IOS 15 And Dealership Email Marketing

Data privacy and its impact on automotive marketing. It was positioned to be a headlining story of 2022 as dealers evaluated the impact on their advertising strategies. But, between the ongoing vehicle inventory shortages and Google’s announcement that they will delay deprecating 3rd party cookies until 2023, the story has largely faded from view. If your dealership has put data privacy and its impact on automotive on the back burner, it’s time to turn up the heat. Why? The next update from Apple – iOS 15 – will impact your email marketing.

Before we go any further, no need to panic. Email marketing remains one of the most effective ways to influence car shoppers. The evidence suggests Apple’s iOS 15 update will likely impact how you and your vendor partners measure effectiveness. And the first hint of that impact will come quickly.

So, what is it and what should you be thinking about?

iOS 15 will go public for iPhones, iPads, and desktops using OS Monterrey this month. The update includes two features that will impact email marketing and measurement, Mail Privacy Protection and Hide My Email. At a high level, Mail Privacy Protection gives the consumer the opportunity to protect their email and prevent the tracking that tells people like you and me if, when, and where the email was opened. There’s no need to get into the technical weeds, but this update means when a customer or prospect receives an email on their Apple device, and they have opted into Mail Privacy Protection, that email will automatically register as “opened” regardless of the person’s actual activity.

Now you might be asking, is this the reality for everyone using an Apple device, and will it be effective immediately? The short answer to the first question is no. However, when Apple Mail user downloads the new operating system to their device, they will be asked if they want to protect their email. What we learned when Apple introduced App Tracking Transparency with iOS 14 this spring, 96% of Apple users said “Yes! Don’t track me.” So, it is prudent to expect a majority of Apple users to do the same with Mail Privacy Protection.

The second answer is yes, but not fully. We know from experience that the adoption of new operating systems comes in waves. Some cutting-edge techies update as soon as new features are available and others follow suit in waves. Suffice it to say, expect at least 75% of users to be up and opted in on the new updates by the end of 2021.

Which leads us to why this matters. Google Chrome’s plans with 3rd party cookie tracking is front and center because they are the dominating web browser – accounting for 65% of internet activity. Similarly, Apple is the dominant player in email. For dealers using email marketing (which is practically everyone), this update has the potential to impact up to half of the customers and prospects you engage via email.

Again, no need to panic. This update does not render email marketing ineffective. But it should cause you to pause, evaluate and adjust a few things.

Let’s look at a few high-level actions you can take.

1. Look back at Opens: Establish a measurement standard

Because Mail Privacy Protection automatically triggers the “open” pixel, you can expect your open rates to grow. To track how much, take a look at your history. Open rates vary from send to send, but normalize within a given range over time. Start by taking a look back at the first six months of 2021 to set a measurement standard. This gives you a benchmark to see how open rates change month to month. When you see the normalized open rate start to increase, you will have a general idea of how many of your customers are Apple Mail users and inflating your measurement.

2. Look beyond Opens: Expand your portfolio of email metrics

Open rates are a key metric in marketing reports. Yet by itself, the open rate has long been a flimsy performance measurement. Open rates can be an indicator of awareness, but engagement is better measured by clicks and conversions. Open rates are typically higher and look better on a report, and iOS 15 will likely only inflate those numbers. Resist the urge to take credit for the higher open rates that everyone will see as more users download the new operating system.

Instead, pay MORE attention to click thru rates and conversion metrics. In order to understand email campaign effectiveness at a greater level, utilizing UTM tags and Google Analytics are another incredibly effective way to monitor email performance and conversion. At Client Command, we also measure effectiveness through match back reporting and give dealers visibility into the impressions, frequency and clicks that influence a sale. Your vendors are likely already measuring the effectiveness of email marketing with an equal or greater focus on clicks and conversions. It’s important that you make sure you extend this to internal email engagement efforts, such as email cadences from your CRM.

3. Assess your Automation “Triggers”: Disable cadences based on “Opens”

Marketing automation is built on trigger events. If X action happens, Y cadence is deployed. There is a high likelihood that at least one email cadence set up in your CRM are built around whether someone opens or does not open an email. Opens is far from the only trigger, but is common, especially within dealership operations.

Instead, tie triggers to a more reliable action; such as ownership milestones, service activities or important events. To go deeper, build trigger events inside those cadences, based on clicks — to the enclosed offer, digital retailing tool or form. At Client Command, our marketing automation is triggered by online shopping activity and clicks to lead forms.

4. Resist the urge to react: Entertain some level of the “wait and see” approach

Yes, we know enough to take some proactive action like the steps previously mentioned. But even the Email Service Providers (ESPs) who think only about email delivery all day every day, are taking some level of the “wait and see” approach versus an all-encompassing game plan. They are making necessary adjustments now (including but not limited to the ones mentioned prior), preparing to measure the full impact over a period of time and make optimizations and recommendations accordingly. We experienced this earlier this year when Apple released iOS 14 – partners positioned themselves for the change and continue to optimize as we learn more about the nuances of the impact. Adjustments from ESPs could further impact OR improve email marketing measurements. So, if the ESPs are waiting, there is wisdom in following their lead.

Net-net. Email marketing remains a highly effective way to stay in front of car shoppers and a critical component of your omni-channel marketing strategy. As iOS 15 rolls out and users begin to sign on, start adjusting what you can control – how you measure effectiveness and how you trigger your email cadences – and be ready to adjust to residual impacts. The key is working with partners you trust — committed to staying up to speed, working to keep you ahead of the curve and ready to navigate these and future changes with you.

Article originally published here https://clientcommand.com/ios-15-and-dealership-email-marketing/.

January 2023 Newsletter

And just like that 2022 has come to an end. This past year will prove to be memorable for the rapid changes in the market, the ongoing uncertainty we find ourselves living in and our continued search for a ‘new norm’.

Let’s now shift our focus to 2023 and how we can make it the best year ever. Despite the predicted retractions and continued headwinds we face, accomplishing even the loftiest of goals is possible if you take the time to go through proper goal-setting actions. There are countless articles and videos on how to set goals and methods to track them. Here are a couple of articles to help you define your goals and establish methods to crush them! Whatever your goals are, we wish you luck in accomplishing them this year.

Here are few interesting items to consider as we head into the new year.  

Upcoming Events ADS will be attending:

RV Supershow Cleveland, OH – https://www.ohiorvshow.com/
NADA Show Dallas, TX. – https://www.nada.org/nada-show
AIMExpo Las Vegas, NV – https://aimexpousa.com/

We would love the opportunity to connect with you, please let us know if you will be attending.

ADS is excited for what 2023 has in store and we know when we keep our dealer’s goals first and foremost, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

Here is to 2023 being your Best Year Ever!

Happy New Year,

Bob and Ryan

View the full newsletter https://mailchi.mp/advdealer.com/january-newsletter.

Who Will Blink First in 2023?

Brian Finkelmeyer is the senior director of new-vehicle solutions at Cox Automotive.

My daughter and I love staring contests. Our rules are the same as everyone’s—whoever blinks first loses.

Lately, I’ve sensed a similar staring contest emerging in the new car business between consumers, dealers, and automakers. The question is who will blink first?

Before 2020, when dealership lots were overflowing with new-vehicle inventory, manufacturers were always quick to blink—offering bigger and better incentives to entice shoppers. Total industry incentive spend was estimated to be between $50-$60 billion per year. When holiday bonus cash and $179 lease offers didn’t move enough metal, the OEMs would blink again. They had Enterprise and Hertz on speed dial to unload excess inventory.

Back then, the automakers incentivized their dealers to blink with stair-step, volume-based sales programs. Consumers learned the best way to win a good deal on a new car was to keep staring until the last day of the month. Dealers would always blink when there was a $50,000 bonus check riding on the next unit sold.

But the microchip crisis changed all that. With demand far exceeding supply, average transaction prices have increased roughly $10,000 since COVID, hitting $48,681 last month. With incentives at rock bottom, it appears many consumers have just closed their eyes entirely as they signed contracts for new-vehicle purchases, with an average payment of $762 a month. The days of waiting until the last day of the month have turned into waiting 60 days to receive your pre-ordered new car.

After a two-year drought, dealer lots are starting to fill back up. Inventory levels are now up 77% compared to November 2021. Days’ supply has also climbed from 29 to 53. So, with inventory beginning to build and talk of an economic recession looming, the car companies must be ready to blink, right?

Nope: The car companies are staring straight ahead with no expression on their face.    

The average incentive spend in November 2021 was $1,896 versus this November at $1,066. That’s a 43% DECREASE in incentives year over year. Many dealers have begun sounding the alarm of softening demand and the necessity for automakers to bring back better incentives. One dealer recently commented, “The sell ‘til the lot is empty party is over!”

But these same anxious dealers continue to post record new-car grosses in the $5,000-$6,000 range, including F&I. With grosses that strong, the OEMs are in no rush to bring back incentives—they’re waiting for dealers to blink first.

Why are the manufacturers feeling so confident? My sense is that their confidence comes from consumers, the very ones who continue to buy new vehicles absent any significant incentives. New-vehicle sales in November were up 10.8% versus the prior year; luxury sales as a percentage of the total industry continue to grow, hitting 18.2% of the market in November. With continued strong grosses and growing retail sales, the OEMs are in no mood to blink.

But here’s the hard truth. It’s highly unlikely that the industry can get back to the glory days of annual sales in the 16-to-17 million range when the average retail price is north of $48,000. For sales volume to grow, the average selling price will need to come down to expand the pool of potential buyers. Automakers and dealers should take note that Walmart recently outperformed analysts’ expectations in their grocery business, as more affluent shoppers steered away from traditional grocery stores to hedge against higher prices and inflation.

Not surprisingly, there are clear signs of softening demand for more expensive segments with rising days of supply, while affordable inventory segments remain tight. A quick look at the chart below shows that supplies are most constrained for $35,000 and below vehicles in compact SUVs, midsize and compact car segments.

NOVEMBER NEW-VEHICLE INVENTORY ESTIMATES

Given all this, I’m curious to see who will blink first in 2023. Will the automakers blink and begin doling out richer incentives or a more affordable mix? Or will dealers blink, facing rising floorplan costs and decide it’s in their best interest to step back from selling almost every new vehicle at MSRP or above?

I’m not sure how this will all play out in the year ahead, but one thing is true: Until the consumer shows a willingness to blink, the automakers and dealers will be more formidable than my daughter at the staring contest.

The article was written by Brian Finkelmeyer the senior director of new-vehicle solutions at Cox Automotive and was originally published by Cox Automotive.

Ford CEO says 65% of U.S. dealers agree to sell EVs under company’s investment programs

  • About 65% of Ford dealers have agreed to sell electric vehicles as the company invests billions to expand production and sales of the battery-powered cars and trucks, CEO Jim Farley said Monday.
  • Ford offered its dealers the option to become “EV-certified” under one of two programs — with investments of $500,000 or $1.2 million.
  • Ford, unlike crosstown rival General Motors, is allowing dealers to opt out of selling EVs and continue to sell the company’s cars.

DETROIT – About 65% of Ford Motor’s dealers have agreed to sell electric vehicles as the company invests billions to expand production and sales of the battery-powered cars and trucks, CEO Jim Farley said Monday.

About 1,920 of Ford’s nearly 3,000 dealers in the U.S. agreed to sell EVs, according to Farley. He said roughly 80% of those dealers opted for the higher level of investment for EVs.

Ford offered its dealers the option to become “EV-certified” under one of two programs — with expected investments of $500,000 or $1.2 million. Dealers in the higher tier, which carries upfront costs of $900,000, receive “elite” certification and be allocated more EVs.

Ford, unlike crosstown rival General Motors, is allowing dealers to opt out of selling EVs and continue to sell the company’s cars. GM has offered buyouts to Buick and Cadillac dealers that don’t want to invest to sell EVs.

Dealers who decided not to invest in EVs may do so when Ford reopens the certification process in 2027.

“We think that the EV adoption in the U.S. will take time, so we wanted to give dealers a chance to come back,” Farley said during an Automotive News conference.

Ford’s plans to sell EVs have been a point of contention since the company split off its all-electric vehicle business earlier this year into a separate division known as Model e. Farley said the automaker and its dealers needed to lower costs, increase profits and deliver better, more consistent customer sales experiences.

Farley on Monday also reiterated that a direct-sales model is estimated to be thousands of dollars cheaper for the automaker than the auto industry’s traditional franchised system.

Wall Street analysts have largely viewed direct-to-consumer sales as a benefit to optimize profit. However, there have been growing pains for Tesla, which uses the sales model, when it comes to servicing its vehicles.

Ford’s current lineup of all-electric vehicles includes the Ford F-150 Lightning pickup, Mustang Mach-E crossover and e-Transit van. The automaker is expected to release a litany of other EVs globally under a plan to invest tens of billion of dollars in the technologies by 2026.

Originally posted by CNBC.



Used car prices are down 3.3% from a year ago — but still ‘grossly inflated,’ auto expert says. Here’s where to find deals

KEY POINTS

  • The latest reading of the consumer price index showed that used cars are one of the few categories with prices that have fallen from a year earlier.
  • However, the large runup in prices before that means consumers are still paying 33% more for used cars than they would if normal depreciation had occurred, according to car-shopping app CoPilot.
  • Electric vehicle prices, which jumped earlier in the year when gas prices were climbing, are now down 20% from their peak in July.

In the latest inflation reading, used cars are one of the few categories with prices that are lower than they were a year ago.

While the consumer price index — which measures price changes for a variety of consumer goods and services — was up 7.1% in November from a year earlier, used cars and truck prices posted an annual 3.3% decline. That compares to some categories that have kept climbing far above year-ago prices, such as eggs (49.1%) and airfare (36%). New car prices are 7.2% higher.

Despite sliding prices for used vehicles, they remain 33% higher than where they’d be if normal depreciation were occurring, said Pat Ryan, founder and CEO of CoPilot, a car-shopping app.

“It’s important to remember that prices are still grossly inflated compared to all normal market conditions,” Ryan said.

“In the new year, we can expect more substantial and accelerated price drops across the board, as vehicle inventory continues to replenish,” said Ryan, adding that dealers also are responding to consumers’ growing resistance to paying record-high car prices.

Demand in the used car market skyrocketed during the pandemic as supply-chain issues hampered automakers’ ability to produce new vehicles. However, the situation is easing slowly with modest improvements in inventory on dealer lots as rising interest rates put pressure on affordability.

Price drops vary among car types and age

While used-car prices are easing from their highs, the decreases depend at least partly on their age and the type of vehicle.

Used electric vehicles have seen the largest drop: The average price of $54,314 in early December is down 20% from a record high of $75,324 in July, according to CoPilot data.

For used hybrids, the average price of $43,574 is a 12% drop from the peak of $49,809 in July. For both segments, whose demand rose earlier in the year when gas prices were headed higher, an easing in gas prices also coincided with a decrease in demand for EVs and hybrids.

Among body types, SUVs and minivans have seen the largest drop this year. List prices for used SUVs average $41,468, down 7% from a peak of $44,824 in March. Used minivans are averaging $24,992, down 8% from $27,257 in March.

By age, 1- to 3-year-old cars come with an average price of $38,987, down 8% from a peak of $42,375 in July.

Among those 4 to 7 years old, the average price is $27,137, a 13% drop from the peak of $31,265 in January. And in the 8-to-13-year-old bracket, the average price of $16,601 is also down 13% from a high of $19,215 in April.

While prices are expected to continue sliding next year, some buyers may not want to wait.

“If you can pay cash now and avoid skyrocketing interest rates [on loans], this month is the best time to buy in over a year,” Ryan said. “With prices finally down year-over-year … and dealers eager to hit year-end sales targets, it could be a good time to negotiate.”

For most buyers, however, “our advice is to wait for the used-car market to finally return closer to normal levels in 2023,” Ryan said.

Originally posted by CNBC.

Used vehicle demand and prices continue to decline from record highs

KEY POINTS

  • Wholesale prices of used vehicles reached their lowest level in more than a year last month, as retail sales decline amid interest rate hikes, rising new vehicle availability and recessionary fears.
  • The Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index, which tracks prices of used vehicles sold at its U.S. wholesale auctions, has declined about 16% from record levels in January.
  • The decline is good news for potential car buyers, however not great for companies such as Carvana that purchased vehicles at record highs and are now trying to sell them at a profit.

DETROIT – Wholesale prices of used vehicles reached their lowest level in more than a year last month, as retail sales decline amid interest rate hikes, rising new vehicle availability, and recessionary fears.

Cox Automotive said Wednesday that its Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index, which tracks prices of used vehicles sold at its U.S. wholesale auctions, has declined 15.6% from record levels in January through November. The index dropped to 199.4 last month, below 200 for the first time since August 2021, and is down 14.2% from the same month a year ago. It marks the sixth-consecutive month of declines.

The falling prices come as the availability of new vehicles steadily rises from historic lows, providing additional options for consumers and potentially better loan options from automaker’s financing arms.

“New inventory is finally starting to build, and that’s producing momentum in new retail sales, but that momentum appears to be at the expense of used retail. Especially it’s the traditional used car buyer that’s most impacted by payment affordability,” Cox chief economist Jonathan Smoke said Tuesday during an industry update.

Retail prices for consumers traditionally follow changes in wholesale prices. That’s good news for potential car buyers, however not great for companies such as embattled retailer Carvana that purchased vehicles at record highs and are now trying to sell them at a profit.

Retail pricing thus far has not declined as quickly as wholesale prices, as dealers attempt to hold steady on record-high pricing. According to the most recent data, Cox reports the average listing price of a used vehicle was $27,564 in October, down less than a half percent from the beginning of the year.

“They’re not wanting to sell at trough prices,” said Chris Frey, senior industry insights manager at Cox Automotive, told CNBC last month. “That’s why we’re not seeing the prices decline so much at retail.”

Cox estimates that used retail sales declined 1% in November from October and were down 10% from a year earlier.

Automakers for several years now have been battling through a semiconductor chip shortage that has sporadically halted production of new vehicles, causing record-low inventories of vehicles and higher prices. The circumstances pushed many new-vehicle buyers into the used-car market.

Cox last month estimated the total used market was on pace to finish the year down more than 12% from 40.6 million in 2021.

Originally posted by CNBC.

December Newsletter

On the heels of giving many thanks and taking stock on all we are thankful for over this past Thanksgiving weekend; we begin to look forward to arguably the most magical time of the year.

December is typically a robust month for our industries, and this year is setting up to deliver another strong finish. Dealers are seeing a bit more inventory, used car pricing has somewhat settled into a comfortable position, and the recent rise in interest rates hasn’t seemed to slow sales as much as some anticipated. Dealers should consider these headwinds in their 2023 planning and forecasting.

Here are a few items which seem to be picking up energy in our recent conversations with dealers across the country.

As the team at ADS looks back on 2022 and the many successes we’ve had, we are proud to have the partnerships we have with so many dealers and industry leading providers. Without the resolute support of so many, we wouldn’t be able to be so focused on exceeding our dealer’s goals and objectives.

Merry Christmas!

Link to our full newsletter.

FTC Extends Deadline by Six Months for Compliance with Some Changes to Financial Data Security Rule

Financial institutions covered by the Safeguards Rule must comply with certain provisions by June 9, 2023

The Federal Trade Commission today announced it is extending by six months the deadline for companies to comply with some of the changes the agency implemented to strengthen the data security safeguards financial institutions must put in place to protect their customers’ personal information. The deadline for complying with some of the updated requirements of the Safeguards Rule is now June 9, 2023.

The Safeguards Rule requires non-banking financial institutions, such as mortgage brokers, motor vehicle dealers, and payday lenders, to develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive security program to keep their customers’ information safe.

The Commission is extending the deadline based on reports, including a letter from the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, that there is a shortage of qualified personnel to implement information security programs and that supply chain issues may lead to delays in obtaining necessary equipment for upgrading security systems. These difficulties were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These issues may make it difficult for financial institutions, especially small ones, to come into compliance by the deadline.

The FTC approved changes to the Safeguards Rule in October 2021 that include more specific criteria for what safeguards financial institutions must implement as part of their information security programs. While many provisions of the rule went into effect 30 days after publication of the rule in the Federal Register, other sections of the rule were set to go into effect on December 9, 2022. The provisions of the updated rule specifically affected by the six-month extension include requirements that covered financial institutions:

  • designate a qualified individual to oversee their information security program,
  • develop a written risk assessment,
  • limit and monitor who can access sensitive customer information,
  • encrypt all sensitive information,
  • train security personnel,
  • develop an incident response plan,
  • periodically assess the security practices of service providers, and
  • implement multi-factor authentication or another method with equivalent protection for any individual accessing customer information.

The Commission vote to extend the deadline was 4-0.  Commissioner Wilson issued a separate statement.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and protect and educate consumers. Learn more about consumer topics at consumer.ftc.gov, or report fraud, scams, and bad business practices at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Follow the FTC on social media, read consumer alerts and the business blog, and sign up to get the latest FTC news and alerts.

Originally posted by the FTC.

Ford postpones deadline for dealers to decide on EV investment

Dealers will get an extra month to decide whether to spend up to $1.2M on chargers and other upgrades the automaker is requiring for certification to sell EVs after 2023.


DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. is giving its dealers an extra month to decide whether they will agree to invest up to $1.2 million and follow other new standards the automaker is imposing so they can sell electric vehicles after next year.

The Oct. 31 deadline has been pushed back to Dec. 2 after some retailers asked for more time to make a decision, according to Ford spokesman Marty Gunsberg.

“We value our relationship with our dealers and have decided to provide additional time for dealers who have not yet decided or asked for more time,” Gunsberg said in a statement.

He declined to say how many dealers have already opted in, saying Ford will provide figures after the enrollment period ends.

The new deadline more closely aligns with the Dec. 15 deadline Lincoln dealers face for a similar program requiring up to $900 million in investment. Dealers who sell both brands would have to invest in each program.

The Ford standards are divided into two tiers with different investment levels in fast chargers and staff training. Dealers who choose the lower dollar amount will be limited in the number of EVs they can sell.

Dealers who don’t make the upgrades will be limited to selling internal-combustion vehicles and hybrids from the Ford brand.

The EV sales cap has rankled some state dealer associations, who argue that it violates state laws. The Virginia Automobile Dealers Association earlier this month sent a letter to Ford CEO Jim Farley and other executives asking them to reconsider the program and revise the rules.

Separately, a group of automotive trade association executives, representing associations in Virginia and 11 other southern states, this week asked Ford to “reconsider the Ford Model e program as it is currently described,” saying it “includes unreasonable restrictions on dealer autonomy.” Model e is the name of the EV division that Farley created this year and oversees as its president.

The new sales standards require dealers to set nonnegotiable prices for EVs. Those who choose the lower-priced certification tier won’t be allowed to carry any EVs in inventory, with their customers having to order exactly what they want for later delivery.

Ford has said each of its roughly 3,000 U.S. dealers can choose whether to opt in to the standards, and it will not force any to do so.

Dealers who opt in will be certified to sell EVs from Jan. 1, 2024, until the end of 2026. Those who don’t will have another opportunity to be certified for EV sales starting in 2027, but again, won’t be required to do so to retain their franchise, officials have said.

Originally posted by Automotive News.