This is a transcript of MM Podcast Episode 018: Marketing Automation For Car Dealers With Shawn Ryder.
Ashley: Welcome to Episode 18 of the Motorcar Marketing podcast. In this episode’s main segment I’m going to be talking with Shawn Ryder. Shawn works at Dealer Engage which offers automated marketing solutions to car dealers. There are a variety of tasks that dealerships that can be easily automated. It can really add hours to your day if you set it up properly so stay tuned for that interview.
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A couple of quick notes. Any websites or links that I mention in the podcast can be found on the website in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode in case you’d rather read the show or look at something later on. You can find all the podcast show notes at www.motorcarmarketing.com/podcasts. And look for episode 18.
We recently put together a free guide for car dealers called A Quick Start Auto Dealer Marketing Guide. You can get it by going to motorcarmarketing.com/guide. It’s completely free. You just put in your email address and the lessons will be emailed to you over the course of the next few weeks. We try to concentrate on the high-leverage things you can do with each marketing channel so you can get the maximum results in the shortest amount of time. We’ll be adding more lessons to this guide in the future, but to start out, we’ll show you how to increase your ROI and sell more cars on craigslist, how to quickly set up Google Pay Per Click campaigns, how to begin generating leads from local search engine optimization and how to effectively use email marketing to generate leads and correspond with your past customers. Again, this guide is completely free. Just go to motorcarmarketing.com/guide.
So now let’s get into the main segment. Today I’m talking with Shawn Ryder from Dealer Engage. Here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome, Shawn, to the Motorcar Marketing Podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show.
Shawn: Thanks for having me come to talk to you.
Ashley: So to start out, I wonder if you can give us a quick overview of your career and how you got into automotive marketing?
Shawn: I had my own business for about 12 years now and was on the training side of the business for many years working with dealers and manufacturers on service and sales training, walk-arounds, menus, inspections and so on and so forth. As I developed my career, I noticed that there was a bit of a need in the industry for dealers on marketing, and I was given an opportunity with a company to take a platform that integrates many forms of marketing and promote it to specifically automotive. I’m excited about it, and I look forward to working with dealers on some marketing solutions.
Ashley: Perfect. So I read your article on Dealer Marketing magazine on marketing automation. I think first it might be interesting just to really be clear about exactly what that is so we kind of understand the context of what we’re going to be talking about.
Shawn: Sure. Absolutely. What marketing automation is, is the ability to have events, communication, emails, text messages, voicemail, integrating some social into it, and sending out automated communication to current and potential customers in their preferred mode of communication. We can get into some very targeted marketing which is becoming more popular based on data that’s available—customers’ purchase history, their mileage, etc. and get into texting customers obviously based on their promotion combined in ways to leverage in that way as well.
Ashley: So let’s just talk about sort of a technical—how does something like this integrate into a dealership’s CRM? Is it a matter of exploring their information to some sort of marketing automation solution? Does the marketing automation solution, is it like a plug-in to CRM’s? How does that sort of get going?
Shawn: There is a number of different great questions. There are a number of different options that are available in terms of the automation part. Very basic customers can import a list to our risk manager so they export it from OCR or what have you and want to import it or it’s provided by the manufacturer or whatever. That way they can certainly use the import tools which are an Excel file or text file etc. In terms of integration, we have integrated with Autosoft, a great DMS provider to streamline the process for their dealers, and we’ve also integrated with Dealer Bulk, a company that works with many dealers and helps them control their data. So we have those options obviously and there is an API so we do integrate with CRM’s themselves as well. If you want to get technical we can talk about the API and how it can pull in data, but I need a developer to help me out a little bit I think.
Ashley: I think that basically gives us a clear idea. There are some of these CRM’s you have specifically integrated, but even the ones you have specifically integrated with, they can export data and with CSV’s and stuff.
Ashley: So let’s talk about some sort of concrete examples so that people can really figure out if this is right for them. What are some actual uses of marketing automation? One of the things in your article you mentioned, appointment reminders, maybe just take us through sort of like a cycle. You know, they have a service department, what this exactly look like? What would those emails, text messages, phone messages, what would those exactly look like, and what would be sort of that cycle?
Shawn: Great question. In terms of appointment reminders, we call it market automation, but one thing you’ve got to look at is the customer flow communication so it’s more customer communication-focused for that kind of stuff. It doesn’t need to be specifically marketing. It can be a friendly reminder. Let’s say that Mr. Jones sets an appointment to have his vehicle go into service next Wednesday and you want to send a reminder the day before, obviously based on the data that’s available, we can trigger events based on next Tuesday, a text message or an email or even a voicemail from the service manager sent out automatically “Dear Mr. Jones, we just want to remind you that you have an appointment set for tomorrow. Should you need to make any adjustments, feel free to call our service department. We will be happy to make any adjustments.” That can be done again through an email or voicemail or even a text.
Ashley: Okay and maybe let’s talk about some of the same things like sort of the sales cycle. How do you see something like that works? Someone fills out a form on the website hey I’m interested in this 2011 Honda Accord, and then how does the marketing automation then follow up with that customer?
Shawn: Great question. All right. So they fill out the form for the Honda Accord, right? That’s what we’re talking about.
Shawn: Okay. So they fill out a form and say I’m interested in the Honda Accord. Great. What it does is it takes that contact information and it puts it into our risk manager and it can make decisions based on that. So we want to send out a generic email with some more information about the Accord like you have your ID that goes out to the customer that has some information about the Accord. It happens instantly so there is no delay, so then it can be personalized and comes from a salesperson. So we all know that salespeople—it might take a little bit to get back to the customer. This can help trigger it. You can send it so it goes out a minute later or ten minutes later or whatever the preference is, and they can send out that email. Based on that we know how the customer can interact with that email. So if we know that they open that email, that’s great. If they don’t open the email, we can say okay 24 hours later, we want to send them a follow-up email. It might look different. It might be the same message but somewhat different than the first one, how to interact with that email it’s even stronger though. The email they look at safety features of the Accord, honestly a big selling point, they look at the safety features, you know they click on a link there. Well, we can trigger an event based on how they interact with that so they click on a link for the safety features, three hours later we can send them a link to the YouTube video safety features of the Accord to entice them and engage them based on how they interact.
Ashley: One of the things as I have done and marketed my own product, I have filled out some of these forms, not as a potential customer to buy a car but as a potential vendor to help them with various products and services, and I’ve fallen into this loop of automation. And sometimes it seems to kind of go awry where it’s clear that no one is actually looking at my responses, and I just keep getting these sort of pat responses, how can dealerships deal with that and get it so it’s either valuable to the customer and obviously valuable to the dealership?
Shawn: Right. Exactly. Great question. That’s where they have to have the ability obviously if you’re going to send out those messages whether they are coming from Jim, the salesperson, you have to make sure that Jim’s checking his email for any replies. You can even set up an autoresponder to get automation going and it comes from Jim acknowledging that email you sent, but it goes back to my days of training, you have to have some processes in place to make sure that they’re trained in the proper way to make sure that they’re monitoring their replies and replying to those and engaging the customer at the same time. And with our client form you can do that automatically, and with the next rendition coming next couple of weeks, it’s actually going to give you the ability to pause the process and prompt the salesperson to actually pick up the phone and call the customer so that they have to enter that they’ve called the customer and it could continue from there because you do sell me that engagement from the salesperson on the phone.
Ashley: Okay. You have kind of talked about the appointment reminders and work for service, it can work on sales, what about the post-sale process and maybe something like cold leads, what can we do for those, maybe even some examples of what a post-sale email might look at just to kind of stay in the customer’s mind and follow up with them.
Shawn: Sure. Absolutely. I’m working with a number of dealers now actually that use it on a great post-sales process, it can be very simple and three days after they’ve purchased quick email again to thank them and ask if they have any questions about anything specific. You can get into a survey aspect so that on both sales and service one thing we’re looking at is what if you work with dealers who send out an email that says okay we want to survey you and get your feedback. And you can set it up so that it sends an email to the customer that says “Dear Mr. and Mrs. Customer, we trust you had a good visit. We value your business obviously. If you had a good visit, we’d like you to go ahead and click on Yelp or Google and leave some feedback there to let people know what kind of service you had.” If you didn’t have such a great service, then maybe you click on a different link, and it takes you to our surveying engine which allows you to fill out the information and it goes back to the dealership so that it helps to get that feedback instantly to the dealer and maybe help the dealer to work with that customer and overcome any challenges that might have occurred.
Ashley: One of the things I saw on the dealer engage website, the different ways of communicating—email and texting, obviously if someone fills out an email form on your website and they put their email address, they’re giving you permission to email them back, how do you get permission to text somebody, how does a permission like that work?
Shawn: On our platform, when you set up a form, there is automatically generated an SMS form that is filled out by the customer and underneath that is some verbiage that includes the ability for the client to contact the potential customer and they must check off a box so it tracks the checkbox and it won’t send anything if that ability hadn’t been given. So it has to be driven by the customer giving permission to contact them by text.
Ashley: Okay. Perfect. I noticed too that you have some automated voicemail, and I’m curious. Have you found that that is very successful? I will get occasionally these automated voicemails from various companies, and I always find them more annoying than anything else. Have you actually found that that works?
Shawn: Well, it depends on what the message is. A lot of dealers are apprehensive to use it as a marketing tool obviously because of individual state regulations. You know we have had dealers that have said we want to use it as a marketing tool, but they have to look into that. It’s their responsibility to know their state regulations and they have to know whether they can do that or not. But a lot of dealers use it more as a communication tool like I say so that it’s a reminder of their service reporting notes. It’s a friendly follow-up after the post-sale, and some dealers would have a general—again, based on the numbers and permission—we’re having a tent sale on Saturday. We’d love to see you. They can use a platform like that based on targeted messaging to customers maybe they haven’t seen in six or eight months or something like that.
Ashley: I mean, you’re describing all these great features and how it all works. I’m curious how easy is it to set up these campaigns? Does someone need some technical knowledge? Do you guys have people that you know are experts at your software that work with the dealerships? Can the dealerships go into your software and actually set these up themselves?
Shawn: Again, great question. The objective is we have the tool that the dealership can use, yes, but we also have the ability to work with dealers and set them up on their behalf and work with the dealer to set up their messaging whether it’s email or text or voice, primarily dealers use email obviously and build their campaigns with them. But a dealer can certainly find out and go in and upload their lists or look at the integration parts and do it themselves. There is a bit of a learning curve, I’m not going to lie, but once you get into it and you see that it is drag and drop and you can bring in different connectors to connect and you make data decisions, there are some technical skills that are required but it can certainly be felt hot over the course of time, we can look at ways to have initial set-up with the dealers so that we can set up happy birthday emails. So every day there’s a happy birthday email that goes out to everybody on their list, some very basic stuff, and then they can take it from there and they can blow it from there if they choose.
Ashley: So one thing I’ve noticed I’m sort of more on the technical front, and I’ve worked in a lot of companies with various salesmen, I mean, a tool like this is only as good as the data you collect. And I’ve always found that the salesmen are not always all that happy about collecting data and really keeping it as clean as possible. Do you have any tips for how you can motivate your salesmen to keep up with the data and make sure that everything is being recorded properly?
Shawn: Great question. In terms of ways for them to do a better job collecting data, a lot of dealers are still using pen and paper to collect information. Maybe if we could do it so that it’s a little bit more streamlined with technology using a tablet or something to collect some of that information, it would certainly help. Obviously if they collect information and it starts the automated process on their behalf, well, it would help them if they did a better job collecting information. On the service side, if you’re doing a good job collecting information, the customer comes in, it may cut down the need for sending out as much communication to the customers on the status of their vehicle and so on if you can automate some of those tools.
Ashley: So let’s talk a little bit about Dealer Engage. Can you kind of give us the two-minute elevator pitch on what you guys do and how you can help car dealers?
Shawn: Sure. Absolutely. We work with—as I say we’re automotive-focused so we specifically work with the automotive industry. We work with small independent dealers. We work with dealer groups. Again, we provide a platform that helps dealers with their communication, marketing, so on and so forth. When we send out personalized messages about the promotions or models, we’re able to engage them, increase their sales opportunities. Like I say, we can do it for the dealers. We can do it with the dealers or the dealers can do it on their own.
Ashley: Perfect. So what’s the best way for people to keep up with you and potentially contact you if they want to learn more?
Shawn: Okay, that’s a great question. They can send me an email—that’s pretty straightforward obviously. It’s simply firstname.lastname@example.org. They can call my cell phone; feel free to give it out. That’s no problem at (902) 488-4107 is my direct cell or they can go to my website dealerengage.com obviously, and if they want to and they go to sign up, we can give them a 14-day free trial so they can go on there and they can become familiar with it and at no cost, there is no credit card needed or anything; it’s complementary, they go in there, and they can utilize it and they can call me and ask me any questions they have too.
Ashley: Perfect. That’s pretty clear so I will link to all of this and I’ll list all of this in the show notes so if anybody wants to see it later on, they can find it in the show notes. Shawn, you’ve been very generous with your time. I really appreciate you coming on the show. This has been very informative.
Shawn: No problem. Actually any time.
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On the next episode of the Motorcar Marketing podcast, I’m going to be talking with Jody DeVere. Jody runs askpatty.com. They specialize in helping car dealers understand how to sell to women. The interview covers a lot of ground, and Jody gives out some great insight into how to market and then sell to women. So keep an eye out for that episode.
So that’s our show today. I hope you got some value out of it and it can help you grow your business. Thank you for listening.