The average driver keeps their vehicle for a little over 71 months. But rather than stepping directly onto a lot when they’re ready to buy, they’re going about things a little differently than they did six years ago.
Quality service and fair pricing are still crucial— but today’s buyer has grown accustomed to a customer-centric way of shopping. Access to almost unlimited product reviews, seamless mobile experiences, and customized content…these are now the standard, not the exception.
Customers shop in ways that are convenient for them, meaning more and more decisions get made online. While a customer’s journey used to begin and end in a showroom, now buyers are researching prices, comparing models, finding trade-in values, and reviewing dealership reputations before even entering a lot. Your dealership has to extend far beyond the walls of your physical location to meet these new buyer expectations.
By thinking of three critical stages in a customer’s buying journey and making sure you have the right content online for each, you can take your dealership to your customers instead of waiting for them to come to you.
1. Need to Know
According to Google, 65% of consumers look up more information online than they did just a few years ago, and data shows these “research moments” are greatly influenced by video. Searches for car reviews on YouTube have increased, with users searching for everything from detailed customer reviews to videos comparing different models head-to-head.
Videos keep viewers on your website, and the longer you can keep them on your page, the more likely you are to get them on your lot.
With that in mind, what kind of videos do you need on your site?
For buyers deciding which car is best for them, test drive videos help them see things from the driver’s seat without having to leave home. Buyers trying to decide if a particular car checks off all their must-haves want inventory videos to make comparisons and walk-around videos to check the condition of vehicles that have made the top of their list.
To get buyers on your lot instead of the dealership down the road, value proposition videos explaining how you take care of your customers can make all the difference. And when it’s time for them to decide if they can afford to make this investment, F&I FAQ videos can inform them about their financial options and what to expect once they’re in the business office.
2. Where to Go
“Near me” searches have more than doubled year over year, with 82% of users using a search engine when looking for businesses nearby. To show up in these searches, make sure you’ve completed your Google business profile with a local phone number and photos. To get website hits from geographically-based searches, use location-based keywords in the titles and headers of your site, emphasizing cities or towns nearby. Encourage buyers to leave reviews for your dealership to move up your rankings in map-based searches.
3. Ready to Buy
Once a consumer has their eyes set on a particular vehicle, they need to know if they can afford it and whether they’re getting the best deal.
Searches for MSRP & list prices are at their highest level ever, and people are grabbing their phones to find a fast answer. Having transparent pricing and payment options listed on your site is essential—as is making sure your website is mobile-friendly.
For many buyers, the value of their current car is as important as the price of the new one. Providing information on how to find trade-in values can help reassure them about making a significant investment in a new car.
Your website should also sell the value of a service contract to keep vehicle coverage top of mind. VSC logos, videos, and coverage descriptions on your site can plant the seed about the importance of service contracts with your customers. If your VSC provider has your best interest in mind, these things should be easy to obtain and could be as simple as using an embed code from a video on their website.
The search for the right price doesn’t stop once they leave home. Searches for Kelley Blue Book and competing dealers frequently happen while at a dealership. Buyers are confirming that they are getting a reasonable price on a vehicle right up to the last minute. Make sure the pricing you have online matches what you’d tell a buyer on the lot–they’ll notice if it doesn’t.
Customers may engage in over 900 digital interactions before buying a vehicle, but brick-and-mortar dealerships still play an essential role in the car buying process. Nearly 85% of millennial shoppers wouldn’t purchase a car before seeing it in person, and 83% won’t sign paperwork without taking a test drive.
Dealers have to treat their online presence as an extension of their showroom, providing consumers with the information they need during different stages of the buying journey. Doing so can differentiate them from the competition and create a consistent experience for consumers from online to on lot. As companies keep innovating and pushing the boundaries of what customers can accomplish online, the bar gets raised no matter what they’re buying.