page contents Automotive Thought Leadership: Ralph Paglia: March 2013 My title page contents

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Facebook Introduces Lookalike Audiences: New Way to Target Customers

Facebook Lookalike Audiences: A New Way to Reach Potential Customers

For marketers, getting the right messages in front of the right people is key. Today we're announcing the global rollout of lookalike audiences, a targeting feature that helps advertisers reach new customers and grow their businesses.

Lookalike audiences helps advertisers to reach potential customers who share similar characteristics with their current ones. Both online and offline, lookalike targeting has worked well for businesses so we are excited to launch it as a targeting option on Facebook.  This feature will be available in power editor starting this week.
Lookalike audiences builds off of a targeting feature we launched last fall called custom audiences. Custom audiences lets marketers take their current customer lists and show ads to those people on Facebook. Now with lookalike audiences, Facebook can use attributes like interests or demographics and show ads to people who share common attributes as their existing customers.  Advertisers can serve any type of Facebook ad to these new groups of people potential customers. 
We've seen this new type of targeting drive a wide range of success metrics for direct response companies like Fab, including lower cost per checkout, lower cost per acquisition, larger purchase size, and faster and increased return on investment.

[Sent from Ralph Paglia's iPhone]

Chip Perry Leaves After 16 Years In Charge - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

Chip Perry Leaves After 16 Years In Charge - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

Chip Perry leaves AutoTrader as of May 1, 2013.
Mr. Perry has been with since its inception has been admired by many Dealers and industry observers. The AutoTrader team announced he was leaving the Autotrader Group effective May 1.
Chip served as president and CEO of, and was the company’s first employee in 1997 when asked by Manheim to launch the corporation. Since then, has grown to become the world’s largest automotive marketplace and Chip Perry has become widely recognized as a pioneer of the online automotive industry.

Mr. Sandy Schwartz  will assume the role of President of AutoTrader Group.
Sources report that Mr.Schwartz will continue reporting to Mr. Jim Hayes the President and Chief Executive Officer of Cox Enterprises. Sandy Schwartz became President of Manheim in mid 2011. Before Manheim, Mr. Schwartz served as President of Cox Media Group.
In researching Mr. Schwartz's business history we believe he joined Cox in 1985 and served in many functions including President of Cox Arizona Publishing, Executive Vice President of the Austin American-Statesman, Vice President and General Manager of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Executive Vice President of Cox Newspapers and Vice President of business development for Cox Enterprises.
Mr. Schwartz’s automotive experience has been limited other then working with AutoTrader. He served as President of Cox AutoTrader, comprised of both and AutoTrader Publishing. He also has been on the board of for several years.
Chip Perry has done a wonderful job growing dealer relationships, sales, marketing, product development, information technology,customer service efforts and AutoTrader team member development.
On an optimistic note, we are sure that the ADM Professional Community members and AutoTrader team will welcome Sandy with an open mind towards new innovations and a perfecting of AutoTrader's proven advertising solutions.  
Sadly, we will also miss Chip's presence at AutoTrader and wish him all the best.

How To Keep Your VDPs In Sight, In Mind… All The Time - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

How To Keep Your VDPs In Sight, In Mind… All The Time - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

How To Keep Your VDPs In Sight, In Mind… All The Time

Shaun Kehrbergby Shaun Kehrberg, Product Marketing Manager, Digital Advertising
Impact of Automotive Digital Advertising on VDP ViewsVDP views are all the rage. At Cobalt, we traditionally see up to a 30% bump in VDP views when we turn on a VIN-specific digital advertising campaign for a dealer. So what's the key to luring those potential customers back to your website and increasing their engagement with your VDPs?

The answer is Dynamic Inventory Merchandising. This advanced advertising strategy  provides seamless integration between a dealer's inventory and their digital advertising campaigns, automatically generating campaigns based on the inventory on your lot. Dealers can utilize Dynamic Inventory Merchandising to help increase VDP views and overall online engagement with your VINs.
The following is Part I in a series on how, highlighting a technique that some have called the MVP of your dealership's advertising strategy--- dynamic inventory retargeting.

Dynamic Inventory Retargeting

We know you’re already familiar with retargeting - display ads that keep your dealership present even after car shoppers have left your website. But today we can take these ads one step further by utilizing advanced retargeting techniques. Dealers can now easily incorporate dynamic, scrolling images of live inventory in their ads to follow their potential customers around the Internet.
For example, imagine a shopper who spends the majority of their time on your website looking at used vehicles. Shouldn’t the retargeting ads that “follow them” be specifically tailored to their unique shopping experience? In other words, if a shopper was looking at a used Honda Accord, the retargeting ad should feature that EXACT Accord (as long as it’s still on the lot). If that vehicle sells, the next ad served to the shopper will dynamically adjust to feature a similar make/model.
Dynamic Inventory Retargeting
In addition, dealers can target customers with ads featuring a unique look and feel or special offers and pricing based on whether they are shopping for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) or regular used vehicles. The same functionality can also be easily applied to New Vehicle and Service & Parts campaigns - allowing a dealer to reach every website visitor with a dynamic banner ad specifically tailored to her unique shopping experience.

What does this mean for dealers?

This type of advertising is a game-changer because it allows dealers to supplement their generic brand retargeting with hyper-precise retargeting down to the model and even the very VIN a customer viewed. A click on a vehicle image within these dynamic ads takes the shopper directly to the Vehicle Details Page. And as we already know, more VDP views means more cars sold.
There's a new kid on the retargeting block and branded retargeting ads are now only part of the automotive remarketing equation.
As Brian Pasch, President of PCG Consulting, highlighted in a recent article, dynamic inventory retargeting ads "give dealers a dynamic edge" and have emerged as a uniquely efficient means of showcasing your inventory online and driving highly targeted traffic back to your VDPs.
In Part II, we'll look at another technique you can inject into your digital advertisings strategy that can help you drive more traffic to your VDPs--- Dynamic Paid Search Advertising.
Have you experimented with dynamic inventory retargeting and measured the results? Are you sold on this new metric for measuring your ability to attract online shoppers and sell to them--- VDP views? What other metrics do you value most when predicting a success event on your site?
Shaun Kehrberg

About the Author

Shaun Kehrberg is the Product Marketing Manager, Digital Advertising at Cobalt. He is focused on helping dealers understand the power of today’s advertising technology and the collective value of the Cobalt digital marketing experience. Shaun can be reached at 206.219.8203 or

Sunday, March 24, 2013

CRM Triggered Personalized Customer Emails Outperform Bulk Email Campaigns for Car Dealers - Automotive Marketing

CRM Triggered Personalized Customer Emails Outperform Bulk Email Campaigns for Car Dealers - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

Personalized Promotional Offers and Event/Time CRM Triggered Emails Seen Delivering Stronger Results than Mass Email Campaigns for Car Dealers and Automotive Marketers

The results stand in apparent contrast to study findings from MailerMailer last year. That study found that emails with the subject line personalized had lower open and click rates than those without personalization. The difference could be attributable to the sample set analyzed. The MailerMailer study took a broad view, looking at opt-in emails as a whole, while the Experian study analyzed promotional and triggered emails only.
I have seen where time spent detailing out the email templates that are triggered by lead status changes in a dealership CRM system creates a highly effective sales and marketing automation strategy. In my own personal experience, the many hours invested in creating custom email templates that are specific for such CRM activities as leaving a voice mail, trade-in estimate, payment quotes, changes in program interest rates for the specific vehicle the customer is interested in, or sending a price quote will pay off with a robust ROI. Customers receive a steady stream of personalized messages that are triggered by an event or timing that is predetermined and logically expected by the customer... When done properly, these automated highly personalized CRM triggered emails will elicit a thank you from customers for the diligence a salesperson has exercised in staying in contact with them. Quite simply, there are few other sales automation systems appropriate for car dealerships with as positive a result as robustly customized CRM implementations.
For CRM system triggered emails, those with the subject line personalized had an average open rate of 29.2%, about 25% higher than the rate for those broadcast email campaigns without personalization (23.3%).
As for unique click rates, personalized emails outperformed their counterparts for both promotional emails (3.2% vs. 2.3%) and triggered emails (6.7% vs. 4.4%).
The Experian study also finds personalization providing a significant lift in transaction rates and revenue per email:
  • For broadcast type promotional mailings, transaction rates were 7 times higher (0.35% vs. 0.05%), while for CRM triggered mailings, they were more than twice as large (0.62% vs. 0.25%)
  • For promotional mailings, revenue per email was more than 6 times higher ($0.26 vs. $0.04), and for triggered messages, they were 63% higher ($0.31 vs. $0.19).

Dealer-to-Customer Emails:  Data Shows Longer Subject Lines Get More Clicks

These emails have a CTOR 94.7% above the average (and click and open rates 276.4% and 93.2% above-average, respectively). B2B emails show a similar trend, though not quite as clear cut. Emails with subject line length of 20 characters performed above-average for all 3 metrics, though the rates generally dipped after that until recovering from 90 characters in length and up. The peak for open rate was 20 characters (24.6% above-average), while the peak for click rate was for 140 characters (82.7% above-average) and for CTOR was also 140 characters (72% above-average).

E-commerce Emails Show Mixed Trends

Data from Adestra’s subject line study indicates that when it comes to the e-commerce sector, the results are fairly mixed. Subject lines 110 characters in length performed best for open rates (122.4% above-average), but those 70-characters-long did best for click rates (91.1% above-average), while those with 30 characters achieved the best CTOR (17.4% above-average), despite the latter having below-average open and click rates. Overall, subject lines with 70 characters appeared to do the best, with above-average performance in each metric.
For the events sector, short subject lines (20-30 characters) got the highest open rates, while longer subject lines (120-150 characters) got the best click rates and CTOR. Publishing emails displayed the same pattern as events emails, though for charity emails, short subject lines had the highest open, click, and click-to-open rates.
Overall, across the 6 sectors studied, despite an open rate peak for emails with 20 characters, longer subject lines (100+ characters) appeared to deliver better open, click, and click-to-open rates. This compares with recent studies from MailerMailer and Informz, which found shorter subject lines to clearly have the best open rates, though with mixed results for click rates.

Word Count Results Similar

Further results from the Adestra show that word count length has a similar effect to that of character count, but is amplified. Email subject lines that are a single word have a spike in open, click, and click-to-open rates relative to the average, though all metrics dip in response rates alongside increasing word length, until 15 words and longer, when they begin to rise and hit new peaks.
Looking at the results by sector, some interesting patterns emerge. For e-commerce emails, 1-word subject lines had the highest open rate, but 4-word lines had the best highest CTOR relative to the average. For events emails, shorter word counts (2-5) delivered the best open rates relative to the average, but longer word counts (19 and up) delivered both the best click and click-to-open rates relative to the average.
For the publishing sector, the results were clearer: longer subject lines delivered generally higher-than-average open, click, and click-to-open rates, aside from a spike at 2 words. For the charity sector, short subject lines did well for open and click rates, and longer counts (14 words and up) performed worst for click-to-open rates.
In the B2B and B2C sectors, open, click, and click-to-open rates were generally better for longer word counts, though 2-word subject lines performed best overall in the B2B sector.

“Coupon” Fares Worst Among Offer Terms

Notably, the study finds that for the e-commerce sector, the word “coupon” has open rates that are 55.6% below the average for offers emails, with click rates also 85.8% below-average and CTOR 68.1% below-average. This appears to be in direct contradiction to results from an Epsilon study also released in July, which found that the keyword “coupon” was tops for email opens. However, that study only measured the 2011 holiday season, which may explain the discrepancy in results.
According to Adestra, the words “sale” and “% off” performed best in click rates and CTOR relative to the average for offer emails, and also perform among the best for open rates.

Other Findings:

  • For the events sector, using currency (particularly $ signs), first names, “thousands,” or “millions” can have an uplift for all 3 metrics.
  • For the publishing sector, “video” and “exclusive” perform very well relative to the average, while the terms “newsletter,” “research”, “report,” “forecast,” and “intelligence,” all perform significantly below-average.
  • For the charity sector, the words “appeal” and “donate” fare poorly compared to the average, while “give” has above-average results.
  • For the B2B sector, currency symbols, as well as words such as “profit,” “revenue,” “turnover,” and “referral” perform markedly above-average, while the term “B2B” shows very poor response rates.
  • For the B2C sector, “sale,” “% off,” “video,” “exclusive,” and “new” perform best, while “coupon,” “half price,” “free,” and currency symbols are below-average.
  • According to a July 2012 report [pdf] from Experian, including the word “exclusive” in the subject line can provide a lift of 14% in promotion mailings (15.9% with vs. 14% without). Similarly, subject lines including “top 10″ or “top 5″ deliver open rates 13% higher than promotional emails without them (16.1% vs. 14.3%).
  • Also per the Experian findings, emails asking customers to rate and review purchased items generate 2 times higher open rates, 39% higher click rates, 22% higher transaction rates, and 32% higher revenue per email.
About the Data: The Adestra study campaigns had more than 5,000 recipients per campaign, but were not limited to large campaigns. The study was conducted across the client basis without regard to list size.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Promote Your Live Chat Feature and They Will Come - Dealer Website Marketing

Promote Your Live Chat Feature and They Will Come - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

Promote Your Live Chat Feature and They Will Come

We've already emphasized that at least 57% of your customers are looking to chat while online shopping. Now we need to discuss how to get those customers to your website in order to use your live chat feature.
I recently did a Google search and found that when I entered:
“Honda dealership in Florida with live chat”
I was brought to a ton of different links from a third-party site, however if I Googled: 
“Honda dealership in Florida”
I was brought straight to several main dealership websites. Some of them had a live chat feature, while others did not.
In doing so, I learned that if you have live chat, the reason your website isn't getting all the traffic you are hoping for may be because you are not promoting that you have a live chat feature!
Third-party sites are marketing this feature EVERYWHERE, which tells Google to direct your potential customers to a third-party site first, instead of your own website.
The Live Chat feature can give you a tremendous advantage if you market it properly!

Where should you be promoting that you have Live Chat?
  • Your Contact Us page
  • TV Advertisements
  • Radio Advertisements
  • Emails
  • Any content you write - Blogs, Forums, Videos
  • Social Media sites

Marketing your live chat feature as much as you can will put your dealership in the top search results for those customers looking to chat. The 57% of customers who want to be helped by a live chat representative, or the 83% who need some kind of support, will be thankful that your dealership was easy to find and that you have the help they are looking for when shopping online. 

The more customers who know you have Live Chat, the better the feature is going to work for your dealership!

Make a direct connection between your website and your customers who are looking to chat, and cut out the search-competition that third-party sites are taking advantage of with their marketing strategy. 

Remember, your dealership website has the power to transform your Internet sales. Make sure your website promotes the use of your live chat feature to encourage online shoppers to get their questions answered RIGHT AWAY!

Do you have a marketing strategy for how you use your Live Chat feature? Post your comments below, and you can also download our FREE ebook, 7 Reasons Live Chat Failsby clicking here.

Online Car Selling Checklist - Automotive Marketing

Online Car Selling Checklist - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

Online Car Selling Checklist

Can a computer sell a car?
While much of the online car selling process is automated these days, the answer is still no. To successfully sell a car online, there are a few essential points that auto dealers and individual sellers need to remember. Mere hours of work, invested by a few people, can dramatically improve your vehicle sales online.
Before you post your vehicles on the internet, double-check Strathcom’s Online Car Selling Checklist:

1. Do you have great descriptions to hook your reader?

When you’re selling online, you need to engage your reader the same way an author does, in the first paragraph. Do you have detailed, complete vehicle descriptions? If not, don’t expect to sell cars.
*Pictures and descriptions can lower a bounce rate by up to 60% (Bounce rate is the percentage of people  that leave your site without clicking through to another page)
  • Be descriptive — “soft, heated leather upholstery” sounds better than just “heated seats.”
  • Use safe terminology — avoid words like “mint” or “new.” A car isn’t new if it’s three years old. Rather, use ambiguous or interpretive terminology like “very clean,” which won’t cause problems down the road.
  • Use words people relate to — “well maintained,” “local,” and “accident–free” are examples.
  • Paint a picture — help readers picture a car in their minds. A good description for a convertible: “This cabriolet turns heads cruising in the sun.”
  • Tailor descriptions — is it summer? Then describe the efficient A/C system. Winter? Mention the vehicle has a car starter and heated seats.
  • Instil confidence in the reader — use words like unique, rare find, great find, very successful, award winning, economical, powerful, safe, beautiful, stunning, eye catching, head turning, best-selling, etc. Customers want to know they’re making a great buy.
  • “What’s in it for me?” — Highlight the benefits of each element you are describing to your customer. Don’t just say “has silicone wiper blades,” but rather add “Silicone wiper blades last three times longer and perform better than ordinary rubber blades. They offer resistance to fuels, oils, acid rain, washer fluid and road grime.”
The industry is changing. Things like “Tilt” and “ABS” are no longer selling features. People now want to know the MPG or L/100km they will get on a tank of gas. Honesty is important too; if a vehicle has high kilometers, admit it — but focus on its spotless service record.
Bottom line: writing good descriptions will increase the amount you get paid for your vehicles.

2. Have you posted pricing for all of your vehicles?

While some dealers feel that more people will call if there is no price, this is never the case. You should at the very minimum post a MSRP for new vehicles and make it easy for a consumer to submit a lead for more information. Pricing should always be posted for used vehicles — no exception.

3. Are your descriptions legible?

Ensure that your listings have proper spelling, grammar and easy-to-read fonts. Avoid wild colours, OVER-CAPITALIZATION (AKA “caps lock syndrome”), and fancy fonts as these elements will not give you more attention, but rather annoy the reader.
*Car buyers now physically visit only 1.3 dealerships before buying. Don’t give them a reason to go to the competition

4. Are you consistent across all postings?

Complete descriptions, detailed photos, proper prices — all of the elements that make a good vehicle posting need to be applied across the board on your listings to capitalize on return traffic. Consumers will research for 3-6 months before making a purchase, meaning they will return to your site multiple times; you should convey the correct brand message on each visit.

5. Do you have photos for all of your vehicles?

Having good vehicle photos should be common sense; customers want to see a car before they buy it. Do you have pictures for all of your vehicles? Do you have them online as soon as a car hits the lot? You should, or you could be losing sales to the competition.
*According to Kijiji, ads with pictures were twice as likely to get a reply than those without
  • Highlight selling features — focus on what matters to your buyer. Selling a minivan? Focus on interior and safety.
  • Timeliness is extremely important — get pictures online within 48 hours of the unit arriving.
  • Include a variety of photos — give your customers an online walk-around of the vehicle.
  • Take Interior & Exterior Photos — get every angle: under the hood, the dashboard, seats (front and rear) and the exterior.
Side-by-side, which looks more appealing: no-name pop, or Coke? Which would you pay more for? Having vehicle photos is like branding. It makes customers more confident in your product, and increases sales while allowing you to ask more for a vehicle.
The principles are the same online as they have always been offline. If someone came in to buy a Cadillac Escalade, you wouldn’t bring up gas mileage. The point is to tailor your photos and descriptions to each vehicle. This is the best way to build quality leads that will make you a lot more money.
– Michael Fisher with Stuart Bendall and Trish Rowsell

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ralph Paglia at VIP reception for Internet Sales 20 Group in Dallas

Ford's Power of Choice


GREEN MACHINE by Ford Motor Company
GREEN MACHINE, a photo by Ford Motor Company on Flickr.


DRIVING THE FUTURE by Ford Motor Company
DRIVING THE FUTURE, a photo by Ford Motor Company on Flickr.


STANDING TALL by Ford Motor Company
STANDING TALL, a photo by Ford Motor Company on Flickr.



PEAK PERFORMERS by Ford Motor Company
PEAK PERFORMERS, a photo by Ford Motor Company on Flickr.



KING OF QUEENS by Ford Motor Company
KING OF QUEENS, a photo by Ford Motor Company on Flickr.


GLOBAL HERITAGE by Ford Motor Company
GLOBAL HERITAGE, a photo by Ford Motor Company on Flickr.


BROOKLYN CHARGER by Ford Motor Company
BROOKLYN CHARGER, a photo by Ford Motor Company on Flickr.

Five Time Saving Tools for Automotive Marketers

5 Time Saving SEO Tools You Should Be Using In Your Automotive Marketing Campaigns

As automotive marketers, we live in a world where we're always bombarded by things that demand our time. Dealers, marketing directors, general managers, new techniques, getting familiar with the latest social network, or the work itself. Obviously there's nothing we can do about most of that, but what we can do is make certain processes easier and work for us.


Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

For anyone who creates automotive content on a regular basis, Zemanta can be a lifesaver. The system offers up auto industry and vehicle content that is relevant to the post/page that you're in the middle of creating. Images, text links, tags, and related articles are all types of content that can be added to posts to dress them up and make them more user friendly, and ultimately, make your content more enjoyable.

As if having free, easily insertable content wasn't enough, Zemanta is designed to "share the wealth" between bloggers. This means that just as you are linking to someone's post through an image or related article, they (or anyone) can do the same by adding images or lining to related articles in their post.

These 2 major factors make Zemanta a huge time saver. The more content you create, the more time you can save when creating posts and link building.


Boomerang for Gmail

How many times have you had to follow up with a link prospect because they haven't got around to your email? Plenty of times no doubt. This is precisely a type of scenario that Boomerang was built to handle.

Boomerang is basically an email reminder and scheduler wrapped up into one. It allows you to schedule emails to be sent at certain times, and also to send a reminder to you if an email you sent previously isn't responded to. For link building and outreach this is a huge time saver.


Ontolo Tool-Screenshot

Experienced link builders know exactly how frustrating it can be doing repetitive tasks. Just about the whole process is a repetitive task. Luckily, Ontolo saves the day when it comes to perhaps the biggest time suck in the cycle – prospecting.

Ontolo is a link prospecting tool that not only is ridiculously robust, but also delivers daily prospecting results based on your custom campaign settings. You choose what type of link you want (guest post, directory, etc), and what kind of queries to use, and Ontolo goes to town getting prospects for you. There's no doubt about the time saving ability that Ontolo possesses.


Hootsuite Tool Dashboard

Even if you don't use HootSuite, you'll likely have to use one of it's competitors. With new have-to-be-on-because-that's-where-your-customers-are networks popping up every year, you have to be able to keep up with their activity by having a steady and meaningful brand presence on each one.

With HootSuite, the ability to post to several different networks, schedule updates, and even track social analytics, makes it a for sure winner in the time saving column.



If any of your time goes towards managing local SEO campaigns,Whitespark can be a lifesaver. Their Local Citation Finder, and Citation Building Submission Service are invaluable. The citation finder prospects the most valuable places for you business, including factors such as Majestic AC Rank and SEOmoz's Domain Authority so that you can prioritize which prospects should be targeted.

On the other hand, you can also get WhiteSpark to build the citations for you. This service allows you to choose from general and niche citation locations. General citation sources are $4 each, and niche are $5 each. Well worth it in my opinion. They also have custom options like rush orders, bulk ordering, and slow "drip" campaigns that spread your citation building out over time.

Edited from article written by Jared Carrizales

Jared is co-founder of Heroic Search and creator of Content Keen. In his free time he enjoys coffee, playing tennis, a good glass of wine, and spending time with his 5 year old.

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[Sent from Ralph Paglia's iPad]