Sexy Dealer Website Rule 3: Get “Smart” about On-the-Go Shopping

Automotive websites need to offer a universal shopping experience

Paul Nagy, Vice President of Core Products at ADP Digital Marketing

In 2011, a sexy dealer website is one that offers prospective customers a quality shopping experience wherever they are, however they’re shopping. “Today’s dealer website has to be sophisticated enough to support the new gadget mentality,” Paul Nagy, Vice President of Core Products for ADP Digital Marketing explained. “We all know more and more consumers are shopping on their smartphones and their tablets. What we need to think about is not the technology, but its implications. Gadget shoppers are shopping on the go. They’re in the car, they’re waiting at the doctor’s office, and they’re hanging out at the mall. How can a dealer’s site cater to those particular needs?” According to Andy Largent, Senior Product Manager at ADP Digital Marketing, it’s all about creating that universal experience.

Sexy Dealer Website Checklist

  • Mobile is a must. If you don’t already have a mobile dealer website, it’s time to make that leap. “Not only is mobile a huge trend, but our research shows that mobile shoppers are the most serious about purchasing,” Largent said. “When you’re chilling at your computer at home, you’re in day dream mode. When you’re searching for car dealerships on your phone, you’re looking to buy.”
  • Lighten your loading times. Gadget shoppers are surrounded by myriad distractions, so their attention spans are short. If your site is taking too long to load, they’re going to get frustrated and move on. According to the Yahoo developer blog, 80% of slow loading times are caused by heavy elements like Flash slideshows. “While it’s tempting to cover your site in seemingly sexy widgets and shiny objects,” Nagy cautions, “Remember it doesn’t matter how sexy your site looks if no one has the patience for it to load. Keep your design clean and elegant in order to sustain consumer interest.”
  • Clarity is king. Gadget users don’t have the attention span or the inclination for bells-and-whistles. They are merely interested in accessing their desired information as quickly as easily as possible. Make this easy for them. Opt for large fonts, remove “hover” links (links you have to mouse-over to click) and make sure your formats are gadget-friendly. The iPad and iPhone, for example, favors HTML5 code and MP4 movie formats – and will not even display Flash content at all. Opt for universal formats so you grab the biggest market share possible!

Paul Nagy is Vice President of Core Products ADP Digital Marketing (formerly The Cobalt Group). Nagy brings over 12 years of technology management experience to the role, including senior management positions at Apple, Metreo, and Selectica. When he’s not crunching technical problems, Nagy enjoys fly-fishing in the great outdoors.

Andy Largent is a Senior Product Manager at ADP Digital Marketing, where he works on the core website platform and services.  With 10 years of automotive website expertise, Andy uses his experience to build high-performing solutions for dealer, dealer group, and OEM customers. Andy hopes to turn the hundreds of pictures of his kids into an amateur photography sideline someday. Until then, his favorite new social media/photo app is Instagram.

 

Take 60:The Dealership Experience Challenge

60 Ways to Upgrade Your Dealership’s Customer Experience

Be honest: how many errands have you bailed on because you were cold, hot, hungry, bored, or in need of a restroom? Now turn the tables: how many “little things” in your dealership have caused you to lose a customer? Whether the person left because there was no toilet paper in the bathroom and they were too embarrassed to ask for more, or because they couldn’t get cell reception and wanted to take an important call, it only takes a little discomfort to send a potential customer out the door.

So here’s the challenge: we dare you to incorporate all 60 of these dealership improvement efforts into your store in the next month. Post in the comments and let us know which ones you’ve incorporated, and also chime in with your own ideas for improvement.

1.     Make name tags mandatory for every employee (real names or fun nicknames)

2.     SNUGGIES. Keep branded snuggies on-site for customers to wear while winter car shopping

3.     Add a blackboard to the lobby-scribble a welcome message, an inspirational quote, or a fun piece of car trivia

4.     CLEAN, CLEAN,CLEAN-it doesn’t cost any money to keep things tidy, and a sparkling dealership helps sell cars!


5.     Raffles. Skip the boring local lunch coupon and get creative: think trapeze classes, free car washes for life, or dates with your single daughter (we kid, we kid)

6.     Subscribe to the latest magazines-people hate buying magazines and love reading them, so why not have the most current selection attractively arrayed on your dealership coffee table? No one will mind the wait when they’re getting caught up on their reading!

7. Have branded umbrellas available for rainy-weather shoppers.

8. Invest in time-passers like Xbox Kinect, Wii and HD TV in your dealership lobby. It may seem indulgent, but when you consider that customers will be willing to wait literally hours for you to meet with them, it’s totally worth it.

9. Practice a thirty-second greet. Popular in the restaurant industry, this practice should also be applied to car dealerships. Make sure a receptionist or staff member says a quick hello, offers a beverage or reading material, and says “Our service rep Dan will be right with you” within thirty seconds of a customer arriving.

10. Wi-Fi. Do we really have to say it at this point?

11. Board games. Don’t have the budget for high-tech electronics? Go old-school with affordable games all ages can enjoy, like checkers, chess, and Connect Four.

12. Go green. Plants are another affordable way to spruce up your dealership and create a relaxing atmosphere. Get adventurous with colorful blooms or play it safe with hearty succulents. Either way, a little green adds instant calm to your dealership.

13. Go to the bathroom – no, really! Dealership restrooms are sometimes the most-used and most-neglected places in the building, particularly if employees and customers alike share them. Make sure they are cleaned several times during the day, and stock them with extra tissue (both kinds!), towels, sprays and soap. If you really want to impress customers, add mouthwash, toothpicks and hairspray!

14. Toys. Keep the little ones occupied with stuffed animals, coloring books, and of course, remote control cars.

15. PLEASE GIVE. Incorporate charity opportunities into your dealership, like a food drive, clothing drive, or giving tree.

16.   Add an aquarium.

17. Cultural flair. Show your regional pride by tastefully incorporating the best of your area. If you’re from Vermont, have mini bottles of maple syrup to take home. If you’re in Seattle, serve Starbucks, and if you’re in Florida, a bowl of oranges makes a great coffee table centerpiece.

18. Wall of fame. Take all the local clippings, magazine press, and awards you’ve gotten over the years, and create a wall of pride in your dealership. A tasteful gallery of accolades will ensure customers that they are in the right hands.

19. Humor! Post a “No Sharks Allowed” Sign or a sign in your dealership window that says “Welcome to an intimidation-free zone.”

20. Have a “Cosmic Dealership night” where car buyers can shop until midnight, accompanied by flashing strobe lights, disco music and fun giveaways.

21. Find out what hours your competitors open, and open an hour earlier and stay open an hour later.

22. SMILE

23. Have music playing, preferable an XM or Sirius channel that is middle of the road

24. Stick out your hand and thank the prospect for coming in.

25. Introduce your manager in the beginning of the sales appointment, not the end.

26. DOGS! Be pet friendly; dogs are fun!

27.  No smoking in the front or side of the building!

28. Hire an appropriate  greeter.

29. Upgrade your artwork.

30. If you are selling high line vehicles, wear high-end clothes

31. Turn your cell phone to vibrate

32. Consider an appointment board

33. Have good hygiene (deodorant, brush teeth)

34. FRESHLY-BAKED COOKIES!

35.  Take pictures of happy customers picking up their new vehicles and tag them on Facebook.

36. Place crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and word games on your coffee table

37. Have the customer lounge on the showroom floor.  It should be very comfortable and not look like an afterthought.

38. Make certain that customer parking is as plentiful as possible and very clearly marked.

39. Have prices clearly marked on all vehicles – new and used.  (No more “see sales person for details” on the used car price sticker.)

40. Have Saturday full-service hours for at least part of the day.

41. Hire non-traditional people for sales consultants.  Today’s consumers do not respond as well to “old-school” sales tactics.

42. Invite the customer to go with the manager when performing a used vehicle evaluation.  Most will decline, but this can go a long way to creating trust and confidence instead of arguments and confusion.

43. Consider a pay plan not based on gross profit.  Pay on performance, CSI, volume, etc.

44.  Upgrade Your beverages. (You do have beverages, don’t you?) If you have coffee, add syrups. If you have water, add sliced lemons. Make sure to have decaf and caffeinated options.  It’s the little things that count!

45. Don’t use hokey old types of promotion, such as the gorilla on the roof, red sirens, etc.

46. Have multiple trash cans-guests hate not having a convenient place to throw things away.

47. Have a coat rack-encourage guests to take off their coat and stay awhile!

48.  If your dealership is in a cold climate, invest in a fireplace.

49. If your dealership is in a warm climate, invest in a nice air conditioner.

50. Slow your roll! Speak slowly, walk slowly, and make the customer feel like they are a treasured guest rather than a sales victim.

51. Do not display your sales staff sales total on a public bulletin board-customers don’t like to feel like they a bulls-eye on their back.

52. Know what specials your dealer website is promoting and be able to speak to them.

53. Complete quick trade-in evaluations.

54. Invite customers to leave dealership reviews with an on-site Ipad or laptop.

55. Honor expired service offers.

56. Provide free service calendars with written-in service appointments

57. Offer loaner cars that are an upgrade on the customer’s current vehicle.

58. Price match any written offer.

59.Offer pick-up and delivery for vehicle service.

60.__________________________ You tell us! Sound off with your best customer experience idea in the comments below!

 

For more great dealer content, check out our Digital Mileage Blog at http://www.digitalmileage.com

 

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Farewell, Cobalt’s MacGyver

Ed's Unforgettable Smile

Ed's Unforgettable Smile

Last Friday, word spread around the company pretty quickly: it was Ed’s last day.  A banner was made, and those who have had reason to work with Ed Hannon over the years made time to sign it.  By the end of the day it seemed like everyone had signed it.

It’s hard to believe that Ed had only been a Facilities Assistant with Cobalt for just over four years, since 2007 – it seems like he’s been here just about forever. Whether he was changing light bulbs, delivering mail, or arranging for key deliveries, it was Ed who helped keep the office running smoothly. Now that he’s moved along, it’s equally hard to imagine Cobalt functioning without him.

Signing Ed's Banner

Signing Ed's Banner

It wasn’t just his hard work that made Ed stand out, though.  He always had a friendly word or a joke, and whatever he was doing, it was done with a smile.  He fit in well with everyone at Cobalt and he had a knack for seeing the humor in just about any situation.  It shows in the banner we presented to him on his last day, and the things people wrote.

“You were my very first friend at Cobalt,” wrote one young lady. “You helped me over the tough times…You Rock – and will be missed greatly.”

A farewell hug

A farewell hug

The personal connection was a common theme in the notes left for Ed. “You’re the best DAD ever!  Miss you already,” read another, promising a random email later.  “I’ll always miss your smiling face!” yet another wrote.

Dave Mathiesen summed it up nicely in his note: “You’ve been Cobalt’s MacGyver, no problem too big or too small, & always with a smile!  We’ll miss you!”

Ed may have moved on from Cobalt, and he’ll be missed, but we know he’ll be on to big adventures soon – it’s just his style.  Have fun out there, Ed!

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Become a Relevance Rockstar (Sexy Dealer Website Part 2)

Digital Automotive Marketing Maxim #2: Place First in the Fingertips Race

Paul Nagy, Vice President of Core Products at ADP Digital Marketing

A sexy dealer website means serving the customer the right page at the right time. To avoid, “fingertip fatigue,” minimize the number of clicks it takes for the consumer to reach their desired content. In other words, a rockstar site isn’t just about delivering the content that’s most aligned with the customer’s desiresall your competitors are doing that. Relevance means delivering it in the least amount of time.  “ Relevance is all about making that quick match between the customer’s goal and what your online experience delivers,” Paul Nagy, Vice President of Core Products said. “If a consumer searches for “Mazda oil change Seattle,” don’t settle for having them land on the home page and then click-through. Maximize your chance of conversion by having them land on the best-match page, the Services page, by optimizing that page for those key terms.”

Sexy Dealer Website Checklist

  • Killer Keywords. Go through your site and think carefully about what kind of terms a consumer would search to get to each page. What terms can you add to help consumers land in the right place with the minimum clicks? For example, optimize your Parts page for “Seattle Chevy Shock Absorbers.” Try optimizing your Finance page for “Bad credit auto financing Culver City.” Don’t assume every customer needs to land on the homepage; reduce click fatigue by optimizing each and every page for its own key terms.
  • Shining Specials. This tip relates to the Relevancy Golden Rule: one topic=one page. Create a more focused funnel by creating and optimizing individual pages for each topic your site covers-no need to cram everything into one page. This is especially important for specials and promos. “You wouldn’t have a Valentine’s Day promo next to a Veteran’s Day promo on your showroom floor, would you?” Andy Largent, Senior Product Manager at ADP Digital Marketing, asks. “The same focused selling should apply to your website.  Don’t saturate the customer, steer them toward a singular purpose: conversion.”
  • Defeat “Dealer Speak.” While it is fun and convenient to use abbreviations, industry slang and inside jokes when chatting with your lot buddies, avoid the temptation to use industry terminology on your website. Keep in mind the types of phrases that consumers will be searching for, and remove any that are too technical or industry-specific to be helpful to the consumer. For example, say “Used Mazda” in your website copy rather than “Pre-Owned Mazda.”

Stay tuned for part 3 of our Sexy Dealer Website Series, coming next week!If you’re ready to try out the sexiest new dealer website platform in automotive history, go check out our new Dealer Command Center and make your competitors bow down today!

Paul Nagy is Vice President of Core Products ADP Digital Marketing (formerly The Cobalt Group). Nagy brings over 12 years of technology management experience to the role, including senior management positions at Apple, Metreo, and Selectica. When he’s not crunching technical problems, Nagy enjoys fly-fishing in the great outdoors.

Andy Largent is a Senior Product Manager at ADP Digital Marketing, where he works on the core website platform and services.  With 10 years of automotive website expertise, Andy uses his experience to build high-performing solutions for dealer, dealer group, and OEM customers. Andy hopes to turn the hundreds of pictures of his kids into an amateur photography sideline someday. Until then, his favorite new social media/photo app is Instagram.

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Easy Money: Making Dealer/OEM Alignment Actionable

Make sure you’re getting your piece of the national advertising pie

Max Steckler, Vice President of Advertising at ADP Digital Marketing

What if your local TV station rep told you that for every dollar you put toward your television ad buy, they would match it with ten thousand dollars of bonus media on their dime? Would you do it?

That’s exactly the kind of “easy money” advantage OEMs offer you, the dealer.  Because OEM’s allow you to integrate their million-dollar ad campaigns into your own local marketing, you have a unique “plug and play” solution for easy profits.  You’d be crazy not to take advantage, but how do you actually get your piece of the pie?

How do you know what promotions the OEM is planning, and when? How can you figure out which national campaigns are tied to your inventory?  How do you get a hold of the OEM advertising collateral you’d need to integrate into your own website? This three-part series offers a down-and-dirty guide to making alignment actionable so you can bring easy money into your dealership.

Part 1: Set up Your Alignment Intelligence

1. The most obvious place to start when looking to align your advertising is the OEM portal.  These portals are goldmines for finding out about upcoming campaigns, new models, seasonal promotions and more. Many OEM portals feature an OEM commercial video detailing the latest and greatest advertising campaigns.

2. Contact your OEM area representative. Yes, they want you to take cars, but they also have a direct line to the OEM campaigns. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on the OEM portal, or would simply prefer to work with a real person, the OEM area representative can be a great resource.

3. Turn on your TV. This option is certainly the most fun. Next time you’re vegging out in front of The Amazing Race, pay attention to the commercials that come on. Is one of them for an OEM promotion featuring inventory you yourself possess? What are you waiting for? Grab those assets, integrate them into your website, and wait for the crowds to pour in to your dealership.

4. Get a little help from your friends. The last great OEM resource is none other than your friends in the industry. Whether it’s through a 20 group, your dealer bowling league, or the next industry mixer, seek out non-competitive dealers and ask them what promotions they are running in the near future. A tip from an industry buddy could lead to easy money for you as well. Score!

Max Steckler is the Vice President of Advertising Products for ADP Digital Marketing.  An automotive buff in both his professional and personal life, Max spends his spare time restoring vintage Japanese motorcycles, and is preparing for an off-road motorcycle trip to Alaska.

How to Create a Sexy 2011 Dealer Website (Part 1)

Your New Digital Automotive Marketing Strategy

Paul Nagy, Vice President of Core Products at ADP Digital Marketing

It’s 2011; is your dealer website holding its own? Everywhere you turn in the digital automotive marketing world, technology is evolving at a rapid clip. Search engines are going social. Flash is facing new challengers.Tablets are trendy. Mobile is a must. Tastemakers are chomping for quick-loading sites that look slick and perform even better. How does a dealer keep up? For many, it will mean that age-old New Year adage: out with the old, in with the new. But you won’t have to do it alone. Automotive digital experts Andy Largent and Paul Nagy are here to help you “bring sexy back” to your dealer website with this compelling five-part series on modern website must-haves.

What does a sexy dealer website look like in 2011? According to Paul Nagy, Vice President of Core Products at ADP Digital Marketing, the answer is a mix of old and new. “As always, a sexy dealer website is one hundred percent focused on the end goal: helping in-market consumers find and purchase a vehicle as swiftly and seamlessly as possible,“Nagy says. “That hasn’t changed. What has changed is that consumers expect websites to be “smart” – providing just the information they need when they need it.

What’s sexy now is a website that is so fast and intuitive that it can literally match its actions to the buyer’s desires, stroke for stroke-wherever the consumer is, on whatever device the consumer is using.”-Paul Nagy, Vice President of Core Products at ADP Digital Marketing

It’s a tall order, but no one said being sexy was easy. Read on for the tips that give you a must-have dealer website in 2011.

Digital Automotive Marketing Maxim #1 Get Bold About Branding

  1. In 2011, a sexy dealer website means creating a stand-up-and-take-notice brand. “It’s time to smash the cookie cutter,” Largent, Product Manager at ADP Digital Marketing said. “To do that, you need to think beyond the brand foundation provided by your OEM, think outside what your neighbor dealer is doing. Be clear about why consumers should want to do business with you and really get creative about taking every opportunity to get that message out.”

Sexy Dealer Website Checklist

  • Get competitive. In order to represent your brand, it’s time to get the lay of the land. Google your top three competitors and read over their sites. What do you have that they don’t? If they emphasize speedy service, emphasize your outstanding selection. If they plug their low prices, emphasize your spectacular customer service. A sexy dealer website is one that stands out from the pack, and a little due diligence can equal a big competitive edge.
  • Spice up your content. A sexy dealer website in 2011 is characterized by exciting, action-inspiring content. To truly create a stand-out brand, Nagy says dealers need to think beyond their calls-to-action and look at their site copy as a whole. “Shiny buttons are great, but they’re just a start. Anyone can install a widget,” Nagy said. “But having a sexy dealer website in 2011 means taking the time to truly articulate your core advantages, and then taking every possible opportunity to do so.” Nagy recommends dealers start with traditionally under-utilized pages like the “About Us” page and the company boilerplate. “Look at every page from a ‘why me?’ angle,” Nagy says. “Make sure each and every sentence answers that question in a complete and compelling way.”
  • Think outside the homepage. Though many dealers are urged to adopt OEM compliancy guidelines, in general those standards center on the homepage. Find ways to reinforce your brand by expanding your efforts “away from home.” “There’s more than one road to Rome,” Largent said. “From landing pages to social media channels, there is boundless opportunity for dealers to brand themselves and still stay within OEM guidelines.”  He suggests adding new brand-rich pages, like a Press Page, an Employee Page, or a ‘Top Ten Reasons to Choose Us” page.

We hope you enjoyed part one of this series. Stay tuned for more modern website must-haves from the experts at ADP Digital Marketing.

Paul Nagy is Vice President of Core Products ADP Digital Marketing (formerly The Cobalt Group). Nagy brings over 12 years of technology management experience to the role, including senior management positions at Apple, Metreo, and Selectica. When he’s not crunching technical problems, Nagy enjoys fly-fishing in the great outdoors.


Andy Largent is a Senior Product Manager at ADP Digital Marketing, where he works on the core website platform and services.  With 10 years of automotive website expertise, Andy uses his experience to build high-performing solutions for dealer, dealer group, and OEM customers. Andy hopes to turn the hundreds of pictures of his kids into an amateur photography sideline someday. Until then, his favorite new social media/photo app is Instagram.

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