Relevance a key theme at Canadian Digital Dealer 5

At Canadian Digital Dealer 5 in Toronto on February 20, TADA donated $2500 to Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital on behalf of Q107 radio host John Derringer. (Left to right), Todd Bourgon, Executive Director, TADA, Larry Lantz, President, Hanover Honda, Tony Del Gobbo, President, Newmarket Hyundai, Susan Gubasta, President, Mississauga Toyota, John Derringer, Q107 and Alison Gittins, Community Engagement Coordinator, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital

At Canadian Digital Dealer 5 in Toronto on February 20, TADA donated $2500 to Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital on behalf of Q107 radio host John Derringer. (Left to right), Todd Bourgon, Executive Director, TADA, Larry Lantz, President, Hanover Honda, Tony Del Gobbo, President, Newmarket Hyundai, Susan Gubasta, President, Mississauga Toyota, John Derringer, Q107 and Alison Gittins, Community Engagement Coordinator, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital

On February 19 and 20, the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) hosted its fifth Canadian Digital Dealer conference, which once again took place in Ottawa and Toronto. Given the pace of change in automotive retailing, it was interesting to see just how things have developed in the digital marketing sphere, even within the last six months. At the Toronto event on February 20, hosted at the Paramount Event Venue in Vaughan, Ont., a good number of attendees were first timers, indicating that more and more dealerships are looking to gain from the valuable information and insight these events can offer.


Joe Webb

Canadian Digital Dealer is known for bringing in some major industry experts from both sides of the border and this time was no exception. Kicking things off was Joe Webb, CEO of DealerKnows. Webb started his company after his own experiences working in a dealership. In his presentation entitled Process makes Perfect he talked about the importance of business development centres (BDCs) and why it’s not about just generating a response to customer enquires but a relevant response. He also emphasized the importance of video and texting to reach out and grab consumers’ attention. “People are looking for transparency and answers,” he said. “We have to do a good job and we have to have a personal response. You need to give them a reason to visit you and not somebody else.”

Webb also said that dealers can also mystery shop to really judge the performance of their sales teams. “Know what they are sending out on your behalf,” he said, “figure out what you are known for in the marketplace. Any benefit customers will assign monetary value to will help you understand what the value proposition is.”

Webb said that a lot of the time, sales managers aren’t really taking an active role in the process of following up leads and turning those leads into customers. He also said that to be really effective, staff need to be held accountable but also empowered to manage the relationship process with customers. He also acknowledged that it was important to recognize specific skills that staff members have. “People have specialties, find out what they are and don’t just dump tasks onto one individual. Build teams around you to help win the online war with customers.”

Jim Flint, President and Founder of Local Search Group focused on the Moneyball Theory of Management, instigated by Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team and how it can be applied to automotive retailing. He talked about how the Internet has changed the purchase funnel. “There has been an explosion at the top of the funnel but today, the middle looks more like an hourglass, which means leads are tougher to come by. How you handle those leads will determine how you will sell cars.”


Jim Flint

Flint showed some clips of the film Moneyball, based on Beane’s story and the subsequent book by Michael Lewis. He referred to a quote in the film by Peter Brand (played by Jonah Hill), the young Yale graduate Beane hires, in which Brand says “you’re goal shouldn’t be to buy players, it should be to buy wins. And in order to buy wins, you need to buy runs.”

Flint cited that with limited resources, Beane and his team had to allocate them as intelligently as possible in order to achieve the results they were looking for. He says the exact same is true when it comes to auto retailing. Flint pointed to a Internet spending chart and how different dealers allocate their resources. “Selling more cars doesn’t necessarily translate into making more money,” he said. “This is probably the most dramatic evidence of understanding where your overall investment is going.”

He said dealers need to understand that today, the growth in mobile users means dealers need to optimize their digital marketing to mobile platforms and that Vehicle Detail Pages (VDPs) have a greater resonance with Internet shoppers than ever before. He also noted that traditional media still has a role to play and that an integrated strategy, whereby dealers use traditional media to push to their websites, will help them be more successful in reaching their target audience. Flint also said that dealers need to take advantage of their local market. “The difference maker (for the customer) is your brand, your vehicle models, your market. There is no greater place to be than automotive retail because as the game changes it keeps generating opportunities.”

During lunch, there was a special guest speaker, radio legend and long time Q107 host John Derringer. In a very emotional speech, Derringer talked about facing his own personal struggles and how that often, we don’t see the real picture when it comes to those suffering from sickness or abuse. “When we see what organizations like the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital are doing, it becomes a lot easier to understand what happens on a daily basis.” TADA on behalf of Derringer also donated $2500 to Holland Bloorview to help the hospital continue to support children and their families in overcoming often exceptional challenges.


Samantha Cunningham

The afternoon sessions, saw attendees get a chance to hear Samantha Cunningham, Vice-President of Account Services at Potratz, talk about selling vehicles to women.

Cunningham pointed to the fact not only around 50 per cent of vehicle buyers are female but more importantly, 85 per cent of purchases are influenced by women.

She said that despite this, many dealers still don’t know how to effectively market to their female customers. “Emotion and trust. Those are the two things you need to build the entire time when dealing with customers,” she said. Cunningham said dealers need to emphasize quality content on their website, use actual photos of vehicle inventory and add features that ensure users will keep coming back to the dealership’s website, such as building out coupons and including tips or advice on vehicle service and maintenance. Cunningham said this was important because “women research three times more than men.” She also noted that it was also important for dealers to focus on the needs of their customers, whether it be single women or those with families, since when it comes to vehicles, they tend to have very different requirements.

A great presentation was that given by Dennis Galbraith, Chief Marketing Officer and Maria Espinoza, National Sales Director, Dealer E-Process. Both acknowledged the great response they’ve seen from Canadian dealers in creating quality websites and advancing their digital marketing.

Dennis Galbraith and Maria Espinoza

Dennis Galbraith and Maria Espinoza

Galbraith talked about profiting from the website metrics dealers already have and that Google Analytics now provides a standard measuring system. “You can have it on your website and I encourage you to do that,” he said. Galbraith also noted that while the platform might have changed, the sales process hasn’t. “When I sold cars in 1979, the process was listen to the customer, match them up with the right product, show them the benefits of the product and close the deal. It has always been that way.” Galbraith said that not only does that process equally apply online but that virtual customers are listening. “The Internet has ears and they are right on your website,” he said. Galbraith said that dealers can use the metrics they have to show where customers are coming from, where they are spending time on a dealer’s site, when they leave and the importance of distinguishing “visits” from actual “visitors.”

Espinoza talk about the need for dealers to have adaptive websites that work equally well across different platforms — desktop, tablet and mobile — and rich content. “We want to make sure the traffic gets there and it stays there,” she said. Espinoza acknowledged that while VDPs are where a lot of the conversion from leads to customers actually happens, it is important for dealers to be an authority both on their brand and their inventory. “Offer consumers information, not only about the features of a vehicle but also awards and accolades it’s received.” She said dealers can help push consumers to do business with them by offering promotions, such as coupons for oil changes. She also said that “negative keywords,” can help dealers maximize their bang for the buck, meaning they spend less time and money having to redirect traffic to their website and that the traffic that comes through is more refined.

Both Galbraith and Espinoza noted that content should have multiple options such as video walkarounds and live photos, especially in view of the fact that 25 per cent of website visitors are auditory learners. They also said dealers need to make use of touch points so visitors are encouraged to “click” — lowering the bounce rate and increasing the website’s organic SEO ranking.

Besides the riveting keynote sessions, a hearty lunch and networking breaks, Canadian Digital Dealer 5 witnessed history in the making as the whole room erupted in cheer, following Marie-Philip Poulin’s overtime goal in the Canada- U.S. hockey final at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Needless to say, between the high quality of digital dealer content on offer and a satisfying hockey final result at the Winter Olympics, February 20 was a great day to be Canadian.

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