Still sceptical about the benefits of the internet? Richard Aucock meets the team behind a remarkable new online marketing tool – just don’t call it cute…
ONLINE marketing is an area some car dealers, surprisingly, remain yet to be convinced about. Maybe it’s the sheer scale of the market: there are so many avenues and opportunities out there – and so many ways you can spend money – how do you decide which is worthwhile and which is a waste of time and money?
It’s this conundrum that G-Forces has used its decade of experience to puzzle over for some time. And, after a huge amount of research and development, it believes it has an answer. It’s a beast of a solution, too… it is NetDirector LeadBeast!
LeadBeast is not something to be feared by you, though. It’s here to strike fear into all your rivals instead, as your online marketing suddenly becomes a whole deal more effective. Reducing what you spend, while also increasing the effectiveness of this outlay. Simply put; £s spent, boosting £s made. The Holy Grail of marketing, as G-Forces’ Tim Smith explains.
The easiest way to think of LeadBeast, he says, is as a car dashboard display, showing all of your various marketing outlays. Web, print, telephone, the whole shooting match are shown on one screen. Achieving this alone is little short of brilliance. But it’s what you can do with it that’s the really clever bit.
In short, as Smith explains, it answers the where’s, what’s and how’s of marketing spend. You can find out exactly where you should be focusing your budget, by analysing what is working with your customers – and what isn’t.
Imagine, if a campaign brought in loads of customers with spend X, just think how many more there could be if this spend was boosted with X and Y…
One of the most important areas to get right in any marketing campaign is telephone lead management. When you’re running particular campaigns, it’s vital to do this – to see which are proving to be a success, and which should be culled there and then. Smith’s company knows how.
GOT YOUR NUMBER
Cannily, G-Forces lets you assign particular telephone numbers to individual campaigns. So, if you’re running a local print campaign, you can give out a different telephone number to that on your website. Meaning you know exactly where the leads are coming from!
Not only that, but you can identify where those customers live, too – even down to their postcode. This is market targeting to an unbelievable degree. You can also visually see when your peak response times are – so you can ensure you staff up to manage the call flow, and not risk missing leads (which, themselves, are also monitored).
There’s much more to it than the telephone, though. In the internet age, natural search engine tracking is absolutely imperative. What’s this? Seeing how good at being Google’d your company and campaign is.
‘80 per cent of sales are initiated through search engine activity,’ says Smith. ‘It is critical that you track it closely.’
G-Forces’ tools monitor all the important areas surrounding this. LeadBeast looks at how visitors found the site for example; through natural search? Paid for clicks? An advertising banner link? You can find out – and even discover where in the UK the user is from.
Also, once they’re there, it can see which pages they visit, whether they’ve visited you before, whether the activity converts into action (or even a sale) – and, perhaps most importantly, gives you the reasons why they’re there.
Research? Browsing? Looking to leave details to start a sales process? All require a different response from you.
It’s all about ‘user experience optimisation’. This is, says Smith, ‘building a useful site, with relevant content, that’s user-optimised, easy to use and relevant.’ Get this right, he says, and you have a high conversion rate: nail your Google-ability, and you’ll get far more people there in the first place, too. The sales can then only follow.
There’s more. Pay per click? Fail to monitor this, and you’ll be pouring money down the drain. LeadBeast has a function that shows you which are working and converting the most customers for you. This is subtly different to simple site visits, says Smith. ‘While rivals concentrate on visits, you can put your investment into the next step – conversion.’
GOOD OLD EMAIL
Then, of course, there’s good old email: Still a brilliant, direct route to customers. There are three parts to consider here – whether you have an up-to-date email list (you can use your own or G-Forces can source one for you), whether you have a good newsletter, and whether you offer a subscription service.
‘If you develop a newsletter with high-impact calls to action, then get them to subscribe to industry intelligence, you can really create good customer loyalty.’
Indeed, whether you want to design, develop or benchmark a website, G-Forces can help. As well as LeadBeast, the company can offer a huge array of web management tools, from steps to help improve conversion rates, to resources for improving your contact management.
As for web marketing, it can even implement behavioural targeting strategies. This is particularly fascinating; it’s targeting car buyers based on previous web activity. Which, basically, means you get leads that are more likely to buy from you – no wonder there are loads of studies proving conversion rates of such people are higher.
G-Forces can utilise information from, say, viewers of specific newspaper sites, as well as visitors of certain sites. All to narrow down just what that person is interested in, and what you can offer that’s likely to be a draw to them.
All this can be packaged within a complete digital dealership – NetDirector Auto. ‘This opens up the online shopping experience to retailers’ networks,’ says Smith. ‘Vital, given how consumers are putting more pressure than ever on companies, in terms of their online expectations.’
It’s significant that this blinding suite of tools is on offer from a single supplier. ‘The industry is under considerable pressures both economic and technological. A good solution is to source a complete product set from one supplier; I believe we have a unique complement of tools to help car dealers fully leverage their online presence.’
Don’t just take Smith’s word for it all, though. His company has already worked on many car dealer’s websites, many of whom are happy to speak highly of Smith’s people. Indeed, G-Forces was actually instrumental in the success of our Franchised Dealer of the Year Eward winner in 2008 – Lifestyle Europe.
The nine-site car dealer in the south east is already one you’re probably aware of, anyway; much work on SEO means it usually appears near the top of Google.
But it’s the dealer’s all-new website, launched late last year, that really catches the eye. Certainly, it won over our Ewards judges; all were impressed by the clean, clear appearance of the site – not to mention clever use of sound and video, which encourages integration.
Boss Peter Isted prioritised a focus on used car images – staff have mandated minimum numbers they have to upload each month. No car can be added to the site without six images accompanying it; the ideal is nine.
PICTURES SELL CARS
This is because Isted knows that pictures sell cars. He also knows who’s sent the firm an email, when the busy and quiet periods are, even how many people have visited the sites. How? Because he studies the analytics provided by G-Forces – something else he’s willingly taken on board.
Indeed, Isted studies a bulging marketing report of the website’s performance each and every month, all to improve Lifestyle’s internet performance. Mind you, in doing so, he’s only reflecting what his customers are doing.
‘A good 75 to 80 per cent of customers say that they used the website
before coming to see us. We doubled our spend on it last year, and cut back on local press advertising, which wasn’t working.’
There are still people out there, he admits, that can’t turn on a computer, let alone log on to a website. ‘But you only have to look at your kids to see how important the web will be in the future. If car dealers aren’t online, then that’s going to cause them to falter, and will be inherent in their downfall,’ he says.
Sales director Jamie Dixon adds: ‘Moving forward into the second half of 2009, it is now more important than ever to have a provider that can deliver the complete package – G-Forces Web Management’s overwhelming expertise, and unique product set can ensure that you maximise both your online and offline marketing potential and, ultimately, achieve your commercial goals.’
Now, more than ever, it seems right to let the G-Forces be with you…
To find out more about how G-Forces can help you log on to their website here or call 0845 055 9040.