologize in advance for getting the song stuck in your head.

When I wake up in the morning and the alarm gives out a warning and I don’t think I’ll ever make it on time. By the time I grab my books and I give myself a look, I’m at the corner just in time to see the bus fly by.

We’ve all had times when we barely miss our leads, just like Zack barely misses the bus. When leads call, they may not always get in touch with you. They could get directed to the wrong department, your receptionist might be out to lunch or you could be away from your desk for a quick coffee refill. No matter the reason, it’s disappointing to lose a lead due to simple mishaps like these.

It’s all right, ’cause I’m saved by the bell!

Enhanced call completion could save your sale. It’s like having a virtual receptionist that doesn’t let you lose leads. It can route after-hours calls to customizable numbers and reroute calls that don’t get answered after a certain number of rings. With these tools, the next time leads call, you won’t have to worry about barely missing them.

If the teacher pops a test I know I’m in a mess and my dog ate all my homework last night. Riding low in my chair she won’t know that I’m there; if I can hand it in tomorrow it’ll be all right.

This is a situation we’ve all run into, both back in high school and in the workplace. It’s time to turn in the reports to the teacher (now manager), but you don’t have them ready! You’d love to know where your calls are coming from and the demographics of your callers, but it’s too overwhelming to collect that much data manually.

It’s all right, ’cause I’m saved by the bell!

You don’t have to hide from your boss by slouching in your chair! A call reporting tool can save the day. It will automatically record the demographic information of your callers, so you don’t have to spend hours recording it manually. You can then organize the data to make more informed targeting decisions. The data is compiled automatically in an easy-to-read report, so you’ll be prepared at a moment’s notice to hand it to your boss.

By implementing these lead management tools, you can be saved from the tricky situations similar to the ones Zack Morris encounters on the reg. Do you have any tricky situations we can help with? Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Draw Customers to Your Dealership This Labor Day

Labor DayLabor Day is here again! For many Americans, this day celebrating the workforce and all we accomplish means having the day off. For your dealership, though, it means it’s time to move out last year’s models with big sales.

This is the last big chance to bring in droves of customers before the holiday season. So you've got your red ticket prices ready, fired up your grill and sales team and propped up your big event tent.

But are you doing everything you can to bring in customers during this big shopping holiday? Follow these tips to make sure you don’t forget anything.

Make Calls


One of the most direct ways of reaching out to a lead is by calling them. You’ve got to get the word out about your great deals and your special event, but you don’t have the time to sit and call every customer on file. Even if you did, you would probably just end up leaving a lot of voicemails.

Instead of wasting all that time, be smart about making calls with broadcast message management. Using this tool, you can broadcast an automatic campaign message to hundreds of your customers within minutes. You can even customize the message with each customer’s name. The system knows when it's reached a voicemail and will adjust its message accordingly for each call. How cool is that?

Have a Contest


We’ve talked about how to execute dealership contests before, but now is the time to make a distinctive, Labor Day themed contest. Celebrate the workforce by having a raffle in which customers enter by putting their business cards in a fish bowl. Or you could remind customers of the work your team does by featuring employee profiles on your advertising campaign.

No matter what you do, you want to distinguish your dealership from others. Customers don’t have work today and know today’s the day to get a car. Make sure your dealership is their first (and last) stop.

Get Social


Some of the best leads you’ll get this Labor Day will come from social media. In fact, conversion rates on leads from social media are 13% higher than those from regular leads. Make sure you take advantage of these high quality prospects.

Post on Facebook about your event in the days leading up to this three-day weekend. When the big day comes around, tweet pictures of happy customers with their new cars and complimentary popsicles (because if popsicles are an option, the answer is always yes). Don’t forget to create an event hashtag and use it. Oh, and #popsicles.

After all of this work to bring customers into your dealership, make sure you’re ready to satisfy them by knowing how they complete the car buying process.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How Phone Calls Are the Lifeline for Your Appointments

From the initial phone call to the final sale, you need to keep the lines of communication open with the prospects at your dealership. Since phone calls are an important part of getting leads in the door, here are some things you can do to increase your appointment sets.
Businessman on the phone

Call Prospective Leads


This may seem like a no-brainer, but when online visitors fill out an inquiry form, you need to act quickly. The odds of contacting (and securing) leads decreases by more than 10 times after the first hour, so the sooner you can call back your prospects, the better.

Sales reps often waste valuable time sorting through their email to find leads who have inquired about their services. An easier (and faster) solution that will help you increase lead conversions is to immediately be connected with leads the moment they submit a form. There's a call tracking provider out there who can help you set this service up at your dealership. (Spoiler alert: It's us.)

Remind Customers of Appointments

Once you've contacted your lead and scheduled an appointment with them, you may think your work is complete. However, according to HookLogic, only 50 percent of customers show up for appointments. What gives? Is it something you said? In all honesty, it's probably not personal. Prospects contact at least 3.7 dealerships during their shopping process, so mixing up (or just plain forgetting) an appointment is quite common.

The good news is a follow-up call can help remind your customers of their appointments.

During the follow-up call, it's important to accommodate any scheduling changes that need to be made. This will prevent a no-show from your customer and demonstrate your dealership's exceptional customer service. If you can't find time in your busy day to contact each customer by phone, try sending prerecorded custom messages as friendly appointment reminders.

Manage Your Meetings


Now that you've successfully reined in all of these leads, you might have a full day of appointments ahead of you. But if you've overbooked your schedule, you might be in trouble.

To make sure you have enough time to thoroughly meet your prospects' needs, look over your CRM notes. (Some leads may require more time than others.) This will allow you to better prepare for each appointment, build rapport with the customer and give leads an overall better car buying experience.

Increasing appointment sets is vital to your dealership's success, and it all starts with active communication. To create that "WOW" factor for customers during appointments, check out these customer service tips.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Mystery of the Missing Leads

Agent shining a spotlight on a phoneDo you have a lead management mystery that needs to be solved?

If you've tried every lead generation strategy you can think of but still can’t seem to retain high-quality leads, you’ve sought out the right detectives. After looking over your case, we've found some clues that will help you get to the bottom of this quandary.


Clue #1: Lost Email 


Are your leads getting lost in your inbox? Once a prospect fills out an online inquiry form on your site and an auto-generated email notification arrives in your inbox, the clock starts ticking. Keeping track of those leads can be difficult, but it’s important, because the longer a prospect waits to hear back from a sales rep (if they ever do), the more likely they are to take their business elsewhere.

Clue #2: Lack of Lead Delegation


It's possible that if your leads are not getting hung up in your inbox, they're getting overlooked by your sales team. Many times there is miscommunication as to whose responsibility it is to call leads, resulting in nobody taking action. In fact, a study conducted by InsideSales.com showed that 40 percent of companies never respond to their web leads. (What a waste!)

Clue #3: Slow Response Time


One of the most important factors in capturing leads is how long it takes you to contact them. In fact, if you reach out to leads within five minutes versus 30 minutes of them filling out an online form, you're 21 times more likely to capture their business!

Don't make the mistake of wasting valuable time reading and filtering through email notifications while your prospects are passing the time by filling out inquiry forms on your competitors' sites. If the competition calls them first, that lead will slip through the cracks.

The Solution

We've cracked your case!

Now that we've put all the clues together, it's our professional opinion that a lead management software such as Lead Chaser would help you retain your leads.

Here’s how it works: The moment an online prospect submits a form on your website, Lead Chaser calls your predefined number. If we can’t get a hold of someone the first time, our round-robin routing capability allows us to route the call to the next agent on your specified rotation until an available agent is reached. When the system reaches a live agent, Lead Chaser uses text-to-speech technology to convert the contents of the form to a recording. Your agent then has the option to immediately call the prospect without even checking their email first!

Want more details? We've laid out our case findings in our SlideShare. Check it out to learn more about how to upgrade your lead management strategy.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What Your Call Greeting Says About Your Company

Woman on phone
You may not think much about what happens when a customer first calls in. You’re sure they’ll eventually end up talking to the right department, so why does it matter what they first hear?

Well, 59 percent of consumers make brand loyalty decisions on first impressions. So it matters a lot what they hear first.

Believe it or not, your call greeting says a lot about you and your company. But just what does it say?

Read below for a highly scientific* breakdown of the psychological meaning behind your call greeting.

*This post isn’t actually based on science.

Your greeting: Wazzzzup?

What it says about you: You’re super casual and chill. While these traits might be great for a beach party, this isn’t ideal for a business greeting unless you’re a surf shop (and even then we’d still say it’s questionable).

Your greeting: Hello?

What it says about you: Absolutely nothing. If your customer calls in and hears this, they know nothing about your company and may even begin to question if they called the right number.

Your greeting: Dunder-Mifflin, this is Pam.

What it says about you: You like to cover the basics: Have a secretary identify the company and herself. You figure if you keep it simple you won’t overwhelm people. But if your secretary calls in sick one day, who answers the phone? This might not be the most reliable system.

Your greeting: Thank you for calling Callbright. For sales, please press one. For billing, press two…

What it says about you: You’re organized, professional and don’t like to leave things to chance. By using a welcome message like this, your callers can select the proper department to reach. This greeting saves time for both you and your customers, while providing an efficient solution for directing calls.

To learn how you can make a good first impression with your call greeting, click here.



Monday, July 28, 2014

[INFOGRAPHIC] The Art of Car Buying

Did you know that 48 percent of buyers spend one to three months car shopping before making a decision? To accommodate consumer behavior, it's best to use your CRM to form long-term sales tactics and respond to customers quickly and effectively.

However, the big question is, is your CRM up to date? If not, you could be overlooking critical data about your prospects and customers that could affect your bottom line. In fact, 86 percent of an average organization’s contact data is inaccurate in some way, resulting in a 14 percent loss in revenue overall

Check out Dealer Refresh's infographic below to get a better idea of how customers complete the car buying process, and you'll see how important it is to keep your CRM current.


Statistics about the process of buying a car


To help you manage your customer data from a central location, consider CRM integration with other software such as your Internet lead generator or call tracking provider. For the facts about CRM, check out Hubspot's CRM blog.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mo' People, Mo' Problems — How to Train an Influx of Dealership Employees

A crowd of employeesAccording to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the auto industry surpassed one million employees for the first time since 2008.

This is awesome, but sometimes mo' people means mo' problems, as Notorious B.I.G. might say.

How can you efficiently train a flood of employees to provide top-notch service? Here are a few ideas that may help.

Give Them a Demo


To make sure new employees know exactly how to carry out their job duties, give them hands-on training sessions. Whether they're assisting customers on the lot or on the phones, they'll need to know how to provide excellent customer service. If you don't have time to sit with every new hire, you might need a little something to help you out.

One way to do this is to record phone conversations so new hires can listen to seasoned representatives handle calls. It's best to lead by example in this situation, so you'll know that your new employees are familiar with your call handling guidelines specifically.

Monitor Their Performance


Once your staff starts handling phone calls on their own, you have to make sure they're complying with your standards. You could spend your day monitoring every single call, but we're betting you don't have time for that.

Use speech-recognition software to scan your calls instead. With this technology, you can select keywords to be identified during phone conversations. You can then view reports of the words that are (and aren't) spoken, and address any service issues immediately. This can ultimately save you time so you can focus on the representatives who need to step up their service.

Teach Them How to Avoid Losing Leads


So your employees have learned the ropes and they're on the phones. But how can you be sure they won't lose prospects due to inexperience? Rather than sorting through calls and finding lost leads, let a call monitoring service do it for you.

A professionally trained staff will review your recorded calls to identify mishandled calls that may have led to lost business. You won't have to waste time listening to hundreds of calls to find one or two lost leads. You can even opt in to receive real-time text or email alerts when a call is mishandled so your team can call the lead back and recapture their business.

Mo' employees doesn't always have to mean mo' problems. For more tips on how you can provide better service, check out this post.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tweetability Matters When It Comes to Car Brands

Is Twitter for the birds? Of course it's not; birds don't have hands and can't use computers. There's also research showing that households with Twitter users are two times more likely to buy a new car than the average household. In fact, one out of five people use social media as their primary source of information about car brands.

In this new era of social media influence, you can't afford to wing it. Here are a few tips from the experts to help you make sure your tweets are up to par.


#Tracking
Tweet button on computer keyboard
Marketing is all fun and games until somebody ignores ROI. That's why one of Entrepreneur's tips is to track analytics.

To determine which campaigns provide the most leads, assign each of them, including Twitter, a unique toll-free number (TFN). You'll be able to see a report of how many calls come in from each TFN and then determine ROI for each campaign.

If you notice Twitter is lacking a high return, it's probably time to shake things up. Check out these tips to make your social media marketing more interesting. You never know; one great #throwbackthursday post could send people flying to your business.

#Uniqueness

No one wants to read something twice. No one wants to read something twice. See, that was annoying, wasn't it? Make sure your tweets are new and attention grabbing. To keep it fresh, Twitter encourages businesses to have a unique tone that makes an emotional connection with followers. #happy #laughter

Don't forget to use hashtags. They're not just a sneaky way to tell people what your post is really about. Social Media Examiner suggests tying your hashtag in to the theme of your advertisements. Car brands are taking this advice and putting themed hashtags on their television commercials to keep things interesting (and to track their marketing efforts). But another helpful tool is branding numbers.

Using hashtags and branding numbers together makes for cohesive marketing and helps you track the effectiveness of campaigns. For example, during Jaguar's Super Bowl campaign, they could have used the number 855-GD-2-B-BAD in conjunction with their hashtag #GoodToBeBad. The branding number would have been the cherry on top of their marketing sundae.

#Engagement

Being engaged is a big deal on Twitter (we aren't talking about diamond rings and fianc├ęs). Engaging users is the key to attracting a large following on Twitter. But don't let the fame go to your head. Always reply to tweets, because sometimes follow-ups are even more important than original messages.

Every relationship should be mutual, especially the one between you and your customers. Support two-way conversations by making it easy for your customers to contact you. Use TFNs on your Twitter account and clickable numbers on your website to facilitate conversation between you and your customers and make them feel valued.

Put these expert tips into action to make your social media marketing shine! Do you have any other tips to share?