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Archive for May, 2011

You Don’t Need To Know These Stats…

Posted by on May 31, 2011

 in Dealer Websites, Industry News, SEO, Social Media

The days of “just having a website” are long gone.  Today’s auto dealers have to employ a multi-channel marketing effort to compete and stay successful. At AutoRevo, we don’t just set you up with a website and set you adrift on the Internet – we work with our dealers to teach them how to be better and we provide products to help them succeed. Every dealer is assigned a dedicated account manager, so whenever you have questions, you’ve got a real person to call you who has real answers. Every dealer website we create is custom-designed – we don’t use templates, so your site will be unique. Our Search Engine Optimization team can work with you to make sure your site ranks high in Google searches to help bring in more site visitors. Our Full Service Email Marketing team can run email campaigns that will boost sales and keep customers coming back. We can even help you with your social media strategy and reputation management. If you’d like to learn more about AutoRevo or any of our products or services, please call a Dealer Consultant today at 888-311-7386.

How Fast Can You Post To Craigslist?

Posted by on May 27, 2011

 in Best Practices, Craigslist, Industry News

If you’re using Craigslist already, you know how powerful it can be.  If you’re not using it, you need to start… because your competitor up the street is definitely using it. AutoRevo’s Craigslist posting solution makes it easier (and faster) than ever to post to Craigslist. Don’t waste your time with manual posting or sub-par cut-and-paste solutions – call us today at 888-311-7386 for a live demo, and see how much easier and more successful the AutoRevo system can be.

FREE Internet Marketing Checklist

AutoRevo's FREE Internet Marketing ChecklistOther vendors think we’re crazy for giving this info away for free… but we think it’s basic information that every dealer should know.

The US auto dealer market is fiercely competitive… so we’ve put this checklist together to help your dealership succeed! Our free Internet Marketing Checklist is full of tips and action items that you can use to help make yourself a better digital marketer. It’s clearly written and easy to follow, so you can implement the tips without having to spend a ton of time on them. It’s broken up into several sections, so you can implement the different sections as time allows.

Here’s what’s inside:

  • On-page Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your dealer website - We’ll walk you through several elements that you can update yourself (without relying on your provider to make the changes) that can have a positive effect on your rankings in the search engines.
  • Mobile Dealer Website – 88% of US mobile phone users are more likely to buy from a dealer who has a mobile website. We’ll walk you through the 7 important factors that your mobile website MUST have to be competitive in the mobile website arena.
  • Local Search – Local results are becoming increasingly important in the search engine results pages. We’ll show you how to claim your Google Places listing and then optimize it so your listing will perform better than your competitors down the street.
  • Website Video – Video has become vital for auto dealer websites. We’ll show you how to take advantage of video if you’re not using it, and how to get an extra boost from video if you’ve already got it on your site.
  • Social Media - We give you a checklist that shows how to use Facebook and Twitter correctly (most dealers are doing it wrong), and we’ll show you how to take advantage of the growing power of Foursquare. We also provide tips on how to track your various social media properties with one easy-to-use free application.
  • QR Codes - We’ll walk you through the steps for creating trackable QR codes that you can use to digitize all non-digital media. Now, you’ll be able to track actual conversions from newspaper ads and any other print media your dealership uses.
  • Reporting and Pricing - Amazingly enough, there are still a ton of dealers out there who are using “gut feelings” to price their vehicles or to figure out what to buy at auction. We show you how to use pricing tools to pick what really works for your dealership, and how to stay on top of your prices using reports and analytics so you’ll turn vehicles faster, for higher profits.

Even if you think you’re ahead of the game and your dealership’s Internet marketing efforts are blowing your competition away, you should download the checklist – you’ll be sure to find a few tips you didn’t know about.

Recent AutoRevo News

It’s been a busy last few months here at AutoRevo. We’ve been published in a few magazines and we spoke at Digital Dealer 10 in Orlando.  Our dev team has been hard at work, and recently released the biggest product update in company history. Our marketing and design teams rebranded the company with a new logo and new colors, and they released a completely redesigned corporate website (and redesigned this blog too).

And we’re still going strong… we’ve got some exciting product updates in the pipeline, so make sure you’re following us here on the blog or on Facebook (facebook.com/autorevo)or Twitter (twitter.com/autorevo).

We’ve also announced a few key promotions – Bill Berry was promoted to Vice President of Sales, and Greg Gifford was promoted to Vice President of Marketing. We also hired Travis Bittner as our Vice President of Operations.

For more information, here are a few links to the important recent news:

Yeah, I’ve got a mobile website… so what?
Our article from AutoSuccess Magazine

Dealer Group Websites – Play Fair!
Our article from Dealer Magazine

The 3 Dimensions of the Modern Mobile Marketer
A recorded version of our presentation from Digital Dealer 10

AutoRevo Launches Corporate Rebranding
Our press release regarding our fresh new look

AutoRevo Appoints Bill Berry as Vice President of Sales and Greg Gifford as Vice President of Marketing
Our press release about our recent promotions

AutoRevo Announces Travis Bittner as Vice President of Operations
Our press release about our new Vice President of Operations

Dealer Group Websites… Play Fair!

Posted by on May 12, 2011

 in Best Practices, Dealer Websites

(published in the May 2011 issue of Dealer Magazine)

We work with multiple dealer groups, and they all have their own preferences on how inventory and leads are routed.  Some have 2 OEM flags under 1 roof and share a DMS, others have multiple rooftops and 1 pre-owned lot with each running their own DMS, and some even have multiple pre-owned lots with one OEM rooftop.  The point is that the multiple rooftop configurations of dealer groups have no end.

Just recently, we brought on a new franchise OEM dealer group that had 2 OEM rooftops and 1 pre-owned rooftop.  Simple enough, right?  Here was the rub:  The pre-owned lot was 40 miles away from the OEM rooftops, they had 1 dealer group website that only displayed phone number and contacts for the new car stores, and all new car and pre-owned car leads went to the new car sales reps!  You see where this is going…

New car sales reps were selling the pre-owned vehicles on a lot 40 miles away to leads that came through the dealership’s website.  Consequently, the pre-owned sales reps only handled walk-ins and phone ups (that didn’t call the phone number on the website).  The Pre-Owned Manager had talked with the General Manager on several occasions about this issue, but the answer was always “I don’t care who sells the car, as long as the car is sold.” When we brought them on board, the 4 pre-owned sales reps were ready to bolt…

Not only is this a morale killer for the pre-owned sales reps to have their inventory sold out from under them to their own leads, but it was extremely inefficient for customers as well.  When a customer would call in asking about a pre-owned vehicle, the new car sales rep hasn’t even seen the vehicle, so he has to look it up.   The rep then informs the customer that he can show the vehicle but it is 40 miles away (or that he can show the vehicle at a later time, when someone’s had enough time to drive over and bring the vehicle back to the new car lot).  Really?  What if a customer just walks on the lot looking for the pre-owned vehicle they saw on the website?  I couldn’t imagine running a dealership group in this way.

To make a long story short, we had conversations with the GM of the new dealership and convinced him that new car leads should be routed to new car sales reps and pre-owned leads should be routed to pre-owned sales reps, no matter what channel the customer came in through.

There is definitely power in a dealer group’s online presence, but our clients need to understand the fundamental foundation of the online display of their group brand online.

So, I wanted to list 5 fundamentals of a dealer group website:

  1. Home page – Home pages are intended to cast a broad digital marketing net.  You do not know what the consumer is coming to your homepage to find, so you should have every department represented. We believe the pre-owned inventory on a dealer group’s home page should get top left screen real estate.  Top left is the hottest visual section of an online display.  Consumers are drawn to your dealer group pre-owned inventory because of the large selection.  Let them search all pre-owned inventory regardless of location.  Don’t make them go to each location’s website to find their desired vehicle.On the new car side, consumers are coming to your website to look at a specific brand, so having new inventory separated by brand makes a lot of sense.
  2. Inventory list - Enabling the search of all pre-owned inventory from one list is key.  You can either separate the inventory list by location, or once the customer is on the vehicle details page, the location can be displayed.
  3. Search, Filter, and Sort – Does your dealer website have the “old school” search? Usability of this old school search functionality is poor at best.  Words that come to mind are clunky, frustrating, and unintuitive; especially if your customers are searching large sets of inventory.  Dealer groups should be using the modern user-friendly search filters that are available from the advanced website providers.  Google-style search boxes are key as well.  Many customers, especially ones who are later in the buying cycle, will prefer to just type in what they’re looking for.
  4. Vehicle Details Page - Once a consumer lands on a vehicle, the contact phone number (and in some cases, the actual sales rep’s name) must be displayed.  The provider’s system must be able to display phone numbers by location and by vehicle.
  5. Lead routing by location -When a lead is submitted through your dealer website, is it routed to the correct location or does it go to the Internet ringmaster who “passes out the leads”?  Please – stop the one-person-passing-out-leads business.  It doesn’t scale, it’s a single point of failure, and it causes constant conflict among teams.  Route the lead directly to the location and representative that is vested in responding to that lead.

Does your dealer website have these 5 fundamentals in place?

Skip the internal conflict over who can steal cars out from under another group location.  If a sister store has an existing client interested in inventory on another location’s lot, that’s different than routing pre-owned leads to the new car location.  Dealer group websites are a vital piece of the marketing puzzle, but nothing is going to fit together correctly unless the vehicles are clearly assigned to the correct physical location.

Mobile Shopping is a Reality

(published in the June 2011 issue of AutoSuccess Magazine)

Invest in mobile and be ready for your shoppers.

If you haven’t yet heard of the 3-screen lifestyle, you’ll soon become very aware of it.  It’s the ever-growing lifestyle of consumers who have a TV, Computer, and now Smartphone.  Modern marketers are finding creative ways to reach these consumers who are riding the growing wave of “always on” instant availability.  Recent research finds that U.S. mobile Internet users are engaging in shopping-related activities at a rate that exceeds desktop usage.

Any way you look at mobile, it is transforming the way your customers shop and interact with your dealership.  Dealerships that are not investing in mobile shopping technology are at risk of getting left behind.  The good news for mobile initiative dealers is that mobile-optimized websites can raise engagement as much as 85%.

This isn’t meant to scare anyone.  Mobile websites are just another marketing channel to reach prospective customers.  What better gift could a customer give you than to have your dealership available in their pocket 24/7? You’re probably a smartphone user, right?  At any given time, how far away is your phone?  Personally, I know the farthest my phone ever gets from me is my nightstand.

In a recent study done by Adobe, I found some statistics that will get your attention:

  • 53% of mobile shoppers rated product and pricing information as most important
  • 66% of mobile shoppers prefer shopping via mobile browser vs. in an app
  • 46% of first time mobile shoppers access a retailer’s site is by typing the website into the browser
  • For consumer researching and browsing product information, 81% prefer mobile browser and 19% prefer mobile app
  • 71% of consumers prefer a mobile browser over a mobile app when comparing products and prices.
  • 53% of consumers spend 1-5 hours per week shopping mobile websites

Auto dealers have gone through the TV phase, are living in the computer phase, and have now been given a new frontier for marketing: the smartphone era.  For dealers, mobile can be a highly influential marketing channel.  For automotive retailers, it provides the unprecedented immediacy of shopping your store when the need strikes the consumer.  Think of mobile not strictly as a purchase channel, but more as a marketing channel to drive consumers to an action (lead conversion) and to serve them information whenever they’re ready to buy.

Mobile shopping is still in its early days, but auto dealers absolutely need a mobile presence to begin testing and measuring what works for their store, clients, and region.  Mobile will continue to evolve as user experiences catch up to the fast pace of smartphone technology.

So, you ask, “What should I consider when setting up my mobile website?”  Here’s a list of 5 areas to consider when you’re getting started with mobile (or to evaluate your current mobile site).

  1. Minimalist approach to the user interface (UI), with a focus on uncluttered shopping experience. An example of poor UI would be putting too much information on the inventory list.
  2. Your mobile website must convert leads. Do you have consistent easy-to-navigate lead forms, touch-to-call, or SMS functionality?
  3. High quality imagery. Touch screen smart phones have made incredible strides in displays.  Does your mobile website deliver rich media to the mobile browser?
  4. Deep product details. There are several great ways to display as much vehicle data on a smartphone screen as is displayed on desktop browsers.  Provide your consumers with as much information as you do on the desktop.
  5. Robust search. Searching, sorting, and filtering inventory could not be more important on a mobile website.  Customers are usually looking for a finite inventory set or a specific vehicle when searching on mobile.

Google recently stated that mobile searches have increased by 500% from 2008 to 2010, and according to recent projections published by Nielson Co., at least 1 in 2 Americans will own a smartphone by the end of 2011. It’s time to take notice that the “must have a website” era in our industry has now become the “must have a mobile website” era!

(source: Adobe Scene7 Mobile Commerce Survey: Mobile Shopper Insights for 2011)