New tools helping dealers reach customers before they step on lot

???????????????????????????????????????????????Car shopping often begins online, so the earlier dealers can connect with prospective buyers, the better.

That initial contact, done right, can help develop a relationship of trust that will pay off down the line. In particular, it is useful for dealers to get financing terms in front of buyers as soon as possible.

Otherwise, buyers can arrive at the dealership with rates and terms they found online or saw on TV, and these deals may not be suited for that customer or the dealer’s market. That causes headaches for F&I managers and can damage the customer relationship on top of it.

Several companies are now equipping dealers to make productive contact with buyers early by allowing extensive customization of online vehicle detail pages (VDP), often the first point of contact with customers. VDP pageviews and time spent on detail pages are two of the top four sales predictors, according to automotive marketing specialists CDK Digital Marketing.

“The vehicle detail page is the most visited page in all of automotive,” said Mike Burgiss, founder and vice president of MakeMyDeal, a Cox Automotive company. “And vehicle detail pages usually ask a customer to go first. What we believe is a dealer should go first – that puts the customer at ease. They [should] say the price, financing, cash down, monthly payment, all up front.”

Up to 90 percent of car buyers are payment buyers, according to Burgiss, so putting the exact payment terms in front of customers early is an important first step dealers should take to begin sales relationships “in a happy place.” Dealers also should list relevant terms and conditions in a transparent, straightforward manner in order to build trust, Burgiss said.

Dealer e-Process also emphasizes vehicle detail pages in starting customers on the right path.

“Leads and sales to shoppers visiting the dealer’s website are closely correlated to VDP views,” said Dennis Galbraith, chief marketing officer for Dealer e-Process.

Galbraith’s company offers complete VDP builds, with sophisticated analytics and marketing tools, as well as soft credit report pulls, which do not require Social Security numbers or affect visitors’ credit ratings, to get a better idea of what kind of deal may be appropriate.

Analytics and pageviews often are overlooked by dealers, or looked at simplistically, Galbraith said.

“It is one thing to obtain a great deal of inventory exposure,” he said. “But if 80 percent of the VDP views are for 20 percent of the inventory, then marketing adjustments must be made.”

Where Dealer e-Process focuses on hard data, MakeMyDeal emphasizes customer comfort.

“Let them start the deal in their own home,” Burgiss said. “They have a chance to tell their car-buying story – perhaps it’s a couple with a baby due soon that needs a larger vehicle, for example. Build up the relationship. This is still a relationship business, and this accelerates the purchase.”

– Philip Ryan

Posted in New Solutions, News

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