Social/Digital Media

New app could save dealers trips to tower when haggling

SANTA MONICA, Calif. - 

Dealerships know how the haggling process often unfolds; one that sometimes irks potential buyers who are sitting at the desk while the salesperson scurries to the GM tower and back.

Well, a car buying and negotiation platform is turning to mobile technology that's trying to smooth the process; perhaps saving some literal steps for store personnel.

On Wednesday, CarBlip announced the launch of its mobile app in the Southern California market. The app is a direct-to-dealer, communication-based platform that can integrate live inventory and a Swipe to Submit feature, allowing users to shop and negotiate the price of a new vehicle directly from their mobile device before visiting a physical dealership.

CarBlip, who has been backed by Science Inc., the Santa Monica, Calif.-based incubator and investment firm, was founded by a multi-generational team of industry veterans and digital natives alongside a network of strategic alliance partners.

Through proprietary technology, CarBlip is dedicated to reinventing the purchase process with a seamless and expedited vehicle buying experience. By starting the negotiation process online, CarBlip thinks consumers will be able to significantly cut their overall time at the dealership.

“There is an evolution happening within the automotive industry's digital retail space. Consumers demand more control of the car buying process and CarBlip is providing this service by allowing consumers to start the negotiation process anywhere, anytime,” said Brian Johnson, CarBlip’s co-founder and chief executive officer.

“CarBlip is focused on bringing a better car buying experience to consumers and increased sales to dealers. Our dealer partners gain additional access to car buyers, especially the digitally-focused millennials,” Johnson continued.

Currently available for iOS only, the CarBlip app is available for download nationwide and exclusive to Southern California car buyers with plans underway to quickly expand nationwide.

“Today, the car buying experience involves a time-consuming negotiation process that’s exhausting for both the buyer and the seller," said Mike Jones, co-founder and CEO of Science Inc. “CarBlip’s new platform transforms that experience so that it's easy for buyers to shop, decide, and drive off in their new car, which gives dealers more time to see more buyers.

“We’re thrilled to be working closely with the team and are eager to see how they change the automotive landscape,” Jones went on to say.

Interested dealers can find more information about CarBlip by visiting . And the app .


Cars.com offers new social targeting tool, integrates AI chat solution for customers

CHICAGO - 

As dealers, vendors and more gathered for NADA 2018 in Las Vegas, Cars.com launched its new social targeting product, as well as announced it will make available to its customers Conversations — an AI chat solution.

Conversations is the first integrated Dealer Inspire product announcement since Cars.com purchased Dealer Inspire and Launch Digital Marketing for $165 million in February. 

Cars Social, designed to attract more leads through Facebook and Instagram, leverages Cars.com audience data and targets consumers on social media who previously researched inventory or expressed interest in similar vehicles in the market, the company explained.

Targeted social media users will see a social ad with inventory imagery from local retailers that fits their search and shopping preferences. Then those ads will redirect shoppers to their corresponding VDP pages on Cars.com. Further, a team of social media account managers will be available to dealers to “optimize campaigns and set up data s.”

“We know millions of people across the country, including Cars.com shoppers, spend a significant amount of time on social platforms, and a smart use of social media advertising moves shoppers through the sales funnel,” said Alex Vetter, president and chief executive officer at Cars.com. “We want to help dealers extend their reach and connect with these buyers wherever they shop.”

Further, Dealer Inspire product Conversations is described as a managed chat solution built with artificial intelligence and “synced with a dealership’s inventory”.

The Conversations platform was developed by Dealer Inspire, and will now be integrated with Cars.com through a Conversations Starter package.

All new chats will be answered by an AI chatbot named “Ana,” which can greet customers, answer frequently asked questions and schedule appointments. If she doesn’t know how to answer a question, she will transfer the customer to the dealerhship’s team or Dealer Inspire’s Managed Chat Call Center to expand on the response and capture the customer’s information for the dealer.

“AI is the next frontier in automotive,” said Vetter. “Cars.com intends to lead the industry by applying AI to create a smarter car shopping and selling experience for consumers and dealers. Conversations is the first AI chatbot that integrates seamlessly into a third-party site and a dealer website so that dealers can connect with consumers whenever and wherever they are shopping.”

PERQ study highlights how much research buyers are doing on dealer websites

INDIANAPOLIS - 

Perhaps not every potential buyer who arrives at your dealership — or, more specifically, your store website — knows exactly what vehicle they want along with all of its attributes from the amount of horsepower to placement of cup holders and power outlets.

New data from thousands of consumer profiles studied by PERQ — experts in online consumer engagement and behavior — uncovered further evidence that the majority of visitors to dealership websites are hot new prospects who need to be guided into conversion.

The research also offered key insights into the features consumers value as they make their vehicle purchase decisions.

PERQ highlighted that its new study, Car Buyer Insights Report 2018, defies the conventional wisdom that most dealership website visitors are existing customers. The reality? They are not as 74 percent are brand new and 68 percent are still looking for information to educate them about the purchase, representing prime opportunities for conversion.

But according to the data, while 77 percent are at the beginning or middle of their purchasing process, they want to transact sooner rather than later, so an efficient, engaging website experience that guides them down the purchase funnel is critical.

“We are constantly monitoring consumer website behavior and the data continues to confirm how important it is that dealerships approach their website as fertile ground for new sales, rather than as a static receptacle for returning customers,” said Andy Medley, chief executive officer and co-founder of PERQ.

“The data shows that most website visitors are new to the dealership, not ready-to-buy, and expect to be in control of their shopping experience as they narrow down their choices,” Medley continued.

Here is another example of trends highlighted in the study:

Besides safety, what else is important to you when buying a vehicle?

— Interior space: 36 percent
— Performance: 31 percent
— Fuel economy: 28 percent
— Technology: 6 percent

PERQ’s takeaway: “Your website should be responsive to how a visitor engages with interactive experiences on your website. If they’re looking for more interior space and the assessment gives them a result of mini-vans, they should have the option to immediately go to the mini-van VDP or retake the assessment even if they’re not happy with the results.”

PERQ went on to mention its research also offers key insights on consumer preferences that can help dealership websites better interact with these visitors, such as data on the number of vehicle they want to test drive (nearly a third want to test drive more than one), and what they are looking for in a drivetrain — an astonishing 59 percent said four-wheel or all-wheel drive is a priority.

“It’s critical for dealerships to expect their website to act as one of their best sales team members,” Medley said. “If they don’t, they are missing a massive opportunity, and letting all those dollars spent driving traffic turn into vapor.”

The PERQ research results .

Fiserv consumer survey highlights how digital experiences factor in financing decisions

BROOKFIELD, Wisc. - 

The connection of finance and technology is getting even stronger, especially for younger consumers.

The latest "Expectations & Experiences" consumer trends survey from Fiserv finds that digital experiences are influencing how people manage and make decisions about borrowing and investing. The survey indicated four of the top five loan payment methods are now electronic, and 21 percent of millennial investors use a robo-adviser service to make investments.

The survey also highlighted that smartphones are making a significant impact on lending and investment-related financial decisions, especially among millennials. Nearly half of millennials (48 percent) report they would be comfortable using their smartphone to research loan options, compared to 19 percent of older generations.

“For most people, borrowing and investing money are careful decisions that require research, advice and trust in the provider,” said Byron Vielehr, president of depository institution services at Fiserv.

“Digital experiences are now an integral, and maturing, part of their consideration and management process,” Vielehr continued. “Importantly, these results underscore the need for providers to continually evolve and develop engaging experiences that help people make informed decisions to reach their goals, whether it’s borrowing for the perfect home or investing for retirement.”

And perhaps a vehicle purchase, too.

While most consumers are comfortable researching and completing loan activities online, the study showed the key factors for choice of a lender relate to cost and consumer experience.

Topping the list of selection factors among those with at least one loan are interest rates (83 percent) and low fees/service charges (83 percent), followed by customer service (75 percent), company reputation (70 percent) and knowledge of staff (65 percent).

Fiserv mentioned 65 percent of consumers say prior experience with a lender is important.

The study went on to say many consumers expressed willingness to try new ways of interacting with their lender, if there’s a benefit.

For instance, if it makes the loan process faster, more than half of consumers would be willing to use a mobile device to e-sign loan documents (56 percent), take and upload photos of loan documents (54 percent) and verify their identity with a photo (51 percent).

Another 42 percent of consumers indicate they would be willing to provide access to their financial information by providing their credentials to other online banking applications, up from 32 percent in 2016.

Digital channels, especially mobile, are now leading ways of communicating with a lender, although context matters based on the interaction.

Fiserv’s study showed a lender’s mobile app is the preferred way to check when a next loan payment is due (21 percent), check the balance term (20 percent) and request a payoff (17 percent), among consumers who have conducted each of these activities in the past six months.

For account questions, consumers significantly favor speaking live with a representative via phone (21 percent) over using an automated voice response system (12 percent), e-chat (11 percent) or the mobile app (11 percent).

The Fiserv endeavor noted that human interactions remain an important part of financial advice, especially for the 34 percent of consumers with at least $100,000 in household investable assets.

Study orchestrators noted that 58 percent of these affluent consumers work with a financial adviser. Among those without an adviser, only 11 percent report high interest (8-10 on a scale of 0-10) in using one.

At the same time, 32 percent of affluent consumers who invest their own money grade their knowledge and expertise as a “C” or lower, suggesting an opportunity to bridge the gap with a hybrid of human and digital advice.

Among all consumers who invest on their own, only 8 percent use a robo-adviser service. However, use of such a service is much more likely among millennials (21 percent) and urban consumers (18 percent).

The survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll June 13-29, 2017. A total of 3,095 interviews were conducted among U.S. adults ages 18 and older who met the following criteria: Someone in the household currently has a checking account with a bank, credit union, brokerage firm or other financial organization and has used their checking account to pay a bill or make a purchase in the past 30 days.

One of the longest running surveys of its kind, Fiserv insisted its Expectations & Experiences project builds on years of consumer survey data to provide insight into consumer financial behaviors and attitudes.

A paper with details from "Expectations & Experiences: Borrowing & Wealth Management" .

US Bank chooses AutoGravity to enhance mobile offering

MINNEAPOLIS - 

U.S. Bank is now is leveraging the same technology from AutoGravity being deployed by an array of captives.

U.S. Bank recently launched a digital offering on its website that allows consumers to shop for a new vehicle and get pre-approved for financing, all before actually stepping foot in a dealership.

U.S. Bank’s digital financing platform is currently available via the U.S. Bank website for those individuals looking to buy a new vehicle through dealerships served by U.S. Bank. It will expand to the bank’s mobile app and be available to used-vehicle buyers and co-applicants in the coming months.

Working with AutoGravity, U.S Bank created a new platform on USBank.com that can provide a simplified, streamlined loan application process for users that typically takes just minutes to receive an approval decision.

Potential buyers using the new U.S. Bank tool simply:

1. Pick their car and select a dealership online.

2. Apply for a pre-approval for U.S. Bank auto financing online.

3. Close the vehicle installment contract at the dealership, and drive off in their new car.

“We want our customers — both car buyers and dealerships — to have the best, most seamless experience possible,” said John Hyatt, executive vice president of consumer dealer services for U.S. Bank. “This technology helps us get the buyer in the driver’s seat sooner and brings pre-approved customers to the dealership.”

Besides saving consumers time, the new technology improves customers’ overall car-buying experience by providing them with pre-approved loan terms going into the dealership.

“Together, AutoGravity and U.S. Bank have taken the first step on a journey to revolutionize the digital car-buying experience, empowering U.S. Bank’s customers to finance their next car in minutes, anytime and anywhere they want,” said Andy Hinrichs, founder and chief executive officer of AutoGravity.

Former Ally employee forms online startup to connect dealers and buyers

SEATTLE - 

As the industry continues to fill with new operations looking to streamline vehicle delivery through online technology, an entrepreneur who spent 14 years with Ally Financial is rolling out a platform to connect buyers and dealers where the founder claims a testimonial declares: “Just try it. I promise you will be blown away.”

Joydrive, which is based in Seattle and North Carolina’s Research Triangle region, spent two years in beta mode, stress-testing the platform and delivering more than 250 transactions to customers from California to Montana.

Joydrive recently increased its available inventory from 500 to more than 3,000 and expects to be above 15,000 units within the next six months.

And Joydrive marked the launch of its first online marketplace for new and pre-owned vehicles with a commercial that aired in the Seattle market twice during Super Bowl LII this past Sunday.

“The Super Bowl is a major event, and Joydrive’s presence during the broadcast reflects what a major breakthrough our platform is for customers,” said founder Hunter Gorham, who previously was helping lead Ally’s national digital auto business.

Gorham explained that he became acutely aware of challenges in retail vehicle sales during his 14 years at Ally Financial. Leveraging relationships with some of the top-rated dealers in the country, Gorham left Ally to build what he insisted is an easier, digital-first solution for customers.

“The data clearly show that customers want a different purchasing model — less than 1 percent prefer the current car buying process,” Gorham said. “But the highly fragmented nature of the industry has precluded any solution to date working across dealers.”

Gorham explained that Joydrive works in three steps:

1. Buy online: The entire process can be completed online, from vehicle selection to delivery. After securing a vehicle with a $500 fully refundable deposit, a user-friendly dashboard shows all details of the transaction including trade-in, vehicle service contracts, financing options and delivery scheduling.

Of Joydrive’s 250 transactions in beta mode, 40 percent included a trade-in and 60 percent included financing.

2. Home delivery: Communicating through the dashboard, customers coordinate the vehicle delivery date and time with their licensed dealer representatives. Joydrive has delivered vehicles from California to Montana with an average distance of 135 miles.

Because vehicles are located on dealer lots, delivery can occur as fast as one day.

3. Five-day return period: Buying a vehicle can be the largest transaction customers make, so Joydrive and their dealer members offer a five-day return period or up to 250 miles to ensure customers love their purchase. Customers can drive the car how they will actually use it.

To date, less than 3 percent of Joydrive’s transactions have been returned.

And Joydrive decided to leverage one of the most-watched TV events of the year to promote itself near its base,

Joydrive chose the Seattle market for its Super Bowl debut because of the platform’s strong network of dealerships in the area, which includes a population of about 5.2 million people. This dealer network is key to Joydrive’s unique value proposition and positive customer experience.

Expansion plans include both surrounding states and regional targets such as Texas, Florida and the Carolinas.

The 30-second spot — or the window at the top of this page — describes with simple, colorful graphics the mobile-friendly platform designed to empower customers to complete their entire vehicle-buying process online, including trade-in, financing and home delivery in as fast as one day.

“Buying new cars is a nearly $600 billion industry in the U.S.,” Gorham said. “Yet until Joydrive, there was not a complete digital marketplace solution for customers, many of whom don’t like visiting dealers.”

More details can be found at .

Study: Brochures remain valuable to car shoppers, more than social media

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. - 

While roughly 90 percent of car shoppers find printed brochures helpful when in search of their next vehicle, far fewer dealers feel the same, according to a recent study.

The Latcha+Associates' study that focuses on the car-shopping journey and the impact of marketing content such as printed brochures, found that just 32 percent of high-volume dealers and only 14 percent of low-volume dealers find printed brochures to be either extremely impactful or very impactful on driver's purchase decision.

Meanwhile, 61 percent of shoppers found them to be “somewhat helpful,” and 29 percent said they are “very helpful.”

After websites at 86 percent and automotive magazines at 30 percent, brochures are a top shopper touchpoint; 28 percent of shoppers report using a printed brochure, and 23 percent downloaded a brochure, according to the study.

Interestingly, the study also shows that at 26 percent, social media currently trails printed brochure popularity among shoppers.

Across gender and generation breaks, printed brochure utility is highly consistent as well. In addition to 88 percent of men and 91 percent of women, 88 percent of millennials, 89 percent of Gen X’ers and 94 percent of Baby Boomers said they find printed brochures either “somewhat helpful” or “very helpful.”

While printed brochures were found to be as important to dealers, many find printed brochures customized with dealer information beneficial, about six-in-ten salespeople (59 percent) that have seen customized brochures find them to be “very valuable.”

Additionally, among shoppers who have not used a printed brochure in your shopping experience, most said they were not offered one, (44 percent), followed by doesn’t help me compare vehicles (35 percent), and not enough detail available (27 percent).

When asked about what they think are the most important elements of printed brochures to shoppers, the study found that dealers feel brochures with information accompanying vehicle feature options, colors and drivers POV photos to carry the greatest value.

The most important printed brochure elements according to dealers include:

  1. Features and options, 55 percent
  2. Color and trim, 15 percent
  3. Specifications and dimensions, 14 percent
  4. Model line-up, 6 percent
  5. Photos, 6 percent
  6. Fuel economy, 4 percent

Latcha+Associates conducted its study comprised of focus groups, mobile surveys, phone interviews and in-person interviews with market research firm GfK.

“GfK used its vast experience and knowledge of location-based, mobile shopper marketing research to gather timely, relevant information on the impact of marketing content within the automotive purchase journey,” GfK executive vice president of consulting, automotive Dale Drerup explained in a news release introducing the study. “Combining that with Latcha's unrivaled automotive knowledge, we produced an objective, top-quality study detailing the different roles and value of marketing content throughout the in-market auto shopper’s path to purchase.”

Facebook announces new mobile ad features for auto companies

MENLO PARK, Calif.  - 

Facebook announced this morning that the social media giant is launching new mobile ad features designed to help auto companies grow their customer base and reach new shoppers.

No doubt about it. Mobile devices have changed and continue to change how people shop for vehicles. In response, Facebook announced a new set of mobile features for its dynamic and lead ads for auto.

The dynamic ads allow manufacturers and dealers to upload their new and used vehicle inventory with details such as make, model and year.

“It then automatically generates ads that show the most compelling vehicles to the right audiences—driving them toward vehicle detail pages, lead submission forms or other valuable places,” Facebook explained.

Facebook has also enhanced its lead ads for auto, which work to simplify the process of discovering and capturing intent from Facebook users interested in dealership inventory. Lead ad viewers are sent to a form that is pre-populated with their relevant info, such as their email address. Interested shoppers can then submit directly through Facebook to obtain information from that dealership, including offers and quotes.

focusing on the new mobile features explored how in order to be successful in the auto industry today, you simply can’t afford to wait for customers to find you—you need to reach them. Facebook’s two new mobile ad features are supposed to help auto dealers do just this.

“The people coming into a dealership are just a small subset of your potential customer base—and that's why it's helpful to generate intent before they arrive to your location,” the blog post stated.

And more and more car shoppers are doing much of their research online — and making purchase decisions, as well, before even getting to your lot. 

Serving up what online shoppers want

That means ads need to serve up what these online shoppers want. Facebook’s dynamic ads are showing people vehicles tailored to them and their interests. The dynamic ads not only allow manufacturers and dealers to upload their vehicle catalog with relevant details such as make, model and year, but they also automatically generate ads that show the most compelling inventory to the right audiences. The ads then lead shoppers toward vehicle detail pages, lead submission forms and more.

“With a single integration, you can make sure that your most relevant vehicles are always being shown to potential auto buyers—allowing you to focus on closing the sale,” the Facebook blog post stated.

One of Facebook’s early testers for these ads is Edmunds. Madhura Sengupta, director of advertising product technology at Edmunds, had this to say:

“We’re excited to partner with Facebook on a new dynamic ad solution for the automotive industry that builds on Edmunds’ extensive shopper insights to create the most relevant, personalized and informative ad experience and helps drive shoppers to their perfect car,” Sengupta said. “We are seeing promising upstream results from our early testing, and are thrilled to continue to develop this offering for both our dealer and OEM partners.”

Cox Automotive is also testing the new dynamic ads, and the company’s director of product Adam Pavkov stated, “early results have proven the product to be an effective solution for driving key onsite shopping activity.

Reaching more potential customers

When shopping for vehicles online, if a customer is interested in a vehicle, they want to connect with the business as quickly and conveniently as possible. That's where lead ads come in. 

“Facebook lead ads have been enhanced to simplify the process of capturing intent from people who are interested in your vehicle offering,” the company shard.

How? By creating an in-app experience that makes it easy for potential customers to sign up for information from your dealership, including offers and quotes.

"Lead ads for auto make it easy for people to sign up for information from your dealership, such as offers and quotes,” Facebook shared. “People are sent to a form that is pre-populated with their relevant info, such as their email address. They simply confirm what information they want to share with you, and voila—you have a lead.”

 

 

 

Dealer interactions with car buyers drive highest sales satisfaction

COSTA MESA, Calif. - 

Despite an array of online resources available to car shoppers today, interactions with dealership sales staff just before purchasing leads to high sales satisfaction, says J.D. Power. 

As vehicle technology features become more advanced, shoppers largely depend on dealership experts to instruct them on how to use new technology, according to the latest U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index Study by J.D. Power.

Forty-one percent of mass market buyers and 33 percent of luxury buyers want to hear about all of their vehicle's features and controls during the delivery process.

Additionally, 65 percent of shoppers who had a sales consultant show them how to use specific features on their personal devices said it was both a “very effective” tool and that they feel more comfortable accessing apps and websites from their vehicle.

“While customers are preparing themselves online with the best information and negotiation tactics, they still prefer to interact with a salesperson or product specialist prior to buying a vehicle,” J.D. Power automotive retail practice vice president Chris Sutton said in a news release.

“Dealers can't control a customer's pre-purchase activities, but they should be prepared to positively influence areas that will affect a customer's likelihood to buy as well as their level of satisfaction. An example is to post photos of actual inventory to their website or engage with shoppers via text messaging or phone calls. Be sure that online specials are up to date and easy to access from the dealer's site. These simple things go a long way toward earning a sale and satisfying a customer,” Sutton explained.

Additionally, for the second consecutive year, the study ranks Buick highest in sales satisfaction among mass market brands.

Buick received a score of 808, and MINI ranks second among mass market brands with a score of 803. GMC ranks third with a score of 793.

With scores of 830, for the first time, Lincoln ranks highest, in a shared spot with Mercedes-Benz, followed by Infiniti with a score of 821, and Porsche with a score of 818.

The study’s findings also highlights the power of follow-ups with car buyers.

While 80 percent of mass market buyers and 87 percent of luxury buyers said they were ed by the dealership following a purchase, according to the study, only 32 percent of mass market buyers and 51 percent of luxury buyers received a second follow-up explanation of vehicle features.

The study measures satisfaction with the sales experience among new-vehicle buyers and rejecters, who browse a dealership and purchase elsewhere.

Buyer satisfaction is based on six measures, including dealer personnel (28 percent); delivery process (21percent); working out the deal (18 percent); paperwork completion (16 percent); dealership facility (13 percent); and dealership website (4 percent).  And rejecter satisfaction is based on five measures: salesperson (40 percent); fairness of price (15 percent); experience negotiating (15 percent); variety of inventory (15 percent); and dealership facility (14 percent).

The study is based on responses from 28,989 car buyers who purchased or leased a new vehicle in April or May.

Study: Online car shoppers looking for engagement on dealer websites

INDIANAPOLIS - 

New research on online car shoppers released on Tuesday shows that car buyers are looking to engage with sales reps on dealership websites. In a new book from marketing technology provider PERQ — “Engage: No More Lead Traps! How to Improve the Online Experience to Increase Sales” —  the company contends car buyers expect what they call “a guided sales experience” directly on the dealership site.

PERQ puts it like this: “When a shopper goes through multiple interactive online experiences, he/she is three times as likely to purchase as someone who fills out just one static lead form,” according to research from its recently released book.

Further, when users are only offered a static form, research from PERQ showed those same shoppers exiting the dealer website as soon as 40 seconds after completing the form.

“Dealership websites should not be simple lead traps,” said Scott Hill, executive chairman and co-founder of PERQ, who co-authored the book.

“And if your website is built that way, you’re losing out. Car buyers actually want to engage on dealer websites because that’s where the transaction gets complicated, and its where they have the questions that will actually matter to the sale. And they want answers to their questions without being forced to speak to a salesperson,” he continued.

PERQ contends this process acts as an online variant of what a salesperson does in a showroom. Ultimately, it seems engagement and website personalization can potentially improve close rates for in-market shoppers.

“Most dealers would never allow their showroom experience to be like the website experience,” said Russ Chandler, co-author and product marketing manager at PERQ. “Their expectation is that the sales team will engage, inform and provide a critical value to the car shopper. It’s the same online, except your website is doing the initial relationship-building. Our data shows that customers expect that kind of approach at the online retail level. It’s not about lead traps. It’s about selling cars and building customer loyalty.”

To request a free hard copy of “Engage: No More Lead Traps! How to Improve the Online Experience to Increase Sales,” Muhammad Yasin via email. To download a copy  

 

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