Education (Best Practices)

"Optimize Your Online Presence" – Webinar Recap and Slides

Yesterday, our very own Amir Rezvani, VP of Performance at DealerOn, had the opportunity to lead a webinar with ResponseLogix.  For those that couldn’t make the webinar, I wanted to share some of the highlights from his presentation and provide a link to the slides and audio as well.

Amir provided a quick overview of how a dealer can immediately generate more leads, more appointments, and sell more cars without increasing the size of the internet team or increasing their marketing spend.  He also provided his thoughts on what areas of your online marketing to focus on first to generate the highest return on your time and resources.

First, the design of a dealership’s website.  The homepage should be clean and relevant.  Since most people read left to right, top to bottom, make sure you have an inventory search box in the top left corner.  Your specials should obvious and readily accessible on your homepage as many shoppers are looking for this information.

Dealers should also consider the length of their contact forms.  If it’s not information that your dealership needs to initiate a conversation with that customer, is it necessary?  Also, having incentives on your site has been shown to greatly increase conversion rates, so that is another option.

Amir then focused on how a dealer can get more organic search traffic to their conversion rate-optimized website.  He discussed some free website and SEO tools (due to time, he only got to some of these during the actual presentation) that a dealer can use to diagnose how well their website is performing:

  2. Rank Check Plug-in (

He also provided some tactics that a dealer can use to improve their SEO based on the keywords when they have opportunity to do so.

Amir really put on a great presentation (I know, I’m probably biased), and had a great time interacting with everyone who attended.  If you weren’t able to participate live, I hope you take some time to watch or listen to the video here.  In October Amir will be speaking at Digital Dealer in Las Vegas with Jeff Kershner on how you can Double your Internet Department’s Profit in 2012, so please add that to your schedule while there.

Thank you again to ResponseLogix and everyone who was able to join Amir on the webinar.

Google Offers–Just Another Groupon?

Last week I wrote a post about Google Local Portal in Portland.  If you’ve already read it, you might have seen mention of Google’s new service for businesses: Google Offers.  Google Offers appears to be similar to Groupon and other discount offering services — it allows you, as a small business owner, to get your business “in front of thousands of customers in your area looking for amazing deals on the best places to eat, shop and play.”

Google hasn’t given too much detail, but they have setup a group of “Google Offers specialists” to call or email.  They will “ask all the right questions about your business to help create an attractive offer that is best for you”.  Then, as with similar services, an offer will be emailed to subscribers in your area.

It’s unclear whether or not these Offers will be integrated into regular Google Local search or their integrated search results pages.  I can’t imagine that these Offer icons won’t begin to show on maps and next to Places search results in the near future, but I can’t find an example of that anywhere.  Feel free to add a link in comments if you are able to.

Here are the cities that have Offers, and those that are coming soon:

Also, Google has produced videos aimed both at businesses and consumers.  Links below.

Google Offers for Businesses
Google Offers for Consumers

Want to sign up?  Click this link to have Google contact you to participate in Google Offers BETA.

There has been some discussion on whether or not using these deal sites can be a successful endeavor for auto dealerships.  To me, unless they integrate fully with Google search results, Google Offers is just another Groupon.  Do you think Google Offers will be any different from Groupon and others?

Google Browser Size Tool

It can be easy for ISM’s to forget that not everyone has the fastest Internet connections or the biggest monitors when looking at their auto dealer website. In order to maximize the power of your dealership website’s calls to action, inventory links, and specials, try using the Google Browser Size tool.

This webtool allows you to enter the URL of any website. Once the site loads, Google places an overlay showing the percentage of Google visitors that have their browser window set to a size that would allow them to see your site. For example, here is the DealerOn homepage:

In this screen shot, you can see the areas on our homepage that Google visitors can see without having to scroll. For example, the area in the orange section and over to the left can be viewed by approximately half of Google’s website visitors.

It’s important to have your calls to action, lead forms, inventory links, and other high-traffic links showing to as many website visitors as possible. You can use this Google tool to ensure as many people as possible are able to convert to a lead without having to scroll on your site.

While this information shouldn’t be treated as scientific, it’s a good tool to help check how viewable your auto dealer website is by the average Internet user. Keep this in mind when doing any website design work.

Generating Referrals and Effective Followup

Everyone wants referrals, but a lot of salespeople are reluctant to ask for them.  It can be off-putting to some customers, and there seems to be a sense that if a referral comes without having to ask for it, it is more “deserved.”  There is nothing wrong with asking for a referral from customers that are satisfied after doing business with your dealership.  Here are some creative ways to make asking for the business of your customer’s friends, family, and colleagues:

Expectation:  After the sale of a car, tell each customer that you expect they’ll be satisfied with the process, and will check back with them in 30, 60, or 90 days to ask them if they know of anyone else who needs a new vehicle with a hassle-free experience and superb follow-up.  Of course, fit this to your dealership, and make sure that you actually do follow through with this promise.

Giveaway:  A lot of dealerships already send coupons, promotions, or discounts to their existing customer base through email.  Add some text instructing those customers to feel free to forward the email newsletter (including the discount) to anyone that might need it.  Your customers will refer their loved ones to your dealership while looking like the good-guys by saving them money.

Refunds:  Although this is essentially buying referrals, doing it in a round-about way makes it a little more interesting.  Tell satisfied customers that you will offer a certain percentage off of their next bill (service, parts, purchase, etc) for each referral they send to the dealership.  This allows you to track who is sending the most new customers to your dealership (they’ll have to tell you who sent them in order for the referrer to receive the discount), and they’ll be more likely to get their vehicle serviced with your dealership, bringing in additional money.

Asking for referrals from satisfied customers doesn’t have to be painful.  Try asking in a different manner (link to older post), or put a creative spin on rewarding those who refer customers to your dealership.

How to Increase Car Dealer Referrals

Every sales person I have ever met is always looking for referrals.  Referrals tend to come with a level of built-in trust, which especially in the auto industry, can make it much easier for you to sell them their next car.  The struggle comes in knowing how to get your existing customers and salespeople (referral sources) to recognize potential referrals.

When most people ask for a referral, it’s a straight forward question like “Do you know anyone who might be in the market for a new car?”  When asking your customers this question, try tweaking it a bit so that it provides a solution to a problem your future customers may have.  This can increase the number of referrals your dealership gets, simply by helping your existing customers really think about the people they know who might need a new car.

For example, try asking your happy customers questions that address the reasons people purchase cars.

  • “Do you know anyone who has an unreliable car?”
  • “Can you think of anyone who needs to replace their existing car (accident, stolen, etc)?”
  • “Has anyone in your life received a promotion or had a baby?”

Another way to make this mindset work to increase dealership sales is to remind the salespeople you work with to listen for these key phrases in their daily life.  Expanding the view of the “I need a new car” that some salespeople may be listening for can help increase your dealership sales.

Referrals can come from a variety of sources, and helping your referral sources (customers, salespeople) recognize these key phrases can do wonders for your auto dealership’s bottom line.