Would you ever offer an in-store furniture shopper a deal on patio furniture knowing they want a coffee table? Or ask them to take a style assessment when they’ve already picked a sofa they like? Of course not.
When interacting with a shopper in store, furniture retailers can ask questions based on the information they have to guide in-store furniture shoppers through the furniture customer engagement path. However, the reality is that more people are visiting your website than coming into your store. In fact, 70% of people who arrive in your store have completed research first, which is drastically higher than what it has been in the past.
So how can you drive people to your in-store showroom, where there is a bigger likelihood that they will purchase from you? And know what they’ve researched previously to create a more valuable and seamless experience?
Behavior Targeting With Smart CTAs
In order to keep online furniture shoppers engaged, it’s important for furniture retailers to employ furniture website personalization best practices. These practices help furniture retailers create a seamless experience between the online and in-store experiences, providing more value for the potential customers and encouraging them to take the next step of walking into your store.
One of the best ways for furniture retailers to provide a customized experience for online furniture shoppers is by using behavior targeting. Behavior targeting is a great way to track what a website user has looked at, what products they have engaged with and what interactive experiences they’ve completed.
More commonly known as leveraging “cookies,” behavior targeting helps furniture retailers understand how to adjust their offerings to a website visitor’s interests to effectively personalize the online experience. This is done by using smart calls to action, otherwise known as smart CTAs.
Smart CTAs are created by considering onsite behavior with captured consumer data. Here are some examples of factors for each:
As mentioned earlier, if you know a visitor wants a coffee table, then it’s pointless to create a CTA that offers them a deal on patio furniture. When using online behavior targeting paired with smart CTAs, your CTAs will adjust to offer promotions on coffee tables if a visitor engages with coffee tables on your website.
Even better, behavior targeting is designed to take online furniture shoppers to the next step of the buying cycle. If someone has already completed a style assessment on a sofa, then the next CTA that may show up after the style result is “Schedule an in-store consultation.” It guides them through the furniture customer engagement path so the chances of conversion are higher.
Testing And Measuring Smart CTAs
Beyond creating smart CTAs that account for onsite behavior and captured consumer data, furniture retailers should test and measure how CTAs perform so they can adjust as needed. There are a few things to review on a consistent basis to measure customer engagement:
Traffic to Clicks Percentages on Each CTA: Based on the CTAs shown on your website, which ones are performing well and which ones aren’t? Modify the ones that aren’t accordingly and use the ones that are performing well as a baseline.
Dynamic Design: When possible, use interactive CTAs. Static CTAs statistically do not perform as well.
Language: Test the language you use on CTAs. Does “Schedule Your Consultation” perform better than “Request a Consultation”? Adjust based on which one receives more clicks and inquiries.
Colors: CTA colors are very important to conversion rates. While it’s important to stick within your brand guidelines, the CTAs that typically perform the best are colors that stand out from your primary brand colors.
By using this furniture website personalization best practice, you have the data to know what steps the consumer has already taken and how they’ve engaged with your website. It will not only provide value to the online furniture shopper, but it will help you create a more meaningful interaction when they walk into your in-store showroom.
BDC managers have a goal to capture as many qualified leads as possible for their sales team. What tactics and tools can BDC managers use to learn more about their online visitors and move them further along toward a sale?
The marketplace of the Internet has grown exponentially more sophisticated in recent years. 96% of Americans now regularly shop online, and customers have come to expect everything that digital experience can offer, like transparent and low prices, easy interfaces and personalized experiences. Any business looking to sell online — including auto dealerships — must learn how to give those online visitors the personalized experience they demand in order to stand out from the competition.
As a BDC manager, if you’ve been struggling to generate more leads (or more qualified leads), here are a few tactics to give online car buyers a more personal connection to your dealership.
1. Embrace Third-Party Websites
According to a study recently published by Google, there’s evidence to suggest that most people conducting Internet research leading to a car purchase take a long and winding approach.
Their research example, Stacy, conducted 139 Google searches, watched 14 YouTube videos, and had dozens of interactions with dealership sites, manufacturer sites and review sites. That means that BDC managers have to extend their online presence past their own website, actively promoting inventory on third-party review and shopping platforms.
“BDC managers have to extend their online presence past their own website, actively promoting inventory on third-party review and shopping platforms.”
Another key element of a multi-channel digital approach to lead generation is social media marketing. Alexander Davis, BDC Manager at Hudson Honda, says that Facebook plays a big role in his efforts, adding that “Facebook retargeting ads are an effective way of keeping our brand in front of shoppers once they leave our site to continue their research.”
This becomes even more important in the light of Google’s research, which says that 71% of their test case’s research was conducted on a mobile device.
2. Implement Smart Software To Personalize Web Experiences
Today’s online shopper expects a website that is transparent, easy to use and personalized to their needs to capture their attention. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, “nearly 40% will not patronize a dealer whose website doesn’t list vehicle prices.”
Today’s BDC managers use smart software to help them capture information about their leads slowly by giving visitors a customized experience depending on how they interact with their websites.
For example, if a visitor clicks on a call-to-action for an interactive questionnaire designed to help them figure out what kind of car is right for them, the information captured can help inform offers that are emailed to that visitor, or future calls-to-action designed to move them closer to scheduling a test drive.
Website visitors who prefer to do their own research will also appreciate dealership websites that do not require them to submit the same information more than once. Intelligent database management, or smart pathing, can help BDC managers focus on what is known about online visitors by learning more about a potential customer’s budget, whether he plans to lease or buy, if he has a trade-in vehicle, model preferences, how soon he plans to buy, along with regular contact information.
According to Davis, this kind of information can make all the difference in closing a deal. “55% of the leads coming to us from our site come from trade-in value. We’re willing to give top dollar and tax credits for trades, so when we can share that information, it really helps get their attention.”
3. Let Your Leads Determine Your Approach To Conversation
Website visitors become leads once they provide their contact information and other details online. The next step is for a BDC manager to contact them. By asking the visitor upfront how they prefer to be contacted, dealerships are one step ahead of the game. Knowing how soon a shopper is ready to buy, will also inform your team who they should reach out to first.
Traditional sales tactics can be off-putting to many shoppers, so this is a critical step in the lead-generation process. That said, many successful BDCs see direct contact with leads as just one more opportunity to personalize their experience. Listen to how the visitor prefers to be contacted. If they prefer email, don’t send them a text. If they prefer calls, don’t start off by sending them emails. And if they do text, pay attention to how they do it and capitalize on that information.
We use iPhones to contact customers,” says Davis. “When we enter a number and see that it’s a blue bubble, we know they’re using iMessage on an iPhone. In our experience, iMessage users really prefer texting, so we know that if we message them directly there, they will tend to answer.”
If your online visitors tell you they prefer to be contacted by email, make sure those emails are relevant based on their online activity. Offering financing applications via email or links to special offers likely to be of interest is one way to get a response.
Because interactive smart software captures a lot of lead data about your visitor in your CRM, you can use those details to customize emails specifically for buyers depending on where they are in the buying process.
A smart approach to continued attempts to reach unresponsive leads could also result in a visit to the showroom. Third-party websites and vendors, like TrueCar and Edmunds, have made it easier than ever before for shoppers to compare prices online and search for their own best deal, so many website visitors may fill out a form to get an asking price and then avoid speaking to anyone in the BDC. Try capturing their attention by sending an email with the lowest price you can give on a few of the vehicles they viewed online.
“If your online visitors tell you they prefer to be contacted by email, make sure those emails are relevant based on their online activity.”
Visitors who’ve mentioned they’re interested in a test drive, should be able to schedule the day and time on your website. With that information, your dealership can send them an email to confirm the appointment time. BDC managers report that this can be an effective tactic to get an Internet lead to show up in person without ever picking up the phone.
All of these tactics come back to one key concept: personalization. Today’s web is a social place, and modern technology can afford BDC managers plenty of opportunities to learn about their online visitors and cut through the noise by offering them a customized and engaging experience.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
At auto dealerships across the country, BDCs are changing the way organizations identify customers online and bring them into the showroom to close a sale. What does that job look like? How does BDC management bridge the gap from digital to foot traffic? What struggles do they face? We recently spoke with two BDC (business development center) experts in the auto industry to learn more about their day-to-day work, their approach to generating and closing leads, and the most prevalent struggles they face in accomplishing their goal of driving qualified leads to their sales teams. Alexander Davis is the BDC Manager at Cardinal Honda in Groton, Connecticut. Nathaniel Rosario serves as an Internet Sales Representative for Hudson Honda in West New York, New Jersey.
Davis and Rosario offered two unique perspectives on BDC management and paint a familiar picture of their BDC management roles.
Basically, what we do every day is contact customers who inquire online and submit information,” says Rosario, who is one member of a larger Internet team at Hudson Honda dedicated to this task. “I come in when it’s time to contact them.”
Davis expanded on this, explaining what he does as soon as he’s able to make contact as the BDC Manager and leader of his dealership’s Internet operations. “I answer Internet and phone leads, and my goal is to set appointments. That might mean a test drive, or a scheduled time to meet with one of our sales representatives.”
How do you engage website visitors to capture quality leads?
Of course, before BDC management can make direct contact with a lead, they have to use the digital tools available to them to capture information about interested visitors. This lead generation can start anywhere online, and both Davis and Rosario are familiar with utilizing their own dealership websites as well as third-party platforms to find people looking to make a purchase.
“We do a lot of Facebook retargeting to display ads to people who have visited our website,” Davis says. “We also promote our inventory on third-party sites like Edmunds, and see a fair amount of leads come through that way. Of course, there’s also a lot of care put into our own website, where we’re able to collect information from visitors slowly, learn about their interests, and customize our presentation until they give us contact information so we can reach out.”
Rosario also touted his website’s chat feature, which is an important method for his Internet department to make contact with visitors before they’ve even decided to take a quiz or fill out a form. “We have an application we use that … can engage visitors with a chat dialogue to ask them what they’re looking for or how we can help.”
As a BDC manager or Internet sales rep, what challenges do you face in capturing leads?
For both of our experts, one resounding message came across when we asked them about their daily struggles: Internet leads are only as good as your ability to actually make contact with them.
“Internet leads are only as good as your ability to actually make contact with them.”
Rosario faces this challenge daily and understands the need for strong messaging. “100% my biggest challenge is getting people on the phone. That’s the most difficult part. Our department is investing a lot in training to help us develop better verbiage and better conversational approaches to leaving our voicemails and asking leads to schedule an appointment.”
Davis also dreads the unresponsive Internet lead and has learned to do as much as he can to learn more about every website visitor’s preferred method of communication, and to give them a gentle, yet multi-faceted, path forward to engaging with him and his sales team. “When we first reach out, we tend to email first, then make a phone call, and then send a text message.”
Success for BDC managers, it seems, depends on their ability to cast a wide net online, and to learn as much as possible about online visitors in order to convert them into leads. The key to bringing those online leads into the dealership is personalizing their digital experience.
By engaging with online visitors through interactive web experiences, BDC managers can capture how those visitors prefer to be contacted, how soon they plan to make a purchase, whether they have a trade, and more. Each piece of information like this will help BDC managers give online visitors a more personalized experience, which will in turn give those BDC managers even more tools to help convert online visitors to car buyers.
The age of the Internet presents a difficult conundrum for auto dealers seeking to woo and win the business of local customers. Dealerships are taking steps to by hiring BDC managers to help turn online leads into sales.
As consumers use the web to research and compare vehicles, they come into the dealership more empowered and knowledgeable than ever before. At the same time, sites like Amazon and Google have given today’s customers a taste for highly personalized experiences, and that human touch is as important as ever for dealers looking to close a sale.
Just as sales teams have invested heavily in their showrooms to make them warm and comfortable for customers, dealerships have come to realize the importance of making their digital presence just as inviting and personal.
To bridge the gap between the web and the showroom floor, many dealerships have begun hiring BDC managers, or business development center managers (sometimes also referred to as Internet managers).
These customer service experts are increasingly mission-critical to the modern dealership. So, what is a BDC manager and what is their role within an organization?
What is a BDC Manager?
The concept of a business development center originally rose out of the more familiar customer service center, or CSC. Staffed by customer service representatives (CSR), CSCs have traditionally functioned similarly to the customer service departments of other types of companies.
CSRs would field customer questions and complaints, call local consumers to offer special deals, and work to give sales representatives a steady source of leads. For many dealers, the CSC has matured into the BDC, whose job is to focus even more specifically on generating leads through inbound marketing methods.
“BDC and Internet managers are important because they allow you to get information to your clients fast and allow you to scale processes,” says David Idell, Internet Director at Sunset Honda in San Luis Obispo, California. “It’s important that our message online is consistent with all of our other sales messages. If we have a promotion for 0% financing then we need that message to match online, in the newspaper, on the phone messages, in the emails, etc., and I expect my Internet manager, Internet sales reps and all sales staff to convey that same message to our clients.”
That general function of a BDC manager—capturing inbound leads and converting to sales—is performed in a variety of ways from dealership to dealership(tweet this). Here are a few formats in which a BDC is run:
1. Sales Team: In some organizations, dedicated sales representatives might be responsible for fielding calls and Internet inquiries and either working those leads directly, or handing them off to other sales reps.
2. In-House BDC Management: Other organizations have BDC Managers in house whose job it is to handle both inbound and outbound leads and to schedule appointments with sales reps. Larger dealerships may have entire departments dedicated to this task.
3. Centralized BDC: Organizations with multiple locations or OEMs might have one centralized BDC team processing inbound leads and distributing them to sales reps from one location to the next.
How do BDC Managers Support Today’s Dealerships?
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]While the concept of a BDC was first developed well over a decade ago, it has become more mainstream in recent years. In the same period, technology has become more sophisticated, and consumers have come to rely less on sales calls and flyers, and more on the Internet to research their purchases. In fact, according to Forbes, nearly half (46%) of retailers believe that customers prefer to use the Internet to research major purchases, but still like to make those purchases in person (tweet this stat).
By intelligently managing databases, offers and the calls to action that display on the dealership website, BDC managers can also organically move site users closer and closer to showroom visits using digital finance forms, payment calculators, customer interest questionnaires to help them narrow their vehicle choice, and even test drive scheduling tools.
By giving Internet users an easy and approachable research experience, modern BDC managers are fulfilling their mandate to serve their sales teams with plenty of leads. More than that, though, leads generated by BDCs are better qualified and more likely to make a purchase by the time they shake a sales rep’s hand.
“Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.”
— David Idell, Internet Director, Sunset Honda
Idell says the biggest challenge for BDCs and Internet managers is time management. “There’s always something to fix, to update, to train staff on, and not enough time in the day,” he says, and recommends looking at your staff and promoting from within — someone who you know is going to be hardworking. “Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.”
It’s important to remember that different organizations utilize BDC managers (and even BDCs themselves) in different ways to complement their team and their approach to customer service. One thing is certain, however… As the web continues to dominate the way we make purchasing decisions, the consumer’s need for increased personalization online is only going to increase.