Laura Morse of Jim Norton Toyota

This month’s Word on the Street segment features Laura Morse, the eCommerce Manager at Jim Norton Toyota in Tulsa, OK. As Laura will tell you, her multifaceted career prepared her to tackle automotive sales as an industry veteran. State Farm Auto insurance just may have stolen their slogan “we know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two” from Laura.

While most dealerships are scratching their head on how to mitigate sales losses in the era of COVID-19, Jim Norton Toyota is meeting and possibly exceeding their sales targets. As it turns out, their processes and commitment to outstanding customer service prepared them for just this sort of event.

Below are some of the key moments of our conversation together on how to equip yourself to make the most out of the situation.

On Creating an Empathetic Message

At Jim Norton Toyota, my General Manager saw very quickly we couldn’t have the same sales message as we were using a few weeks before. We took a look at ourselves from the customer’s point of view to see if we liked our own message under these new and very serious conditions. 

The message we wanted to create was not “Big sale going on today!” but “How can we help you today?” Thankfully we launched our Express purchase program last year as well as Service Concierge. So, for us it was not new to offer and promote safety-conscious home visits for sales test drives or picking up a customer’s vehicle to be serviced and returned.  

It may sound funny, but back when I was on the sales floor, I always treated my customers the way I’d want someone to treat my mom, dad or brother.  To me this feels the same – what can our dealership do to help our loyal customers during this unusual time?

On Social Media and Being Creative

We know people are spending more time on the internet than ever before due to COVID-19.  Our social sites are seeing a lot more engagement.  But if everything we post is a blatant sales message, folks are going to stop reading pretty fast.  So, we enjoy offering a mix of interesting content peppered with sales info. 

We recognize our dealership staff and congratulate high achievers, give fun employee birthday and anniversary shout-outs every day. We worked with our service department to create ‘Tech Tip Tuesdays’, which offers helpful service advice.  Then we do Trade-Talk-Friday, answering common questions people have about trading-in their vehicle.

On Sanitation and Informing Customers

Our company is taking extra precautions to ensure our customers’ safety while visiting the dealership.  Not only has our dealership followed every CDC guideline, but we have added plexiglass dividers throughout our customer-facing departments.  We want customers to feel safe while they’re here.

After someone has been in lock-down for a month, they tend to look for any reason to go out!  Having reliable transportation is so important and why the Oklahoma Governor deemed automotive an essential business.

On Industry Veterans Adapting to New Technology

Everyone on our team has been very resilient and adaptable. Thanks to the guidance and vigilance of our General Manager, we were a process driven dealership beforehand. So a lot of this came second nature.

With a sales team of over 50 sales associates, we quickly started a telecommuter process and changed our team schedules. Tracking everyone’s activity and reporting was essential before but was now is under the microscope. I believe it is a large contributor to why we’re doing well.

 

That wraps up this month’s segment of Word on the Street! If you’d like to be featured as a person of interest, please contact WOTS@fzautomotive.com.

Stay safe!

 

 

 

Coversion Rate Optimization

A 15-Minute Check Can Create More Opportunities and Sales!

Feeling like your web presence just isn’t clicking the way it used to? Not getting enough leads?

Our clients often scramble for an answer. Is your competition trying something new? Are your model research pages the issue? Maybe it’s the homepage! Let’s redesign the whole kit and caboodle!

Often, the solution is usually much simpler and is a better use of your time than a massive overhaul: your SRP and VDP probably just need to be revisited. With some minor changes, you could see a massive boost to your lead generation!

In this article, we’re going to share with you our secret sauce for generating high-quality leads. These are easily and you can often do without bringing in your support teams.

What Is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Conversion Rate Optimization (or CRO) is the modification of your website to generate the greatest amount of opportunity possible.

Why Should You Care About CRO?

Because that’s how you sell more cars! Your operational management team’s goal is crafting your floor team into a conveyor belt that turns customers into sales. Why wouldn’t you want your website to operate on the same principle?

There is a ton that goes into a successful website and CRO is among the most important items. CRO is about the long game. You’ll find it well worth your effort.

How Do You Calculate Conversion Rates?

Conversion rate can be calculated by using this formula:

(leads generated ÷ website traffic) * 100 = Your conversion rate %!

So if your website gets an average of 200 leads and 5000 sessions (using Google Analytics as a tracker) per month, your conversion rate would be:

(200 ÷ 5000) * 100 = 4% Conversion Rate

 

What Counts as a Conversion?

This is the part that we believe some people overlook. In our humble opinion, you should only be reviewing anything that can be converted into a sale.

This means calls, website chats, and lead generation forms (inventory, finance, trade-ins, service requests, etc.).

This does not mean form starts (but not finished!) or landing page views.

Landing page views and form engagement are incredibly important to build an audience profile! They are also important to modify your existing lead generation tactics.

But if you are reading this guide, you are most likely not there yet! Start with the basics, get primed and ready for testing later.

So, as a rule of thumb, if you can make money off of it, it should be counted as a conversion.

You can create sales of someone’s email or phone number, but not VDP views!

How Do You Track Your Conversions?

There are several tools available to you that you can use to track your conversion, such as

  • Google Analytics
  • Adobe Analytics
  • Your website CMS

Ask your website provider how they track conversions and if you need assistance setting them up. They might already be tracking them as far as you know!

If you are using a 3rd-party provider for your financing applications, get in touch with your support representative and they will most likely know how to connect all of your conversion tracking tools to your analytics platform of choice.

What is a Good Conversion Rate?

Now that you understand what CRO is and how to track it, what do you do if you find out your results are poor? Do you need to change everything up or make minor adjustments?

The answer is the most important response in all of web design. Ready?

It depends.

That’s not very helpful, we know! Let’s dive in and get to a more actionable solution.

The commonly accepted average for conversion rate for web leads in the automotive vertical is around 1.5%.

This number will fluctuate. Don’t panic if you’re at 1.51% and a new study comes out that says the floor is 1.75%.

Why? Ultimately, this number is useless for you. This may be surprising due to all the sales pitches from digital marketing companies. But it’s the truth.

The reason why it’s not very useful is because your conversion rate depends on several factors completely out of your control. These can be:

  • Location: Rural vs. Urban
  • Region of the Country: (the southeast of the U.S. is far more hospitable to a best price button than the northeast)
  • OEM: A Honda dealer will receive more leads than most Acura dealers. If you can afford an NSX, you probably aren’t likely to put in a lead online.

If you’re a Chevrolet dealer near Atlanta, GA, you would not be as shocked to learn than your website operates on a 10% conversion rate on web leads. If you said that you’re an Acura dealer in the northeast and you are pulling a 6%, we’d be more impressed.

Keep this in mind!

Your Website is Your Digital Showroom

Here are some tricks and strategies to help you improve your website conversions.

SRPs and VDPs: Keep It Simple!

First things first, a clean, simple website will usually outperform one that is a visual nightmare. If things start to look busy to you, the website owner, they are likely twice as confusing for a customer. Good UI/UX (user interface/user experience) is crucial!

In short: simplicity wins.

 

Call to Action

Automotive Dealer Inventory Calls to Actions

 

Your call-to-action (or CTA) should be readable and clickable on both mobile and desktop. These are your most important items on your site besides your inventory!

On your SRPs, keep your calls to action minimal. Remember, this is the first time a customer is viewing this inventory. Reduce your CTAs to the absolute minimal amount.

Customers can become paralyzed by choice and will ultimately decide to move on. If you keep your CTAs simple, it’s easier for a customer to focus on finding a vehicle with the right price and less on all the myriad of options and considerations they could be making.

CTAs should also create a sense of urgency.  “Check Availability” is one of the least performing CTAs you could possibly use. Most customers know that if they see the vehicle on the site, you most likely have one in stock. And if you don’t, they definitely know you can get them one.

If you’re adding a third or more CTAs, ask yourself: “is this absolutely necessary to have right here on this page?” If it’s not, dump it. Your customers will appreciate it.

Price is a larger determining factor for a customer’s inclination to submit a lead. “Get Our Best Price” is still one of the best lead-submission generating lines around.

If you have digital retailing tools, focus more on utility. “Get Financed” or “Start Checkout” do not really cut it in our experience. You’re more likely to pique someone’s interest with “Build Your Deal” (as they aren’t feeling the pressure to finish right here, right now).

Images

Another important piece is ensuring your vehicles have images of the vehicle. The vehicle could do well to swap out the stock photo for an actual image. Seeing the vehicle is one of the largest deciding factors to whether or not someone submits a lead!

Pricing

It may seem obvious, but you could have a website designed by Amazon themselves and if your truck is $3,000 more expensive on your site than a competitor’s down the road, customer are not likely to give you their information. They’re calling the other listing.

Make sure your pricing is competitive. We recommend tweaking the following:

  1. Showing discounts before or after the Best Price lead is submitted.
  2. Deciding whether to use Best Price at all.
  3. When compliant, using a red strikethrough to indicate a greater price beyond the Best Price.

If you change your pricing, be sure to change your CTA verbiage as well to match. You do not want to claim there is a better price beyond a CTA only to show nothing!

Forms

This one also seems relatively simple, but it’s missed all the time. Make your customers do the least amount of work possible. That means lowering how many forms you require them to submit or filling out the least amount of information on them. This applies to your service forms, credit applications, SRP/VDP Best price forms; all of them. If you don’t like filling them out yourself, your customers won’t like them either.

Requiring a name, address, phone number, and email address is often too much. If you’re struggling to generate incoming leads, only require name, address, and your preference between email or phone number. Another possibility is to let your customers choose which of the two they prefer. Requiring both can be overkill.

Think Outside the SRP

Reviews also play a huge part into a customer’s likelihood that they submit a lead.

There are two factors that goes into this: average rating and number of reviews. If you have a 5.0 rating on Google, that’s great! If there are only two reviews, that’s less great.

Think of everyone’s favorite ecommerce site: Amazon.

Amazon Shopping Review Features

 

Obviously, you shouldn’t copy everything from Amazon. We created a three-part feature on that mindset, after-all.  But there are some features that are worth mentioning.

Amazon lets you sort through their inventory from highest to lowest reviews.

Anecdotally, most people who use Amazon swear by shopping with this filter. It’s human nature to not to be first to take the plunge on a brand-new

Ask yourself: why would a customer take a chance on your dealership if you’re sporting a 3.0 average and only 20 reviews? Quality and quantity count.

Customer service very much translates into the digital world. Keep this in mind and get happy customers to leave you glowing reviews online.

Test, Test, and Test Some More

One of the best pieces of advices is to take it slow and change only a few small things at a time. A/B split-testing can help save you a lot of headaches in the future! Believe us, it’s the worst feeling changing a website’s layout only to find it performs worse than before and getting a third of the leads. For example, you could change one vehicle’s layout, then see if it’s working over the course of a month, then apply it to the rest.

We hope you find these tips and tricks useful! For more exclusive strategies on how to boost your online presence, subscribe to our newsletter! We’ll send the latest issues directly to you so you can stay ahead of the curve.

 

“Disruption” is one of those Silicon Valley buzzwords that I’ve begun to grow tired of. It’s a catch-all word that is used anytime an industry or product is experiencing changes or pop up competition. Perhaps more accurately, we should see terms such as “evolving,” or “maturing.” More simply stated, what many industries or products are experiencing is just new competition.

In automotive, there is a history of disruptors that fundamentally change or alter a maturing market. Remember the minivan craze of the 90s? It was followed by the crossover phase and disrupted the wagon segment to such a degree they almost went extinct, at least in North America. 

Now going into 2020, we are seeing the disruption in both segments and distribution. Companies like Tesla are disrupting with fully electric cars that are distributed through a direct sales model. Companies like Vroom and Carvana are offering full digital retailing online, from start to finish with a delivery of the car to your driveway. Yet, these companies have not experienced an “amazon-like” transformation and are still very niche players. Why is that?

Another industry that is experiencing this same kind of disruption is the grocery industry. While stores changed continuously and evolved to keep up with customer trends and tastes over the years, one principal of the business transaction remained constant for decades: People had to come to them to get fresh food and produce. 

With companies like Peapod and Amazon Fresh, combined with more meal prep-orientated services like Blue Apron and HelloFresh, that is all changing. Direct to consumers, some with discounted or even free shipping, these services are endangering the rock-solid model of people going to their favorite supermarket for food staples. Is the traditional industry doomed? No, at least not for the ones embracing the competition. Let me explain.

When faced with the prospect of consumers able to shop online for their most common groceries, the incumbent stalwarts of the grocery world (Think Kroger, Safeway, Publix, etc.) have a choice to make when fighting to keep their market share against the online disruptors. My local grocer of choice, Meijer, decided to partner with Shipt to make home delivery from online shopping available.

App-based shopping, with nearly all of the same products and staples you’re familiar with at the physical location available for same-day shipping. And for some, within the hour. Instead of fighting against the new model, grocery stores decided to participate. Meijer is certainly not alone, many major chain grocers are now adopting a “we shop for you, and ship for you” model. They also have a great hybrid solution where you purchase your items online, and a store shopper selects all your products for you. Then all you need to do is visit a curbside pickup at the physical store and collect your items, saving you from even having to enter the store. They took the opportunity of the new online model not just as a threat alone, but as a challenge to innovate their business model for evolving consumer shopping behavior.

This got me thinking. Why is it that when I talk to dealers and salespeople in the industry, they deride the online digital retailers like Carvana and Vroom? Why do they insist it’s a passing fad or dismiss their importance altogether? For years, I have heard dealers tell me, “Oh sure, salesperson Johnny could do an at-home test drive, we’ll gladly go to a customer’s house to have them look at a car.”  

However, the reality is that it never happens. Or, if it does, it is supremely rare. Taking any piece of the consumer transaction away from the dealership is frowned upon, no matter what. This usually comes at the direction of management.

Perhaps it’s the power dynamic that makes dealers uncomfortable. When a customer is in your dealership, they are on your turf, your zone. That can be intimidating for some customers, no matter how comfortable or relaxed going your sales staff is. Perhaps dealers like dictating the way the sales process will go on their home court. Now it’s just salesperson Johnny and me in my driveway, there is no more of the walled office of intimidation. There is no more, “ok, let me run that by the manager while I hide from you, and we talk about you behind your back.” Also, there has to be a ton of accountability on Johnny that he won’t just give the car away for a song, and his sales manager is not there to hover over his shoulder to approve every pencil and sales move that he makes. 

Its accountability that many dealers don’t have with their staff or actively don’t want. There is no finance office pressure. The upselling of finance products has to be pre-selected or presented, it’s no longer in the boiler room of F&I pros, it’s a driveway chat with checkboxes that need to be presented. The motivation to sell is in a different environment. I’ve bought several cars over the past four years from established franchised dealers and independent used car lots, luxury cars and economy cars. The experience was the same. Not once was it ever presented as a possibility that they would or could come to me.

Why does the automotive world insist that customers who desire to complete their purchase online, or from the comfort and familiarity of their home, must be forced to visit the dealership? 

Perhaps this is why the majority of people still hold the opinion that buying a car is high on their list of stress-inducing and disliked activities. There will always be those who remain traditional, both those who prefer buying products in-store and those who like buying automobiles direct from a dealer. 

However, it’s the growing segment of the market that prefers a digital experience which the automotive industry can learn from. How about meeting consumer behavior changes the way grocery stores did? By not rejecting the disruptor model but embracing it.

Dealers have the inventory; they CAN do this. The question is, do they want to? Many people I have talked to are still uncomfortable with completing their purchase without first seeing what they are buying in person. Especially something as expensive and vital as their car. I would love to see dealers begin to promote and market home delivery and online shopping. Let’s make that process easier. If we do not, the market will speak and slowly keep chipping away at established dealerships selling in the traditional model, in favor of those who can evolve with the way consumers want to transact business, increasingly online. 

Do you agree with me? How many of you out there have tried one of these online grocery shopping services? Was it a good experience? Has anyone ever had a dealer come to their house to sell them a car? Let me know in the comments below.


Customer Experience How you make them feel

Technology companies often focus on their products and leave service levels far behind. They rely on shiny objects and whiz-bang features to sell products. Companies that lead with technology often forget that the result of a customer interaction isn’t the technology – it’s how the customer feels using the technology. At fusionZONE, we strive to be Deliberately Different by asking, “How did this make them feel?”. We ask this question at every client interaction, and it underpins every product we design and release. Our focus is on the client’s experience in everything we do.

 

Perfection is impossible, but caring is not. Did you make your client feel understood? Did you make your client feel appreciated? Did you make your client feel confident? Did you make your client feel empowered? If your client feels cared for, they are likely to be a brand ambassador, help you and your team improve, and be a long-term customer. We will always have room to improve the process, training, and tools. Mistakes are inevitable. Ensuring your client feels heard, understood, and senses urgency when an issue arises is critical for a client-centered organization.

 

One of the legends of the retail automotive industry, Joe Girard, understood this. He made the Guinness Book of World Records for his sales ability. He recognized that how you make the customer feel was the critical piece of the sales process – not just during the sale, but after the sale was made. He stayed in touch with customers and took care of service issues when they arose after the sale. As a result of this focus, he banked repeat business year after year.  Technology companies have a lot to learn from this approach. Customers expect that you will get decent technology. Honestly, most websites and digital marketing technologies are pretty much the same. What is unexpected is the commitment to service after the sale. That is the real product. 

 

Innovation at fusionZONE starts with keeping the client in mind. How can we make their experience and the end-user experience better? How can we help our client’s business be more profitable? We are midway through developing a new platform that will transform the dealer website service experience. With targets of four-hour ticket turn arounds, easy content management, lightning-fast speeds, dedicated support teams, and highly qualified leads, we are not focused on the next shiny object but the top prize. Technology is merely a tool to achieve a client objective, and it certainly helps make their business more successful. But, ultimately, client service – how you made them FEEL using the technology – is the real product.

 

Conference season is upon us. As dealers go from seminar to seminar, and presentation after presentation, it can cause mass confusion about what data really matters. As a dealer, you may well be asking yourself, “What data should I really be watching at my dealership?”
Well, let’s keep it simple! Over the years I have found it boils down to two key things. Here is what you should be investigating:
 

  1. Conversions: Many years ago Autotrader.com was the top lead provider for dealers. As the Autotrader platform became less effective, generating fewer form leads and phone calls, Autotrader told dealers that customers were no longer filling out forms on websites. Also, according to Autotrader, customers were no longer calling dealers. They were just shopping on Autotrader.com, then they would show up unannounced at the dealership. Once Autotrader’s comments took hold, other lead and website providers went down the same path, instead of learning about today’s customer’s and how they shop.  Basically, they took the path of least resistance.

So, is it true that customers no longer fill-out form submissions on automotive websites?  I would say nothing could be further from the truth. Based on the past five years of data I have from working with Toyota, I have seen the exact opposite. Conversions have increased! Customers will still submit forms, and they are still calling the dealership.  Conversions really do matter and below are a few keys to customer engagement:
 

  • Have the right calls to actions on your website and VDPs.

 

  • Use automation to reply to customer’s requests immediately. Customers want immediate gratification and dealerships who respond quickly will often win the business or, at the very least, have the edge over the competition.

 

  1. Analytics: Google Analytics is perhaps the most confusing tool in the industry. For years the “experts” spoke about Time On Site, Bounce Rate, Impressions and more. However, they failed to consider how mobile device usage was affecting the data.

Guess what? Mobile has changed the game 100% when dealing with Google Analytics. Many companies are still talking about and selling Bounce Rate, or how many pages a consumer visited on a dealer’s website. As mobile usage has made double-digit climbs year in and year out, this is no longer relevant data.
It is hard to believe that companies are still making dealers swallow this dated information, as we are approaching over five years of irrelevancy. Case in point:  When a customer visits a dealer’s website on a mobile device and hits the click-to-call button, Google will report this as a 100% Bounce Rate for that visit, as the customer was on and off the website in a matter of seconds. This is entirely wrong information! The customer converted to a lead in just a few seconds. However, Google does not report it accurately. Instead, they label this customer as one who bounced. Bounce Rate does not matter in today’s digital landscape.
The exact same principle applies to Time On Site data. In the above example, the customer was on the website for three seconds and actually converted into a lead.
Most dealers are still wasting time analyzing and looking for the longer visits, assuming a three second visit was nothing but a bounce. When you compare that to a customer who is on a website for six minutes without converting, I will take the mobile customer who converted in three seconds all day long!
This brings me to my final point. Dealers set up Google Analytics on their dealership’s website 5-10 years ago. It is not set up for today’s metrics. Dealers can log-in to Google Analytics and see Bounce Rate, Time On Site, Pages per Visit and more, but this is all outdated information that no longer matters.
In today’s society of mobile-first usage, it is vital to focus on the correct data. This includes metrics on how many VDPs were visited, how many times the click-to call-button was used, and how many times a customer scrolled through photos of an actual vehicle. These data points indicate a very interested customer and are much more relevant than the outdated metrics that dealers are still relying on to make decisions, and that vendors reference as proof of performance.
As we go into NADA and the full conference season, consider this information when deciding where to invest your time. Make it a priority to visit your current vendors and ask them to show you these particular data points. Having full knowledge of and using modern data metrics that make sense will give you a more accurate benchmark, and you can see whether your website is actually performing – or whether the data being fed to you is all hot air. Good luck!
 
 
 
 
 


In our industry, conversion rates are horrible. A great dealer “might” convert at a higher rate, but many are missing the boat on the majority of their website visitors. There are many reasons why this is true. However, the sad fact remains that it is.
Imagine making some simple tweaks to your website which produce an immediate increase in the number of website visitors who decide to engage with you. Do you think you’d sell more cars? Of course, you would! The instant a consumer engages with you, the chances of you selling them a car increases dramatically. But what is stopping them from doing so?
If you ask most lead providers for performance reports, you will get varying answers as there are so many different types of interactions they consider to be a conversion. Heck, some of them think simply getting a customer TO a dealer’s website qualifies! Their rationale? That consumers are no longer filling out forms. Because of that, many providers have chosen to use alternate metrics when, in reality, a lead is the only real conversion that matters.
The average conversion rate on a dealership’s website is 0.75%. That means less than 1% of all website traffic fills out a lead form. How can this be true? And, if it is, what can your dealership do about it?
Fix the mobile experience!
As 60% of ALL WEB TRAFFIC is via a mobile device, the mobile customer experience is key. However, dealers are losing a majority of their customers simply because their mobile experience is flawed.
In fact, the average mobile bounce rate is 70%. To put this in perspective, let’s say you get 10,000 online car shoppers a month visiting your website, 6,000 of whom use a mobile device. With a 70% bounce rate, 4,200 of those 6,000 mobile shoppers only visit one page before bouncing to another site. This is simply because many dealerships do not have their sites optimized for the mobile experience.
How can you increase leads? Here are a couple of tips about the main problems preventing online conversions and simple fixes:
 

  1. Site Speed – In July 2018, Google started penalizing slow websites. As a result, page speed is now more important than ever. Increasing the loading speed of your website results in a lower bounce rate, higher engagement rates and better search engine rankings. If you don’t know how fast your dealership’s website loads, you can access Google’s official tool and find out. If your site takes longer than 3 seconds to load, your bounce rate increases by up to 150% per second!

 

  1. Weak Calls-to-Action – Poor word choices on calls-to-action, or obnoxious forms that nobody would fill out, obviously contribute to low conversion rates. Why? Because weak calls-to-action lead to poor consumer mindset. For example, which do you think is more likely to encourage a customer to fill out a form? “Get your e-Price?” or “Get your best price?” Sometimes, a simple change in wording can increase conversion. So, be cognizant of your what your calls-to-action say and optimize wording to improve shopper engagement.

 
Today, the car shopper’s mobile experience is key to your dealership’s sales success. Optimize your site for the mobile user with an easy-to-navigate website that loads quickly and is equipped with well-designed calls-to-action. Otherwise, it will negatively impact your conversion (lead) rates.
Take the time to investigate how your website is performing in these areas. Examine your calls-to-action and truly ask yourself whether the experience you see is one you would like as a shopper… or would it drive you to a competitor’s site? Be sure to also check it out with your smartphone to see how the experience is for a mobile user.
If your website visitors – especially mobile – are presented with an easy-to-navigate site that loads quickly, provides the information they seek and has compelling calls-to-action, you will see your leads skyrocket and the doors to success unlock.
To find out more about this topic, attend my session, Increasing Online Conversion is not as Hard as You Think!”  at the upcoming Automotive Analytics & Attribution Summit in Palm Beach, FL. Monday, November 19, at 3 pm. In my presentation, I will share how to supercharge conversions on your websites through mobile optimization.