In the latest installment of the annual , we go behind the scenes with some of the leading companies in the used-car space and their top executives with a few Q&A features.
Next up in this series is Amy Peck, director of managed marketing services at Dominion Dealer Solutions
The emailed Q&A is below.
AuSM: What are the greatest challenges dealers face today in regard to their online reputations?
Amy Peck: There is still a lack of trust between shoppers and automotive dealers today. The challenge for dealers is to build trust by encouraging customers to post positive reviews online.
The specific challenge that comes into play is knowing 1) where and 2) how to manage where reviews get posted. Of course, Google reviews show up in search results and have a play in SEO. That said, dealers cannot ignore sites such as Cars.com, Facebook, Yelp, DealerRater, etc. Dealers must have both 1) current reviews and 2) a good volume of reviews across all of these sites.
Managing that process can be difficult without the help of an outside vendor to automate some of this. It’s important to implement a triage model. Dealers should send a quick survey to gauge customers’ satisfaction. From there, they can send happy customers to the review sites of their choice. Unhappy customers can be sent to dealership employees that can immediately reach out and resolve any issues. In our experience, many times this proactive step turns a previously unhappy customer into a happy one.
Another challenge is finding time to respond to customer reviews. Dealers should be responding to every review — negative or positive. It’s critical to not just make the customer feel warm and fuzzy, but to show others that a dealership cares about its customers enough to thank them for their positive reviews, or to help resolve negative experiences.
AR: Outside of Dominion’s digital environment offerings, what aspects of in-person training are most beneficial to dealership staff?
AP: Any training that teaches dealership employees how to make the customers’ experience a better one is critical.
Dealers spend a lot of time and money ensuring that vehicle shoppers have outstanding experiences online. This must carry over onto the dealership lot. If it doesn’t, dealers will immediately lose consumer trust.
One specific area of training that sticks out to me is coaching around the dealership’s equity tool. These tools are a goldmine. For example, what if you could approach a current customer in the service drive with the option to get them in a newer car for no money down and a similar payment? What a great personalized conversation that would be!
AR: As today’s digital landscape continues to evolve, what digital marketing trends should dealers stay on top of to remain the most competitive?
AP: Dealers must focus on winning the consumer mobile moments. Mobile has changed the way consumers search and shop, and has put a huge emphasis on local SEO (near me searches, for example).
In the automotive industry, a lot of time is spent talking about managing local SEO (website, headers, tags, keywords, etc.). Often, dealers ignore areas that have a huge impact on their SEO.
Another area to keep top of mind is how voice search will affect traffic. Typically, voice searches are longer tail searches asking for more information. It is critical that a new or used-car dealership’s website content is conversational — always looking to answer questions consumers may have about the dealership.
AR: Dominion has a product that monitors dealer’s online and on-the-lot vehicle performance. How vital is that feature to your clients?
AP: VinVelocity is inventory-specific advertising that captures low funnel shoppers. These shoppers are ready to buy. To do this, VinVelocity matches consumers in a dealer’s market with specific VINs on the lot, taking consumers directly to the dealership’s VDP (vehicle details page). These are highly targeted ads that dramatically increase the amount and quality of a dealership’s website traffic.
VinVelocity also has a dashboard that provides information around how often a specific vehicle is searched, but doesn’t sell. This opens up opportunities to research why a specific vehicle isn’t selling (is it priced too high, is the VDP page not as strong as it should be, etc.)