#NADA2013 Discussion: Understanding the consumer journey

Earlier this month, thousands of dealers, thought leaders and allied industry members met at the NADA Convention and Expo to get critical industry news and learn best practices for growing their businesses. Workshops covered a range of topics, including the importance of understanding the multiple influence points shoppers hit throughout their buying experience – what many refer to as the consumer journey.

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“Customers go on a journey, and it’s never a linear path,” shared Jared Hamilton of DrivingSales during an interview from the NADA expo floor. “They bounce around to all these different marketing channels and mediums before they hit a dealership, so we have to broaden our thinking in the way we market, the technologies we invest in and how we leverage those technologies to make sure we’re optimizing the variety of paths that somebody can take to the store.”

Speaking to the importance of tailoring advertising efforts to engage customers throughout their discovery process, Hamilton encouraged dealers to truly commit to their brand message and maintain consistency through digital and traditional channels.

In her NADA workshop, “Digital Moments that Matter,” Lindsay Shultz of Google reiterated the importance of a strong online presence by highlighting that 90% of car shoppers do research online. Schultz pointed to the ZMOT Automotive study, one of a handful of models discussed at the convention that suggests a strong shift away from the traditional buying funnel.

The role of mobile

A recent comScore study indicates that mobile usage now accounts for nearly 40% of the average person’s time spent online, making basic merchandising and sales processes that are optimized for mobile users all the more important.

“Dealers are seeing less [email] leads and more phone calls because more people are calling the click-to-call ad,” said Brian Pasch of PCG Consulting during a conversation on the NADA expo floor. “It’s time for dealers to get back to the basics on phone skills.”

Nielsen Mobile Grapchi

While click-to-call is one way consumer behavior has advanced due to new technology, other mobile-heavy behaviors, such as viewing maps and directions also warrant special consideration when evaluating metrics connected to the consumer journey.

How to influence

“Our dealership is constantly evolving in how we address customer needs in speed, transparency and value added in every car deal,” said Chris Slaydon, Director of eBusiness at Vernon Auto Group, during an interview at the Cars.com NADA booth.

By implementing customer-focused sales processes, sound dealership and vehicle merchandising practices, maintaining a strong online reputation and holistically evaluating customer engagement metrics, dealers can begin to optimize their customer experience.

“We’re putting way too much emphasis on the last person that gave us a lead,” Hamilton restated during his NADA interview with DealerADvantage. “There’s a whole journey that customer go through to get to that lead, and we have to distribute the credit appropriately.”

To learn more about the journey new-car shoppers take, download our free eBook “Have you met the NEW New-Car Shopper?

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