How do you persuade a customer to come into your dealership and buy a vehicle? It’s one of the most basic questions any dealer can ask, and yet finding an answer that works is a tall order.
Hundreds and more strategies have been created and implemented to answer that question since the first-ever dealer sold their first car. And if we’ve learned anything since those early days, it’s that what compels customers to buy changes constantly. Whether it’s something as basic as sheer necessity, a hot new model, or the pragmatic importance of safety features, customers can have endless reasons for their decision to purchase from your dealership or shop elsewhere.
But how do you know what will work to bring every kind of customer in to your dealership?
Dealership-specific statistics can give us a glimpse inside the minds (and purchasing habits) of your customers.
A recent DMEautomotive consumer study of nearly 2,000 consumers showed that purchase incentives and financing offers helped influence 80% of customers to purchase a vehicle sooner than they planned.
80% is a massive amount of purchasing customers and it makes sense: just offer a great deal and watch your dealership revenue fly through the roof.
But is it that simple? We know it will work over a large proportion of the population, but only if it is placed where customers will respond. So the next step is determining the best places to communicate these purchasing incentives and financing offers. The study also revealed:
We therefore know from this data that the majority of customers (63%) learned about the great spring sale or that “perfect-for-them” financing offer straight from the mouth of a dealership salesperson. That’s important info for your sales managers. They can ensure your salespeople have a process in place to stay up to date on the latest offers, and that they present those offers to your customers in the most effective ways. Schedule presentation brush-ups if need be, your sales revenue could be hanging in the balance!
The second most important offer source for these customers (40%) were the messages within “set-it-and-forget-it” promotional materials at your very own dealership. Though your point-of-purchase materials might look like visual noise to you day-after-day, they’re educating your customers. Take the time to restock these materials and keep the most up-to-date information visible at every customer touch point. You never know when a showroom visitor might be planning their next purchase!
The third most-referenced source of consumer information (34%) is your dealership website. That’s good news; your customers treat your website as an authoritative source of information in their purchasing process…assuming your website is up-to-digital-date and helps them easily find the information they need to make the purchase decision! But, is your website built for mobile devices? You must have a “mobile-first” mindset because consumers are increasingly going mobile during the vehicle shopping and purchase process, with 59% researching their purchase on their mobile device before arriving at the dealership. And if your website is not optimized for mobile, you might be losing out on more customers than you realize – 30% of customers will abandon their transaction if the experience is not optimized for mobile! Optimizing your site for mobile means you will be offering the best of your site, all in an easy-to-read and easy-to-navigate format at the tap of a screen.
Tied for fourth place, at 25%, are vehicle brand/automaker websites and direct mail/email from the dealership. While the automaker websites may be out of your control, your direct mail and email certainly aren’t! In fact, this is an oft-ignored area where dealerships have room to be much more strategic than they currently are. Ask yourself: are your email communications reaching your customers where they spend most of their time? Not on their laptops, but on their mobile devices: 61% of dealer customers open emails using their mobile device. And when 94% of Americans say they have a smartphone addiction, that’s real estate you shouldn’t pass up. So look into your email analytics and pay close attention. What’s your mobile open rate? Are your customers tapping through the links and buttons to your website or simply closing the message? And, importantly, are your emails optimized for mobile?
And don’t forget about the “always-on,” always connected, always with you option: the mobile app, where customers spend 86% of their mobile device time. Rather than waiting for a customer to open an email, a dealer-branded app enables your business to send push notifications to your customers with offers and deals 24/7. With an app, your customer can monitor their vehicle service history or browse your entire inventory all at the tap of a finger. High-tech app developments like geo-fencing allow you to place virtual boundaries around competitors’ lots. Then, whenever your customers come in close proximity to those lots, they can automatically receive your dealerships’ best offers, keeping your business at the top of their minds.
These numbers paint an important picture of some of the simple things you can do to maximize your customers’ inclination to purchase. And they also show you some of the risks if you don’t. So, take a hard look at your communications strategies, optimize wherever you can, and watch the customers file in.