How Are Car Shoppers Finding Your Dealership?

Today, all leads are Internet leads – especially on-the-lot shoppers – but I’d bet you don’t source on-the-lot shoppers as such.  Dealerships that treat all leads – traditional, digital, and on-the-lot – as Internet leads are going to be the most successful.  So, how are car shoppers learning about your dealership?

How Consumers Find Dealership Information

Half of shoppers go directly to dealerships, rather than contacting them ahead of time (Figure 1)¹. That’s a big insight! These same car shoppers are most likely using their smartphones for maps and directions, making these metrics even more valuable when evaluating digital ad spend. This also makes proper attribution of car shoppers on a dealership’s lot even more important.

Figure 1.  Mobile Influence on Car Shopping.  February 2017.

 

One-quarter submit contact information and another quarter call for an appointment (Figure 1). While we know that half of car shoppers do not send a traditional lead like phone or email, one-quarter still do send traditional leads making these important lead types to monitor (Figure 1).

However, our data on dealership information sources points out the need for understanding the car shopper lead path journey. While search engines are a primary search path for car shoppers from our study (Figure 2) where car shoppers were allowed to pick multiple information sources, that does not indicate where consumers started their journey. Indeed, by the time a consumer chooses to type in a make or model or a dealership name, they’ve researched enough to actively seek out that information from that specific dealer – but how did they first hear about you?  Even the dealership’s website seen in Figure 2 seems prominent, car shoppers most likely found the dealership from another third-party source before visiting. Last-click attribution is not representative of how car shoppers initially found a dealership.

Figure 2.  Mobile Influence on Car Shopping.  February 2017.

 

What Can You Do to Evaluate Walk-In Customers?

You need to adopt multi-touch metrics.  The car shopper journey from awareness to an on-the-lot purchase is complicated. On-the-lot shoppers are influenced by several touch points, ranging from organic searches to reviews and third-party sites such as Cars.com. Armed with a wealth of research, they’re visiting dealers’ lots confident that they don’t need to engage with a dealer ahead of time. Consequently, dealers need to use multi-touch attribution strategies, not just last touch attribution or traditional lead metrics, to understand the value of their digital marketing spend in today’s modern car buying journey.

Action Steps

  • Ensure you have an attribution process in place to know how consumers found your dealership and work with your third-party vendors to evaluate that performance.
  • Create a holistic approach to understanding how consumers are researching you and all available touchpoints with your dealership and brand.
  • Evaluate your SEO & SEM performance to ensure you’re not wasting money and are driving the right time of leads and or traffic you need.
  • Review your SEO & SEM spend and place your advertising dollars with more relevant touch points where consumers start their journey to lead them to your lot.

Once you face the reality that your existing lead data is incomplete either because lead data isn’t being sent before an on-the-lot visit, doesn’t account for multi-touch attribution, or that your sales team is inputting incomplete information into your CRM, you can properly analyze your advertising approach to drive consumers to you.  Traditional leads as the industry knows them will soon be a thing of the past.  It’s time for you to dig into your available data in more depth, work with your vendor partners, and do your homework.  After that, you can better optimize your marketing spend to be in front of consumers at all touch points.

[1] Mobile Influence on Car Shopping.  Cars.com, February 2017.

Multi-Touch Attribution Changes Marketing Decisions for Dealers

Following is a guest blog by Brian Pasch, Founder of PCG Companies, Author, and Keynote Speaker.

 

Dealers who have been following the progress of the PCG Engagement Project have new tools to inspect the quality of their website traffic and smarter strategies to capture conversion on their website. Once standardized goals are installed in Google Analytics, dealers can take advantage of VistaDash’s automotive specific Multi-Channel Funnel template.

With one click, dealers can now see Assisted Conversions (Column B) in addition to the Last-Click Conversions (Column A) for common automotive marketing channels. This information is critical for dealers because their CRM lead source reports are not accurate. (read my previous article)

The Google Analytics Assisted Conversions report, enhanced with the VistaDash template dated 3-14-17, created a more informative lead management report for this dealer to show the direct influence of their marketing investments. For this dealer, their CoVideo communication platform (line 7) is working well to increase conversion. Did they know this for a fact?

Here is another example of CRM blind spots. In the dealer’s CRM it was reported that CarGurus (line 11) generated only seven leads (last-click attribution), but the platform also influenced nine other conversions: a total of 16 leads.

Without considering multi-touch attribution, dealers may fire their most effective marketing partners.

The VistaDash Multi-Channel template also shows Tier 1 and Tier 2 influence, which can be customized by market. The template shows paid search conversions, lines four and five, which has been a topic of discussion lately.

Line five breaks out conversions that were generated by purchasing the dealer’s name. You can see that approximately 50% of all paid search conversions were generated from the dealer’s name. This is not uncommon. The data confirms that the success of AdWords campaigns ride off the dealer’s other branding and advertising investments.

Enhancing Analytics With Third-Party Data

Keep in mind that Google Analytics Assisted Conversions report only documents influence that comes directly from another website. Recently I wrote about the partnership between Cars.com and Clarivoy that will enhance GA reports based on offsite data. (read article)

This type of innovation is exactly what the auto industry needs; clearer ways to measure marketing ROI and influence.

The good news is that VistaDash will be supporting Google Analytics multi-touch attribution reports and sales funnels, so the enhanced data from Clarivoy will be automatically made available for their customers in VistaDash.

What dealers find when doing audience overlap studies with Clarivoy and Transparency will shock them:

40+% of their vehicles sales are directly influenced by third-party classified websites and only a small percentage customers, who purchased a vehicle, actually visited the dealer’s website before arriving on their lot.

I will be sharing more data regarding these findings, along with other speakers, at the 2017 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference (DMSC) in May.

Stop Firing Your Best Marketing Partners Based on CRM Data

When dealers start to measure the quality of website traffic and how they convert (or just walk in) they can make smarter business decisions to increase engagement and sales. The automotive community has to look at engagement, conversion, and sales data with a fresh set of eyes to stop perpetuating harmful marketing myths.

How Third-Party Sites Fit Into the Online Advertising Universe

It’s great to see our partner Steve White, CEO of Clarivoy, discussing the importance of multi-touch attribution.  There’s a myriad of touch points that consumers encounter along their path to purchase.  It’s important to get beyond last click and really consider all touch points along the path of a consumer’s car shopping journey that have an influence in their decision to consider a vehicle or to purchase to fully understand ad spend and ROI.

“The process of in-syncing folks, it’s a little hairy at times, but as we continue to get more APIs, the process is going to continue to get more streamlined.” – Steve White

 

Steve continues to elaborate on what Clarivoy is able to show dealers in getting beyond last click and touches on the role of paid search and how he thinks dealers are spending too much money in that arena, “…particularly with brand being the dominant force, it over shadows the effectiveness of paid search.”  Something had to prompt a car shopper to type in a dealer’s name into a search engine – the zero moment of truth – there has to be a catalyst.  In Steve’s case, Clarivoy can track that moment all the way through to a dealer’s website helping dealers understand the engagements happening both on and off their own websites.

This is native integration into google analytics and evolves into the sales attribution product to better help dealer’s understand the consumer’s path online to help provide that “proof” that all dealer’s want from their vendor partners and consumer engagement.

“Some vendors may just be doing retargeting or remarketing for the dealer and they are kind of the last person in, and if they only look at it from a last click perspective, then that vendor is getting all the credit.  And the previous vendors that helped get to that moment helping the consumer get to their website weren’t getting any of the credit.” – Steve White

 

In the end, Steve highlights that dealers who partner with vendors that help provide insight into the influences on a consumer and embrace the idea of looking at performance differently will be the ones to win and improve their business model.  Third party sites like Cars.com are a destination for consumers.  We’re proud to see Steve helping dealers understand the value in partnerships and proving out the success of our dealer partners.

Check out the full interview on CBT’s Kain & Co by clicking here.

Is Google Analytics Your #1 Competitor?

The following is a guest blog by Steve White, CEO and Founder of Clarivoy.

Consumers have gravitated to the Internet for – well – just about everything. So, when it comes to digital marketing, it’s more important than ever for marketers to know what’s working and what’s not. Everything from SEO, to content, to social media and display ads contributes to the lure which brings consumers into dealership showrooms.

Currently, the single biggest asset digital marketers use to determine marketing effectiveness is Google Analytics. Many look at Google as an independent, unbiased third-party where they can get accurate measurements of what is actually driving activity to their websites and converting into sales. Sadly, they are wrong. Here’s why:

Google slowly and indirectly crept into the auto industry, similar to how it dominated every other industry — through pay-per-click advertising. Google then developed a department specifically dedicated to the automotive industry, which has been around for about the past five years. This is because between auto manufacturers, third-party listing sites, lead providers and dealers, the auto industry is very lucrative for them, which naturally drives their motivation to favor attribution that makes them look good. It also justifies the huge budgets some dealers put into pay-per-click.

In my opinion, Google Analytics is the #1 competitor to third party sites and digital vendors. The reason is that Google Analytics’ settings, by default, are configured for last-click attribution. And where do most clicks come from? Either organic or paid search results. It doesn’t matter if the customer saw your vehicle on a third-party site, then later did a search for the dealer’s name and clicked on the link (organic or paid), guess who gets credit for that click? You got it, Google.

One of the biggest issues for most dealers is that they simply do not have the time or available resources to pay attention and measure attribution properly. Therefore, they take the easy route and use the default Google Analytics setting for their marketing decisions. It is imperative that you upgrade your Google Analytics configuration so that you can get a more accurate picture of all your marketing investments. I promise you any time or money spent is a wise investment.

It takes quite a bit of knowledge, and time, to properly setup Google Analytics with every touchpoint, conversion form and social media ad to register and attribute properly within Google Analytics. Frankly, most dealerships just don’t have those resources. Perhaps they have an Internet department filled with Internet managers. But what I see across the industry is that 99% of those positions have pay plans that revolve around sales – not digital marketing. This forces Internet managers to choose between doing the activities that make them money (sales), and those that don’t. In the end, the only attribution source with data that shows if that dealer’s marketing is working or not is Google Analytics and the CRM. Thus dealers end up making poor decisions regarding their marketing tactics and spend.

Therein lies the crux of the problem. Pay-per-click and SEO efforts are certainly vital and can certainly perform well if properly executed. However, accepting everything that Google’s reporting platform tells you as fact is like accepting ANY vendor’s reports as fact.

In the end, Google is simply one of your vendors and, like most vendors, the reporting is configured to benefit them so as to justify your investment in their services.

You would be wise to stop taking Google Analytics reporting purely on face value as a 100% accurate measurement of online marketing results. Google isn’t an independent, third-party. They’re a vendor selling a service just like any other… and their reporting should be viewed with the same micro-inspection that you give any other vendor’s reports.

For more information, click through to the original posting here and for more from Clarivoy, a marketing technology firm specializing in unified, unbiased business intelligence.

Looking At Dealer Review Behavior

Last week we discussed the value in your online reviews – how consumers use reviews and the role of positive and negative reviews.  It’s important to the dealership’s success to have a strategy in place to monitor and respond to all reviews.  Now, let’s dive into consumer behavior by looking at the number of reviews consumers want to see, how recent reviews need to be, and the devices used to read them.

What’s the minimum amount of reviews needed to influence a purchase decision?

Across categories, consumers want to read at least 4 to 5 reviews before making a purchase decision. We also found that one-third of consumers are wanting ten or more reviews to help them make a purchase decision. Think about it — what goes through your mind when you see a product or service with one review? Thoughts may range from, “It must not be good if there’s so few reviews” or “they must be new if there’s only one. I’ll keep looking.” The amount of reviews a dealer has available to consumers online matters — the more the better.

Customers think the same thing. Work hard to grow the amount of reviews for consumers to read, and keep them coming!

Those consumers who are frequent users of reviews expect more reviews than those who aren’t using reviews as often. Car reviews specifically are the second most useful type of review that we found, and car reviews have the largest amount of minimum reviews needed to satisfy consumers—with a mean minimum of 11 reviews being ideal to influence their purchase decision. Car dealership reviews are expected to have the same amount of reviews to be considered useful by consumers when choosing a dealership. If dealers have an effective online review strategy that prioritizes growing reviews, then this number shouldn’t be hard to achieve and it keeps fresh review content alive for an online audience.

How recent to do online reviews need to be to be deemed relevant to consumers?

When discussing recency, car reviews should be within the past six months to be considered useful. Across categories, however, consumers mostly accept reviews within 6 months to one year. Reviews within the past three months are ideal and are seen as having the most value.

Now, not everyone looks at the age of reviews, but for those that do, the more recent the better. Consumers want to make their decisions based on — practically — real-time information. Younger audiences, especially the Millennial generation, live in a world of instant gratification. If they can’t find what they’re looking for or don’t like what they find at a dealership, they’re likely to keep looking until they do. Dealers who don’t have enough recent reviews are going to lose in the marketplace when it comes to digital word of mouth.

Depending upon where a consumer is in their shopping journey, a review could be the catalyst to make a decision sooner. Dealers want to have their best and most representative foot forward to help consumers make that purchase decision — to buy from them.

What devices are consumers using to interact with reviews?

It’s interesting to see what devices consumers use to engage with reviews. You could assume that those who choose to write reviews on mobile devices are ‘in the moment’ and happy with their experience and want to write a review while it’s still fresh in their minds. On the reverse, they could have had an awful experience and want to vent. Either way, mobile is a means to review experiences and do it quickly. We found that 42% of consumers leave online car reviews via their smartphones.

In looking at dealership reviews, 34% of consumers leave them, but 47% of these reviews are done via smartphones — more than individual car reviews.

On the other hand, some consumers may choose a desktop to leave reviews. We found that because of the ease of use for some consumers or a lack of urgency to leave a review, a desktop may be more ideal for some consumers after purchase. For dealership reviews, we found that 78% of reviews are done on a desktop. We also found that 82% of car reviews written are done on a desktop as well.

For the largest purchases in a consumer’s life— vehicles and homes— they tend to use online reviews earlier in their research process compared to other purchases.

In any scenario, dealers need to create and execute a strategy to follow up with consumers after their purchase, asking for reviews of their experience to continue growing that digital word of mouth. Perhaps a consumer didn’t have a mobile device to leave a review when they were on the lot. Maybe the consumer meant to leave a review but forgot. Sending follow up emails, making phone calls, or sending texts can be a great way to continue growing dealers’ brands by asking the customer how happy they were with their experience and then asking for a review.

Cars.com and Clarivoy Partner to Upgrade Google Analytics and Support Dealer Growth

Attribution is one of the biggest challenges facing marketers today and that is no different for our advertisers — particularly dealers. From one store independents to large, multi-store dealer groups, the challenge of understanding which touchpoints are influencing consumers throughout their car shopping journey is universal.

The attribution conversation is one that we continuously have with our customers — and today, that conversation is about to change.

Today at NADA, Cars.com and Clarivoy announced a partnership that will move the conversation beyond first and last click attribution to answer the question dealers have been asking about their marketing investments: are they working?

Through Clarivoy’s native Google Analytics integration, Cars.com customers will now be able to see a multi-touch view of the influence their marketing efforts have in today’s multi-touch world.  Cars.com will be making our data available and transparent via Clarivoy, providing our customers the ability to see the influence Cars.com has on consumers throughout the car buying journey.

To date, Clarivoy’s dealer customers have described their native Google Analytics solution as “game changing” and “stunning.” In fact, Clarivoy took home Driving Sales’ 2016 Innovation Cup for “Most Innovative Solution.”

We are proud to partner with Clarivoy, as well as other attribution providers, to drive the industry forward, through an attribution solution that will help dealers understand how their marketing investments are impacting sales…for every turn.

As Steve White, founder and CEO of Clarivoy said, “When you think about multi-touch attribution, you have to give credit where credit is due.”

We are confident in the role Cars.com has across the car buying journey and are sponsoring a two-month trial for select customers – contact Clarivoy to upgrade your Google Analytics today.

December Consumer Insights

We received some great insights from our monthly consumer survey for December 2016.  We like to speak to our visitors to help us stay better connected with their wants and needs so we can continue to improve results for our dealer customers as well.  We know December can be a slower sales month, so we wanted to know when consumers plan to purchase or lease a vehicle, what the age range is for folks in various stages of the shopping journey, and where they consider themselves in their current shopping journey.

What We Found

Nearly 8 out of 10 Cars.com consumers plan to purchase or lease a vehicle within the next 6 months.  That’s great!  Cars.com consumers are also 3 times more likely to be in-market compared to general consumers.  What stock type do they plan to buy, though?  Well, we found that 65% of visitors to Cars.com in December plan to purchase used inventory, 32% plan to purchase CPO inventory, and 19% plan to purchase new inventory.  If your dealership has a high volume of used inventory, consumers are looking for you [Figure1].

We dove deeper to better understand what else visitors may be considering with 38% saying they will consider more than one of these make options during their research.

Additionally, of those visitors that plan to purchase a vehicle, 53% indicated they plan to sell a vehicle beforehand – 12% indicated they’d already sold a vehicle.  In other words, potentially 1 in 3 consumers plan to buy a car without a trade-in.

Figure 1.  Cars.com In-Market Metrics Total Audience, December 2016

A Demographic Look

All of this is great information to understand where consumers are in their car shopping journey.  But, let’s break it down by a generational look.  Cars.com GenX shoppers are most likely to be in-market to buy or sell a vehicle, especially those between 35 and 44 years old.  We also found 18-24 year olds are slightly more likely to be in market to buy (84%), but 25-34 year olds bring Millenials down slightly with 78% saying they are in-market to purchase [Figure 2].

What’s Shopper Demographic Share?
  • Millennials make up 28% of this survey’s respondents and, of those, 80% are in-market to purchase.
  • GenXers make up 40% of respondents and, of those, 82% are in-market to purchase.
  • Baby Boomers make up 33% of respondents and, of those, 76% are in-market to purchase.

Figure 2.  Cars.com In-Market Metrics by Age, December 2016.

We also asked at what state in the car buying process respondents currently considered themselves to be in.  We found 71% of consumers are at the early stages of the car buying process and undecided on a make and model.  Of those who have decided on a make and model – 22% — but had not decided on a dealer yet and an additional 7% have decided on all three; make, model, and dealer.

The opportunity exists for dealers to speak to these consumers in ways that match what they’re looking for and at the right time in their car buying journey.

When we asked general consumers if they were in the early stages of the car buying process, 88% indicated they were and beginning their research [Figure 3].

Figure 3.  Current Stage of Car Buying Process, December 2016.

Based on the above graph, consumers who are seriously looking to purchase a vehicle make up the majority of visitors using Cars.com – a ready to buy, in-market shopper.  We also see that a good portion of respondents using Cars.com who are ready to buy have decided on a make and model, but are still looking for a dealer to buy from, which gives huge opportunity for dealers to differentiate themselves on Cars.com to influence shoppers.

We will continue to listen to our consumers to make sure we are delivering a car shopping experience that provides everything they’re looking for in a vehicle and dealership.  The more we can improve the consumer experience means the more we can deliver for our dealer customers.

Special thanks to our internal Insights Team for continuing to speak to Cars.com visitors and turning their input into actionable insights.

Source:  Cars.com Consumer Metrics, December 2016. 

5 Questions Dealers Should Ask in 2017

A new year means new opportunity to grow your business.  That means you can’t keep operating under the same mindset when it comes to setting goals, planning advertising, and evaluating metrics if you want to be successful in growing your dealership and continuing to move metal and servicing vehicles. It’s vital to your business to be open to change, to be ready to react to consumers, and to execute advertising to reach customers throughout their car buying and car servicing life cycles.  With that in mind, I’ve come up with 5 questions to ask yourself regarding your advertising strategy to grow your business in 2017.

Am I focusing on the right metrics to judge success?

We’ve already discussed the role that traditional metrics like email and phone call leads play in measuring the success of your advertising strategy on our blog, you can read that here.  But in today’s mobile-first world, traditional metrics don’t carry the same weight as they used to when evaluating your advertising strategy.  Indeed, they are helpful, but when you advertise online versus traditional media like TV and radio, the same metrics to measure success do not translate like they used to.  Sure, you can measure how many eyeballs saw your TV commercial, but when consumers choose to engage with you online, that is more powerful as it shows their interest in you.

Your task, look at your 2016 performance to determine where you were most successful and where you think you can improve.  How were consumers choosing to interacting with your brand online?  With Cars.com for instance, were more customers engaging with you while on the lot versus sending emails and did this result in more sales?  If so, what are you going to do about it?  How does that compare to the success of your TV campaigns or radio buys?  Ask yourself, do your engagement metrics online translate to the success of your other traditional media buys?  Your advertising plans need to cross all platforms to be sure, and when you sit down to measure the success of your plan, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach when looking at metrics.

Am I placing my ad dollars in the right media so I can quickly react to my customers?

You probably have a process in place already to review your ad spend weekly, monthly, or quarterly.  That’s great.  But, have you thought about that how, now, your dealership and virtual lot are always online and available to customers to find.  When you sit down to review data and metrics, are your customers sending you signals via this data?  For instance, are customers always calling asking for more photos on your listings or are your engagement metrics showing movement on specific makes and models over others when on the lot?  If so, how are you highlighting this inventory?

Your task, when reviewing your ad plan, ad spend, and performance, can you make the necessary changes quickly based on the signals your customers are sending you to optimize your ad spend?  If customers are asking for more photos, can you quickly send them those photos or send them a video of the car in question encouraging them to visit your lot?  There’s no limit to what you can do and how you react to show your customers you’re listening – just do it quickly.

Does my advertising strategy speak to customers throughout their car shopping journey?

Every consumer that comes across your dealership and brand is in a different stage of the car shopping process.  Have you optimized your online presence to speak to customers in every stage of that journey?  We’ve discussed this in similar terms for consumers who walk on the lot, and the same is true for those customers who are online researching.  By creating content on vehicles and making it available via your own website, the likes of Cars.com, or on social media, you’re influencing consumers to engage with you more throughout their journey because you’re helpful throughout their process.  This is true for the consumer who’s just starting their research into makes and models all the way to the consumer showing up on the lot comparing specs on vehicles who’s ready to purchase.

Your task, create a holistic plan that provides information for every stage in the car shopper’s journey.  If you create content or ads that speak to these different stages and make it available at the right moment at the right time, you can influence customers from a short term mindset to a long term customer.  Show consumers the breadth of what you offer them throughout the car ownership lifecycle.

Am I allowing customers the opportunity to engage with me when and how they want?

If you haven’t faced it yet, consumers want to engage with you on their terms.  Given the integration of media across platforms thanks to the Internet, your online presence needs to be seamless to properly speak to your customers.  Your photo and video capability – vehicle photos and information to your commercials – need to be consistently available and up to date regardless of the platform or screen size a consumer chooses to use to engage with you.

Your task, when creating video or photo content, be sure to allow for everything you create to be consumed across platforms and devices.  So, make your TV commercials available on your website in a mobile friendly form.  Create a process to respond to email leads with more engaging photo or video content to influence consumers when you reply.  There’s no end to what you can do or the access consumers have to engage with you, or your competitors if you haven’t thought through all the ways consumers can engage.

Am I optimizing my dealership for the mobile world?

We’ve already said that you need to be mobile to engage with consumers and allow them to choose when and how to engage with you.  But, if your dealership’s content isn’t optimized for mobile screens – phones and tablets – you’re missing out on key opportunities to influence consumers to choose your dealership.  There’s more to this than just optimizing your advertising content.  When you think about how you engage with online advertising content, you don’t always appreciate the popups or lengths of ads you have to sit through when your ultimate destination is to shop or research a product.  Be sure to know your audience and give them customized options – maybe the option of choosing an ad to watch or asking them to follow your social media after completing an ad – giving consumers options can encourage them to explore your dealership and vehicles more fully.

Your task, review your current advertising content and ensure that it is optimized for the mobile world not just in viewability, but in allowing consumers to choose how they consume your content.  Be sure to train your sales teams on mobile and its usefulness for a unified voice in dealing with customers via mobile.

Understanding that a one-size-fits all approach to your advertising spend doesn’t cut it anymore when it comes to allocating dollars to traditional media, social media, and third party partners like Cars.com is vital to being successful in 2017.  Now is the perfect time to align and integrate your internal processes at the dealership to maximize your mobile presence, recognize that consumers expect to engage with your dealership and brand on their terms, and to create content that is informative and engaging that can be viewed across platforms.  You have plenty of partners in the automotive space that help you speak to consumers and help you influence them to purchase regardless of where they are in the car shopping journey.

CPO Shopper Behavior: Infographic

Interested in speaking to CPO shoppers?  Non-luxury CPO shoppers are typically undecided on a stock type.  Car shoppers flip between New and Used vehicles when considering a new vehicle, but our study shows they are more likely to consider a Used vehicle if they are also considering CPO.  New vehicles shouldn’t be excluded from consideration and car shoppers may be able to be up sold into a new vehicle, but car shoppers are less likely to act on a New vehicle if the car shopper is considering CPO at the beginning of shopping journey.  Click the link to download the PDF infographic for more information.

CPO Shopper Behavior Infographic

Are You Growing Your Service Lane? Voice of the Consumer Update

We are in the throes of winter, and the unexpected can happen when it comes to your vehicle – a flat tire, broken heat, a noise that sounds like… you know, a spring (boing boing!) – and you need to get it fixed.  But where do you go and how do you do it?  Consumers are going online to answer those questions.  And, knowing that vehicle sales slow in the winter months, it’s prime time to highlight the service lane at your dealership.  How do you do that?

Well, we asked visitors to Cars.com how they went about just that.  The key elements we found about consumers in their search for service and repair information involved pricing estimates, maintenance schedules and time estimates of repairs, and service and repair reviews (Figure 1)¹.

Figure 1. Consumer Satisfaction Survey, November 2016

So, we know that consumers are online searching for this information and, specifically, are on Cars.com for it.  What are you doing to help them find this information online? Now’s the time to ask yourself this question and act on it.

Furthermore, we know that service drives sales consideration and retention².  The service department builds and reinforces consideration for the dealership for the next time that customer is ready to purchase another vehicle.  A customer’s current vehicle is the number one indicator of what they will buy next and where they get service is the number one indicator of where they will buy next².

Figure 2.  Dealer Walk-Ins Analysis, Placed Inc. March 2016.

Let’s expound on that a bit.  We know that service department customers typically have a history with the dealership in some fashion.  We also know that customers bringing in newer vehicles are more likely to be in warranty, which explains why there’s a higher percent of newer vehicles that were purchased at the dealership where they are also being serviced².   Take a look at the graph below to understand customers with history at the dealership.

Figure 3.  Dealer Walk-Ins Analysis, Placed Inc. March 2016.

We see that 49 percent of vehicles being serviced are 2009 or older².  That makes sense, the older the vehicle, the more likely service or repairs are needed.  It is also interesting, here, to see vehicle models that are 2010 or newer as the highest percent of service experiences that were purchased at the dealer in the past and that were serviced as well.

The takeaway?  Optimizing your service lane is a great way to influence consumers for a future vehicle purchase from you.  Taking some of the data above into consideration, past experiences consumers had, vehicle model years, and warranties into consideration against what consumers are online looking for in the realm of service and repair can benefit you in the long run – especially in the slower winter sales months.

[1] Consumer Satisfaction Survey, Cars.com, November 2016

[2] Dealer Walk-Ins Analysis, Placed Inc. March 2016.