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Tag Archive: Digital Marketing

Chelsea Magee

Intimidated by digital marketing? Don’t be!


It doesn’t matter what amazing deal, video or article you have, unless someone sees it! That’s why digital marketing is so important. It drives traffic to your website, and that traffic to your website drives leads to your CRM. Sounds easy and not super complicated, right?

It all starts with search

Fortunately, Google wants it to be that way. Most traffic starts with search. After all, whenever someone has a question, what’s the first response?  I ALWAYS say, “Just Google it!”

Your customers use Google to look up certain vehicles, your dealership reputation and much more. In fact, the search engine giant receives more than 3.5 billion searches per day. A solid digital plan makes their searching easy and quick, like a drive thru window.

You don’t need a web developer

So often, I find that dealerships think digital marketing is a super complicated thing. Many are concerned that they need to have—or hire—someone with extensive technical knowledge, like a website developer. You’ll probably be surprised to read that the best online marketing strategies aren’t about understanding computers, but understanding people!

People are the secret to digital marketing

Expanding your online presence starts with learning what online shoppers expect so you can get consumers’ attention.

Think about what grabs your attention at drive thru windows. Is it the price? Probably not—it’s about the tantalizing photos and descriptions. Digital marketing is about offering the right content, images and offers in the right places. Once you understand how your customers interact with the web, you can identify the best mobile strategy, website design, and social media presence. Then you learn how to use performance metrics to gauge your results. This part is a little technical, but with many resources to guide you, you don’t need to worry!

You can do this

Really, the biggest takeaway I want you to get from this blog is that digital marketing isn’t all that different from skills you already have: understanding what customers need and knowing how to talk to them. It’s just that you’re doing it in a different way. When you focus on people, not the technology, you can see that the digital landscape is really all about relationship building … with a few extra bells and whistles!

Join Chelsea for Kain Automotive and NCMi course, How to Lead in the Digital Marketplace, for more actionable insights and strategies for digital marketing.



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Laura Madison

4 Reasons Why Video is Your Fiercest Weapon


Today, we can find social media participation in nearly every corner of the automotive industry; dealerships are active on Facebook, automakers are sharing images on Instagram, even salespeople have joined the movement tweeting and posting trying to win more business. It seems to be clear: social is not optional. However, even with all this progression in the social realm, the automotive industry is still missing one key component in social presence: video. Video has the most incredible opportunity for visibility, creating connection and building trust, but it remains the least utilized medium by our industry.

Think about yourself for a moment. How many videos have you watched this week alone? Chances are, at least a couple. Have you seen the video of the Nascar driver dressing in disguise and scaring the used car salesman on a test drive? Video is a powerful medium that people simply enjoy engaging with and sharing. For these reasons, video has the potential to become your fiercest marketing weapon, creating visibility and leads for your dealership. To be successful on social you must work video into your master (marketing) plan.

So why is video your fiercest weapon?

1) Our customers prefer it. IT’S EXCITING!! It’s visually stimulating and interesting. Video is engaging and easy to tune into. Our brain also processes video far better than audio alone or simple text. People remember 50% of what they watch compared to only 10% of what they read.

2) Video gives you the opportunity to communicate your message clearly. The visual element of video allows you to communicate non-verbally with things like facial expressions and tone. It was Tom Hopkins who said, “selling is the transfer of enthusiasm supported by conviction.” Video is the perfect medium to transfer enthusiasm with so many verbal and non-verbal elements at work: tone, body language, facial expression, and volume. Combine this clear and effective communication with how much people like to consume video, and you have pure marketing gold.

3) The Internet’s heavy players recognize the importance of video and favor it as a type of content. YouTube has Google behind it, making it an extremely strong tool for organic search engine optimization. This will aid in appearing towards the top of any relevant automotive keyword search in your area. Another heavy player in the social world, Facebook, favors video over other types of posts meaning a video uploaded straight into Facebook will be more visible to your audience than a simple text or picture post. More visibility allows you to make more impressions and connections on this social giant.

4) Video is your fiercest weapon also because video is do-able. It’s more do-able than you think. We don’t need fancy or expensive production with commercial quality. We need to create genuine connection and that can absolutely be accomplished quite simply using the camera on your smartphone. There’s a simple app called the YouTube Capture app that will allow you to film video, move clips around, edit out the beginning where you set the camera on the dash and the end where you hit the button to stop recording, and upload it straight to YouTube with a title, keywords, and a description. If you can use e-mail, you’ll be able to use this free app to create simple videos. Apps like this and simple tools like a smartphone make video absolutely do-able.

So, in review: consumers love watching videos, video allows you to communicate a message clearly, there are huge visibility advantages to video, and creating a video even off a cellphone is simple and do-able. You can use simple video to connect, differentiate your dealership, build relationships with clients, and win more business. Video is your fiercest weapon. Now get started.

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Ali Mendiola

40 Percent or More of Your Website Traffic Comes from Mobile. Are You Ready?


You build a website thinking that customers will take the time to go to a computer and do their research. After all, they’re going to spend thousands of dollars on a new or pre-owned vehicle, so you want the experience they have on your website to be scalable, colorful and rich in content and tools.

And you’d be right. Your website must offer lots of brilliant content in a design that makes your cars shine, and with digital retailing tools you must connect the online world with your in-store shopping experience. Your website must be a digital conversion machine.

There’s only one catch: That picture is changing, and fast. Today, according to comScore and Mobile Metrix, around 80 percent of people in the U.S. own smartphones. So when it comes to car shoppers, it makes sense that many are actually using a smartphone, or tablet, to visit your site, search inventory and conduct those all-important first purchase steps. In fact, according to traffic on the network, more than 40 percent of visits to dealership websites come from mobile devices.

That’s four out of ten potential buyers looking at your inventory on a screen that could be as small as a business card.

That’s not a trend. It’s a fact. Mobile shopping behavior will and is continuing to gain momentum, to the point that your sales and marketing solution must accommodate the differences. Check out this interesting article from on the most important differences between Responsive, Adaptive and Seamless mobile design. Part of that design approach must also include retail tools that help ease the process of conversion from shopper to buyer.

It’s not enough to have a search-and-user friendly mobile experience; the same digital steps that dealers count on to help speed car buyers through the initial purchase steps of a website should do the same on the mobile equivalent. From searching inventory to calculating payment, checking realistic finance offers and trade-in values, these types of efficient digital tools – when designed correctly – are more valuable because they’re available when and how consumers want to shop, and when they want to buy. That sort of on-demand and mobile-first approach to digital retail is a significant difference maker.

It’s critical that dealers provide consistency across their sites and apps, no matter what device is being used to access the information. That’s not only about the look, feel, and information displayed on a site, but also when it comes to providing an online shopping environment. Too often, in fact, talk of a mobile experience ends at the research phase when what dealers need is a complete package which includes mobile and tablet-ready Digital Retailing tools. From trade-in to finance, those tools empower shoppers to find the perfect vehicle, serve up pricing and payment solutions in line with your dealership criteria, and even provide trade-in offers based on your inventory needs.

The reason? Convenience amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life. The reality is that people want to complete more of shopping transaction wherever and whenever they can – sitting in the carpool line before the school bell rings, between meetings, or waiting at the doctor’s office. Those spare 10 minutes are valuable opportunities to get shopping and research done via whichever type of device consumers wish to use. Dealers and their staff, as a result, have to be ready. Those that are ready will improve sales and the overall buyer’s experience.

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Garry House

The Changing Role of Used Vehicle Management


Over the last ten years, anyone who has not witnessed dramatic changes in the used vehicle arena must have his/her head in the sand. Why is it then that so many franchised new vehicle dealers have thus far failed to effectively adjust to these changes? So that you understand what I’m talking about, I’ll just mention two of these impactful changes:

1. The Growth of the Internet as a Marketing Source

2. The Advantages Available through Inventory Optimization Technology

Even the language is changing! The used vehicle manager who was successful ten years ago wouldn’t even be able to communicate today. What did he need to know about inventory turns, price-to-sale gap, SRPs and DVPs, etc.?

Most importantly, the scope of used vehicle management responsibilities has massively expanded. At the used vehicle management classes offered by the NCM Institute, we now define and discuss the 30 Regular Responsibilities that must be performed in a well-run pre-owned vehicle department.

NCM Institute divides these responsibilities into three major categories: Inventory Management, Marketing, and Sales Production. It quickly becomes apparent to our students that even Superman, working 80 hours per week, cannot effectively perform these responsibilities individually.

Many of these numerous tasks must be assumed by, or delegated to, other members of the dealership sales team. In some dealerships, the used vehicle department manager position has been totally eliminated from the organization chart. Instead, the position has been replaced by one or more of the following:

  • Group Used Vehicle Systems Coordinator
  • Used Vehicle Digital Marketing Director
  • Used Vehicle Sales Production Manager
  • Used Vehicle Inventory Manager
  • Used Vehicle Acquisition Specialist
  • Used Vehicle Pricing Administrator

Without a used vehicle department manager, either the GM (or GSM, if applicable) must “own” the aforementioned 30 Regular Responsibilities, and he/she must ensure that each of the responsibilities is effectively delegated and executed. Future articles of Up To Speed will present and discuss in detail many of these individual responsibilities.

Need help structuring your dealership to capitalize on used vehicle department opportunities?  Reach out to your NCM 20 Group moderator or Retail Operations Consulting coach, or sign up for the NCM Institute’s courses in Used Vehicle Management.  Call us at 866.756.2620; we’ll listen and recommend a solution that’s right for you.

UV Training

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Russell Grant

Traditional Dealership Marketing vs. Digital Marketing

digitalmarketingAs I speak to dealers and GMs a common question they struggle with is: “How much of my budget should go to traditional marketing and how much should go to digital marketing?” It is an interesting question because everyone is trying to find the magic formula.

The first part of this question is easy for dealers to answer, as most dealerships are going to stick with the traditional media that works best for them. The tougher issues are how much to spend on digital, what is the correct ratio and where to invest those digital dollars. This becomes even more difficult as digital marketing is expanding into new and innovative products — and also blending with our traditional media. This is where it becomes trickier to calculate the correct percentages, as you have to drop your media into one of the two buckets.

Brand and Impact Marketing

I would like to look at this from a different perspective. I was speaking to Jared Hamilton of DrivingSales, and it is his opinion that dealers should measure it in two ways. Your marketing dollars should be spent on brand and impact marketing. The bottom line is that you should either be building your brand or driving response. Building your brand creates awareness, and impact marketing creates the response a dealer needs to excel. I thought this was a brilliant idea because the most successful vendors and marketing concepts will combine traditional and digital strategies.

For example: all of your TV campaigns will tie back to your dealership’s website. In fact, most if not all of your marketing spend will include your dealership’s website. Digital marketing, as we see it today, will be become traditional in the next 10 years, if not sooner. We also see direct marketing becoming more effective by using digital components, and vice versa. As this trend continues, it will become more difficult to decipher which of your spend is digital and which is traditional.

What Do We Measure?

As dealers, we want to have measurable results for our spend. That is the same now as it was 10 years ago. It is my opinion that dealers should be educated on all the new ways to reach customers, but not limit themselves to trying to find the correct percentage of traditional vs. digital. The goals of marketing have not changed. All we have to do is figure out the best way to brand our dealership and the best way to have immediate impact. So, the next time you get pitched the latest and greatest concept, you will have a better way to decide if you should move forward. More importantly, as the market continues to redefine itself, it will be easier to keep your marketing aligned with your true visions and objectives.



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Garry House

When Should You Compare Your KPIs to Best Practice Guidelines?

h--rek-pictures-blogs-plum line-small_Last week I attended NCM’s semi-annual meeting of all its divisional directors, 20 Group moderators, Retail Operations consultants, and NCM Institute faculty members, who, along with our CEO set aside two and a half days to dialogue about what’s happening around the industry and within the company, and how best to address the needs of our clients.  As usual, it was a great encounter, with far too much agenda content and discussion for the overall time allotted.

One of the topics that continually surfaced (and in which yours truly usually became embroiled) was defining and quantifying the metrics related to dealership Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). NCM Associates has always been renowned for providing business intelligence to the retail automotive community. Our data management, benchmarking, and reporting capabilities are widely acclaimed. Because of NCM’s reputation in the business intelligence arena, I’ve always believed that when a dealer or manager asks, ‘what should this number be?’ any NCM moderator, trainer or consultant should be able to provide the answer. After our meeting last week, I’ve seriously reconsidered what our answer should be when we’re asked questions as to the hard metrics for certain KPIs.

After 50+ years in the car business I should know everything, right? No way!! Fortunately, I continue to learn every day. During one agenda module last week, we had a guest speaker who, from an age standpoint, could have been my grandson. Not surprisingly, based on his age, his topic was on digital marketing and management for auto dealers. His very informative discussion led him to present the importance of several KPIs, but he never discussed any best practice guidelines for those KPIs. When I pressed the speaker for hard metric guidelines (often to the chagrin and heckling of my NCM colleagues), he repeatedly stated that he could modify the KPI variables to provide whatever metric I set my heart on.

He went on to explain that hard metric guidelines aren’t important; you first need to clearly define your dealership KPI and how you will consistently measure it. Then establish a baseline, such as what your metric is today. Then your objective should be to improve your metric against your baseline!

Does this mean that there are no solid guidelines for KPI metrics? Certainly not! The vast majority of dealership KPI metrics can be quantified by franchise (or franchise grouping), and NCM has done and always will do a great job of providing this information. When reviewing your dealership KPI metrics against those provided by NCM, you must always ask yourself two questions: (1) am I measuring this KPI at my dealership the same way that most of NCM reporting client-dealers are measuring it?; (2) is my financial reporting consistent with theirs?

You shouldn’t depend on NCM (or any industry resource) for providing valid metrics for certain KPIs—these are the ones for which you need to develop your own baseline, and strive to make improvements against this baseline. Following are only a few examples of KPIs that you should, using baseline comparison, only measure against yourself:

  • Any KPI for which you use a different form of measurement from the norm.
  • Service retention – everyone defines and measures this differently.
  • Internet conversion rates (leads per provider) – there is still no overall industry guidance on defining what is truly a valid Internet lead, much less which was the originating provider.
  • Gross per Service Technician per Month, Gross per Service Advisor per Month, and Gross per Service Department Employee per Month – disparate effective labor rates throughout U.S. geographic regions severely confuse this metric.
  • “All-In” Variable Gross per Retail Unit – manufacturer incentives, Doc. fees, hard packs, and other sales department income reported as Additions to Income rather than Gross Profit, severely distorts this metric from dealer to dealer. Measurement and analysis of this metric also impacts the true metrics for Gross per Sales Consultant per Month,  Gross per F&I Producer per Month, Gross per Sales Manager per Month, and Gross per Variable Department Employee per Month.

KPI Definition, Measurement, Comparison, and Management is a topic consistently discussed during all courses taught at the NCM Institute Center for Retail Automotive Excellence. For more information on the training offered by NCMi, please go to, or call us at 866.756.2620.

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