HEAVYWEIGHT SPEAKERS AND A COOL CHEVY CAMARO GIVEAWAY WERE JUST SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF CANADIAN DIGITAL DEALER CONFERENCE 4
With over 300 dealers in attendance, Canadian Digital Dealer Conference 4 in Toronto (organized by the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) was busy to say the least. Many were eager to hear the day’s keynote speakers, learn new concepts and come away with fresh ideas for implementing digital marketing strategies at their stores. As was the case with Digital Dealer III back in March, this latest event was a two-centre affair, with full day schedules in both Ottawa and Toronto.
“We had great turnout in Ottawa yesterday,” said Todd Bourgon, executive director for TADA as dealers took their seats at Toronto event, which took place at the Paramount Conference and Event Venue in Woodbridge, Ont. “Our sessions were very well received.”
And as the event unfolded it wasn’t difficult to see why. Each of the sessions, presented by heavy hitters from both sides of the border provide informative and engaging. There was also a sold out Rock the Road raffle draw in support of Prostate Cancer Canada, in which a 2013 one-of-a-kind Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was given away. The lucky winner was Brad Deakin of Burlington, Ont.
PAUL POTRATZ: The power of big data for dealers
As the opening session of the day, Potratz helped energize the crowd and got everybody on their feet. He talked about just how powerful big data is and how dealers can leverage it to specifically target customers with products and services that are relevant to them. “It’s creepy, but it’s sexy,” he said. Potratz talked about the need to engage customers, like free diagnostics for check engine light inquiries and video testimonials, such as what customers like about a particular vehicle and why they want to do business with a particular dealership. It was powerful stuff.
CHRIS ICE: Servicing the connected car: Leveraging telematics to drive service business to the dealership
Ice, who is the vice-president of products at Xtime, a leading CRM provider based in California, talked about “intelligent” vehicles and how dealers in Canada will be able to drive their service business to new heights by working with the advanced telematics systems on the next generation of vehicles. He said dealers can learn to sell telematics as a feature of the vehicle, both in sales and also fixed operations. “With telematics, there is data coming off the vehicle whenever there is an issue — it makes scheduling [appointments] and doing business with the customer easier as well as better upkeep of the vehicle.” Ice said that although advanced telematics haven’t really arrived in Canada yet, dealers need to be having these conversations now to consider things unique to our market and learning how to harness the technology.
AMIR AMIRREZVANI: Website conversion and optimization
With an extensive background in auto retail sales and management, Amirrezvani, who founded Dealeron (a leading provider of automotive websites and interactive marketing solutions) with his brother Ali, talked about using websites to harness the power of the human subconscious and how it can lead to massive gains in conversion rates. He said vehicle detail pages are hugely important but dealers need to understand that to really increase conversion, they need to think that simpler is better, citing actual case studies. He said in one instance, by adding a simplified pricing display, making the image of the vehicle the focal point and adding a more prominent call to action, the result was a 21 per cent lift in conversion. He also mentioned that optimizing credit leads can also lead to a huge boost in conversion and a key part is taking the credit application forms and breaking them down into bite-sized chunks.
JUSTIN POY: New immigrants: Engage sell and reach them before they arrive in Canada
Poy, whose agency specializes in ethno-cultural marketing and advertising, focused on new immigrants from China and what dealers need to consider in order to effectively target and reach them. “These people come from countries with different systems of government,” Poy said, “they don’t think like you or I.” He said that because China bans western style social media, even when newcomers arrive it can take them a year before they assimilate and open a Facebook account. He also said that even when it comes to Chinese immigrants, dealers need to be aware of distinct cultural differences between communities, whether they are originally from Hong Kong, Taiwan or mainland China. He also noted that even though many of them have already been exposed to automotive brands they find here, they will have different perceptions about them. “Be able to know and address what is appropriate for the community,” Poy said. “I encourage you guys to engage the market. If you don’t do it, somebody else will.”
JAMES HAYES: The future of online reputation management and social “word of mouth” selling
Hayes, an entrepreneur who co-founded Mobials (short for Mobile Testimonials) a software firm specializing in mobile app technology, said that dealers don’t receive a lot of support when it comes to reputation management and the existing system for the most part is broken. He said dealers have got to learn to stop asking for reviews and start asking for referrals. He noted that word of mouth recommendation is a major factor in 20-25 per cent of all purchasing decisions by consumers. “Think differently,” he said. “Asking for referrals is more valuable to you. If you have the ability to ask for referrals first you will have the wonderful ability to drive retention.”
KENDALL BILLMAN: Is Your Website Built to Fail or Built to Sale + Bonus section on Artificial Intelligence & how it is helping solve the common lead problems
As the final keynote speaker of the day, Billman had some interesting facts and concepts to present regarding dealer websites. A founder of multiple businesses and a seasoned expert in the fields of sales, product management and innovation, Billman jumped into the automotive space with a company called Third Coast Media which was a pioneer in websites and CRM tools. He’s never looked back. He talked about the volume of consumers on dealer websites as opposed to the physical store, when people shop and when dealerships get the most leads. “How does this information help you,” he said. “You have to remember the consumer and when they are really starting to look for cars.” He talked about concepts such as YouTube videos on Google maps, enabling customers to get tours of the dealership as well as find its location. Billman said utilizing tools to really boost lead conversions and then targeting marketing campaigns based on where leads are coming can be hugely effective for driving business to your store.