As we discussed in Part 1 of our series, video plays an increasingly vital role in your SEO, or search engine optimization. With search engines like Google placing more weight on quality video content, you don’t want your website to be left behind in search rankings.

This week, we’re looking at effective ways to improve your videos. With the following tips, you can not only enhance the look and feel of your business’ website but also work to enhance your SEO.

Keep these ideas in mind as you build out your business’ portfolio of videos. Your video marketing efforts could pay dividends as you start ranking on SERPs (search engine results pages).

Produce Videos That Inform or Educate

Don’t make videos just to have some video content on your website. If the video is only still images or text content already on the webpage, it’s not adding any real value to the viewer.

Video has some advantages over text and still images, so use them to your advantage. If you’re looking to add a personal touch to your website (and your business), and informative video hosted by an owner, manager or employee is a great way to do so.

In the following example, the dealership uses video to inform and elaborate on its new temporary service center location during construction. The video utilizes drone footage to show visitors where the new service and parts departments are located in relation to the dealership’s other facilities. The video footage is both engaging and educational, and it certainly adds value to the webpage and for any visitors.

The above video is also surrounded by context, which we’ll cover next.

Surround Your Videos with Context

Placing a video or multiple videos on a webpage and calling it good doesn’t do the trick. You want to lead into the video with some context. Introduce the topic through text above the video, then elaborate further below the video.

By surrounding your video with relevant written and visual content, you’ll create a complete picture of the video and page’s topic or goal.

Host Videos on YouTube

While it makes sense to promote your videos on your website and social media channels, it’s a great idea to host the videos on YouTube. For one, Google is much more likely to rank videos hosted on YouTube. Since Google owns YouTube, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they would rather promote content hosted on its property than somewhere else.

YouTube is the largest video search engine, so ranking high can be a win-win for increasing views and driving organic traffic to your website. Google and YouTube rank videos a bit differently, but increasing your views on YouTube can help your video rank higher on Google.

Consider the Technical Aspects

Creating videos for enhanced SEO isn’t as simple as shooting and editing the video and posting it on YouTube and your website. Search engines like Google utilize backend information to categorize, label and prioritize videos. With this information, search engine crawlers and YouTube can better promote your video to the right audiences.

Google and YouTube use various data to rank your videos, including:

  • Title
  • Description
  • Category
  • Keywords
  • Tags
  • Links to the video
  • Comments
  • Likes and dislikes
  • Video length
  • Audience retention
  • Subscribers after watching

Final Thoughts On Enhancing Your Videos

We’ve covered a lot in this short series on video and SEO. Here’s a recap of what we’ve discussed here:

  • Create professional, entertaining videos that add value and people will want to watch.
  • Host your videos on YouTube.
  • Embed the video on your own site.
  • Promote the video across your social media channels for more views.
  • Remember to consider the meta data for each video.

If you’d like further assistance with your video marketing efforts, contact the fusionZONE team. We’re experts in digital marketing and SEO, and we can help your business rise above your competition online!

When you think of SEO, or search engine optimization, you may jump to the idea of optimizing your website copy or text to rank high in search results. Text content on your site certainly plays a large role in your organic search rankings, but did you know that adding quality videos can also improve your SEO efforts?

Everyone wants to drive more traffic to their website, and quality content — whether text or video — can help make that happen!

This week, we’re looking at how videos affect your SEO. But first, let’s review why search engine optimization still matters in 2020.

Why Does SEO Matter?

With more and more websites created every day, the online world is a crowded place. Running ads to attract traffic works but can be costly, so that can’t be your only way of bringing in visitors or customers.

When you’re competing for website visitors with your direct competition, it becomes even more clear why SEO matters. With quality SEO practices, you can tailor your website for both visitors and search engines.

With over 90% of online experiences starting with a search engine, you can afford to neglect your SEO!

Video Complements Your SEO Efforts

Google’s algorithms are always changing, but one thing that’s for sure is that Google search is increasingly prioritizing websites that feature quality video content.

Adding videos to your site can enhance your SEO and website in several key ways, including:

  • Reducing bounce rates: Did you know that visitors on average spend over twice as long on a webpage with video than one without?
  • Raising click-through rates: Video can entice people to move from the search engine results page (SERP) to your website if they know they’re about to watch a video on the topic they searched for.
  • Diversifying your content strategy: Placing videos between blocks of text can help break up the content on your website and elaborate on the page’s topic.
  • Improving your search ranking: As we’ve mentioned, Google and other search engines now weigh video more heavily than in the past. You don’t want to be caught flat-footed when video content matters in 2020 and beyond.

In the following example, we see how this dealership promotes its express service by not just telling you, but showing you. The video is attractive, professional, informative and adds a personal touch to the dealership’s service operations. This webpage also ranks at the top of the search results for this service in the local area.

Nissan Express Service

Want to Know More About How Video Can Boost Your SEO?

We’ve covered the basics of how adding rich video content to your website not only enhances your business’ online presence but improves your SEO efforts, too. If you’d like to dive deeper into a video strategy for SEO, feel free to reach out to the FZA Digital team. Search engine optimization is what we do, and we’d be more than happy to put our expertise to work for your business!

Next week, we’ll cover ways that you can improve your videos, so check back and stay tuned!

Getting Started With Google Search Console Part 3

 

Welcome back to our third and final installment of our Getting Started with Google Search Console series! This series is aimed at automotive dealers looking to learn how to use Google Search Console.

Today, we’re going to finish up by seeing how to use Google Search console filters to check on how your pages are ranking!

Let’s get started.

Using Filters to Check Rankings Using Google Search Console

One of the most common functions of Google Search console is the Performance Report, labeled Performance on your left-hand side. 

It can show a ton of data for you to slice and dice. You can check out your Clicks, Impressions, Average Click-Through-Rate (CTR), and your Average Position on Google’s SERP. 

 

Google Search Console Stats

 

To start finding actionable items, however,you’ll have to use the filters. Let’s walk through how to use those. 

In all of our examples, we’re using a San Diego based Toyota dealer to find out how they rank in their city. 

A popular query that dealers salivate over the possibility of ranking for is “{city} {OEM} {dealer}”, or in English, “san diego toyota dealer.”

But how would you find out how you’re ranking using Google Search Console?

First, Click on Query underneath the chart.

 

Google Search Console Steps

 

Then, click on the Filter icon (which looks like thison the right).

Now, type in your query. In this case, we type “san diego toyota dealer.”

Here is the result that we get. 

 

Google Search Console Steps

 

We have several options, so we’re going to start out and click the top one. 

 

Google Search Console Traffic

 

Voila! We now have our data. These metrics are able to be selected and shown at once. We wanted to know our average position, so let’s click on that one on the right.

 

Google Search Console Average Ranking Results

 

Now, what about if I wanted to know which pages actually rank for this keyword? 

 

Google Search Console Pages

 

Easy! Scroll down and click Pages.

There you have it. Now you try this on your own for all kinds of different rankings. 

If you want to change the date or compare it to another time period, click those filters at the top.

Wrapping Up

That concludes our series on the basics of Google Search Console! We hope that you found this useful in your journey to improving your sites’s SEO.

If you have any question or need some help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at fusionZONE.

Until next time!

Getting Started With Google Search Console Part 2

 

Welcome back to our starter guide for Google Search Console!

If you missed last weeks article, you can find it here.

This week, we’re covering off how to check your indexing status for your page. Let’s get started!

Check Your Page’s the Index Status

Google Search Console is the place to see if Google has picked up your pages for indexing.

Let’s say you created a page specifically to generate traffic for your new inventory. But when you go to search for the page on Google, it’s not showing up!

Start by seeing if Google has picked up the page in its indexing. You can do this by checking the index status of your page.

To check on your index status, copy and paste the URL into the Search Bar at the top.

 

Google Search Console Search Bar

 

Once you submit it, it’ll take Search Console a few seconds to pull your information. Once it does, you should see something like this:

 

Google Search Console Indexing Status

 

This is your page report. It has a few sections on here that are worth pointing out.

 

Google Search Console Indexing Coverage Tab

 

The first section tells you whether or not Google has indexed it. This is shown in the first box of the page. If it has been indexed, it’s able to be seen on Google.

As you can see in our example, this page is indexable on Google and is able to be searched and found. 

 

Google Search Console Request Indexing

 

If you open up the Coverage tab, you’ll see several more details, such as when it was last crawled or what page it’s canonicalized to.

Another nifty feature is the ability to request Manual Indexing.

If you recently changed your page and want Google to recrawl it, all you need to do is click Request Indexing.

When Do You Need to Manually Index?

Manual indexing can help if you are testing how your pages look on a search engine’s result page or if there’s a critical error that you need to fix right now. In those cases, it’s recommended that you request a manual crawl.

However, this feature doesn’t catapult you to the top of rankings or give you any competitive advantage other than getting a quick fix to your pages. Luckily, Google crawls your site quite often. It doesn’t need assistance to find your pages day-to-day.

That saves you a boatload of time making sure Google is checking your pages and ranking your site.

 


 

That’s all for week! Next week, we’ll dive into how to pull your rankings using Google Search Console as well as how to identify  which pages need to be beefed up. If you have any questions, leave a comment below. Or if you need to access support, email us  at support@fzautomotive.com.

Until next time!

 

 

Getting Started With Google Search Console Part 1

While there are a litany of SEO tools on the market, most businesses can get more mileage than they’d ever need out of Google’s free analytics service suite. The suite includes Google Analytics, Tag Manager, Data Studio, and Search Console.

Google Search Console (previously called Google Webmaster Tools) is an incredibly useful, often underutilized tool. It is used primarily to see how people find and use your website. 

Some overlook it because it doesn’t have the bells and whistles that services like Ahrefs or SEMRush have, like content audits and expansive keyword research tools. 

But underneath Search Console’s simple exterior is a wealth of knowledge — more than most would ever need to use. 

If you’re a fusionZONE client and don’t have your own Search Console access, let us know! We’re happy to share ours with you. Email our support team or check in with your Performance Manager to get access today. 

Once you’re in and ready to roll, check out our 3 part series on getting started with Google Search Console. Today, we’re going to start off nice and easy and walk through submitting a sitemap to Google.

Let’s get started!

How to  Submit Your Sitemap

A sitemap is a file that tells crawlers exactly what they’re going to find on your site. It shows your site’s organization methods and can also include information about how often pages should be checked for changes, like your inventory. 

To submit your sitemap, first, click on Sitemap on the left-menu column.

You should see a place to submit your sitemap’s URL at the top of the page.

Google Search Console Sitemap Submit

Most sitemaps on automotive sites are found at:

url.com/sitemap.xml

An Example:

toyotaofelcajon.com/sitemap.xml

Simply add this slug (everything after the forward slash, or /) to the empty field and hit submit. 

If done right, you should see a “Success” status after a few minutes of being submitted. 

So why do this?

This is best to do to do on brand-new websites or after you change website providers. It gives Google an outline of your site to how your pages connect to one another.

Google is increasingly better at finding what it needs from your site. But it never hurts to ensure your sitemap is being read correctly. 

 


 

That’s all there is to it!

If you have any questions about how to better use Search Console and are on the fusionZONE platform, leave a comment down below. Stay tuned in two weeks where we’ll cover how to check a page’s indexing status.

Until next time!

 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is simple to understand yet infinitely complex to apply. If you understand its core principles, you can do pretty well without dedicating all your time and effort to mastering it.

However, there is a ton of misinformation on the web about how it works. This is mostly due to Google’s lack of transparency about how their search engine works.

Some eager marketers looking to draw in traffic will sometimes make egregious claims on what you should worry about.

We’re here to set the record straight on 5 common myths in SEO.

1. Buying Google Ads Help Your Rank Better

Google Ads are the listings that show up above the organic search results. You have to pay a small amount of money each time someone clicks on those results, hence why it is referred to as pay-per-click (or PPC).

Meta Description

Examples of Meta Description

We’re not sure where this rumor began, but there are some that believe if you are running a Google Ads campaign, your organic results will improve.

This is not the case. You will get stronger results overall due to an increased web presence, but you cannot pay Google to improve your SEO.

2. Google Penalizes Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is when two or more sites have the same content. This can include words, images, or design.

Google is not a fan of duplicate content. They have made comment after comment on Twitter and other forums about how, if you can help it, you should avoid duplicate content.

However, there are parts to your website that you cannot help but duplicate . Are you a Toyota dealer? Well, guess what? You have the same Military Specials as every other Toyota dealer across the country.

Do you sell cars? Then you probably have a page on your website about those cars and it’s features.

But here’s the kicker: other companies sell cars too. Sometimes even the same cars as you!

Sarcasm aside, if you could get penalized for duplicate content, then almost all of the automotive industry would be penalized. Luckily for us, Google doesn’t do this.

Their official stance is if there are two pages with the same content, they will only show one of those pages. Just follow their advice on this page and you’ll do just fine.

3. Meta Descriptions Help You Rank Better

Meta descriptions are the text under the header (or meta title) on Google’s search engine results page (or SERP). Their primary role is to describe the page to help attract searchers to click on it.

Meta Description

Examples of Meta Description

Back in the wild west days of the web, search engine marketers would fill them with phrases to take advantage of search engines looking to rank pages on those phrases. This is called keyword stuffing.

The common misconception is this practice still works. We’d hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it does not. Meta descriptions (and meta keywords, for that matter) fell victim to abuse and have been deactivated as a major ranking factor.

Nowadays, Google has stated that it still wants marketers to use the meta description as a way to improve your click-through-rate (or CTR) rather than another area to write incredibly long-winded and robotic sounding keyword phrases.

4. Ranking is the Only Thing That Matters

SEOs refer to ranking as your placement on the SERP for relevant queries. If you type your store’s name into Google, you’d almost certainly be in the top spot. That means you rank first for that query.

When you hire an SEO company, they will almost certainly mention how they rank better than everyone else for keywords that you couldn’t dream on ranking. It’s a major selling point for a lot of companies.

But what if we told you that it wasn’t the end all be all? Or that most of the time, it doesn’t matter as much as other companies claim it to be?

Let’s pause for a moment and state that ranking is very important. You cannot just stop caring about ranking and hope to do well.

But ranking is not more important than generating leads. You need to be able to get back your ROI for your effort,  and as great as ranking is, you can’t sell a car purely by ranking high.

Ranking one spot higher for very specific, targeted keywords that produce sales is more important than ranking #1 on a keyword that has nothing to do with selling cars.

So be sure to check with your SEO team when they start lauding how well you’re ranking. There’s a chance it might not be for anything that is going to help you.

5. SEO is Set It and Forget It

One of the most common questions we receive about SEO regards its longevity. “Once you optimize our site”, some ask, “what else is there to do?”

Quite a lot, actually.

Fixing core website issues and optimizing are only the beginning of a well thought out SEO strategy. You still have to produce content to support your core pages, update content, work on generating backlinks for that content, and so much more.

Generally, a good SEO strategy will employ a “Fix It -> Enhance It -> Expand It” philosophy. The last step has no end; you will never have the “perfect” site. So if you’re serious about improving your SEO results, buckle up and be ready for the long haul.

 

We hope this article served you well! If you’d like to know more about SEO services, check out our sister company FZA Digital to find out how we can help your website today.

 

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.

 

Google Analytics is a beast. Within it, you can access all the data about your website that you could ever need. Unfortunately, since it is so jam-packed with great data, it can be hard to even know where to begin. I consistently meet with car dealers who aren’t sure what reports they should be looking at and what data they should be gleaned from those reports. Today I will walk you through two reports that everyone should be looking at, from first-time analytics users to the most advanced.

I’ll also give you a few data points to watch on each report, along with some standard goals to aim for! Just these two reports give you an excellent starting point to understanding what is happening on your website. 

These two reports provide valuable information about the behavior of your site visitors and what channels are driving good and bad behavior. When you can identify this, it is easier to fix what is wrong and boost what is right.

 

The two reports are Audience Overview and Channels. 

 

  1. Audience Overview Report

 

When you first log in to Google Analytics, it might seem confusing. My advice for beginners? Ignore the home page (it aggregates data from a variety of reports and isn’t a bad thing to look at, but today we are looking at some specific reports to get specific data). Look at the left-hand side of the menu. One of the options you will see is customers who are currently on your website. This is real-time data on what customers are doing at that moment. However, it is such a small sample set that you should ignore that as well. The larger the data set, the more you can learn from it, and the 10 people that are on your site at this exact moment is a tiny data set. Instead, skip down to “Audience” then to “Overview.”  

This will show your audience (user) activity for the entire site during a given date range. I suggest setting the date range to 1 month (top right). As covered in my last blog (LINK), you want to look at data sets of a minimum of two weeks. Generally speaking, a month of data should be enough for you to make educated decisions. Here are the specific data points I suggest you look at on this report:

 

a) Users

This tells you the number of devices that were on your site during the given date range. This gives you a general idea as to how many people were on your site during the given date range, but keep in mind that a single user could come to your website from multiple devices, and each would be counted as a user. Regardless, this is the most accurate data you have today in analytics as far as the number of users. So, the question is, how many users should you be getting? Roughly 10% of a market is shopping for a car at any given time, but it is entirely unrealistic to think that you will capture that entire market. It is much more reasonable to shoot for somewhere between 1%-3% of your PMA’s population on your site monthly. The goal you set should be realistic. Consider what percentage market share your store owns in your market and set your goal, but 1%-3% of your PMA population is a solid number to set as a goal.

 

b) Sessions & Sessions per User

Next, take a look at sessions. This is how many times your users came to your site during the selected date range. Now look at number of sessions per user. Let’s say your website has 10,000 users, with a combined total of 20,000 sessions. That averages 2 sessions per user. This tells you how many times, on average, your users came to your site during the selected date range. You want sessions per user to be as high as possible because it means people are returning to your site. It’s difficult to set an optimum goal for this metric, but you really want to shoot for anything above 1. Again, the higher, the better, but some of the top sites I see range from 1.5-2.0.  

 

c) Pageviews & Pages/Session

The next metric to look at is pageviews. This tells you how many total pages our users viewed onsite during the selected date range. Now, look at pages/session. This tells you how many pages your users looked at during an average session in the given date range. This is another metric that should to be as high as possible. The more pages your users are looking at, the better. A reasonable goal for this metric is 4 pages/session and above. In general, this means that a user has been to your homepage, SRP, and a couple of VDP’s.

 

d) Average Session Duration

The average session duration shows how long visitors stay on your website. The longer they are on your website, the more engaging it is to them and, most likely, the lower in the buying funnel they are. You should aim for a 4-5-minute time-on-site for average session duration. If this number is too small, visitors are coming to your website and finding irrelevant information or are not able to find what they want.

 

e) Bounce Rate

Bounce Rate is the final statistic you should look at on your Audience Overview Report. Bounce rate is the percentage of your website traffic that visits, then leaves, without engaging with your site in any way. We should be shooting for a goal of 35%-40% in this category. You may say, well, that seems high, and you want it to be lower. Just keep in mind that bounce rate is natural and will always happen. In fact, sometimes, it makes sense. Perhaps someone googled an event you were hosting at your dealership and clicked through to a page specifically about that event. It would make sense for them to then leave the site without engaging in any way. They got the information that they came for, and then they left. You also don’t want this number to be too low. Anything around 10% is too low and could indicate a setup problem in Google Analytics or Tag Manager.   

The Audience Overview Report gives you an excellent basic overview of website performance and goals you should set, as seen in the example below:

When you look at the numbers, you will probably find your dealership is not hitting every one of them. So, in addition to the Audience Overview Report, you need to know what is driving the numbers, both good and bad. For that, you need the Channels Report.

 

 

2) Channels Report

 

Scroll down on the left side menu and click on “Acquisition,” “All Traffic,” and then “Channels.” This report is where you will identify which channels (i.e., PPC, social media, organic search) are meeting the goals that you have set, and which are falling short.  Here is an example of the Channel Report:

This report breaks down traffic by referrer, which is just where did my traffic come from? Across the top of the report you will see the metrics that you looked at in the audience overview report. This report is the exact same report that you just looked at, except broken down by channel. The channels are lifted down the left-hand side of the report.

The goals that you set for the audience overview report still apply for the most part. I would advise speaking with your provider if you see any channels where you are not meeting the goals that you have set and discuss why they feel you aren’t at the goal you have set. Remember, certain channels will have very different results than others. For example, PPC tends to have a slightly higher bounce rate than most other channels, and display often has bounce rates as high as 90%. Because of this variation, the goals set above are a great guiding line. Still, you will need to discuss with your provider, or someone very familiar with automotive web traffic behavior to determine if there is a cause for concern in a given channel.

The final thing to note in this report is the goal completion metric. This is a metric that is not on the audience overview report. Ask your website provider to track form fills for this metric. You will then be able to see which specific channels are driving most of your website leads! You can actually track almost anything as a goal, but this is a pretty standard one for automotive websites and is a great way to help see what value your various advertising campaigns are delivering.

In summary, while Google Analytics provides a treasure trove of information that you can use, these two reports and key metrics can help you discover how to quickly and easily improve your website performance without being a digital marketing genius.  If you can isolate what is performing well, you can up your spend in that area and further improve results. And, if you can also identify underperforming channels, you can improve their performance or significantly reduce or eliminate spends on those channels.  I have been using Google Analytics for years, and these are still the first two things I look at on any site I advise on and are great reports for Google Analytics beginners and experts alike.