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Eric Miltsch

Eric Miltsch Co-founder

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5 Digital Marketing Categories Dealers Need To Watch In 2011


New Digital Marketing Ideas
5 Digital Marketing Changing Dealers Need To Watch In 2011

2010 was an incredible year. Technology improvements, significant search adjustments and a deluge of progressive marketing concepts have helped remove the late adopter label for a large portion of the retail automotive community.

The tide is turning faster than ever. New strategies embraced within the retail segment are helping improve the car buying process and consumer experiences. Dealers are becoming more pro-active; they're listening and making a true difference. Dealers are positioned well for the anticipated retail recovery and consumers will continue to benefit.

After all the advances, it’s time to look ahead. 2011 is sure to deliver a fresh buffet of new strategies and technology solutions. Here's a few favorite items I'm banking on to help consumers and dealers. Plus, a couple of them are pretty cool as well.

Search. Still Supreme.

Search strategies will always be a top priority, however, this segment continues to zig and zag faster than a first-time Dodge Viper driver on wet pavement. Traders on Wall St. say the best time to sell your stock is when the taxi drivers tells you to buy it. More people than ever know how to use Google's search playbook. Google knows this and they're responding. Initial responses include the organic page layout changes, Google Places priority placement, Google instant and instant previews. Other early changes included items such as the possible death of Page Rank due to the lack of index updates in the second half of 2010. Look for greater emphasis on design and usability to help improve consumer experience and dealer conversion.  

Real-time Recommendations and Reviews

Google and Bing are already experimenting with real-time recommendation algorithms. The consumer voice will grow stronger as their own social influence (Klout score) rank drives the position of this content to users. More consolidation between search and review sites will happen, creating greater utility under one roof vs. the scattered fragments of sites which provide these service currently. Imagine a search result page functioning more like a cross between a Facebook fan page, Google Places Page, Foursquare and Shopkick.

Consumer benefit: Access to accurate, fast and relevant product and service reviews; retail shopping experiences become easier, enjoyable and more profitable.

Deep Localization

The importance of Google Place Pages will move beyond just it’s placement among the organic results. Greater functionality within the pages, additional rich content and, of course, the integration/inclusion of location based services will push the real-time needle further. The nearly-instant validation of the location based social experience became evident with Foursquare’s image and comment update. Note the buzz surrounding other picture sharing applications; Instagram and Picplz made a quick rush to integrate with other location based application leaders. Look for possible consolidation within this segment later in Q3 or Q4.

Google Places, Facebook Deals, Groupon, LivingSocial, Foursquare and Gowalla will continue to attract millions of new users. Early and experienced users will continue to experiment with niche platforms such as CarZar, Foodspotting, GetGlue, Philo, Tri-Out, IntoNow and Untapped. Each contributing never-seen-before branding and marketing opportunities among their respective market segments.

Consumer benefit: Rich content will find us faster rather than us searching for merely text based on the location and tags within our social profiles; greater efficiency and more enjoyable consumption and sharing methods - plus the inclusion of micro-targeted offers and discounts.

Server Speed. Significantly More.

Keep an eye out for more focus on site speed. Google and others finally said they’re paying attention to this factor - time for us to as well. The real-time expectation applies to page content too. Google is going to spoil consumers with instant suggestions, instant previews, real-time social results - users will expect the website to behave in the same manner.

Part of their solution is a server module (called mod_pagespeed) which checks various speed levels, optimizes client-server round trips and even optimizes caching. Bottom line, content will appear even faster for consumers.

Several resources can help monitor and help improve your own site’s performance:
  • Google Page Speed
  • YSlow
  • Gomez
  • Load Impact
  • Pingdom
Consumer benefit: Better performing websites allowing online guests to find exactly what they want faster. Don’t bring a 10 year old, four cylinder engine to the race. You’ll lose.  

Social Mobility

This is a double-whammy; combine the sophistication of the social user with the increasing size of the mobile smart phone segment. Estimates continue to expect the mobile market to surpass the desktop market within five years.
  • Over 200 million active users access Facebook through their mobile devices
  • Mobile Facebook users are twice as active on Facebook than non-mobile users
  • More than 200 mobile operators in 60 countries are working to deploy and promote Facebook mobile products
  • Mobile users may help drive overall usage based on their ability to influence their social sphere

When comparing feature phone usage vs. smart phone usage, users were twice as likely to engage with shopping/retail category applications. Additional consideration must be given to mobile’s cousin, the tablet revolution. More than a dozen tablets were reviewed at this year's Consumer Electronics Show and may even be available by the time you read this - all designed to connect more data, improve accessibility and change consumer experiences.

Intelligently designed tablet application development will produce revolutionary consumer experiences in the same vein as magazine readers such as Pulse and Flipboard. Automotive shopping sites will begin to identify efficient methods of researching real-time retail and wholesale inventory, selecting more specific items and eventually eCommerce solutions.

82% of U.S adults are active cell phone users and 43% have access to apps. This equates to an app access-rate of about 35% of the entire population, with a lower use-rate at two thirds this number, or about 25% overall. While it may seem funny that only two thirds of smart phone users actually use any applications at all, this is a significant number of people who are changing the way that they engage with mobile technology.

65% of mobile shoppers were influenced by the reviews they read on their phones. These are also the influencers your business needs to connect with and get to keep coming back.

The earliest adopters will greatly increase their ability to connect and engage consumers at points on the buying spectrum which have never been captured.

Consumer benefits: Consumers combining the best features to create a real-time, geo-targeted socially mobile experience. Finding, purchasing and interacting how they prefer - not how brands determine.

Forward thinking dealers who were fortunate enough to create strong content destination sites, develop effective social spheres and cultivate firm search engine foundations are positioned for an incredible 2011. Dealers still contemplating the validity of an integrated digital scope consisting of search, location, social and back-end technology are exposing themselves for competitive defeat.

Here’s to a successful 2011. Now go play with this stuff and make great things.

The customers will love it. 
Manny Luna
Manny Luna
Stacy Mueller
Great read, Eric.
Ed Brooks
Great job Eric! My gut tells me real-time reviews (well.. all reviews) and mobile are going to be HUGE this coming year. More importantly, my feeling is these aren't just the new 'Shiny Objects' for a dealer to chase, but have the potential to affect business dramatically.

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