Video - Connected Podcast - McArthur

Greg Uland Hello, I'm Greg Uland, marketing director of Reynolds and Reynolds, and this is Connected, the podcast with best practices and ideas to help navigate what is happening in the automotive retail industry and the worl today. As the COVID-19 virus continues to change our world and how we live and work daily, this podcast discusses ways to continue operating in this unprecedented social environment. In today's episode, we have with us Ross McArthur, sales director at Naked Lime Marketing. Ross, thanks for hopping on.

Ross McArthur Yeah, I appreciate the time today.

GU Absolutely. So Ross, today I'm hoping you can kind of touch on some trends that you're seeing in paid search. Obviously, demand is down for dealers right now and that has a big impact on advertising decisions. So what are you seeing? How are you seeing dealers react?

RM Yeah, I think this is a really big historic event that we're dealing with, and there's a lot of unknowns, as we all know. And due to this, I mean, every dealership is reacting very differently, to be honest with you. You know, some have been quick to react. Others are kind of taking a wait and see approach. You know, when it comes to paid search, I think specifically, you have to remember you're not creating demand. You'reĀ  ultimately reacting to it, right. And so, you know, dealerships are trying to take advantage of that whenever they can. But to do that, you know, they really need to understand three things first, right. You know, what are people searching for? You know, where are they searching? And when are they searching? Once you know these three things, you know, you have the information to make better marketing/advertising decisions. I think at a time like this right now, it's especially important. You know, these are, these are the types of things that will help dealers get through this, right. But also navigate out of this when things hopefully get back to some form of normality.

GU Yep, absolutely. So thinking about those kind of three questions you just said. You know what, where and when are people searching, when you go through that exercise with the dealership, what impact is that having? What's it doing to paid search budgets specifically?

RM Well, before we can talk about budgets, I think the one thing we all know is it's impacted consumer buying habits, right? They've shifted a lot in the last four weeks and even last week itself. And we're starting to see dealers start to shift with them, right. And when we're looking at the data, it didn't point so much to budgets and the money that dealerships are actually should be spending or are spending. It really pointed a lot more to targeting the messaging that's being used. You know, when it comes to paid search, you know, people have to remember you're only paying when someone searches for the products and services you sell, and then they click on it, right. So if people aren't shopping, researching, and clicking on the ad, it really doesn't cost the dealership anything. When you focus your targeting, you know, on very specific, maybe low-funnel type searches that are very relevant to people's needs now, this moment, the amount of money you spend naturally goes down, right. And the lower the spend is really the result of changing how you're targeting, not so much the outcome and just cutting budget.

GU Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. That makes a lot of sense. So what about actual search trends? Right. When you go through and you look at what people are searching and even when they're searching and those types of things. Across the board, what do you see? What are some trends you're seeing?

RM Well, I think the first thing we definitely need to recognize is when you watch the news or you talk to people with friends that live all over the country, the one thing you're hearing is that every state, city, county, and dealer are functioning very differently right now. And due to that, consumers are functioning very differently. They're shopping differently. However, there are some common themes, and I'm sure we'll continue to see those come to the forefront. But, you know, one thing that we are seeing is when people, you know, what people are searching for and when they are searching, one of the things that we are seeing is they're honestly looking for just basic information. And the obvious things that people would want to know during this time, like, are you open? Can I drop off my car? Will you come pick up my car and service it? You know, how do I turn in a lease? You know, ironically enough, my wife and I are dealing with that right now. We all of sudden realize, oh my gosh, it's May next month, our lease is coming due, what are we supposed to do? Are we supposed to turn it in? Should we wait for incentives to come out? You know, all these questions, I'm sure, to be honest with you, we're not the only ones, right. So knowing that every area is slightly different, I think, you know, dealers need to evaluate their current situation themselves. And also, I think people need to look at, you know, what are the competitors doing out there? Are they pushing for, what type of messaging do they have and adapt accordingly too. Then once they do that analysis, I mean, we've got to make a personal decision. Do you want that type of traffic and pay for that? Or do you want them to potentially just find you organically, come to your website, and try to get that information there? The one thing, it's kind of obvious, but I hope most dealerships have added that type of information or frequently asked questions to their website, so it is visible when they get there. You know, the other thing we're seeing, though, back to kind of these trends is we're seeing a lot of rebound in searches recently. You know, just really in the last week, you know, incentives and specials specifically, you know, many companies have rolled out offers. And, you know, to be honest with you, search volume has increased due to that. You know, there was a couple specifically I saw just recently. Ford. I think they launched a program for 90 days paid, 90 days deferred. And people are starting to actually grasp onto that and take some action. You know, other brands like GMC and Jeep, you know, they're advertising 0%, you know, for eighty four months. Pretty good incentive, right? Things that we haven't seen in a long time. I think the biggest thing is, you know, there's no silver bullet, there's no magic ball telling us what's going to happen. I think the one thing we will see is that these OEMs and these companies will continue to push incentives to try to create some form of demand.

GU That's great to hear that you're seeing that stuff kind of tick up. No, really good stuff, Ross. I definitely appreciate you taking a few minutes to talk through everything today. While we're here and while we have the audience, I mean, is there anything else that you want to touch on or that you want to say?

RM I mean, there's a lot, right? I think we're all kind of navigating this together and trying to figure this out. I think the one thing to hopefully take away from this quick conversation today is now's really the time to redefine your targeting when it comes to paid search and your overall marketing message as a whole. You know, the messaging that you have is probably just as important as how you're targeting. You know, we're still-- you know, yesterday I'm still seeing many dealers on TV and other forms of advertising that are using the same message that they would 2-3 months ago, to be honest with you. Like nothing's happening in the world. We need to adapt, right. Not only for today, but for upcoming months. I think lastly, just to kind of leave everyone with this, again, remember, you know, paid search, we're not creating demand. Like I said early on, we're just trying to capture it. So as these trends continue to happen, you just need to make sure that you're there when people are trying to make a business decision, a buying decision, I really should say. Outside of that, Greg, no. I just appreciate you having me. And I'm sure like everybody else out there, I'm looking forward to hopefully getting back to some form of normal soon. I'm sure you are, too. So I just hope everyone stays safe out there.

GU Great. Well, thank you, Ross. I really do appreciate you taking time today.

RM Any time. Thank you.

GU All right. This is Connected. Stay safe and we'll see you on the next episode.