15 Extremely Useful Websites You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of

As automotive digital marketers, we’re only as good as the tools in our toolbox. And if you’re like me, you are always looking for cool new tools to use that will make your life easier.

With the Internet being as vast as it is, it shouldn’t be surprising that there are dozens of websites out there that can be extremely useful to folks like you and me – if we only knew they existed.

15 Extremely Useful Websites You've Probably Never Heard Of

The past few months I’ve been on a quest to turn up some of the best undiscovered websites out on the ‘net today so I could ultimately share them with you.

Well kids, I think I’ve gathered enough of these handy websites for now, so lets get right to it. Here are 15 extremely useful websites you’ve probably never heard of but won’t soon forget.

Time To Change? How The Apple Watch Affects Email Marketing

Are you a tech-obsessed nerd like me? When it comes to the latest phone, tablet, computer, gizmo, gadget or wearable device – I want it and I want it now.

This article was originally posted on DrivingSales.com – an online community where automotive retails professional can share ideas and best practices

I began following the Apple rumor mill intensively back when everyone referred to the forthcoming smartwatch from Apple as the iWatch. And being the geek I am, I felt like I just had to have one of these shiny new watches that did so much more than tell me what time it was and remind me that I was late for a meeting…again.

How The Apple Watch Affects Email Marketing

Honestly because of my excitement, it never occurred to me just how the latest whizzbang-gizmo from Apple might affect human behavior, communication and personal interaction.

Now that the Apple Watch has launched and many of us eagerly await our smart-timepiece to arrive on our doorstep, it’s a good time to take a deeper look to see how this new device could impact our dealerships digital marketing in general and email marketing specifically.

27 Resourceful Websites for Automotive Digital Marketers

I’ve had the pleasure lately to speak to a couple of individuals who have recently stepped into a digital marketing role for their dealerships (yes I’m talking about you Kinny and Kristen!), and it took me back to my own beginnings in the field.

I remember what that felt like, do you?

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The excitement, the passion, the enthusiasm – all fresh and new to tackle the realm of Social Media, Email Marketing, Online Reputation, SEO & SEM, and so much more for their dealership.

I don’t know how it was for you, but for me trailing right behind that feeling of excitement was the reality that this whole #AutoMarketing business can also be a bit overwhelming.

Luckily for us, there’s no shortage of websites and blogs out there who freely publish useful content to help us continually get better and smarter.

Heck, the reason why I started Marketpunch.auto and the MarketPunch Podcast was simply so I could give back in a small way to the community of people who helped me out along the way.

Over the years I’ve come to rely on a few websites to help keep me on top of my game and in tune with all the latest digital marketing trends.

So whether you are new to the field or are a grizzled veteran, here are 27 websites that have been a valuable resource to me and I hope will be to you as well.

7 Email Metrics Dealerships Should Be Tracking [Infographic]

Remember that time I said Email is the most powerful tool in your digital tool box? I stand by that statement to this day.

Until something drastic changes in technology or human behavior, I’ll continue to support Email Marketing as the number one way to reach your customers with direct and actionable messages.

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But like any kind of digital marketing campaign, if you aren’t measuring and keeping track of your results, you’re missing the opportunity to improve.

Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.        ― H. James Harrington

So what exactly should you be measuring when it comes to your Email Marketing efforts? Here are the 7 metrics you should be keeping track of.

Email_Marketing_Measurement_Metrics_Infographic

Email Marketing For Car Dealers in 2014

One of the things I love most about the world of Auto Marketing are the passionate communities that provide a forum for those of us in the biz to become better and smarter.

DealerRefresh, DrivingSales, Automotive Digital Marketing – just to name a few – are all fabulous resources that do just that.

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If there’s one subject that comes up over and over again on those forums, it’s Email Marketing.

I think most (if not all) of you recognize that email is the most powerful tool in your digital toolbox, yet sometimes it’s execution and effectiveness can be a challenge.

One of my most popular posts here on MarketPunch is called 7 Tips For More Effective Email Marketing in the Dealership.

Gmail’s New Inbox and Open Rates – Early Results Are In!

Ever since Gmail began rolling out it’s new tabbed inbox to all it’s users, many of us who deal with Email Marketing wondered how this change would affect Gmail open rates.

There’s been plenty of speculation the past three months by Gmail Users and Email Marketers alike on the subject. Some say the new tabbed interface and it’s Promotions Tab will destroy Email Marketing. Others say that the Promotions Tab will just might help Email Marketers get more qualified opens & clicks, while a third group says everyone’s making a big deal about nothing.

Compelling arguments have been made for all sides of the equation. And as much I would love to dive right into the debate, I realize that you didn’t come here for that. You came here for results, and that’s what I have for you here.

Now that three full months have passed since Gmail’s tabbed interface has rolled out, I’d like to share with you the data that I collected from my dealerships to show what affect, if any, Gmail’s new inbox has had on my email open rates.

What you are about to see is real data, specific to the Automotive Retail Industry. Hopefully this will give you a general baseline to compare yourself to when you calculate your own Gmail Open Rates.

Customers Talk About Your Email Marketing on Twitter

Emails From The Dealership

Photo Credit: dink101 / 123RF Stock Photo

 Before I jump headlong in to talking about how your customers are talking about your Email Marketing on Twitter, I want to take a minute to say THANK YOU!

After I published my first true blog post for Marketpunch.auto on the subject of Email Marketing in the Dealership, and I have to say my expectations were blown away by the response it received.

To be completely honest, before I hit that publish button I hoped to receive a comment or two, a few twitter mentions, a fist full of Facebook Likes; and maybe a gaggle of +1’s and some random LinkedIn shares.

My expectations were wildly exceeded mere hours after posting when Scott Monty, the Global Head of Social Media for Ford Motor Company, found my article and commented on it.

The feedback I’ve since received on Twitter, Google+ and other Auto Industry Blogs & Forums has been amazing and it has me energized to create more content, tips & tricks that you can use yourself TODAY.

So now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk a little bit more about the digital ripples you create when you send a marketing email to your customers.

It may sound obvious, but we live in an open and connected world where folks aren’t shy about voicing their opinions online. Let’s not fool ourselves, our customers are telling us exactly what they think about the emails they receive from our dealerships via social media. If we’re listening carefully, we can learn from the success and mistakes of our peers and colleagues.

By using a well designed twitter search, you can see just what kind of real impact our emails can have on our customers. Here are a few examples of what people are saying on twitter today about your emails…

The Good

Insight: If you are timely and relevant, you can anticipate the needs of your customer giving them valuable information that they can act on TODAY.

Insight: Be unexpected and light-hearted. There’s nothing wrong with adding some humor and personality into your email campaigns. Never be afraid to surprise and delight.

The Bad

 

Insight: Reason #1 to carefully segment your email campaigns. Here’s a real life example of the kind of chaos we create for ourselves if we send everything to everyone. These mistakes can cost you dozens of opportunities per month.

Insight: Does your email benefit the customer or you? Your email needs to make it clear how valuable the products and services are that you provide. If you aren’t sending value based messages that contain the information your prospect asked for, plus compelling reasons to act on the information you provided, then you are just sending emails for the sake of feeling like you accomplished something today even if you didn’t.

The Ugly

Insight: Email addresses are like gold, care for them as such. Consumers today are just as protective of their email addresses as they are of their phone numbers. When a customer enters their email address in a form on your web-site, there is implied trust that you aren’t going to abuse it. The minute this trust is broken, these are the kinds of reactions you can expect to begin showing up on social media.

Insight: Coach your team and examine your process. It’s quite possible that your prospects are being emailed by the CRM via automatic process, your Sales Team via personal follow up and the Marketing Departments via email campaign all at the same time. This is the kind of effect you can have on your customers and prospects if they are receiving multiple emails a day from the same dealership, from different departments, with different messages in a very short span of time.

So what does it all mean and what can you do TODAY? It means that you’ve been entrusted with a power that is greater than any other advertising medium in your dealership. Your emails can directly cause a consumer to feel good about your dealership, or motivate them to remove you instantly and completely from consideration.

Think twice before you send that next email and ask yourself if your are providing value, or just adding noise to the already busy life of the average consumer.

Now enough of what I think, tell me what YOU think! Did you learn anything today? Do you have similar experiences you can share? Please post your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!

7 Tips For More Effective Email Marketing in the Car Dealership

7 Tips For More Effective Email Marketing in the Car Dealership

Before you send out one more mass marketing email, please consider this…  Market Punch Click To Tweet

If your Owner or GM decided one day to stop spending hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on traditional advertising in order to focus solely on digital marketing, would you be ready to handle the job? That’s the mindset I have each and every day I go to work. When I create a newsletter or targeted email blast for one of my stores, I treat it as the one-and-only impression that consumer is going to see. It’s important to me that I take this approach because if my email is indeed the only impression they are going to get, it better be a damn good one, right?

So now that we are all thinking along the same lines, let’s look at how you (yes, YOU!) can become more effective at Email Marketing in your Car Dealership.

1 : It’s about Quality, not Quantity – To me email addresses are like gold, and need to be cared for as such as the precious items that they are. When you email your customers, it’s important that your email looks good, contains proper grammar (duh!) and has a clear call to action. It sounds simple, but if we can’t get this down pat, then there’s no need to move on.

Think about the emails you personally receive from places like Target, Overstock.com or Wal-Mart. Do the emails you send out look anything like that or do they look like they came straight from Microsoft Works circa 1995?  Market Punch Click To Tweet  Just because some dealers set the bar low with their email marketing, that doesn’t mean you have to follow that course. Take the lead and create emails that dazzle and delight your customers!

1.5: Just Don’t Do It – Emailing your current newspaper ad each week to every single email address you have in your database (and some you found lying around online) is not a good idea (and it never was). It’s tacky, it’s lazy, and it will result in unsubscribes and spam reports.

2: Segment Your List – Here’s a real-life example. I do a lot of mystery shopping, and I recently received an email from a local Toyota dealer who I made an inquiry on well over a year ago. I never established any communication with them and obviously never used them for sales or service, yet here I am a year later (see #5 below) getting an email from Slappy-Jo Toyota telling me all about their huge Demo Sale.

I’m sorry guys and girls, just because your manager has a bunch of Demo’s he needs to move and wants to blast it out via email, that doesn’t mean you should send it to EVERYONE. I’ll put this in the category of  number1.5 above. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Before you email anything to your whole database, ask yourself a question. Does Judy Smith, who comes in every six months for an oil change and keeps her compact sedan for 4+ years need to know that it’s Truck Month…again…for the seventh month in a row? Probably not. Market Punch Click To Tweet

Segment your emails so your most targeted prospects and customers are receiving messages that are relevant to their needs, wants & desires.

3: Make it Personal – And on the 4th day, god created merge fields… As corny as it may sound, people still like seeing their name in writing and seeing the name of the person who sent them an email. If you are sending a marketing email out on behalf of your Sales Manager or Sales Consultant, craft your email in a way that your customer doesn’t even realize that your email was sent to a mass audience. Make it feel personal and one-to-one.

○ Greet your customer: It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to catch up with you, and I thought today would be a great day to let you know what’s going on here at ABC Motors….

○ Insert your beautifully crafted email body.

○ Say goodbye to your customer: Is there anything I can do to help you out? Please don’t hesitate to give me a call at (888) 555-1212 and I’ll do what I can to make your day a great one!

○ Add a 2 Line Signature: First & Last Name and Title only. The rest of the info for your website, address, phone #, social links, etc. should already be visible in your header or footer. You don’t need a 17 line signature that includes both your fax numbers and links to all of your social media pages.

I’ll tell you from experience that this works consistently. I can’t tell you how many phone calls I listened to (spoiler alert, see #4 below) where after the operator greets the caller, they say “Yes, I’d like to speak with Keith, he just sent me an email…”

4: Track It – If you aren’t tracking the links and the phone number that you include in your emails, how do you ever know how effective your email is? I use the Google URL Builder to code every link I send out so that when the link is clicked, Google Analytics will capture that info for me.

When it comes to tracking phone calls generated from our emails, we have a specific tracking number that we set up through CallSource for each of our store’s email marketing campaigns. It’s simple and easy to log in to the reporting tool and know within a few clicks how many phone calls a specific email generated (and listen to them too!).

5: Play By The Rules – This might be a tough pill to swallow for some, as many dealership personnel (not you of course) seem to love SPAM and can’t get enough of it. The reality is, it’s getting more difficult to reach the inbox of your prospects and customers. Not only do you have to make it past spam filters and corporate email filters, email providers like Gmail and Yahoo use crowd sourcing techniques to determine the relevancy of emails intended for their users. Even if you initially reach the inbox today, the more people that mark your email as junk, the less chance it has of reaching your intended recipients in the future.

Here are the rules I adhere to with my email marketing lists.

○ I don’t market to prospects older than 90 days who haven’t responded to an email or purchased a product or service*

○ I only market to sold, service and parts customers who’ve purchased a product or service from us the past 18 months**

○ If someone doesn’t use the unsubscribe feature and sends me an email asking to be removed from my lists, I remove them. Immediately.

6: Be an Email Specialist – Not an Expert, not a Ninja and certainly not a Guru. All of those terms imply that you know everything there is to know about a given subject. You don’t. I don’t. No one does.

Do however give yourself credit and take responsibility for being one of the main drivers of traffic to your store or stores. The email marketing that you craft and dispense are the life-blood of any dealership. When done correctly, email can have the highest rate of return of any marketing piece in your toolbox. Never stop learning, and always look to improve your skills.

7: Consider Ditching Your CRM – We stopped using our CRM for Email Marketing over a year ago and started using Constant Contact. This is the first step we took when we made the intentional decision to be better than the average car dealer when it came to email marketing. It was no coincidence that once we made the switch, we improved our open rates, click-thru rates, got more phone calls and drove more traffic through the doors.

The flexibility Constant Contact gives us in terms of content creation, list management, detailed reporting and ease of use makes me wonder how we ever tracked the effectiveness of our emails before (we didn’t). 

So there it is folks, 7 things you can start doing TODAY to help you become more effective at email marketing at your dealership. If you have any questions or tips of your own you’d like to share, get your thoughts together and post them in the comments below!

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*Now be honest, once you saw the asterisks above, did you immediately skip to the bottom of this post, or did you read the rest of the article? Tell us all what YOU did in the comments below.

** Pro-Tip: So you want to play by the rules but are wondering how can you market to your customers who’ve fallen off your email list? That’s a blog post all to itself, stay tuned!