Study leaves little doubt about impact of Internet on vehicle sales

vehicle salesIf any dealer doubted that the Internet can have a significant impact on vehicle sales, let us be among those to dispel that doubt.

Not only are more and more shoppers getting information online, but positive online reviews are driving them to dealer websites, and those shoppers also are more likely to convert to actual leads.

“The Internet continues to drive traffic to used car sellers,” said Art Spinella of CNW Research. “In April, the number of shoppers that went to a dealership because of something seen on the Internet jumped 116 percent versus a year ago and nearly 28 percent versus March of this year.”

And a recent study from DealerRater and Dataium showed that Internet shoppers were 90 percent more likely to visit a dealer website and 5.3 times more likely to convert to a lead with a good online rating (3.5 of 5 stars or higher at DealerRater), according to a report at AutoRemarketing.com.

Shoppers reacted even stronger to dealers that provided employee profiles online as they were more than 12 times as likely to submit a lead to dealers, reported DealerRater, a car dealer review website.

“The study validates what we’ve advised dealers for years,” said Gary Tucker, DealerRater’s chief executive, in the story at AutoRemarketing.com. “Dealer reviews have a clear impact on the behavior of today’s auto shoppers. And the fact that automobile shoppers are more engaged … reveals that consumers are looking for more transparency as they research dealers.”

That transparency comes in the form of “detailed reviews that provide a clear idea of what to expect from the car-buying process” when comparing multiple dealerships, Tucker said.

“Online reviews have already helped consumers in the car-buying process, but now we’re looking at the other side of the relationship by showing how dealers can benefit from reviews,” Eric Brown of Dataium told AutoRemarketing. “The numbers speak for themselves: Dealers that provide great customer service are receiving positive online reviews that, in turn, attract and convert more shoppers.”

While the study was based on Dataium’s analysis of dealership website traffic and DealerRater review profiles for more than 1,000 dealers, it seems to hold useful insight for all dealers.

Dealers that aren’t effectively using the Internet to attract shoppers are leaving sales on the table.

– Mark Macesich

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