Tools to help dealers rule the Internet were in abundance at this year’s NADA Convention and Expo, set inside San Francisco’s Moscone Center — where 363 exhibitors vied for the attention of more than 18,000 attendees.
Solutions that allow dealers to tap into today’s mobile marketing phenomenon were prevalent, but so was an emerging strategy that allows technology providers to deliver their solutions through the Web. The idea is to allow dealers to select the Web-enabled device they’ll use to access these new solutions — which could spell savings for dealers.
Here’s a look at some of the products that caught our attention at this year’s show:
DealerApp Vantage: Going Mobile
The company showcased an upgraded version of its mobile marketing tool, DealerApp Vantage Pro. Dealers can now build their own dealership app that displays inventory in real time and sends service appointment reminders. The tool also allows dealers to personalize the apps for their customers based on the vehicle they currently own.
The app builder comes equipped with a “Toolkit” feature that provides one-touch dialing for roadside assistance. Other features include a gas price finder, parking assistant and a database of owner’s manuals. The app can even turn a mobile device into a working flashlight.
Dealers can also load the app with dealership promotions and event information. The app also allows customers to get price quotes, schedule service appointments, make payments, order parts and contact any department at the dealership via one-touch dialing.
The app-building tool also allows dealers to take advantage of RSS feeds so their customers can receive dealer and manufacturer news and recall alerts. Dealers can also manage their store’s social media sites and Websites via the app’s back-end management tools.
The “lite” version of the company’s mobile builder is available for $19.95 a month. The “pro” version is available for $49.95 per month. Consumers can download the lite version of the app for free on their Android and Blackberry mobile devices, and both versions on their Apple devices. For more information, visit www.dealerappvantage.com.
@utoRevenue: Manage What They Say
The marketing services arm of Autobase CRM rolled out PRIME Response, a new online reputation management solution that allows dealers to profile, track and influence what’s being said about their dealerships online.
The solution’s “profile” controls provides dealers with the ability to manage their online profile and distribute content to third-party sites. Dealers can promote their store’s car-buying experience, send coupons, promote events, post videos and more.
The tool also boasts a “track” feature that allows dealers to follow what their customers are saying about their store — and their competitors. It does this by monitoring data streams in social networks, RSS feeds and indexed search results. Additionally, dealers can track their stores’ ratings and consumer reviews.
PRIME Response also offers “influence” controls to help dealers get their customers to write online reviews about their store. These reviews can then be directed to third-party Websites, as well as other consumer forums. Users also have access to an @utoRevenue reputation specialist to assist them with their marketing efforts. For more information, visit www.autorevenue.com.
eCarList: Level the Playing Field
eCarList’s TrueTarget Mobile App was designed to offer dealers an answer to the Carfax report-wielding consumer. The software provider has equipped its mobile solution, named the most innovation solution of 2010 by Drivingsales.com, with a direct connection to Carfax’s Vehicle History Reports.
Dealers can use TrueTarget to access pricing and appraisal insights from their mobile phones, as well as manage, photograph and market their inventory on vehicle listing sites. The app includes retail market data from online marketing sites like Cars.com, AutoTrader.com and eBay. Dealers also can access wholesale pricing data from NADA, Galves, AuctionNet and more. More importantly, the app allows dealers to filter, organize and view data geographically. Dealers can even flag pricing from competing dealerships.
The app, which can work on the iPhone and Android-based mobile devices, is available to non-Carfax subscribers starting at $75 per month. For more information, visit www.ecarlist.com/TrueTarget.
Autobytel: Getting a Commitment
The online leads and marketing provider unveiled a new consumer purchase request tool designed to transition shoppers into buyers. Called WebLeads+, the new program presents a dealership’s Website visitors with special offers, incentives or coupon forms to entice them to submit a purchase request.
The new tool also allows dealers to provide leads with personalized offers, lock in pricing or discounted pricing. And if customers leave the site, WebLeads+ will keep the offer live to get the potential buyer to re-engage the Website. The program is available for $295 per rooftop for Autobytel clients. For more information, visit www.autobytel.com.
Reynolds: Get Your Free Mobile Site
The rumors are true: The Reynolds and Reynolds Co. has extended its free mobile Website offer to all U.S. franchised dealers. And here’s the kicker: You don’t even have to use the company’s dealership management system. The offer is being used to promote the Reynolds Web Solutions’ WebMakerX software suite.
The basic mobile Website allows dealers to share their site’s most important features with mobile device users, including new- and used-vehicle inventory, vehicle photos, dealership contact information and payment calculator.
Reynolds Web Solutions also offers a number of other automotive mobile marketing features, including inbound and outbound text marketing, a send-to-mobile widget and more. For more information, visit www.reynoldswebsolutions.com.
CUDL: Credit Union Portal
On display at the Credit Union Direct Lending (CUDL) booth was a new dealer portal Website aimed at helping dealers secure credit union financing, access prequalified credit union members and monitor activity on CUDL’s lending platform.
The company, which administers an auto lending network for credit unions and the CUDL AutoSMART vehicle shopping site, is providing dealers with a better look into the credit union world by allowing them to search for member loan pre-approvals and view the national, regional and credit union message boards housed on the CUDL system.
A “Dealer Queue” feature was added to allow users to view and track pending and funded deals. Dealers also can access key data, including the number of credit unions and credit union members using the CUDL platform in their local region. Other information at hand includes the number of loans and total loan amount funded through the platform. Dealers can also track the number of visitors to the CUDL AutoSMART vehicle shopping site, as well as the number of views their inventory and store information received.
Regional rollout of the new portal is scheduled for the second quarter. For more information, visit www.cudl.com.
Chrome: Quoting Payments Online
DealerTrack Holdings Inc.’s subsidiary, Chrome Systems Inc., has launched PaymentDriver, an online finance payment calculation service for dealership Websites. The solution was designed to help dealers convert online consumers into highly qualified prospects.
Car buyers can use PaymentDriver to calculate monthly payments for specific vehicles based on current finance rates and residuals available from each dealership’s finance partners. Built as a Web service, PaymentDriver also can be integrated into mobile applications, online vehicle research and inventory workflows on portals, as well as manufacturer and dealer Websites. In addition, dealers can customize lender and rate choices to provide round-the-clock access to competitive rates and programs, according to the company.
For more information, visit www.chrome.com.
MAX: Manage Your Advertising
MAX (Marketing through Automated eXpertise) is a new division under the INCISENT Technologies umbrella. The new business unit showcased two new Web-based solutions at NADA 2011, both designed to help dealers manage their online sales and advertising efforts.
The MAX for Selling Elite solution is an iPad app that arms salespeople with the same information consumers research online, including reviews, ratings and more. Salespeople can use the app to access Carfax vehicle history reports, access reviews from J.D. Power and Associates, Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds.com, run price comparisons and create prepopulated sell sheets that can be e-mailed to customers. The iPad app is available for $399 per month for one user and $99 for each additional user.
Also on display was MAX Ad, a Web-based platform that allows dealers to create advertisements for new and used inventory and distribute them to third-party Websites. The system uses the MARK Engine, which aggregates vehicle information available online, such as seasonality, vehicle age and industry trends. It can then generate ads based on that data. The system is available to dealers for $299 per month.
For more information, visit www.maxadsystems.com.