Digital retailing may have a long way to go before it is the industry standard, but with the popularity of online retailers like Amazon, dealers need to be aware of the changes that need to take place. Today, Jim speaks with Andy MacLeay, director of digital marketing for dealer.com to discuss the latest digital retail trends in automotive. This November marks the 20th anniversary for Dealer.com, which has grown and evolved as a major player in the automotive market with a network of more than 13,000 dealers.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Good morning everyone. I’m Jim Fitzpatrick. Thank you for joining us on CBT. Today we speak with Andy Macleay, director of digital marketing for Dealer.com to discuss the latest trends in digital retailing for your dealership. Andy, welcome into CBT news. So glad you could take the time out of your schedule to join us today.
Andy Macleay: Yeah, thanks a lot Jim. I always love being able to join with the CBT crew. You guys do good work down there and happy to join you from Burlington, Vermont.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Up there where it’s cold.
Andy Macleay: Yeah the White Walkers are definitely starting to settle in up here.
Jim Fitzpatrick: When comparing trends from this time last year until now, what are the major differences that we see in digital retailing now?
Andy Macleay: As a whole, digital marketing and digital retailing, those two sorts of terms are blending over the next couple of years. Two big things that I see for 2019 for us is the trends around personalization and integration. So personalization is sort of one of the things that you can see as a consumer right there in front of your face. That’s really where we’re moving from being what would be kind of a product-centric shopping and retailing experience to more what we would consider an experiential shopping experience.
Andy Macleay: So really what that means is from one shopper to another, what that total experience would look like would vary. So my experience when I shop on say, Amazon.com looks different than your experience, Jim, when you shop on Amazon.com because we’re two different people and we have different goals. And so for personalization, what we’re looking to do is we’re really looking to remove the clutter from the shopping experience, give people information that’s useful, and really sort of delight with the ability to allow people to kind of shop the way that they want to shop.
Jim Fitzpatrick: So how is consumer experience with retailers like Amazon and Zappos reshaping expectations in auto sales?
Andy Macleay: Yeah, sure, so I mean for us we know that over 91% of people are more likely to shop with brands that recognize, remember, sort of understand who you are. So, for automotive that’s something that we’ve sort of been lagging a little bit behind on keeping up with what we would consider consumer retail goods inside the digital retailing experience. For us, we just know that people that are interacting with an experience that they prefer and that is personalized to them, they’re more likely to convert as a shopper.
Jim Fitzpatrick: What can dealers do on their end to build a successful digital advertising strategy that keeps up with this fast-changing market that we seem to be in?
Andy Macleay: Buying a car is a complicated thing, right? It’s not like you’re buying an iPhone or a pair of shoes off of the internet. You have a number of different factors. Credit availability, peoples willingness to shop by payment. All of these factors are personalizing this overall experience. So when we say hey, we need to shop, we need to provide a personalized experience to car shoppers, what we’re talking about is actually personalizing the retailing experience that the shopper is going to go through when they land on a dealership’s website. And that’s just sort of one facet of what we think is going to change in digital marketing and digital retailing in 2019. I think the other big thing that powers all of this personalization is integration. These digital marketing platforms, Cox Automotive, there are a number of others that are out there, they also need to begin to talk to each other to allow for that personalized experience to happen throughout the car buying process.
Jim Fitzpatrick: What are some of the digital trends for dealers to keep in mind as they head in 2019?
Andy Macleay: The first thing that I always sort of like to talk about is when we talk about bang for your buck. Visual advertising is a great way to begin to do that. And there’s a whole host of new opportunities and platforms that we can advertise on. You know, it’s gone are the days when we could say hey, you can just do paid search or maybe you can just go some television advertising. Really, we want to be holistic and our approach so we’re doing paid search, retargeting, Facebook advertising, video advertising. I think next you also have to be able to sort of message to the different platforms.
Andy Macleay: So if you’re not optimizing these experiences, Jim, for mobile and desktop and tablet across that and personalizing across those experiences, then you’re going to be in some big trouble. So for us, those are two of the big areas. And then finally just attribution. How do you just measure it all, how are you pulling in these data sources and figuring out, hey listen, what is giving me the best return on my marketing dollar and where can I fine tune my strategy?
Jim Fitzpatrick: If you owned your own car dealership today, would you spend any money on what we call traditional advertising such as TV, radio, or print?
Andy Macleay: For us, it’s really an individualized strategy for the dealer. So I’m not saying get rid of television advertising, I’m just saying hey, make sure that whatever you’re doing, you can measure across the entire shoppers’ journey. So for me, that’s kind of the most important thing. And if that’s knocking on doors or direct mail, that’s a possibility. But for us, we see really good results in digital advertising.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay. So we hear so much about the digital experience. When do you foresee the digital experience becoming the entire experience? Where somebody goes online and takes it all the way through to delivery where the vehicle is either dropped off at their home of they’re simply stopping by the dealership to just pick up the keys and the vehicle?
Andy Macleay: That’s still a ways off, right? We’ve done the Cox Automotive car buyer journey study has shown that more than eight out of ten consumers want to do some part of the shopping process online. Almost 90% of them want to finish and ink that deal in the store because here’s the deal, it still is an expensive, intimidating process to purchase a car. If I’m buying a pair of boots online, I’ll sit and sort of hem and haw, am I going to get the right one? For most people they still want to go in, touch a car, have somebody at the dealership be a product expert on that vehicle and so when they deliver it, that’s really kind of the moment of joy and I think that … I don’t know that I see that going away anytime soon.
Andy Macleay: You look at a number of other retailers right now, right? Even the huge Amazons of the world are investing in the brick and mortar stores and so again, this just comes back to the idea of as retailers in automotive, we need to help people shop the way that they want to shop. Whether it’s doing the process online or coming in and talking to somebody at the dealership, the really successful dealers today are going to meet the consumers wherever they need to be.
Jim Fitzpatrick: After two decades, successfully handling a whole lot of things for auto dealers out there in the way of the digital space, what’s on the agenda for your third decade?
Andy Macleay: Yeah, I mean, it’s a lot to think about. This ride for me, personally, professionally, has been exciting because we’ve been part of quite literally changing the way that the world shops for cars. And we were lucky enough to be graced with some brilliant founders and have a group of incredible, innovative employees that continue to push the boundaries every day. And now we’re at the point where people are doing pieces of the car buying process right on these websites. We’ve now got 13, over 13,000 websites. We’ve got a hundred million monthly page views.
Andy Macleay: And all of this data is helping to drive and shape how this sort of next generation of car buyers will be serviced and will be able to buy cars the way that they want to buy cars because everybody is using the internet to shop for cars at this point. Now the conversation moves to how much of their time is actually being occupied shopping online. We know from the Cox Automotive car buyer journey study that up to 60% of an entire car buying process will be spent online. So, you know, if I’m looking, as the digital marketer or as a CMO of a large dealer group, how I’m optimizing my online experience has got to be one of the most important things that we can do sort of moving forward in the next ten years.
Jim Fitzpatrick: There’s no question about it. Any Macleay, director of digital marketing for Dealer.com. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule. It’s been very enlightening for our viewers and hopefully, we can have you back after 2019 begins and we can talk about some of the things dealers need to focus on in the first quarter.
Andy Macleay: Yeah, I can’t wait to do it, Jim. Thanks again