Digital Dealer Overview – Big Data, Small Data
Jim Flint of Local Search Group led a session that was supposedly focused on “turning big data into small data to achieve improved digital sales operations”. This sounds right up my alley since a 20-Group moderator spends most of their time analyzing data to drive profitability. Unfortunately the session had limited in-depth discussion of actual data mining tactics and what data we should be using, instead glossing over many general topics that sometimes had something to do with data. As with many presentations at the conference, valuable information was provided but not necessarily the information that I expected…
Flint started with a discussion on VDPs or Vehicle Display Pages. VDPs are the pages that contain pictures, information, pricing, etc. for each of the vehicles in your inventory, whether on your own website or a third party vendor like Auto Trader. He pointed out a couple basic but crucial points: The more VDPs you have, the more cars you sell; VDPs on your own website are far cheaper than VDPs on a third party site; in order to increase VDPs on your own website, you need to make sure you include price, as many photos as possible, and preferably videos (along with “the story” and other expected basics). What was perhaps most interesting to me (and what I expected to see throughout the session) was that Google Analytics now allows you to set up filters and track your customers’ VDPs while on your site. Here is a quick video that his company put together to show you how to set up vehicle display pages on your own. This discussion on VDPs also reminds me of an interesting article about Hendrick Auto requiring at least 30 if not 60 photos of each used vehicle on their websites. The idea is that taking clear pictures of every square inch of the vehicle will eliminate doubt from the customer’s mind, making it easier for them to choose your vehicle over a competitor’s.
Flint also brought up his “Moneyball” calculation for benchmarking conversion rates. He suggested that a 2% closing ratio (vehicle sales to website visitors) is a good goal – I have not spent much time analyzing these ratios for dealerships but I would think this is a very impressive number. He then used this factor to back up and determine proper staffing and inventory levels. Basically, if you want to sell 200 vehicles, you should have 20 salespeople (10 units each), 400 units in inventory (two month supply) and you will need 10,000 website visitors (200 closed deals at a 2% closing ratio). While this is obviously not a perfect science, it is an interesting and simple way to compare your store’s structure with your forecasts.
Here are some of the other points brought up during the session:
- Pre-roll video is a huge opportunity – This is the video advertisement that comes up before the video that you actually wanted to watch comes on the screen. Flint recommends paying per click rather than per impression, though my notes only show a cost of ten cents per view so I have no idea what a cost would be for pay per click.
- Facebook is now working with Polk for targeted ads and more people are on Facebook in the U.S. every day than watch the Super Bowl. They’re still figuring out their advertising strategy, but I think it is worth recognizing the potential.
- Every mobile search leads to 2+ follow-up actions – find out your “mobile share of voice”! Also, customers are often searching other store’s inventory on their smartphone while waiting to go into the Business Office – why not amp up your mobile presence in your competitors’ markets (and try to block their sites in your own store, if that is even possible…)?
Picture from Left Coast Bound