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Motor City Revival : 2015 Detroit Auto Show Highlights

The North American International Auto Show is being held at COBO Center in Detroit, Michigan from January 12 to the 25th. While the official press events have recently started, many interesting cars have already been shown. Ford’s new aluminum F-150 has taken the prize for Truck of the Year. Ford has taken a gamble with the new body that will shave 700 pounds off the weight of the truck, making it more fuel efficient by getting around 26 miles per gallon on the highway. This is a major step forward in complying with strict fuel efficiency standards that will require fuel economy be at 54.4 mpg by 2024. In a surprising turn of events, Volkswagen’s Golf has taken the Car of the Year award over Ford’s re-designed 2015 Mustang and the Hyundai Genesis. Some are not surprised, though, as the Golf has won numerous awards including Motor Trend’s Car of the Year. These awards come at a crucial time as Volkswagen is trying once again to build a market in the U.S after being unsuccessful for decades. Other cars of note are the Acura NSX, Toyota Tacoma, Mercedes GLE Coupe, and the Ford...

Shedding Light on Dark Social

A rarely discussed trend in social media sharing and tracking, Dark Social, has recently received some spotlight attention. Dark Social may sound ominous but it is actually very valuable to marketers. It refers to web traffic that, up until recently, hasn’t been able to be tracked by traditional web analytics software – this includes– links sent over email, messaging apps and some mobile applications. Wondering how this could affect your marketing efforts? For starters, dark social is larger, about three times larger by volume, than ordinary social media traffic. But it’s the quality, not necessarily the quantity, of dark social traffic that has everyone intrigued. By using dark social, advertisers can target ads much more effectively. For example, a friend sends you a link in an email recommending a new coffee machine. You check out the link but you don’t end up buying the machine. Normally, you would just be retargeted like everyone else. But, if the makers of the coffee machine could identify you as someone who came to the site via a recommendation from friend, you would be a more valuable lead. But how do you track something that has never been tracked before? Some vendors are adding tracking codes to URLs that are copied and pasted into a message. Instant messaging services are keen to come up with a solution since these messages are seen as the most intimate form of digital sharing. Some instant message platforms such as WhatsApp have included share buttons and have already seen a major impact. The future of dark social looks...

One-Click Car Shopping: The Future of Online Automotive Sales

Volvo has announced that it will be changing it’s marketing strategy to increasingly introduce selling cars online and focusing more on digital advertising. The automaker is hoping this will increase sales and promotion, while  capitalizing on the fact that about 80% of it’s customers already shop for products online. Will this trend eventually translate to buying cars online? A majority of millennials already do extensive research online before buying a car, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that marketers are predicting a rise in online car sales.  Current research shows that car buyers are visiting fewer and fewer dealerships, opting to search for the vehicle online and only visiting the dealer to purchase. While some dealers are skeptical about the future of online car sales, Volvo has assured that any sales made online would still go through dealerships. GMC introduced it’s Shop, Click, Drive program about a year ago. The program allows buyers to select their car and either pick it up at the dealership or have it delivered to their location of choice. Unsurprisingly, most people chose to visit the dealership. As it is, most online car shoppers choose their make, model, and specs and are directed to a dealer to finalize the sale, with a price often already decided on. As convenient as online auto shopping may sound, you still may not be getting the best deal. Dealers may continue to entice auto shoppers to visit the brick-and-mortar location with special price drops or extras that weren’t available online. The future of online car sales is undoubtedly worth a second thought – and we’re curious to see how dealerships...

Wrapping Up a Redesign Project

In our last post, How to Manage a Remote Team, we discussed how to best work with a remote team to ensure that your project is being completed on time and on budget with as little stress as possible. You are now at the stage where the designer/firm will be ready to hand the site back over to you. But before you sign off on the project, there are some key things you should do. Prior to your site going live, your developer should give you a link to a test site. This site will look like your redesigned site but will not be searchable by anyone. Use this to make sure the site looks and functions properly. Normally whoever creates this will test for any bugs, but it is a good idea to do a test of your own just in case. Keep in mind that any major functionality or design changes may result in additional costs. After any kinks have been worked out, it’s time to launch your website! Once the site has been live for a little bit, circle back to the metrics that you looked into when planning your website redesign. Take note of any noticeable, positive or negative, changes. Some design teams include site maintenance or minor adjustments for a brief period after the site is launched, so try to use that time to address any issues with your metrics. The final thing to keep in mind is how you will maintain your site. The easiest option is to have the designer, developer, or firm maintain it for you. While this should keep your...

How To Effectively Manage a Remote Team

In our last post, Three Important Questions to Ask Your Potential Site Redesign Team, we discussed what to look for when hiring your design team. At this point, you should be ready to start working with your designer/developer or firm. Working with an off-site team can be difficult. To help you out, we’ve included the top three aspects to focus on to ensure that working with a remote team is as painless as possible. Communicating with an off-site team will inevitably be more difficult than walking across a room to speak with someone. There are, however, ways to work around this. Solutions such as Google Hangouts, Go To Meeting, and Skype are ways to connect to your team and collaborate. Tip: It might also be beneficial to set up weekly meetings so everyone can get on the same page and you can discuss any goals or milestones. Accountability is another important but difficult aspect to manage for anyone overseeing remote teams. Not knowing if projects are being completed can add a lot of stress to the redesign process. Tools such as Basecamp, Lighthouse, and ActiveCollab allow teams to collaborate while also keeping track of what is being completed. Organization is key to working with off-site teams. Using programs like Dropbox or Google Docs allow you to share files without having to send an e-mail each time a document needs to be accessed by another member of the team. Files are easily available and your team doesn’t have to waste time sifting through their inbox to find the attachment they are looking for. Whatever solutions you decide to implement, addressing...

Three Important Questions To Ask Your Potential Site Redesign Team

In The Developer/Designer Conundrum, we explained the differences between a designer and a developer – and whether you should hire individuals or a design firm for your redesign project. But before you hire, it’s important to ask the right questions so that you can find the appropriate fit for your company and project. Here are our top three questions to ask any potential candidates: Are you satisfied with their portfolio? When looking at a potential hire’s portfolio, make sure they have experience similar to the type of project you need completed. If you can’t find similar projects but still like the work they’ve done, reach out to them and ask if they are comfortable with the type of work you need. They may even be able to partner with someone else who has the relevant experience. Can you communicate effectively with them? You will be working remotely with whoever you hire, so communication is key! Do they answer questions completely? If you request samples, do they get back to you in a timely manner? Good communication is crucial – so make sure you are comfortable. How will they approach your project? Make sure you have a clear understanding of the project before moving forward. Some important elements to pay attention to are: Cost Process Timeline Domain and web hosting How the site will be maintained after the launch After asking about these aspects of the project, you should have a better idea about whether or not the particular person or firm would be a good fit to work with. If they do seem like a good fit, it would be...

The Developer/Designer Conundrum

In the first part of our series, Prevent Website Redesign Burnout, we discussed in the best way to kick off your redesign project – including, setting goals and creating a plan. The next step is to find the right person to bring your plan to life. Finding the right person (or group) isn’t always easy. With so many options, things can start to get a little murky. To help you navigate your way through the depths of a redesign, we’ve listed the basic roles you should look for and how they will fit into your redesign plan: Designers are usually the first ones to start working on a new website. They are concerned with how the site looks and feels, so they will focus on usability, site navigation and the placement of elements such as buttons and forms. Ultimately, a good designer will create a great user experience. Developers are in charge of bringing the designs to life. They create the “backbone” of the site to make it functional and build the user interface. For example, a designer will create a “submit” button for a form and the developer makes sure that when it’s clicked, the information is sent and stored in a database. A developer should be competent in a number of programming languages. At the end of the day, you will need a designer and a developer to create your website. There are individuals who specialize in both, but they are in high demand and are often difficult to find. One option is to hire one designer and one developer. Keep in mind, however, that they need...

Prevent Website Redesign Burnout

At some point, you will want to update your website. Maybe your site is outdated, maybe you are experiencing functionality issues, or maybe you are just not getting the amount of traffic you want. Regardless of the reason, it can be a daunting task. In this series, we we will outline the steps to take before, and during, a redesign to keep you sane throughout the process. First step? Understand how your site is currently performing. If you have a way to track your site’s performance metrics (such as Google Analytics), then take a look at areas such as: Number of visitors Bounce rate Time on site Total number of lead/submission forms for the month Sales generated per month Armed with this information, you can establish your redesign plan – including goals. When setting your goals, consider why you want to change your site. Are you not getting as much traffic because your site is not mobile-friendly? Are your lead forms difficult to find? Is your current site leaving out key information on new products and services? Use your performance metrics to narrow down your changes, and really focus on the areas that need the most improvement.This can help scale down the scope of the project immensely. Some suggest doing small, incremental changes to your site to see how that pans out with your visitors. This way, you are only changing what needs to be changed, rather than everything at once.  This can also help you troubleshoot your changes. If a certain update led to a negative response, you can easily identify the cause and fix it. Whatever your goals...

Generation Why: Selling to Millennial Auto Shoppers

Millennials are changing the face of automotive shopping. They are less loyal to automotive brands, they spend more time researching on digital, and they don’t consider owning a vehicle to be a status symbol. Though millennials aren’t as into car ownership as their parents, they bought more vehicles then the oft-compared Gen Xers this year, which has car dealers clamoring to figure out what makes them tick. Want to reel in those millennial shoppers? Here are few tips to get started: Personalize the buying experience Millennial auto shoppers are armed with over 16 hours of research and have often made their decision long before setting foot on the lot. Over 70% of millennial auto shoppers will purchase exactly the vehicle they had in mind when they walked in. Quick Tip: Stop selling! Instead, make them an offer they can’t refuse and create a scenario in which it makes sense to purchase the vehicle now instead of waiting. Use social media appropriately Millennials use social media for a lot of things – but buying cars is not one of them. “Only 5% of Millennials use social sites as a car-shopping resources.” Having a social media presence is still important; not having one can be suspicious, but millennials are skeptical of automotive brands that utilize social media to market to them. Quick Tip: Use social media to reach out to customers, address specific issues and interact on a more personal level. Many companies across multiple channels are utilizing their social media channels as customer service representatives. I find this strategy to be very effective and it could give you an edge...

Mobile Search: The Final Frontier

Everyone in digital advertising seems to be talking about mobile. With mobile banner and pre-roll ads trumping the conversation, it’s easy for mobile search to get lost in the fray. Last quarter saw a nearly 100% increase in mobile paid search over the same period in 2013. According to a recent eMarketer report, mobile will account for 85.9% of digital ad search dollars by 2018. While Google is expected to lose some of its overall mobile search market share to Amazon, Kayak, and Indeed, it will still maintain a commanding 64.2%. Here are a few tips to get on Google’s good side and run effective mobile search campaigns: Be location specific It’s important to set up a strong and useful geo. Targeting a DMA or 50 miles around a dealership might not be worthwhile. Do your research and set up a geo that makes sense for your campaign. Include location information in the ad itself to pack an extra punch. Mobile search ads increase in effectiveness when local information within the ad is coupled with location targeting. Take advantage of urgency Mobile users are used to instant gratification. They are on their phones while watching TV, while researching, and increasingly while on dealership lots. Take advantage of this relationship by appealing to their sense of urgency; give them the motivation and the resources to contact you quickly and easily. Have a mobile friendly site I have said this before and I will say it again; invest in a mobile-friendly user interface! Nothing makes mobile ads more effective than an easy to use, seamless mobile...

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