page contents Automotive Thought Leadership: Ralph Paglia: August 2014 My title page contents

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Car Sellers Refine Pitch to Women - Automotive Digital Marketing ProCom

Car Sellers Refine Pitch to Women - Automotive Digital Marketing 

Car Sellers Refine Pitch to Women

Among Millennials, 53% of Car Buyers Are FemaleCathy Anderson, right, owner of Woody Anderson Ford, a Huntsville, Ala., dealership, discusses a car with Connie Hicklen. Shawn Poynter for the Wall Street Journal

Aug. 20, 2014 6:52 p.m. ET
On a recent hot summer night outside Detroit, a 62-year-old woman sat in a chair watching the Telegraph Cruise, a classic-car parade on Telegraph Avenue in Taylor, Mich., when a stranger approached and began asking questions.
  • What kind of car did she drive?
  • Why had she chosen that automobile?
  • What did this choice say about her identity?
The stranger, it turned out, was Chris Lezotte, a Ph.D candidate at Bowling Green State University, in Ohio, who was doing ethnographic research for her dissertation on the relationship women have with cars.

Ms. Lezotte is one of a small army of researchers trying to get inside the heads of women who need transportation—"to uncover the various meanings women ascribe to cars in a variety of contexts," as she puts it. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute put out a study in 2012 showing that the number of women drivers in the U.S. had surpassed that of men, 105.7 million to 104.3 million, as of 2010.

Ever since, researchers have been wondering why the car-shopping and buying experience is still such a man's game. The National Automobile Dealers Association says last year some 91% of car salesmen at franchised dealerships were men.
Women accounted for 39% of car purchases in 2013, up from 37% four years earlier, according to J.D. Power. That may not seem like a big change, until you consider that Americans bought almost 15.6 million cars last year. A 2% shift represents more than 300,000 vehicles.
When a man buys a car, there is often a woman behind the decision, according to the buzz in auto circles. Globally, women are "making the final decision on more than 60% of new car purchases," said Carlos Ghosn, president and chief executive of Nissan Motor Co, in a speech in July.

ABOVE IMAGE: Chris Lezotte, a Ph. D candidate
studying women's relationships
with their cars,
in her 1949 Ford Coupe. Alan Kalter

Melody Lee, director of brand and reputation strategy for General Motors Co.'s Cadillac division, says she believes women wield influence in anywhere from 85% to 95% of car purchases. "That's what we're seeing in our showrooms and that's what our dealers are telling us," she said.
Here's another statistic, culled from her research:
"If 74% of women feel that they are misunderstood [by car marketers] but they're influencing up to 95% of our car purchases—that's a huge missed opportunity there," she says.
Researchers say demographic shifts offer more reasons for auto makers to refine their sales pitch to women. Women earn more, marry later and divorce more often than they used to. And both women (and men) can be formidable customers, arriving at the dealership armed with research found online, so they aren't at the mercy of a salesman.

At the same time, social media give women "a voice that can impact brands like no other time in history," says Jody DeVere, chief executive of AskPatty, a women's automotive-advisory website. is a kind of automotive matchmaking website for women. Its panel of female experts, from automotive executives to magazine editors to race-car drivers, give women advice on buying, maintaining and insuring cars. At the same time, it sells services to automotive companies who want to attract more women customers.
By completing Web-training modules, retailers can be certified by as "Female Friendly." AskPatty also offers webinars on how to reach women buyers who are Hispanic or baby boomers.
A newer company with some similar aims is, which serves as a forum for women to discuss experiences at specific car dealerships. also offers support for dealers with feedback from women, content for social media and its own market research.
Even before Chief Executive Anne Fleming founded the company in 2013, she had begun compiling her own research on car buying, by sending a questionnaire to some 500 women. The company's continuing research has found that women visit an average of 1.9 dealerships before buying. And 47.5% of women who bought a new car went to the dealership by themselves.
Experts have found women are more likely to rely on online customer reviews and friends' opinions when shopping, while men are more likely to turn to expert reviews.
Ford Motor Co. has created a program called "Live.Drive.Love," which offers women 24-hour test drives. Chantel Lenard, director of U.S. marketing for Ford and Lincoln, said, "It's an opportunity [for women] to experience the product on their own time, in their own environments, so they can show it to friends."
What's down the road? Consider this statistic, Ms. Lenard says. Among millennials—the young adults all industries will soon be fighting for, if they aren't already—53% of car buyers are female. A 2013 study also projects U.S. millennials will be the wealthiest generation ever.
"We're seeing a shift where females are becoming the majority," Ms. Lenard said. "It's an important market and we want to make sure we're delivering on their needs."

Friday, August 22, 2014

How to Sell with VIN Activity - Automotive Digital Marketing ProCom

How to Sell with VIN Activity - Automotive Digital Marketing 

How to Sell with VIN Activity

by James Fabin, Sr. Product Marketing Manager

Over the last two years we’ve been hearing more and more about the importance of watching VIN activity.
The proof is out there – the more activity a vehicle receives, the faster it moves off your lot and into the driveway of a new owner. Increase VIN activity and the world is wonderful! But what exactly is VIN activity, and is some activity more important than other activity?
First, what is VIN activity?
VIN activity is any action that a shopper takes that drives engagement with a VIN. As you can imagine, there are a lot of activities that fall into this category, including (but not limited to):
  • Looking at vehicle photos
  • Watching a walkaround video
  • Looking at a special for a specific vehicle
  • Checking a vehicles CARFAX report
  • Including a vehicle in a comparison
  • Visiting a vehicle details page (VDP)
  • Submitting a lead for a vehicle
A typical car shopper will generate a lot of VIN activity for several vehicles as they research their next set of wheels and tracking this activity is important.
By understanding what drives more vehicle engagement, you can fine-tune those actions to capture more shoppers. But, and you knew there was going to be one, not all VIN activity is created equal. A person submitting a lead for a vehicle is far more likely to purchase than someone who only looks at a photo.
You may already be starting to jump ahead in your mind and thinking that the secret to selling more cars is to add more VIN activity calls to action (CTAs) to your website and drive the customer through a path that is a minefield of VIN activities. Slow down – that is the tactic so many dealers use today that actually annoys shoppers and drives them away.

Have you taken a look at your competitors vehicle search results (VSR) pages recently?

You’re likely to find pages loaded with VIN activity links. But as we found in Cobalt’s 2014 Inventory Shopping Experience Study, this drives shoppers away. VIN activity is important, but more important is the consumer experience with your dealership when they visit your website. Shoppers are looking for a more streamlined experience with dealers – an experience that connects them to the right vehicle faster. An effective streamlined experience will mean a lower level of VIN activity.
So we have a conundrum – more VIN activity sells cars faster, but shoppers want an experience that reduces the total VIN activity.

As mentioned earlier, not all VIN activity is created equal. Certain activities are far more valuable and indicative of a purchase. There are two key VIN activity metrics that dealers need to focus on— Vehicle Search Results (VSR) page views and Vehicle Details Page (VDP) views.
The goal of streamlining the consumer’s shopping experience is to get them to the VDP faster and easier.
So a well-optimized site should see a dip in overall VIN activity, but a rise in VSR and VDP views.
We’ve rolled out a new set of optimized VDP & VSR pages based on what we learned during our car shopper study.
These new optimized pages remove a lot of the distracting clutter and help drive the shopper into your inventory quicker and easier. MINI dealers were the first to get these new optimized pages and as a recent article in Automotive News shows, the results have been telling.
For example, Habberstad Auto Group’s MINI dealership in New York City saw VDP’s rise by 26% and VSR’s by 22% after their updated VDP’s and VSR’s went live.
These numbers are made more amazing by the fact that they are comparing the shorter February 2014 (we all remember the ongoing winter weather storms along the east coast during this short month) against October 2013, which was before the redesign launched.
How can you drive more of the VIN activity that matters most?

Featured eBook

The Best Kept Secret to Knocking Your Digital Advertising Out of th...

Download the new eBook, Automotive Moneyball, to learn how to make marketing decisions and set advertising budgets based firmly on the metrics that move metal.
Download eBook

About the Author

James Fabin is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Cobalt, with a focus on the website platform and website best practices.
For over 19 years, James has worked in the automotive industry with a passion for consumer behavior and marketing. James has hosted workshops at Automotive Boot Camp and AutoCon and enjoys working directly with DPs, GMs and ISMs to share his knowledge and gain first-hand feedback.
James can be reached at

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Survey Results: Fundamental Changes for Marketing Next 5 Years - Automotive Digital Marketing ProCom

Survey Results: Fundamental Changes for Marketing Next 5 Years - Automotive Digital Marketing ProCom

Eight out of ten Chief Marketing Officers around the world believe that marketing practices will undergo fundamental change over the next five years... This is according to research results from Accenture Interactive’s “CMO Insights 2014” study. Automotive Marketers appear most confident in predicting the continued increasing role of analytics. The study shows that there will be greater budget allocations to digital and mobile channels.
As for the skill sets that are becoming most sought after by automotive marketing practitioners, 42% predict that data and research analytics skills will be a core competence for marketing professionals over the next 5 years. This data echos recent survey results from Spencer Stuart in which senior marketers envisioned analytical orientation as becoming a more important skill for CMOs ... in the future.
Meanwhile, although there have been signs that the budget shift from traditional to digital media might be slowing, a sizable portion of the Accenture survey respondents see a bright future for digital spend. Some 37% agreed that digital budgets will account for more than three-quarters of the marketing budget over the next 5 years, and 35% agreed that mobile will account for more than half of the budget.