You definitely don’t need me to give you the headline that auto sales are still substantially down. The industry is facing unprecedented challenges: factories are closed, many dealerships are closed or have limited sales capability and consumers can’t leave their homes. The good news is things are starting to look up, with the anticipated rebound already starting.
While there’s uncertainty in the industry, it’s not a time to be absent from the market. Dealers can embrace this as an opportunity to help customers and prospects while their attention and focus are high. While most consumers are in a money-saving mode, they also have more time to research and compare the best offers.
In fact, we have started to see sparks and increases in both traffic and leads coming in for the OEMs. This is based on our proprietary partnerships and technology covering thousands of comparison shopping websites and behavioral data sources. When the OEMs began releasing their extended financing incentives, traffic and leads on OEM sites increased dramatically.
But, hold your horses. Let’s not kid ourselves. As of this writing, unemployment rates are the highest since the Great Depression. Economic fallout from the pandemic will continue for some time and major bankruptcies continue to be announced or anticipated. The car market may be improving, but it’s unlikely to be good anytime soon. It’s now key to take advantage of every tool available to find people who are actually looking to buy a vehicle, and stop spending resources on convincing people who have no actual intention or ability to buy.
Revisit the Leads Generated Now
During this time there’s a potential for more leads, or a high percentage of overall leads, to be “low intent” because many shoppers are just window shopping, submitting leads with no real intention of buying. This means dealers and OEMs will put resources on people who obviously will not be buying in the immediate future.
However, there are tools that can help dealers wade through the low intent leads and prioritize the high intent leads. In addition, as the market returns, there are tools that enable dealers to monitor the behavior of the previous lower intent leads to see when they become high intent and engage accordingly.
Respect the Buying Journey
Now more than ever, it’s critical for marketers to be thoughtful. It’s important to understand where consumers are in their buying journey to deliver the right messaging at the right time for those customers and prospects who will appreciate your outreach. It’s equally important to not over-communicate to those consumers who do not need or want to be receiving offers right now.
The most efficient and effective way to do that is to leverage behavioral data. This includes in-market interest for specific products, depth and frequency of activity, and time of day of activity. Armed with this information, dealers can focus on their specific customers and prospects who show high intent and are receptive to timely and relevant outreach.
Leading with data to better understand how behavior drives decisions will help you focus your time and dollars. Knowing where consumers are in their buying journey allows you to send the right message at the right time while mitigating compliance risk. In the end, it’s a better customer experience, which fuels profitable growth (new customers and cross-sales) and improves customer retention.