Auto Remarketing recently posted an article on a study by CarGurus and what consumers are looking for in an appealing automotive dealership. The study found that “poor communication and deceptive business practices were the dominant themes in the negative reviews,” and this should come as no surprise. While the top themes for customer complaints mentioned lack of communication and wasting time, it really all comes down to bad customer service.

Well into the Summer months now, dealerships across the country are excited by the buzz and sales warm weather brings, but the time of year and potential for the Summer rush is not enough to sell cars. Good customer service is what keeps a potential customer interested enough to buy, and loyal enough to come back.

CarGurus also found that what consumers want in a dealership and enjoy most about the dealerships they love isn’t just fast forthright responses and friendly faces, but also a clean and organized dealership inside and out, and of course, fair prices.

For many consumers, however, the buying process begins online before they even step foot in the dealership. Dealer websites are no longer static sources of advertising with listed inventory, as explained by a Dealer Marketing Magazine article, “Is Your Website Ready for the Summer Selling Season?” Now dealer websites are about interaction. They need to be a resource for consumer research during their buying process, and have live chat to accommodate buyers looking for immediate answers or looking to complete the sales process entirely online.

Also, don’t forget about reputation management and dealer reviews, found extensively across the web. To combat the negative effects of possible poor reviews online, encourage loyal customers to give reviews after a positive buying experience, so that future customers can read for themselves why your dealership fulfills what they are looking for.

Langley Steinert, founder and chief executive officer of CarGurus said:

“In this age of online information transparency, reputation matters more than ever. The dealers that have embraced this new online paradigm are winning customers.”

Ford CEO Alan Mulally

Memorial Day approached with a warning of less consumer travel due to gas prices, and therefore less holiday spending across industries. 4th of July weekend was no exception to this holiday trend. While some are still worrying that summer automotive sales are declining, the season is far from lost according to Rhonda Wilson, Vice President and General Manager of AAA Texas.

“High gas prices this spring have started to impact travel, but the good news for consumers is that gas prices are continuing to drop and more vacation bargains are being offered this summer because travel providers have available space they need to fill.”

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Moreover, a recent article from the International Business Times went out of its way to call out Ford Motor Company as the one business truly embodying what freedom and the American way of life is about. Times are still tough for many industries recovering from economic troubles, especially for the automotive industry that has dealt with setback after setback, but ever since 2006 when Alan Mulally was hired as CEO of Ford, the automotive giant has made an impressive turnaround that many thought impossible.

David Magee, author of the International Business Times article, “How Alan Mulally Saved Ford,” came to the following conclusion that can be an inspiration to all as we head off from this most recent Independence Day toward the rest of the summer and 2011:

“Focusing on key elements required for turning around a company including cost-cutting, product design, lean operations, and one synergistic vision, Mulally shed distractions like Volvo and Jaguar, and preached the passion of One Ford to everybody who would listen. Those inside the company that didn’t listen found themselves another job.

For, despite Mulally’s affability, it was one way or the highway.

Many believed, however, and they are now getting the job done for all to see and experience. Ford did not file bankruptcy, and the company did not take government bailout assistance. Ford Motor Company did it the old-fashioned way – the American way. By leveraging the company’s future and working hard to get the job done, Ford gets the Freedom Award this Fourth of July holiday, representing lessons we can all learn and take into the future.”

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Photo By: Jessica Renaldi / Reuters-Corbis

Internet Marketing, Media, and Ads

Agencies are spending more on online media every day, as well as on internet marketing and advertizing. A recent Mashable infographic shows this progression very effectively and shines further insight on how agencies are allocating their online media budgets.

Digital agencies are finally being considered as worthy of budgeted spending as their traditional media counterparts, and just in time as digital is poised to take the lead.

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Purchase Behavior is Key

J.D. Power and Associates published a white paper in April about “The Death of Demographics: Why Targeting by Purchase Behavior is Most Effective in Automotive Marketing.” This comes as no surprise to those within the digital marketing field, because the onset of so much new technology has shifted the way marketing power is focused.

Looking at demographics such as gender, age, and income are no longer enough for informing on the best marketing and advertizing practices. We need data on the consumer lifecycle. We need to be able to look at and measure the consumer’s buying behavior to predict how and when they are going to buy in the future.

“Demographics, more so than many other tools, has proven to be a much less effective tool in the automotive space, particularly with regard to new-vehicle buyers. The most popular models overall are typically the most popular regardless of the particular demographic.”

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Seasoned Software & Technology Executive Scheig to Lead Outsell’s Sales & Marketing Team

Minneapolis, MN, June 14, 2011 – www.outsell.com – Outsell, a leading digital marketing software and services provider, announced today that Software & Technology Executive Richard Scheig has joined the Outsell team as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Scheig is a seasoned sales & marketing executive with over 20 years of experience in the fields of technology and enterprise software.

Scheig is a pioneer in the field of digital marketing software and services. He has a strong track record of leading world-class technology sales teams in the software industry with both public and small/entrepreneurial companies and cultivating strong relationships with senior executive leadership with some of the world’s largest organizations. Prior to Outsell, Scheig was a Vice President at Unica, and a key player when it was acquired by IBM (NYSE:IBM). Scheig was responsible for revenue generating activities, including the development of selling and field marketing strategies in some of largest and most strategic company wins including Cisco, Wal-Mart, Hilton, Schwab, Visa and Best Buy.

Scheig has a unique perspective in an evolving market in the area of digital marketing software and services, having worked with major brands and strategic alliances to drive marketing automation and analytics to drive sales. He will help Outsell to strategically align with major brands, providing them with a simple to use, distributed software platform that will extend their brand message all the way through to franchisees and distributors.

“We are very excited to have Richard on board with us at Outsell,” said Outsell CEO Mike Wethington. “Given his experience and record of success, he is the perfect person to take the company to the next level by building new strategic alliances and positioning our sales and marketing departments to achieve the key strategic goals of the company.”

“The Digital Engagement Platform that Outsell has brought to the market comes at precisely the right time in this space,” commented Scheig. “The industry is crying out for a coherent and interconnected digital marketing solution that effectively leverages consumer data and ties it to digital communication channels. I’m excited to be part of an organization that is able to answer the complex needs of the distributed sellers and marketers in this industry in a really simple and easy to use way, empowering those who are closest to the customer.”

About Outsell LLC

Outsell (www.outsell.com)is revolutionizing the way consumers engage with brands. The Outsell Digital Engagement Platform makes it easy to manage consumer relationships more profitably.

What Makes A Good Facebook Fan Page?

The Audi USA Facebook fan page has been called one of the best on the web. A recent study found their fans to be even more engaged than that of world famous teenage heartthrob and pop star Justin Bieber.

Among pages with more than 100,000 fans, Audi had the highest number of “Likes” for any given status update. Usually, brands that have a higher number of fans have lower engagement on what they post from day to day. Some think their high scores could be the result of recent Like-gating, when people have to “Like” the brand in order to participate in special offers, but that only accounts for overall fans, not “Likes” on individual posts.

While Audi was not listed among the 35 Creative Facebook Fan Page Photo Strips from Social Fresh, many other automotive brands were, with very similar looks and feels to the Audi page. Among those listed were GMC, Buick, and Lexus.

So what makes those pages successful? What makes them visually appealing and ripe for consumer engagement?

Simple steps like having a clever and eye-catching photo strip (the line of five photos across the top of the Wall page) can help intrigue potential fans, and keep current fans interested in updates. Most fan pages start on the Wall page, so the photo strip is the first thing a browser sees when they click your page. Other successful Facebook pages differentiate themselves by having a Welcome page instead of going straight to the Wall.

Using Audi as the example, one thing they do right is content. They supply Livestream video, product information, and even an interactive app looking at stories of the Audi Quattro from real customers. This allows for them as a brand to interact with customers almost as personally as a dealer does.

Another tactic for maintaining a great Facebook fan page is to make use of the Discussion app. Get your customers talking about you. Get them talking with each other. What does Audi and other popular automotive industry Facebook fan pages have in common? Their usage of unique apps, as well as creative use of the apps Facebook offers naturally, like a regularly updated Wall with status updates customers are compelled to “Like”.

This can be done with interesting news as well as offers, so keep your posts fresh. At the end of the day the reason for Facebook fan page success is the same no matter the tactic you choose.

Engagement.

May 27, 2011

Memorial Day Sales

Summer Begins!

Many consumers that did not take advantage of end of the year sales have been waiting to purchase that new or used vehicle Memorial Day. The holiday is one of the most popular weekends for potential car buyers, expecting to come across deal-breaking specials and incentives.

Memorial Day is also important for gauging the state of the economy, as it marks the unofficial start of summer and begins a shift in priorities and activities in American day to day life.

Sellers of new and used vehicles have always thrown plenty of promotional muscle behind their Memorial Day sales. This year, however, the stakes are higher. “While many motorists will be hitting the road on vacation, this Memorial Day weekend, it’s also a great time to buy a new car,” according to Consumer Reports. “There are a number of discounts available, and dealers may be more willing to negotiate since it’s also the end of the month and they want to meet their quotas. ” J.D. Power expects nearly 13 million vehicles to be sold in the U.S. in 2011, up 7% from 2010.

Read more: Six Reasons The American Economy Needs Memorial Day – 24/7 Wall St.

May was the first month of 2011 when automotive sales started to lose momentum. Fewer incentives and vehicle availability have been a factor. Most hope sales will take an upward turn again with the holiday, but there is some speculation that rising gas prices might deter some buyers, especially over this high-volume travel weekend.

Make sure your specials are well-promoted and dynamic to bring in Memorial Day customers, and good luck with your holiday sales!

AutoNation First Quarter Revenue Up 17%

Congratulations to AutoNation and the announcement of their successful Q1 results. AutoNation is America’s largest automotive retailer for new and used vehicles and reported a record net income for their first quarter of 2011. New vehicle unit sales increased 23% overall.

While this is exciting news for AutoNation it is also good news for the automotive industry at large, as those results are reportedly in line with others across the nation. Despite harsh economic times, the crisis in Japan, and continuously rising gas prices, sales and revenue are seeing a huge increase over last year.

Mike Jackson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for AutoNation, said:

“While the underlying recovery in consumer demand for autos remains on track in the United States, due to Japanese supply constraints throughout the remainder of 2011, we are revising our planning assumption for 2011 full-year U.S. industry new vehicle sales downward from 12.8 million units to mid-12 million units. Based on current information, we see significant reductions in vehicle shipments from Japanese manufacturers through year-end, with the resumption of normal shipment levels in early 2012.”

Mr. Jackson added:

“Our diversified business model is resilient and adaptable. We are confident we can manage through the challenges presented by Japanese product constraints. We also continue to be optimistic about the long-term recovery for the U.S. auto market.”

Read the full article from PR Newswire here.

Congratulations again to AutoNation and good luck heading further into Q2 and the remainder of 2011.

Outsell Announces Strong Results & New Platform Functionality

Minneapolis, MN, April 28, 2011 – www.outsell.com – Outsell, one of the leading digital marketing software and services providers, announced today impressive revenue results and new initiatives targeted at continued rapid growth. Outsell revenues for Q1 2011 was up 63% over Q1 2010.

“Outsell’s SaaS Marketing Platform is proving to be a disruptive innovation in the digital marketing space,” said Outsell CEO Mike Wethington. “We’ve managed to create a highly effective, easy to use solution that provides personalized, interlinked messaging across all the digital channels, while keeping installation and usage costs low. We are continuing to invest heavily into resources for the future growth of the platform.”

In major highlights for Q1, 2011:

— Outsell continued to roll out customized, white-labeled versions of the Digital Engagement Platform to dealers from 3 of the major manufacturers operating in the US. Currently the Outsell Platform is only available via exclusive agreement with select manufacturers and advertising agencies. More information is available here.

— Outsell released additional functionality within the Digital Engagement Platform, including a Mobile QR code campaign that allows users to scan imprinted QR codes (which are generally affixed to products or placed within ads) with their smart-phone in order to receive additional information and discounts for a vehicle or product directly to their mobile device. The first campaign using Mobile QR code technology was executed for a new vehicle model launch. Outsell also continued to roll out the Mobile Service Club TM campaign that enables retailers to interact with opt-in users via text message. Notably, Outsell executed a Mobile SMS based campaign for a major manufacturer for the Chicago Auto Show.

— Outsell’s Campaign Operations sent 30.5 million messages to automotive consumers in the first quarter of 2011, communicating with over 10 million American consumers every month. The Outsell Live Chat service handled over 60 thousand consumer chats in the same period, consistently maintaining a lead capture rate in excess of 50%.

— Outsell hired Susan Sperl as the Vice President of Operations. Susan has a depth of experience in directing product and service development, product management, P&L and process optimization of customer services for SaaS-based, packaged and custom informatics solutions and products. She is responsible for Outsell’s strategic account management, campaign operations, dealer services, Live Chat and program management. Prior to Outsell, Susan held senior leadership roles at FICO (formerly Fair Isaac) and Accenture. Click Here to learn more.

About Outsell LLC

Outsell (www.outsell.com)is revolutionizing the way consumers engage with brands. The Outsell Digital Engagement Platform executes intelligent, data-driven digital marketing campaigns that change consumer perceptions, drive measurable sales and deliver more profit per marketing dollar spent

Outsell The Intelligent Marketing Company TM

Technology, Software & Services Management Executive Sperl Enhances Outsell’s Operational Excellence

Minneapolis, MN, April 21, 2011 – www.outsell.com – Outsell, a leading digital marketing provider, announced today that software and product management executive Susan Sperl has joined the Outsell team as Vice President of Operations. Susan has a depth of experience in directing product and service development, product management, P&L and process optimization of customer services for SaaS-based, packaged and custom informatics solutions and products.

Sperl’s over two decades of considerable experience and professional expertise are complementing her new role at Outsell. Susan held senior leadership roles at FICO (formerly Fair Isaac) and Accenture. As a Vice President at FICO, Susan managed a $45 million product portfolio and P&L, developing and executing market strategies and targeting new market segments. As an Associate Partner at Accenture, she managed the utilization of large teams of consultants working on large scale strategic initiatives, programs and projects for clients across a wide variety of industries.

“Bringing Susan on board positions Outsell to expand its value-added services in our account management, campaign operations, Live Chat, and program management departments,” said Outsell CEO Mike Wethington. “Susan’s exceptional work at FICO and Accenture has already paid dividends by augmenting Outsell’s core operations. She joined our team already firmly established at the cutting edge of her professional niche, and her addition to the Outsell team will continue to yield dramatic results for our clients through her experience in market leading informatics and analytic solutions and products.”

As Vice President of Operations, Susan’s day-to-day responsibilities at Outsell include strategic account management, campaign operations, automotive dealer services, Live Chat, and program management.

“The challenging position and dynamic work environment at Outsell, as well as the innovative spirit I’ve already seen at work here has confirmed that I’ve come to work for the right company,” commented Sperl. “I enjoy a challenge, particularly in addressing issues that come from high growth and which relate to sustaining growth. I’m thrilled to work at such an industry-leading and forward-looking company.”

About Outsell LLC

Outsell (www.outsell.com) is revolutionizing the way consumers engage with brands. The Outsell Digital Engagement Platform executes intelligent, data-driven digital marketing campaigns that change consumer perceptions, drive measurable sales and deliver more profit per marketing dollar spent.

Outsell The Intelligent Marketing Company TM