The digital tools that maximize ROI

Home-grown digital retailing company Digital Air Strike identifies key tools to help dealers maximize their dollars and boost sales.

It’s no secret that automotive retailers need to connect with consumers and cultivate leads in the online sphere; this is the new battleground, and dealers know they need to be where the consumer is.

But while this information is well-known within the retail environment, identifying which digital tools will maximize leads and conversions without breaking the bank is not always an easy matter. For Alexi Venneri, Co-founder & CEO of Digital Air Strike, the focus should be on new targeted digital advertising technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered messaging tools.

In an interview with Canadian auto dealer, she said targeted digital ad tools will allow dealers to “really reach in-market car buyers and service customers in a way that guarantees Return on Investment (ROI) with quantifiable leads,” while the AI-powered messaging tools “can respond to all customers on multiple platforms, 24/7.”

This includes Facebook Marketplace, which Venneri said is “huge” for pre-owned sales because customers expect immediate responses. “Having a user-friendly way to help customers, and not just capture their information, is vital.”

Digital Air Strike is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, with clients in various locations, including the U.S. and Canada. Venneri said the company was started at her kitchen table in 2010, when she was running an advertising agency for dealers. At the time she said she was not able to find the technology to leverage social media and monitor review websites, so she decided to build it herself.

“This was at a time in the recession when dealerships were really cutting their marketing budgets, but I knew that social media, when used the right way, could be a great tool to connect with car buyers and service customers,” said Venneri.

Since then, the company has grown to five office locations with 200 employees. It provides social media and reputation technology, advertising solutions, lead response technology, and AI-powered intelligent messaging/virtual sales assistants.

When asked why dealers should consider Digital Air Strike among the pool of North American digital retailing providers, Venneri said the company was built with the help of car dealers that were originally her business partners. Having this basis helped ensure the company remained focused on being partners with its dealers, while also offering them guidance around their overall marketing budget to ensure they are maximizing “their every dollar” to boost sales.

Over the last year, Digital Air Strike has acquired three technology companies to round out its consumer engagement and digital retailing platform. This includes adding AI-powered intelligent messaging, targeted advertising solutions, and advanced credit analytics that Venneri said more accurately gauges a consumer’s credit score and interest rate eligibility.

“We are continuing to help dealers better serve their customers by allowing more of the communication and transactions to be done online,” said Venneri. “By leveraging technology we help consumers get the right information at the right time, while giving our dealer clients a big advantage — and all while saving them manpower/expense of doing things manually.”

The result is meant to provide consumers with a better experience, and dealers with the opportunity to spend less on advertising while also generating more leads (and by extension converting them into sales). Furthermore, there is also the potential for dealers to lower their staffing costs.

The best advice Venneri can offer dealers is one which they have heard often, but which bears repeating: pay attention to and invest in what’s happening online. Consumers want immediate responses to their inquiries, and are becoming increasingly comfortable completing transactions online — including on social media. But they are also less patient, so their retail experience needs to be a good one.

Consumers want immediate responses to their inquiries, and are becoming increasingly comfortable completing transactions online — including on social media.

A study conducted by the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) and RCC’s Marketing Advisory Council, in partnership with Google Canada and WisePlum, found that “Time-pressed Canadians are more demanding and more likely to switch retailers if their experience is frustrating,” according to RCC’s 2018 news release. It adds that today’s consumers have an expectation that the retailer will provide them with a more convenient, seamless and integrated shopping experience “no matter how they shop.”

For dealers looking at low-cost and effective tools to better connect with consumers and service their customers online, including through texting and chat messaging, Venneri suggests the following: “Be open to new digital mediums and adjusting your traditional marketing spend and vendors.”

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