Mobile is hot across all industries. Consumers use their mobile devices throughout the purchase journey for research, comparison shopping, contacting brands through social media, and calling customer service departments for more information. This holds true for the automotive industry with 48% of all searches for car dealers coming from mobile devices (which makes dealership mobile marketing essential).
According to Google, 60% of consumers who perform mobile searches regarding parts, service or cars will make a phone call. However, the vast majority of purchases are not made online or on the phone, but in the store, face to face. Automotive service providers and dealerships must optimize their mobile strategies to maximize the value of the growing volume of phone calls from customers to car dealerships and service providers.
Dealerships are becoming increasingly aware that phone calls are a quickly growing source of new lead generation. According to a research report by Marchex:
- 77% of phone calls to dealerships are from new customers
- 74% of customers that call dealerships are inquiring about parts and services
- 14% of customers call to inquire about new or used cars
Additional finding by Marchex shows that many opportunities are being missed by dealers. The study findings show that:
- 16% of calls go unanswered
- When customers connect with a dealer representative, 63% of the time there is no attempt to get them to make an appointment
- 66% of the time, representatives do not ask the customer for their contact information
By addressing these issues, dealerships can expect to increase customer conversion rates by 20%. With the growing importance of calls to dealerships, there is also a huge opportunity to optimize the online to offline customer journey to improve conversion rates.
As we discussed, the majority of consumers now start their research online, with a large percentage of these searches occurring on mobile devices. They comparison shop, check out online reviews, or ask for recommendations from their social peers. According to an AutoTrader.com study, the Internet is by far the most influential channel leading to a dealer, and Google stats indicate that 82% of car buyers are in the market for three months or less, and use seven or eight digital sources on average.
During this initial research phase, dealerships and auto service providers must have a robust multi-channel presence to reach consumers. The most influential digital touchpoints, in addition to a manufacturer’s site, include dealer websites, social media platforms, third-party sites, and review sites.
Getting yourself in front of consumers and gaining brand recognition is obviously the crucial first step before a consumer picks up the phone to contact your business. During the consideration phase, consumers have narrowed down their search to specific makes, models, dealerships and service centers.
What are your options at this point? Cutting through the marketing clutter is crucial. Third-party data enhancements can quickly be appended to your prospect list, giving you a competitive edge. You may know a “J. Smith” is in the market and you have an email address, but when you know this person is Jane Smith, married with two children, a household income of $80,000, and interested in family recreation, you can create highly personalized offers and messages more likely to draw a response from her.
In addition to contact details and demographics, other specialized intelligence should be added to a prospect record, such as exact make, model, year, and Black Book value of the car the customer currently drives.
Targeting consumers along the customer journey through online channels will optimize your chances that they will pick up the phone to call your business. And when they do, be prepared. Know your inventory – 85% of consumers calling mention models in both new and used car calls. There is also a huge opportunity for your service department. Research shows that in more than 60% of phone calls, setting an appointment is never tried! However, when an attempt was made, reps were successful in setting that appointment one in three times.
Every point along the consumer journey can be impacted with the right outreach to ensure your business stays top of mind. When they finally do call, be sure you are ready to take action to get these consumers through your doors to close the sale.
To learn more about how the automotive industry is using data to acquire new customers download our free automotive marketing success kit.