Today is a big day here at String Automotive. Today, we launch the String Dealer Positioning System, -- or DPS -- a new solution that helps dealers leverage their data to attract, convert and retain more car buyers. As the product has taken shape over the past weeks and months, our team has gotten more and more excited to get the DPS in the wild and in the hands of dealers. As one of our employees put it: “It’s like we got someone the best birthday present ever, and we can’t give it to them yet.”
The DPS is the culmination of more than eight years of working with auto dealers as a marketing services vendor. We launched the company in 2005 because we felt there was a better way to help car dealers develop web sites that would set them apart from the competition; over time, we’ve added SEO, SEM, inventory management and customer reputation management to our repertoire. But one thing has remained constant throughout our evolution and a changing car industry: A lack of transparency at the dealer level when it comes to data.
The enormity of this lack of transparency began to hit us when we started to get a rotating series of calls we came to refer to as “vendor roulette”. When sales were down, dealer principals would call their general managers for answers. If none were apparent, the e-commerce director would get the call: Is traffic down? What happened to calls to the BDC? And as the website vendor, we would often be the recipient of the next downstream call asking “What the hell happened?” Sometimes we could help pinpoint an aspect of the problem, but with only one piece of the picture, we couldn’t always provide the answers we might have liked.
As we talked to more dealers about this phenomenon, it became clear there was a groundswell of frustration around the topic. Dealers were spending big advertising dollars – with OEMs, with agencies, with multiple vendors – with little to no sense of the ROI of specific campaigns or efforts. They were becoming distrustful of OEM and vendor reports that always painted the rosiest picture possible by cutting the data in a particular way. And we realized there was a real opportunity to take our interest and expertise in data and analytics to bring tangible transparency to dealers that would help them gain insight into the effectiveness of their marketing funnel and the overall health of their business.
As a bona fide data geek, I got more and more excited as we brainstormed ways to bring together a dealer’s diverse data sets and apply new visualization techniques to help interpret information that could be implemented immediately in the dealership. As a Google Analytics Certified Partner, we were able to put our GA expertise immediately to help make web stats come to life for dealers. But our skills got put to the test as we began to work with data from other marketing services vendors via API., to tie call and chat information in with upstream traffic data Then we got really stoked as we were able to work in a concrete way with industry leaders we’ve long admired, like Dataium, to put their unique data to use in new ways to help dealers. – matching demand projections with current inventory stats to help dealers manage their inventory more effectively.
Even though we thought we were on to something, there was no way of knowing until customers actually confirmed it. I could not be more grateful to our 22 beta clients who agreed to put the DPS to the test in their dealerships, providing constructive criticism and detailed feedback that helped us refine our designs and contemplate new functionality. And of course, thanks to our small but amazingly efficient String team, who has put in untold long hours to bring the DPS to life.
We’ll be waiting with bated breath to see if you like the DPS as much as we hope you will, and look forward to receiving your unvarnished opinions and suggestions on how to make your data work better for you.