There’s been a revolution in how people shop for everything they buy — including cars. Some researchers claim one company is to blame: Amazon. The convenience of being able to find exactly what they want, and have it shipped to their doorstep the next day, has given everyday consumers the expectation that all retailers will soon operate the same (if they don’t already). There’s even a term for this: “the Amazon Effect.”
Personalization is the key difference separating modern selling methods from traditional ones. Individuals who shop online are given unique shopping experiences that are tailored to their personal habits, desires, budgets, etc. The next time they shop the experience will change, becoming even more personalized and effective, because they have given the retailer lots more information to work with.
Websites which monitor, learn about and adapt to accommodate their visitors’ preferences can not only engage customers better, they can also provide qualified leads on a steady basis. Each time a customer enters their information while making a car buildout or checking financing options it gets captured and can be added to your CRM. Customers like this, as well, since the next time they visit the site they won’t have to fill out the same form again.
Cookies — the data files that let websites recognize and store information about visitors — can help accelerate moving customers through sales funnels. This is because before customers even walk through the door, salespeople can be informed about their needs, budget and when they want to buy (if they filled in that information online). Additionally, website-generated lead information can deliver demographics/trends such as who your most frequent visitors are, where on the Internet they are coming from and what models they are interested in the most.
At a dealership, the BDC oversees the optimization of your digital retailing efforts. They also engage with customers who interact with your dealership through its website. For example, if the website has a function for scheduling test drives, then it is their duty to respond to the customer and inform the sales manager. BDCs can even use predictive analytics to help decide which models should go in your showroom and discover what discount programs will drive service absorption by leveraging questionnaires, surveys and A/B testing.
Your dealership’s online presence should extend beyond its own website. In addition to posting third-party listings, you should connect with your customers by embracing social media. Many qualified buyers will first learn about you that way, as social media search results are highly localized, plus many customers won’t feel your dealership is legitimate unless they can find it on social media. Showing off your inventory, introducing people to your staff and announcing changes to the list of services you offer are some things that work well on social media.
If you can buy things on mobile devices, you can sell things on them. Phones and tablets enable customer advisors to communicate faster and keep track of daily activities easier. Also, text messages and video chats are preferred methods of communication for many people. Handhelds are perfect for information gathering. After a deal is finalized, it would be a simple matter of downloading a free app for salespeople to hand their client a satisfaction survey to fill out.
Hiring an outside consultant may need to be your first step toward using technology to move your dealership forward. Digital marketing activities don’t all have to be in-house; some dealerships outsource them and hire external BDCs. At the end of the day, if you can turn your website into a useful two-way research tool — that is, your customers can use it to learn and it can teach you about your customers — then you will be much closer to “cutting through the noise.”
By, Ken Gibson – Black Ink Technologies