How car dealers can use proximity beacons

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Remember the Tom Cruise film Minority Report about the pursuit of thought crime criminals? Being an advertising guy, the thing that intrigued me most in that film was the proximity advertising that displayed personalised ads as Tom walked past the digital billboards.

There comes a time when SciFi fantasy technology stops hinting at becoming reality and starts to actually become reality, and I think that’s where we are now with proximity tracking and proximity marketing. Sure, proximity beacons have been around for a while – Google has been pushing their use for quite some time. Android KitKat 4.4 launched with Beacon receiving capabilities in 2013 and in the UK, the Swan Centre shopping mall in Eastleigh installed beacons and published a loyalty app as far back as 2014.

What is a beacon and how does it work?

Beacons are (often) tiny Bluetooth devices that can be discreetly placed indoors or outdoors. They scan for Bluetooth enabled mobile devices in their proximity range, as they broadcast an ID number. The beacon can then either log that device or send a message to that device.

What kinds of beacons should you get?

There are a wide range of beacons available to buy depending on your needs. There are long battery life beacons, beacons that are more suitable for wider ranges, waterproof beacons, wearable beacons and a whole lot more.

Make sure you get beacons that are both iBeacon (Apple) and Eddystone (Android) compatible.

How much do Beacons cost?

If you’re buying just one or two beacons from a reputable store then you’re probably looking at a starting price around the £10 mark. For long range, outdoor beacons we’re talking nearer £40 to £50 a pop.

Beacons for tracking car dealer visits

So here’s where it gets interesting for car dealers! If you’re running Google Ads campaigns to sell used cars for example, you can track how many people click an ad, visit your site and then complete an enquiry form. With clever call tracking technology from companies such as MediaHawk, you can also track how many people call you after seeing an ad. What you can’t currently do, is track how many people turned up at your dealership after clicking your ads or know which campaigns drive footfall and which don’t.

Here’s where beacons come in – plant these little devices in and around your lot and you’ll be able to get a view on how many people see your ads, click them and then visit, plant one in the showroom itself and you’ll be able to track further intent.

How car dealers can use Beacons

We’ve looked at how proximity beacons can help you track ad campaigns and we know that has a huge value, but those same beacons can also be used to push out notifications to your customers smartphones as they enter the proximity area of each device. Anything from a simple “Welcome to Blanco Cars” to “Welcome to Blanco Cars, why not download our app to get the most from your visit today”.

Short range beacons can be used to provide the user with a whole host of vehicle information as they approach each particular vehicle.

Here’s a thought… if you’ve got a competitor in your area, you could always plant a beacon near their dealership entrance and blast a “come to us instead message”. But that would be unethical right?

Dave DibbleHow car dealers can use proximity beacons
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How automotive brands can use digital to pass the loyalty test

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After a seven-year run, U.S. automotive sales are showing signs of slipping. That’s going to make brand loyalty even more important in the battle over market share.

Put simply, it’s more crucial than ever that automakers and dealers retain their existing customers. Forty-one percent of auto brand loyalists felt completely decided when beginning their research for a new car, meaning if you’ve built that connection, you’ve already won them over for the next sale.1 Search and online video can play key roles in building and maintaining loyalty.

We surveyed vehicle shoppers across the purchase journey and discovered three things that automakers and dealers can use to strengthen their loyalty strategy.

Reach the customer before they reach your lot

Auto shoppers say that the sales experience at the dealership is the No. 1 influencer of brand loyalty,2 but with dealer visits declining from an average of five in 2005 to an average of two today,3 brands have fewer opportunities to influence customers in person.4 The good news is that customers are more curious than ever, and they’re fulfilling that curiosity by conducting extensive research online before they ever set foot in a dealership. Ninety-five percent of vehicle buyers use digital as a source of information. In fact, twice as many start their research online versus at a dealer.5 This presents a huge opportunity for brands and dealers to influence customers before they get to the store.

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That means making a car buyer’s research process easier and creating an experience that is more relevant. Let’s say you want to reach shoppers who have been searching for Ford Ecosport dealers on Google and are close to making a purchase decision. You can now reach those same shoppers on YouTube with your Ford Ecosport video content. What kind of content? Consider virtual test drives, 360-degree views of the interior, or exterior walk-arounds. Over half (56%) of auto shoppers said they could be convinced to buy a car from a 360-degree video without having to test drive the vehicle.6

In other words, the first step to making the sales experience a positive one for consumers is making sure the pre-sales experience is one to remember.

Don’t forget about service after the sale

After the sales experience, a customer’s maintenance and service experience was ranked No. 2 in influencing automotive brand loyalty.7 Customers who service their vehicle at the dealership they purchased from were more likely to remain brand loyal than those who went elsewhere. But despite the fact that service is a key driver of loyalty, 1 in 3 owners said they serviced their vehicle elsewhere.8

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After a dealer makes the sale, service should become the number one priority. We know that nearly 25% of all automotive searches are related to parts, service, and maintenance.9 Dealers who want to re-engage their customers who are searching for parts, service or maintenance, can do so using Customer Match on Google Search. Dealers can personalize their message during the exact moment an existing customer may be searching for other service providers.

Evolve your messaging to match customers’ needs

It’s important to remember that even if a customer ends up becoming a repeat purchaser, more often than not, they’ll consider multiple brands before making their next decision. Of those customers who stay loyal, over 90% still consider at least one other automotive brand in their subsequent shopping journey.10 Price was the No. 1 factor for switching brands. But coming in at No. 2 were life events—like needing more cargo space for a new addition to the family.11

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As a carmaker or dealer, it’s critical to evolve your messaging with your customers’ changing needs. One way to do this is to engage with viewers who may be experiencing important life events, such as a college graduation, recent marriage, or a new baby. You can reach these viewers via online video and tailor your messaging depending on their evolving needs.

Get started by asking yourself these three questions:

  • What audience targeting strategies am I using online to influence customers before they set foot in the dealership?
  • How am I re-engaging customers online who are searching for vehicle service options?
  • Am I evolving the messaging I use online with my loyal customers based on big events in their lives?

Customer loyalty, while always important, becomes even more critical in increasingly competitive environments as sales begin to plateau. Automakers, dealers, and their agency partners should use digital to cultivate brand loyalty beyond the showroom floor.

Article originally appeared on Think With Google and was written by Kyle Keogh.

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AdWords Rebrand

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The new Google Ads brand represents the full range of advertising capabilities we offer today—on Google.com and across our other properties, partner sites and apps—to help marketers connect with the billions of people finding answers on Search, watching videos on YouTube, exploring new places on Google Maps, discovering apps on Google Play, browsing content across the web, and more.

For small businesses specifically, we’re introducing a new campaign type in Google Ads that makes it easier than ever to get started with online advertising. It brings the machine learning technology of Google Ads to small businesses and helps them get results without any heavy lifting—so they can stay focused on running their businesses. To learn more, visit this post.

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Google Ramp Up Pressure for Faster Load Times

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Page load times have been a ranking factor for Google Ads for some time but Google have been pushing load times quite aggressively of late.  A recent article on the official google ads blog stated…

However, even the best ads struggle to deliver results if they’re sending people to slow landing pages, especially on mobile. In retail, we see that for every one second delay in page load time, conversions can fall by up to 20 percent.1 That’s why we’re making it easier to diagnose and improve your mobile site speed.

Whilst there’s clearly merit in this drive it does mean that at least some the performance that Digital Marketing agencies can deliver is impacted by factors outside their control.

That’s also nothing new with pricing, merchandising, delivery etc all having an impact on conversion rate but PPC quality score is widely seen as a measurement of AdWords performance.  We’ve had load times as a quality score factor for a while but the clear message from Google seems to be that this is ramping up.  In the new Google Ads experience, you can see the mobile-friendliness of your PPC landing pages

As the Google article points out, more than half your traffic now comes from mobile and so it’s vitally important that your site is up to scratch both in terms of speed and in terms of mobile usability. You can also use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to check out your own site (and your competitors).

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