The Inside Scoop: Millennial Buyers

September 26th, 2012

I think the most life changing phrase I was told growing up was “Google it.” The second most impressionable? “Save your money.”

These notions comingled in my mind and look where it landed me. Yes, It’s fair to say, I’m a Millennial buyer. I research everything, from the best products to the best how-tos, and you better believe I want to be proud of where I’m spending my money. Now I’ll be honest, I’ve never purchased a new car and I’ve never even purchased a car from a dealership. I sport an ancient car from the 90s, and yep, I bought it off a trusted hometown neighbor (Wow do I fit the Millennial stereotype or what?).

So now that you know my dirty secrets you’re either going to give up on me or you’re wondering, ‘How the heck do I sell you a car?’

Well I’m young, full of debt and not going to buy a car for a few more years. But this is the important part: I am already researching my options. Seriously! All you have to do is get me to your dealership and build a relationship with me, your future buyer.

A car might be my second largest life investment, and your dealer needs to understand that me, the Millennial buyer, is just as big (if not bigger) an investment to the future of the automotive industry.

  • I still have a car, get me in for service.

Chances are the more familiar with your dealership I am, the more loyal I will become. Take advantage of my service visits by providing the finest customer service experience. Transform your dealership into more than just a sales floor.

  • I don’t know much about cars, educate me

Treat this like a doctor visit, not a sales call. What’s happening to my car? Provide reports or printouts of my vehicle’s strengths and weaknesses. Why do I need specific services and how long do I have to complete these services? How will your dealership help me overcome these vehicle flaws? Why should I choose your store over a competitor? I need to trust you.

  • My smartphone is my life, connect with me via apps, social media and videos

If you’re up to date with the latest technology then you have a major advantage. Reinvent the automotive experience making it convenient, hassle-free and fun!

  • Keep in touch, I need reminders

Contact me through a mobile app; send service notifications, reminders and specific messages to an exclusive feature on my phone. An app makes it personal, but still easy to connect from both ends.

If your store starts investing in the Millennials then the Millennials will start investing in you.

What Smartphones Are Telling You About Your Customers

September 19th, 2012

The rate of smartphone adoption is coming faster than any other consumer technology in our history. According to Flurry Analytics, it’s coming ten times faster than the 80s PC Revolution, two times faster than the 90s Internet Boom and three times faster than the recent social network adoption.

The number of adult smartphone owners has increased from 35 percent to 45 percent since May 2011, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

But Pew Internet reports that 66 percent of these owners are between 18 and 29 years of age.

So you’re wondering how to target this giant and still rapidly growing percentage of automotive customers?

Gravitytank Strategic Advisor and former CMO of Office Max, Bob Thacker, puts it perfectly, “It is really understanding that you must be present in a conversation when they want to have it, not when you want to.”

And the mobile app makes this conversation possible. Apps have become the most powerful platform ever for conducting commerce and managing customer relationships.

Total app downloads measure in the billions and the number of adult cell phone owners who’ve downloaded an app to their phone doubled in the past year, according to Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. According to Apple Inc., there are over 650,000 apps available in the App Store. The number of apps expected to be downloaded worldwide this year is 36 billion, and the average smartphone user worldwide is expected to download 37 apps, according to ABI Research.

The mobile app opens up not only the opportunity to finally deliver on the long sought vision of communicating the right message at the right time via the right channel, but that mobile apps enable dealers to capitalize on the long tail marketing strategy; keeping in constant use by your customer, creating the opportunity to learn more about your customers and sell them more products and services over a longer period of time.

Targeting this generation means giving them useful, clever tools and practical value in their everyday life that keeps them coming back to the app frequently. Because the true power of an app comes with repeat usage and once that “muscle memory” is built up the app becomes a platform for all kinds of commerce.

Smartphone apps are the key that will turn your disloyalists into loyalists, all driven by the simple tap of the finger.

Younger automotive consumers are more “wired” than ever. Are you connecting with them?

April 4th, 2012

In today’s marketplace, the stakes are high. Dealers that become complacent and fail to take steps to mitigate the loss of their aging loyalist service shoppers (those 75+ who are a profitable consumer segment for them) as they begin to exit the marketplace, could see a loss of $310 million1 if those consumers are not replaced. To stay competitive, capturing and keeping service dollars from younger owners will become essential.

According to DMEautomotive’s recent white paper, “The Changing Service Loyalty Landscape,” customer pay service dollars are bleeding away from dealers and to aftermarket providers at a rate of three lost to one gained back. As the chart below shows, younger, tech-savvy consumers are shopping even “harder” but, aftermarkets are having more success in capturing these coveted consumers—especially as they move into their prime spending years.

Auto service customers under 35 years of age consider online appointment scheduling and convenience vital to their overall customer service experience. While these service shoppers are intensely price and convenience driven, they are also very receptive to dealer loyalty programs.

These younger consumers trend toward mobile messaging platforms (text messaging and mobile email) and it makes sense for any successful marketing strategy to incorporate this communication channel to better engage this demographic.

The complexities behind service center selection, consumer communications preferences and the role that loyalty programs play in retaining loyal shoppers, while attracting newer, younger, non-loyal customers was analyzed in our second in the series of white papers, “Marketing Success in a Changing Service Loyalty Landscape.”

Consider these key findings:

  • Auto service customers under 35 years of age regard online appointment scheduling and convenience vital.
  • These younger consumers trend toward mobile messaging platforms (text messaging and mobile email).
  • Redefining the service experience will be necessary if service providers are to remain competitive as customer demographics change.
  • Successful marketing strategies will incorporate this communication channel to better engage this demographic.

Fortunately there’s a simple solution that can help you connect with these canny consumers…Yup! There’s an APP for that – Driver Connect, the dealer-branded mobile app from DMEautomotive.

Implementing a dealer-branded mobile app for iPhone, iPad and/or Android platforms, provides convenient appointment scheduling capabilities AND allows you to market directly to those wired consumer’s on their smartphone or tablet. You can also communicate service discounts, specials and monthly sales offers, as well as allow consumers to browse inventory, and access FREE car tools – such as parking assistant, cheap gas locator and more.

As new customers come into the market, and older customers exit, service providers of all types will need to redefine the service experience to retain their best customers and remain competitive.

Tug O’ War? Push and Pull Marketing in the Age of Social Media

March 21st, 2012

Traditionally, companies have communicated with their consumers by bombarding them one-way, mass media messages or “pushing” their marketing to consumers.

However, with the extraordinary rise of social media, that model is no longer reliable as a sole method of communication. Consumers are seeking content and interactions that are of value to them and they are then choosing to engage by “pulling” that content. The key is to use marketing science to facilitate a two-way interaction with potential customers, motivating them to seek out your brand. Companies should consider establishing an equilibrium between the two in order to develop successful marketing programs.

Examples of push marketing tactics are below:

• Trade show promotions to encourage retailer demand
• Direct selling to customers in showrooms or face to face
• Packaging design to encourage purchase
• Point of sale displays

Examples of pull tactics are below:

• Word of mouth referrals (increasingly social media outlets)
• Targeted, direct marketing
• Customer Relation Management
• Discounts and promotions

Consumer reviews and word-of-mouth communications are becoming as important as company-driven marketing messaging. Social media is now a daily activity with most consumers investing several hours a month on various social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Blogs. Consider, for example, that Facebook users spend on average 15 hours and 33 minutes a month on the site and that more than 250 million people access Facebook with a mobile device.1

Companies need to facilitate consumers’ online social engagement experience. At the very least, some level of participation is necessary. But, in order to do so effectively, you must engage in a meaningful way that creates real value for the consumer. Blogs are an effective platform for creating value. Companies are now using Blogs more and more frequently — rising from 16% in 2007 to 43% in 2012.

Social media is beginning to have a significant impact on the purchase process, especially in the automotive sales and service markets. But having just a Facebook page – does not a social media marketing strategy make. You should consider ALL of the online outlets available as potential areas in which to engage. The biggest area of growth for purchase information was blogs.2 Also, consider two out of five users accessing social media are using their smartphone. A mobile presence will allow your company to be available when the consumer is ready to engage.

Combining a direct mail piece with a QR code that links to your Facebook page, a personalized URL, or microsite with an online video, provides consumers an easy and immediate way to begin a “two-way conversation.” Utilizing more of the marketing tools at your disposal will help you develop more successful marketing programs.

It’s not a question of push OR pull tactics, nor is it a question of push vs. pull. This should not devolve into a tug-of-war. Integrating social media and traditional push marketing strengthens both.


Where Dealers Need to Focus

November 23rd, 2011

Mike Martinez, Chief Marketing Officer at DMEautomotive, advises dealers on places to focus on to be successful today.

Skip the Auctions: Fortifying Your Pre-Owned Inventory

June 27th, 2011

A trend is developing in the used car industry: prices on used cars are up 30% since 2008 and they could go even higher. It’s not uncommon to see a 1999 Toyota Corolla on the road and it won’t be sputtering along covered in rust spots, either. Simply put, cars are being built better to last longer. If a car buyer can’t afford a new vehicle, they know they can put faith in a used car to last them longer than just the drive off the lot. With demand (and prices) on used vehicles growing higher every year, do you have the right stock of pre-owned vehicles? What’s your plan to get these on your lot? Read the rest of this entry »

Learn Your Online Clout with Klout

June 22nd, 2011

You send out your direct mail, place newspaper ads and get radio spots all for your car dealer marketing efforts. In the end, what you really want to know is your ROI, and for a good reason. If you’re going to spend the time and money, you want to track the results that are being produced and know that your marketing plan is effective. Read the rest of this entry »

Knowing (and Conquering) SEO in Your Car Dealer Marketing

June 17th, 2011

By now, we all know the value of SEO, or “search engine optimization,” and we potentially use it in our arsenal of automotive marketing.  But to many of us, including those who work with it, SEO is a big mystery. According to Google, there are over 200 SEO factors that go into search results. No one individual can know all of these. Read the rest of this entry »

Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore Social Media

June 13th, 2011

75% of automotive customers use Facebook.  This should come as no surprise considering Facebook has more users than the population of almost every country in the world, including the United States.  But are these customers important for your business?  The answer is yes.  Not only are they important, but the future of your business depends on them.  In fact, active Facebook users represent your best customers – the ones who make up 60 to 80% of your revenue.   In a recent survey with U.S. automotive consumers, DMEa found that 57% of customers who spent at least $1,000 on automotive service in the past year visit Facebook at least once a day.  That is at least 27% more than lower spending groups. Read the rest of this entry »

Tag, You’re It: Latest Facebook Feature Provides Product Placement

June 10th, 2011

After the creation of Facebook’s brand tagging feature, automotive marketing has a new tool at their disposal. Starting on May 11, Facebook users were able to tag more than just their friends in a picture – they could tag pages for brands, products and people. What does this mean for car dealer marketing? Read the rest of this entry »