By Aaron Hassen
Making it easy for shoppers to communicate with you has always been important. As mobile use grows, texting takes center stage as the latest tool dealers can harness to make valuable connections with busy shoppers.
In fact, texts surpassed phone calls all the way back in 2008, according to Nielsen. And since more people are using their phones to browse the web—82%, says the 2013 Nielsen Mobile Consumer Report—texting for more information is a convenient next step. J.D. Power even states that 1 in 5 digital auto buyers used their tablets or smartphones to research their vehicle purchase.
How to Use Dealership Text & Win
Russ Chandler, digital marketing manager of Bart’s Car Stores in Fort Wayne, Ind., has been offering shoppers the chance to text the dealership for about a year now. He uses Mobile Text Connect, an add-on to his Contact At Once! chat software, but he cautions that just offering the texting capability isn’t enough. Here are a few of his suggestions for using text wisely:
- Assign each dealership a specific text number – When a shopper texts in for more information about a certain car, they will reach the store with the correct inventory.
- Add your text number in all of your marketing – “Leverage it with all your marketing,” advises Chandler. His best results are from putting the dealership text number on the online vehicle description pages, but he also places it on social media, email, banners outside the dealership and print ads. And when his company sends push notifications (through their mobile app) about a new car or special, they tell the shopper to text for more details—after all, that shopper is already using the phone.
- Discover what works best – Try placing the text number or QR code in different places on the ads (print and online) and experimenting with different calls to action. Chandler then interviews customers to see which ad got their attention.
- Train your staff to text like pros – “We give staff similar training for text as we do for chat,” notes Chandler. “It starts with remembering that texting is a customer-controlled environment. Unlike a phone call where the salesperson leads, when texting, you need to let the customer lead the conversation.”
- Create a consistent experience controlled by in-house policy – Texting is a less formal communication method, but it shouldn’t be less professional. “Since Mobile Text Connect is part of our chat software, it gives us full reporting with conversation scripts and tracking,” Chandler explains. And like with chat, your sales staff can start with customized, prewritten responses.
- Make sure you have the proper opt-in / opt-out permission process in place – A good start is to look for software that follows the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) best practices for consumer privacy.
Your mobile shoppers may be more than ready to text you. Are you ready for them? Learn more ways to prepare for the text-savvy consumer.
By Aaron Hassen
If your dealership is open right now, chances are some customers are “Showrooming”—physically browsing your dealership while shopping your competitors on their mobile devices. Made even easier with faster smartphones and tablets, Showrooming is now a fact of life and a growing trend.
In fact, the J.D. Power 2012 Automotive Mobile Site Study noted that 31% of in-market vehicle shoppers visited auto websites via their smartphones—and over half of those shoppers did so while physically at a dealership. Also, eMarketer estimates that there will be 100 million mobile shoppers on smartphones and 83.1 million shoppers on tablets this year.
So, how can dealers begin to respond to Showrooming?
#1: Define Your Value
The rise in popularity of Showrooming is evidence that consumers seek the best value and are shopping around to find it. In response, dealers have the opportunity to define that value in order to prevent the purchase from becoming all about price. Defining value can be done both at the dealership, but also online – maybe even resulting in stealing a Showrooming customer away from your competitors!
#2: Sweep Showroomers off Their Feet
As you already know, one key advantage of having a buyer in your showroom is the opportunity to create an excellent customer experience. But of course, an excellent experience encompasses far more than just great customer service—it’s everything, from having a well-kept lot to the smiles on the faces of staff personnel to the invaluable advice your dealership provides that customers won’t find online.
#3: Meet Showroomers on Their Turf
Such focus on customer service doesn’t have to be limited to your lot. Consider the benefits of having your dealership ready to answer a Showroomer’s questions the instant he browses your website. Website chat and texting offer customers direct access to your dealership from a mobile device at their moment of truth.
Add chat and text to your dealership website and third-party ads and you become readily available to consumers, increasing your chances of winning more Showroomers and leading other online buyers into your store. Increasing your dealership’s accessibility and providing an unbeatable in-store and online customer experience can help turn the modern-day problem of Showrooming into an advantage.
Share Your Stories
Have your own experiences with Showrooming and mobile shoppers? We’d love to hear them. Send them our way, and you might be featured in a future post!
By Aaron Hassen
Complimentary Chat Check-Up
If you’re attending the NADA Convention & Expo in Orlando February 8-11, join Contact At Once! at booth #3159 for a Complimentary Chat Check-Up where our expert team members will analyze your dealership’s chat setup and help optimize it for higher conversions in 2013.
Join the Conversation
Not Attending NADA 2013?
That’s alright. You can still receive your Complimentary Chat Check-Up by chatting with one of our sale team members now.
By Aaron Hassen
First, Some Definition
If you asked any professional dealership salesperson they could quickly and clearly explain to you the difference between a lead and an Up. Leads are shopper submissions, which include contact information in return for a later follow-up. Leads have sometimes been oversold in terms of their value since leads grow cold rather quickly – time passes, new options present themselves, people change their minds, circumstances change and availability becomes uncertain. Nothing frustrates a dealership salesperson more than wasting time leaving messages for countless contacts, many of which never call you back.
Far better than any lead, Ups are immediate sales conversations with shoppers interested in purchasing a vehicle. They are not the promise of a future interaction, they are imminent opportunities.
Buyers who walk into your dealership showroom are considered Ups since they are present for the purpose of determining what you have to offer them. It’s at that point when the salesman can build rapport and influence the outcome of a sale. Some dealers see chats as ups too because they share some of the same characteristics – one-on-one sales conversations in which the salesperson can build rapport and influence buyer perceptions and decision-making processes. Other dealers see chats as simply leads, or worse, a means by which shoppers avoid filling out lead forms!
So, Are Live Chat Conversations Ups or Leads?
It’s an interesting question, but most would agree that live chat conversations when answered by the dealership are more Ups than leads, and when answered by someone other than the dealership (and subsequently forwarded to a CRM or email inbox), are more leads than Ups. Having clarified this, it’s also important to note that Ups generally convert at higher rates than leads. It’s not that dealers don’t want leads – of course leads are better than no leads – it’s just that leads are not Ups; in fact, they are inferior to Ups.
Some companies tout fully managed chat as preferable to a dealership answering their own chats, and while fully managed chat is a good solution for dealers not willing to miss out on leads, it’s certainly not the equivalent of taking the call when a buyer dials into the dealership or responding to a chat from that same buyer. Still, the reality is that dealerships simply cannot be available all the time, or at least every time an interested buyer has a question (such as after hours or during peak showroom times). In this case, choosing a chat provider with an experienced chat receptionist service to back up the dealership when chats go unanswered makes practical sense.
Consider The Data
The J.D. Power Automotive Buyers Study (October 2012) declared that 79% of new vehicle buyers use the Internet to research their purchases. The 2013 Accenture Automotive Study (Q4 2012) found that 68% of car shoppers welcome the ability to chat online with a dealer. The Maritz New Vehicle Customer Study (May 2012) confirmed that the dealership salesperson remains the most influential source of information for car buyers. And, an analysis from R.L. Polk (December 2012) concluded that 1 out of every 3 shoppers who initiated chats on dealership websites purchased a vehicle within 60 days. In fact, according to the 2011 Google Automotive Shopper Influence Study 14% of car shoppers purchased within a week or less.
Put plainly, when dealerships engage in real-time conversations with online shoppers from their website, that engagement is tantamount to an Up. What’s more, dealers have found that many consumers chatting in to the dealership prior to purchasing are simply trying to decide which showroom to visit and which salesperson they want to work with.
By Aaron Hassen
While many auto dealers enthusiastically support website chat as a necessary selling tool, to date, the industry has lacked empirical evidence to show that online automotive shoppers who chat actually do purchase vehicles.
A new analysis, and the first of its kind in the industry, was recently conducted by R.L. Polk in cooperation with Contact At Once!, the leading chat provider in the automotive industry, has concluded that 1 out of every 3 shoppers chatting with a dealership subsequently purchased a vehicle.
To conduct the analysis, identifiable users tagged from a subset of some 10,000 chats originating on dealer websites, online advertising sites and OEM websites. Results were derived by matching people who chatted to households with vehicle sales and registration data over a 60-day period.
For additional details regarding the study, please read the official announcement.