As young adults spend more than 60 hours per week on the internet across four digital devices, professionals and industry leaders believe that the future of the automotive industry is digital. Nearly a decade ago customers physically visited 7-8 dealerships before they purchased a car; that number currently sits at 1.2 dealerships. Despite this downward trend, automotive customers visit as many as 20 dealership websites to decide what vehicle they want to purchase right down to the VIN number. To stand out in a digital sea of competition, dealerships need to offer customers a friendly user experience on their websites through proper digital practices.
Mobile design and friendly experience
Websites were initially designed for desktops and laptops. While that used to be a standard practice, it’s now considered an archaic practice as the number of mobile users has drastically increased. In 2014 mobile and tablet traffic exceeded desktop traffic. More than 50 percent of mobile auto searches lead to a purchase and now websites are built with a mobile-friendly experience in mind and should be clean, aesthetically pleasing, easy to browse and fast to load. Many mobile users will bounce from a website that fails to load within five seconds, making it important to have a speedy website considering the amount of competition that’s just a click away on the Google Search Engine.
Pricing is one of the top three reasons that customers purchase a vehicle. As users peruse a digital showroom, it’s vital that dealerships are transparent with vehicle pricing and information as 57 percent of shopping decisions are made before speaking with a salesperson. Customers should be able to see the national incentives factored into pricing for new cars, features and specs of the vehicle they’re viewing, as well as personalized photos and video instead of stock photos. If a customer doesn’t have a visual of a specific vehicle that they’re interested in, they’ll likely visit another website that takes pictures of their inventory instead of slapping generic stock photos on the webpage.
Fast and quality response times
In a world dominated by social media, customers expect businesses to answer inquiries within an hour after sending a message, even if it’s late in the evening. If a customer submits a lead, internet salespeople need to follow up as quickly as possible with all the information that they need to make an informed purchasing decision. Customers don’t have time to correspond back and forth via email or phone call, especially if they’re sending multiple leads to dealerships, so a salesperson should respond with as much relevant information as possible without overloading a customer.
Consumers consider personalization to be important when deciding on making purchases. According to Digital Trends,
- 86 percent of consumers said personalization had an impact on a purchasing decision;
- 60 percent of car buyers want tailored content;
- 63 percent said personalized experiences influenced them to buy;
- 73 percent prefer to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experiences more relevant; and
- Exclusive personalized consumer experiences produce 70 percent more clicks and 20 percent more sales.
The automotive industry is digital
With so many dealerships competing with one another in a specific region and customers having access to car pricing and comparison tools like Kelly Blue Book or Car Gurus, the automotive industry needs to change with the times and follow their customers into the world of digital. Despite the payoff of utilizing the digital space to optimize sales and customer reach, there are several dealerships that don’t see the value in digital. Quite frankly, those dealerships won’t exist in five years if they cling to that mentality as the future of the automotive industry is digital.
Author: Brandon Lazovic
Brandon Lazovic is a district digital manager at General Motors assisting a number of dealers in New Mexico and southern Colorado with website optimization, reputation management, content creation, CRM integration, social media promotion and search engine marketing. Before Lazovic began working at General Motors he collaborated with start up companies in Ann Arbor, Mich. to expand their businesses through digital marketing initiatives and previously served as the news editor for the Eastern Echo in 2016 and as a staff writer for the EMU media relations department in 2017.