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In December, Compete released its first ranking of automobile manufacturer websites based on shopping engagement. Mini, Kia, Mercedes, Pontiac and Hyundai were all brands that finished in the top 10. Shopping engagement is defined as the percentage of overall site visitors that visited one of the following key shopping tools:
- Request a Quote
- Locate a Dealer
- Payment Estimator
Why is shopping engagement important?
Automobile manufacturer websites attract over 12 million unique visitors per month and 70-80% of new car buyers visit one of these sites during the shopping and buying process. Compete data shows that site visitors who visit the shopping tool sections of a website are twice as likely to buy as those who do not.
The ranking below shows the top 10 brands in the industry, for the August to October 2007 time period. In total, 21 brands exceeded the Industry average and 14 fell below the industry watermark.
Mini was the overall market leader with a score of 148, indicating that Mini site visitors were 48% more likely to visit one of these key shopping tools compared to the industry average.
Marketers are continually striving to engage consumers with their brands, products and consumer experiences. Now, one form of consumer online engagement can be measured and evaluated in a competitive context with analytic tools such as these.
Request a Quote — The Most Important Online Shopping Tool?
Of the nine automobile shopping tools that Compete measures in the Automobile Website Engagement Study, request a quote may be the most important. By entering personal contact information and requesting a quote, consumers initiate contact with a local dealer, indicating a high level of readiness to buy a new car or truck. Car manufacturers and dealers refer to these quote requests as “leads”.
From these leads, approximately 7-10% will purchase a new vehicle, making this a very important source of new vehicle sales.
Consumer interaction with the request a quote shopping tool varies widely across the automobile websites. Kia, Toyota, Acura, Honda and Saturn lead the pack.
Opportunity for Automakers?
There is a wide variance between the best and the worst. Considering that the average brand site gets 400,000 unique visitors per month, a difference of 5 percentage points in request a quote visitation can potentially translate to a missed opportunity of 400 sales per month, or 4,800 units annually (assuming 80% abandonment of request a quote and 10% close rate).
For larger sites like Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota that generate near 2 million unique visitors per month, this is a forgone opportunity of 24,000 units annually, the equivalent of approximately 10% of a typical assembly plants’ annual capacity.
In dollar terms, that equates to a $120 million dollar gross margin opportunity for automakers (same assumptions as above and assume $5K gross margin/unit).
Optimizing the online shopping experience is a valuable and important endeavor for car makers.
Written by Mike Jennings