The Sky is Not the Limit
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The Sky is Not the Limit

Finding ways to bring the dealership to the customer in a personalized and automatic manner is the key to staying relevant and profitable.

New Technology Changes the Future of the Customer Experience

Thanks to companies like Amazon and Netflix, consumers are demanding highly personalized online shopping experiences. Automotive websites have been slow to adapt to meet these new customer expectations — until now. Spurred by necessity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, dealerships have been offering better online services, including appointment scheduling, online transactions, repair reminders, upgrade offers, car pick-up and delivery and more.

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“Instead of finding ways to bring the customer to the dealership, it’s how to bring the dealership to the customer,” says Eric Frehsée, president of Jeffrey Kia. “That’s not something that any dealer can do on their own or something that any manufacturer can do on their own. It’s an evolution.”

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In this ever-changing digital world, finding ways to bring the dealership to the customer in a personalized and automatic manner is the key to staying relevant and profitable. Customers’ needs have changed and as a result, the customer experience needs to change as well.  “Personalization is no longer a ‘nice-to-have,’ it’s a must-have,” says Brian Benstock, vice president and general manager of Paragon Honda and Acura. “Amazon’s model works because Amazon knows its customers. Dealers need to look at their website the same way. Customers don’t want to go through the hassle of filling out a form to schedule a service appointment because they expect you to already have all their information. If they are shopping for a new car, they expect to easily find out what upgrade options they have and what their payment would be. The data is there, it just hasn’t been used in automotive websites until now.”

For the first time, dealers can unify the entire customer experience through a single platform. With many industries moving increasingly online, Team Velocity is guiding dealers into this new age of a frictionless customer experience. Apollo provides a 360-solution across websites, advertising and retention that results in higher profits and more transactions. “Consumers demand change and relevance. Today, consumers have been privileged with some of the best customer experiences out there and it is only going to get better,” says David Boice, CEO of Team Velocity. “By leveraging integrated and automated technology, we not only can meet the needs of today’s consumer, we can surpass them.”

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Twenty years ago, websites were only designed to extract customers’ information, not facilitate sales and service transactions. “Today, it’s about the conversion, making the experience better for the customers…and being able to complete and conduct a lot more transactions. This is the beginning to the data revolution of us online,” says Benstock. “Everything my customers need to transact is at their fingertips. With a full suite of transactional features like online service scheduling with touchless pick-up and delivery and ‘buy online’ applications, I was able to increase sales leads by 196%.”

Using DMS data, Team Velocity developed a transaction-driven platform designed to deliver a hyper-personalized, fast and integrated customer experience. For dealers, the customer experience typically starts with their website. Team Velocity’s website product, Apollo Sites, harnesses the data gold mines within the DMS to provide every customer a unique, personalized, Amazon Prime-like experience. “It is very similar to the Amazon shopping experience,” says Jason Cole, vice president of Cole Automotive Group. “Once a customer is connected, it will recommend oil changes based on their mileage, notify them of open recalls and even deliver custom offers for actual upgrade options based on what the customer is most likely to buy based and their shopping history. One of the most unique features of Apollo Sites is its ability to deliver unique shopping experiences based on whether or not a consumer already has a relationship with the dealership. Because Apollo Sites already knows who the customer is, the online experience is completely tailored to them through interactive features like texting, service scheduling, and online purchase and delivery.”

Apollo Sites helps dealerships automate and personalize their services for each and every customer. “When a customer logs-in with their personal pin, they are then taken to their own personal website where they can schedule service, browse inventory, value their trade, save coupons for service and more,” says Eric Baumgart, general manager of Markley Motors. “Most traditional advertising employs the spray-and-pray approach with very little attribution, but Apollo Sites gives us better attribution of our advertising spend. For instance, if we send a direct-mail piece and the client then logs-in and begins their journey to a car purchase, we can see every step they took along the way.”

Apollo Sites unlocks the unbridled power of true performance, personalization and integration. Paired with other products like digital advertising, equity mining, digital retailing, video, e-mail, direct mail and text, Team Velocity now offers a one-of-a-kind, fully integrated solution that combines dealer websites, advertising and retention solutions. “It’s helped unify our advertising,” says Cole. “The message the customers receive on paid search, in their email, on YouTube matches what they see on our website. We don’t need to use a gimmicky e-price or beg them to fill out a form because the offer is unique to them. Wherever they engage, it’s the same offer over and over, and it gives legitimacy to the offer.”

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Most dealers’ websites lack full integration and house a combination of third-party widgets, siloed vendors and one-off companies that simply don’t integrate. “Apollo Sites integrates with all my other marketing,” says Mario Murgado Jr., director of operations and marketing of the Murgado Automotive Group. “For example, the offers I advertise on my website will match the offers I advertise in my digital ads, emails, videos, etc., on a one-to-one basis for every customer and their specific vehicle. This level of price transparency and consistency not only builds my credibility with customers, but improves engagement rates and increases my ROI.” 

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The ability to eliminate plug-ins and third-party widgets have made all the difference for dealers across the nation. “My old website became overly cluttered with different plug-ins for everything,” says Joseph Bizzarro, president of Interstate Mitsubishi. “With Apollo Sites, every application I need is built into the site — from trade value and service scheduling to digital retailing and even SEO, it’s all included with my Apollo Site.”

Recently, OEMs — specifically, Mitsubishi — have overhauled their website and digital marketing programs to focus on the power of consistency through integration. In a recent interview, David Baum Jr., general manager of Lewisville Autoplex, discussed his store’s success with Apollo Sites, noting the unique ability to track customer activity and interaction on his website in real time, allowing his team to tailor their engagement with the customer to drive a service visit or sale. “In the past, I always had service coupons on my website, but I can think of only a handful that were ever presented,” says Baum Jr. “With digital coupons pushed to customers through their accounts and through email, just last month, we had 286 coupons redeemed from service customers.”

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Today’s consumers expect hyper personalization. Just like Amazon, they expect to sign in and have relevant shopping history and customer information at their disposal. Apollo Sites performs at the speed of the customer. “With Apollo Sites, my engagement rate increased to 20% as well as my transaction rate to over 20%,” says Julio Batista, president of Teddy Cars. “My Apollo Site not only performs better but drives more results than my previous website.”

Offering fully integrated websites that personalize the car shopping and service experience is game-changing from the customer perspective, but Team Velocity is making a huge difference in the way dealers view and manage marketing campaigns, too. “We were throwing a lot of money and time into different campaigns with different vendors and not really knowing what was working because nothing was integrated,” says Kimberly Eakin, general manager of Eakin Kia. “Apollo’s command center provides a visualization of every customer’s shopping journey — which campaigns they engaged with, what the offer was, what actions they took on the website. It has relieved me to know that the money we are spending is actually targeting the customers that are going to be profitable for our dealership.”

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“This personalization will allow the customer to customize their experience as well,” says Frehsée. “They can go in and view all their service coupons, they can look at their service history, and when they’re doing all that, we get the ability to see what they’re doing and how they’re doing it and behaviorally tweak our process accordingly.”

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