2013 is off to a busy start. The automotive industry is coming off of the best year in five years and there is certainly a feeling of promise that 2013 may be an even better year for retail automotive than 2012. Innovation, technology and connectivity continue to advance at lightning speed. Consumers are online, on smart phones, on social networks, on review sites, on tablets and devices, sharing information with one another and trusting advertising less and less. Businesses, including automobile dealers, have the challenge of keeping up with changing consumer behavior and the shifting digital landscape while trying to create marketing that cuts through the clutter and connects with prospects in a way that leads to traffic, conversions, sales and retention. It is a tall order.
There is intense focus on technology, but we must never lose sight of the fact that people do business with people, and most people would rather do business with people they like. Harnessing technology to do the heavy lifting and then allowing the human relationships to take over is where the magic happens. In the dealership world, this requires the intersection of people, process, technology, timing and message. Operations and sales objectives should not become detached from the marketing messages or the “story” of your business.
I’ve been thinking about this lately. At 3 Birds, we’re building a company and a community. We strive to develop industry leading marketing software, design tier-1-quality creative, create effective marketing strategies, provide attentive account management and customer support, and to expand our customer base. Each department plays an important role in the success of our company, but as is often said in startup circles, no matter what position a team member occupies, we’re all in sales. Together, each and every 3 Birds employee represents our company and what we stand for to the outside world – to current customers, prospective customers, vendor-partners, the community and even to friends and family members. With this in mind, we’re in the midst of a very interesting exercise. Every single 3 Birds staff member has been asked to record their 60-90 second “elevator pitch” that they would give in response to the question, “So what does 3 Birds do?” I am eager to view the videos because I think that they will offer a great deal of insight into the different perspectives that each of our team members bring and what 3 Birds means to them as well as potentially revealing knowledge gaps that need to be filled.
What would your staff say if asked to deliver an elevator pitch about your dealership? Of course, you sell and service vehicles, but how would they articulate the unique value proposition that makes buying or servicing at your dealership better than the competition? How would your receptionist answer the question? What would someone in accounting say? Would the fact that your dealership has been family owned for three generations be mentioned? Do you think that you would be surprised by some responses?
Speaking of pitching, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that we’re getting ready to leave for the National Automobile Dealers’ Association Convention and Expo (NADA) in Orlando, Florida this weekend. Our team has been enhancing and extending The Wire, our integrated marketing platform. Again. We’re not ones to rest on our laurels here at 3 Birds. We will be introducing version 2.0 of The Wire to the industry. Of course, we’re excited to show everyone the fruits of our labor and share how 3 Birds gives dealers the power to attract and keep customers by driving authentic results. When you come and visit us in Booth 185, you won’t just be meeting our sales team. Of course, Layton and I never miss a show, but we’re also bringing members of our Account Team, Customer Support and Creative Departments, to give people who stop by our booth a well-rounded understanding of the level of support, strategy and support our customers enjoy in addition to the technology that powers it all. Spend time with us at NADA and you’ll come away with deeper understanding of what we have to offer.
See you in Orlando.
Kristen Judd is co-founder and president of 3 Birds Marketing. She is passionate about bringing top-quality, concierge-level service to each of 3 Birds’ clients; she is also a Virgo and is single-handedly responsible for keeping Starbucks in business. Kristen can be reached via email at email@example.com, on Twitter at @kwjudd, and on LinkedIn
A Video Valentine to 3 Birds
Launching at NADA 2013
The best newsletter in the industry just went mobile.
You already know that our HOUSE newsletter is a traffic and conversion magnet. Now you can cash in on the leads and revenue potential of mobile eCommerce thanks to HOUSE Mobile. We designed HOUSE Mobile from the ground up for mobile devices. We placed revenue generating content and calls-to-action where your customers will quickly find them. We made sure that contact information and directions are only a thumb click away. And you get all the powerful data collection and recording to identify and convert hot prospects.
Take a look at what makes this the must-have mobile newsletter for all automotive dealerships:
• Designed specifically to take advantage of mobile devices
• Fixed Action Bar makes it easy to schedule a test drive, schedule service, contact sales, or look up hours and directions
• Special offers and revenue-generating content is strategically positioned for better click through and conversions
• Full social media sharing capabilities
It's like picking easy low-hanging sales and service fruit.
SEEDS BUNDLE makes easy work of pinpointing hot sales and service prospects, and hauling them in with the perfect email campaign.
This year we're introducing a simple and proven way to generate easy revenue. Every month, we send out millions of HOUSE newsletter emails and collect millions of behavioral clicks on behalf of our clients. Our new Seeds Bundle takes our patent-pending newsletter to the next level by adding two data-driven follow-up campaigns. Our marketing strategists analyze your customer engagement data and identify your best conversion opportunities. We'll then recommend and send follow-up campaigns that hone in on active hand-raisers to help you close more business.
Like we said. It doesn't get much easier than that.
Close more ROs each month with our new service websites.
LIFT, our new service websites, make it easy for customers to find you, trust you, and book more service appointments with your dealership.
Our new dealer-branded Service Websites are a no-brainer if want to book more service appointments. These branded sites have been designed to position your dealership as a helpful community resource with a powerful "why service here" message that shreds typical dealership service misconceptions. We included useful features like vehicle-specific maintenance schedules and easy-to-locate Service Specials section with clear calls to action that drive appointments. We promote user engagement and trust by adding the "Ask A Tech" Q&A forum for helpful answers to questions your customers want to know. And, as users interact with your service site, we gather critical data so you can follow-up with targeted service offers convert at a higher rate.
Here's an overview of key features:
• Fully hosted and managed service website
• Increased SEO performance for service related search
• Vehicle-specific maintenance schedules that tell customers when and what service they need
• Services Menu page with popular maintenance requests and calls to action that drive appointments
• Special Offers section to promote in-store service traffic
• Data analytics for targeted follow-ups
• Knowledge center and article library built in
• Ask A Tech forum that allows customer to ask questions directly to a technician
• And much more...
Click here to get more information and if you are at NADA, make sure to visit us at booth #185.
Industry experts, pundits and thought leaders state year after year that “This is (finally) the year of mobile.” They point to triple digit percentages of growth in mobile usage in comparison to the previous year. They use the continued advancement of mobile advertising technology and banner ads to drive conversions as a supporting idea. Lastly, their statements say something about the increase in revenue for businesses generated by mobile devices. Yet, year after year, companies continue to build websites, landing pages and other digital destinations for a desktop experience while neglecting the different needs of a mobile user’s experience.
Why the Disconnect?
We get it. There are definitely still barriers for businesses when it comes to understanding the benefits of having a mobile website, let alone a mobile marketing strategy. One of the biggest hurdles is that 65% of consumers still prefer to use a desktop or personal computer for activities they conduct on their smartphones. Nonetheless, most digital companies offer a desktop and mobile version of digital assets they build for their clients. The reason they do this is because consumers are utilizing mobile platforms more than businesses realize, despite the slow adoption of businesses building mobile destinations for their customers to interact with their products.
During the recent Presidential Ball, President Obama and the First Lady danced to Jennifer Hudson's rendition of "Let's Stay Together." The scene was captivating, the incumbent President dancing with his First Lady, the love of his life. Both people were mesmerized in their own world. They were dressed in a wonderful tuxedo and custom-made dress. Whether you agree with the President's views or not, the image of a loving husband and wife dancing to a beautiful, romantic song was fantastic.
Anyone would want to capture this image for an example of “true love.” And that is just what hundreds of attendees did—all with their personal smartphones. Just look at the foreground of the image. Everyone in the image was photographing or recording this moment. Keep in mind that the image above is a snapshot of a ballroom. One can probably make a relatively accurate assumption that there were plenty more people like this engaging in these same behaviors.
Transformed Behavior (Here Come the Numbers)
Smartphones and mobile devices have dramatically changed consumer behavior. Smartphone penetration has risen to 44% of the population and these smartphone users are becoming increasingly reliant on their devices. 66% access the internet every day on their smartphone and most never leave home without it.
These statistics have not escaped the notice of Fortune 500 companies either. Intel recently announced the ramp down of their desktop motherboard production for a ramp up in their mobile motherboard production in the upcoming three years. Why? Because the mobile business is completely disrupting the personal computer industry.
Let’s take another large company, Apple. Last quarter, Apple sold 4.2 million Macs missing analyst expectations by nearly one million units. Apple’s Mac business was down 16 percent year over year compared to the overall personal computer business being down 6 percent.
Do You Need a Mobile Strategy?
Yes, without question. Now what does a mobile marketing strategy entail? Only you can answer that question. However, we believe there are certain foundational elements that need to comprise any mobile marketing strategy.
Recognize that this is different than your traditional website. Therefore, your mobile website should address the platform it will be viewed on. Is that platform a smartphone or is it a tablet? Both platforms have different experiences and expectations of the user. For example, review http://www.3birdsmarketingnews.com on your desktop. Now view the same web address on your smartphone or tablet. Can you see the difference? Are your experiences unique to the platform?
Visible and actionable call-to-action buttons. The mobile customer wants to be able to easily access your service specials. He wants to easily be able to connect to your location with his smartphone’s navigation, preferably within the click of a button, so he can come to your dealership now. He wants the phone number visible so he can touch it and immediately dial your dealership. Do not make these actions hard to do or the consumer will visit your competitor with the press of a button.
Don’t place the cart before the horse. If you don’t have a mobile base, do not conduct mobile advertising. Posting ads on mobile platforms should direct someone to an appropriate mobile destination, not a clunky desktop version on a mobile platform that the individual must try to re-size to fit their mobile screen. Make sure you take the proper steps to properly build your mobile strategy.
If you need help with determining how these areas of a mobile strategy apply to you, please call us at (877) 285-1094 or reach us at http://www.3birdsmarketing.com/contact/ and, if you’re at NADA, stop by booth #185! We would love to meet you and be pleased to help you. In the meantime, check out our new mobile newsletter.
Andy Warner serves as Director of Automotive Strategy at 3 Birds. He was formerly an e-Commerce Director for a top Ward’s e-dealer group, and has more than 10 years of high-level automotive experience on both the dealer and vendor side.
The premier event for automakers offers an excess of content.
Some people walk through the doors of the North American International Auto Show and see an extraordinary display of machinery. I walk through the same doors and sure, I’m drooling at all the amazing vehicles, but I also see all the thoughts and ideas that stem from these automobiles.
Each brand has their own identity, and with these identities are stories. Mercedes-Benz exists with a completely different focus than Nissan, and Lincoln has a different take on luxury than Acura. Each brand has a story to tell, and while the vast majority of people simply see their cars as tools and don’t give a second thought to the ”why”, I do.
Perhaps it’s the motor oil in my veins or the gears turning in my head, but I love finding out every little detail I can about every single car. I want to be able to tell you if that’s a 2013 Porsche Boxster or Boxster S from a single picture…with the nameplate covered. I want to tell you all the little fun facts behind the scenes, such as how Ford was able to stuff their new 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine into a carry-on bag and take it through airport security for their flight.
On the show floor, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the chrome, bright paint schemes, and booth lighting that very nearly requires sunglasses to prevent blindness. Sure, this is a show. This is the Hollywood red carpet for automakers. But I look past the glitz and glamor to think about the big picture.
That sports car unveil may be getting huge press, but what does it mean for the brand’s direction? Does this styling language represent a departure from past models and signal a huge change in the coming years? Is this new vehicle in line with the brand’s original mission?
There are so many questions to ask, and it’s our job to find the answers. While others cruise around and grab every free snack they can, I’m spending serious time at each of the booths, getting in the vehicles to get a feel for quality and purpose, and crawling around on the floor noticing all the tiny stylistic details. Then there are all the numbers and measurements for each model that I seemingly recite in my sleep.
So while the North American International Auto Show might be a spectacle, it’s much more than that to me. Some may dream of a warm, sandy beach as their vision of paradise. I dream of sports car racing, track days, and auto shows.
I was in my element at the show, and you’ll soon be seeing the product in the form of content like you’ve never seen before. With 75+ new articles and over 1,400 photos unique to 3 Birds from my short time in Detroit, there is much more to come. We’re going in a new direction with our content, and I strive to showcase only the most truly interesting and engaging media possible.
Over the next few months, you’ll be seeing more and more content that stemmed from the auto show, and we’ll be looking at the big picture of the automotive world. While many automotive outlets treat vehicles as numbers, we’ll be bringing the insider details and ideas into the spotlight. What you’ll see is engaging material that appeals to consumers, and will prove to be both insightful and fun.
After the excitement of the North American International Auto Show, I once again renew my pledge to improve the quality of content in the automotive space. If I can help readers who have never cared about cars take an interest and engage with the community, I’ll be one happy camper. I envision that 2013 marks a new year and a new way of thinking about our automotive future. We’re in for quite a year, and it’s going to be a fun ride.
Jason Mathews is the Automotive Content Writer and Editor at 3 Birds Marketing. He’s an avid automotive enthusiast, a pilot and a graduate of Appalachian State University. When not at work, he’s cruising around the area in his prized Mazda Miata.
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It’s that time of year when the store shelves are filled with heart shaped boxes and glittery cards, single people secretly cringe on the inside while still appearing completely indifferent on the outside and non-single people decry “Hallmark Holidays” while writing, with damp eyes, their once-a-year love note to their better half. There’s love in the air and dinner reservations are hard to come by – it must be Valentine’s Day.
At 3 Birds, we give love all of the time – to our co-worker’s new car, the pizza place across the street, to our interns. Mainly though, we love our clients. A lot! And damn does it feel good when we get love from them. We’re pretty easy, too. We don’t need flowers or chocolates; a well-timed thank you or pat on the back is all it takes to send us over the moon. We know there’s a lot to love about 3 Birds, but we’ll never tire of hearing it (so keep telling us).
In the spirit of the holiday, I’ll share some love with you and tell you about some of the props we’ve received lately (or warm fuzzies as we called them in college).
Love Note #1: We work with one large client group that has dealerships on both coasts. At one of their West Coast locations, a competitor was engaging in poor online practices by creating URLs with our client’s name that lead to a YouTube video touting the other dealership featuring their Internet Director, leaving numerous false reviews and Yelp events tagged with our client’s name to promote the other dealership and creating fake profiles on review sites. It was a bad situation. Our crack digital account manager noticed the profiles and started to investigate, uncovering all the other transgressions that added up to a serious problem. We contacted our client who immediately agreed that the situation was severe and escalated our research to group-level legal who took action. It’s this attention to detail and commitment to protecting our clients that earned us some love from this client.
Love Note #2: Have you ever turned a negative review into a sold vehicle? We did, by properly and quickly escalating the review to the store’s GM and providing the information necessary to follow up with the client. The result? This email from the client to our account manager:
Serious 3 Birds love there.
Love Note #3: We rock highline – one of our high-end dealers couldn’t say enough about how impressed he was on our conformance to the Porsche brand. Here’s what he said, “I am dumbfounded at your ability to adapt to Porsche and relate to the customer base in this short period of time, not to mention produce relevant pieces of information for my audience. Simply amazing!” Now that makes us smile; it’s nice to take such pride in your work and then to be recognized for it.
Love Note #4: This one's a video from an eCommerce Director of a large auto group in Florida who loves us just as much as we love him.
But, enough about us, let’s talk about you. If you don’t have a love-love relationship with your digital solution, you need to call us. We have plenty of love to give and our love will sell you more cars. Period. What’s not to love about that?
Megan Gardner is the Vice President of Client Services for 3 Birds Marketing. She is so super-helpful and always ready with a smile that we think she needs one of those "take-a-number" machines installed to prevent the lines that keep forming at her door by people eager for some "Megan time."
The Importance of Understanding Your Digital Footprint
The world is a busy place and our perception of what our customers are looking for doesn’t always match up to what consumers see, feel, and share especially online. An honest inventory of your current digital assets and presence should be the first objective when starting a conversation about your goals and objectives in the digital space. Not only is benchmarking your business an important part of thinking about any goal or plan, it is also essential when evaluating the success of services that you are paying for, whether they are being handled in-house or by an outside vendor.
When starting a new vendor relationship, you should take note of where you stand so you can honestly evaluate whether or not a particular service is worth your time and money. In the automotive industry there are many moving parts--not only at the dealership level but all the way up the ladder.
Another purpose benchmarking serves is the objective evaluation of whether or not you have the right people in the right places to make sure you are headed in the right direction. Progress can be a powerful motivator, especially when it’s identified in quantifiable terms. It’s great to always strive to be better. In fact, in my opinion it’s the only way to operate, If you’re in this industry odds are you are competitive in nature and so is your staff, use that as motivation
Want to get started? Here are three things you should do RIGHT NOW:
1. Search your dealership name and any other keywords associated with your dealership and take screenshots and evaluate the first page of these major search engines: Google, Yahoo, and Bing
2. Make note of your review count and star rating on ALL of your active review sites. Leave no digital stone unturned. Make sure to inventory Google, Yahoo, Yelp, Cars.com, CitySearch, etc…
3. Make note of your audience size on ALL of your active social media sites.
Here at 3 Birds Marketing, one of our exciting new developments is our one-of-a-kind assessment of your online presence. We replicate the consumer experience to determine where you stand now and keep track of the progress you are making through your efforts and processes. You get an easy-to-understand visual display of your digital presence coupled with the support and knowledge to take advantage of any opportunities for success that are identified. With an honest look at your online presence, you can really start to capitalize on your strengths and find new ways to approach the areas in which your business could be improved.
Your potential customers are fully aware of how you’re perceived online. In order to fully serve those prospects you need to identify what exactly they are looking at online and act accordingly. If your social media presence is strong and positive but your reputation sites leave something to be desired, then you should spend more time and energy cleaning up the areas that have been neglected. How do you know what to do if you don’t know what you’ve already done?
My advice on evaluating your online presence can be summed up into 3 words, “Early and Often.” You should evaluate your online presence right now while you’ve got the time. Take charge of your business’s future and do an HONEST assessment of your current digital presence…or better yet, let us do it for you.
Austin Myrick heads up the Web Assessment Team at 3 Birds Marketing. Providing a snapshot from a customer’s view of a client’s online presence, he and his team provide valuable insight into areas for growth and improvement. In his spare time you can find him giving lectures on the finer points of TV shows like The Walking Dead and Mad Men, or in heated competition on the kickball field.