Automotive Digital Marketing

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Has The Pendulum Swung Too Far The Other Way?

For years the problem with the Internet world was lack of follow up on the dealer side and nothing from outside of the dealer from the manufacturer or the lead provider.

Sure there are still a lot of dealerships nationally who follow up for 7 or less days with bad emails and no phone calls, I shop them daily.

Let’s talk about those of us who want to be top performers. Is a phone call and email every day for 30 days too much?

It may be! If the customer is getting follow up from the dealer including auto responders, the manufacturer and the lead provider there is a chance the customer is getting 18 follow ups as a combination of phone calls and emails within 72 hours.

Should we email our customers? Yes! Should we call them? Yes!

The key is to send relevant quality information at every step and space it out to not bombard the customer. Just think if a consumer submits a lead to Chevy, Ford, Toyota, and Nissan on a 3rd party site they may well get 72 follow ups within 72 hours.

How will you be the guy that didn't make 12 of those attempts and not get marked as SPAM because you are not sending irrelevant information at the same time as the customer is truly getting spammed. The process can save us all but we may have taken it too far and it is too much. A good mix is key some one sentence emails, some valid data, links to research sites whatever it takes but stop spamming your


The reason it is currently working is because so many dealers give up early so you calling and emailing every day you get through... But, a balanced approach will yield higher results and better SSI scores give it a try. Thoughts?

Views: 486

Tags: CRM, follow-up, lead Response, process


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Comment by J.R. Batchelor on May 8, 2013 at 3:57pm

It's rampant in our industry right now that the majority of stores are horrible when it comes to follow up.  We know the avg. buying cycle is 45-90 days therfore, a store that follows up for less than 7 days will never maximize the opportunity that is in the Internet Dept.  The Internet Dept should be generating a large amount of revenue for the dealership.

Comment by Michael Bailey on May 7, 2013 at 8:18am

I think the practice of automatically-generated emails is unacceptable. Many times I would ask specific questions when I was recently searching for a vehicle and got a generic link/response. Then I would have to reply again with my original question, when I might (50/50) get a real response in return. Or I would wait for 5-6 hours and maybe hear back one out of five times.

I think the best practice is to have a dedicated internet department that sets up appointments for the sales people on the floor. There is a large dealership in my area that does that, and I got a real response within three minutes of submitting my information to the dealership website. The person on the other end answered all of my questions and was very helpful. I scheduled an appointment and feel like I was treated really well.

And I agree with Kathy about chat, there should be someone real at the other end of the line. I respond to all chat and emails for the website we run, and I always make a point to answer the question thoroughly while providing any extra information I think will be helpful.

Comment by Kathy Wiley on May 3, 2013 at 10:43am


Some chats are terrific.  Some are so bad they're funny.  

Does your company incorporate online sales training into your product mix?  

Comment by Bill Cosgrove on May 3, 2013 at 10:09am

In following up whether done after a customer visit or contact through the internet department timing and method are crucial and whether it is too much will be decided by the marketplace.

If a customer visit has occurred and a sale has not been made you should always mention to the customer that you will be following up with them. This lets them know that you will be contacting them and if they have preferences for contacting them like best times to call or any parameters they will usually let you know.

If you have done your job and established a relationship with them this is the best time to let them know you will be following up and they will be expecting that follow up from you.

Any follow up should be done tactfully and tastefully to keep the customer engaged with you so they are getting the impression that you are trying to help them make the right decision by keeping them informed of possible choices that may have arose or other choices they may be thinking about or not thinking about.

If you have made a good impression with the customer during that visit they will be less likely to object to contacting them and you will stand out above the others who may not have made such a good impression on them.

To engage the internet customer you must first show them you value proposition stress the benefit of doing business with you versus the other guy. It might be after the sale perks that you may be offering i.e. Service or something that sets you apart and gives you value.

If the lead sees value in what you have to offer that sets you apart, it could prompt engagement with a visit to you location or a phone call. This is when you need the talent on the sales floor or in the internet department to get the job done.

Comment by Kathy Wiley on May 3, 2013 at 9:51am

David, Response time is definitely critical.  Real time is best.  But in the end, it takes intelligence, personality and product knowledge to engage meaningfully in chat.

My son was stationed in a foreign country for 2.5 years.  We lived on chat and communicated with warmth, humor and love.  I treasure those chats and have saved every one.

Think of chat as being exactly like being in person.  The chatter must type fast, know internet shorthand and take a person interest in the prospect.  With that accomplished, they are far more like to be given permission to proceed with the sale to the next step.

When it comes to selling, it never changes.  A prospect does not care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Comment by Kathy Wiley on May 3, 2013 at 9:44am

Bill, I think you missed my point a little.  Not getting information is not a beef.  Keep in mind the chat box approached me.  If they are not permitted to give that information just say so.  What I was told (for lack of a better word track) was that they only know what I can find out for myself on the site.  So, I know they aren't there and might even be in another state or country. Not how most people want to buy a car.

Try asking the average chat on a dealer's site about a specific car... like a person interested in buying it, and you almost always get an assortment of goofy canned responses that aren't exactly "instant."  Meanwhile, there are probably six sales people wandering around wishing for an up that could be online doing a better job of welcoming a new customer to their dealership.

I IM with 10-12 people on multiple sites when I'm online.  I don't think I'm unique.  People younger than me have an even shorter attention span.  They spot phony in a New York minute and disengage.  Millenneals expect that a chat with a dealership employee is, in fact, just that... not manipulation or an attempt to procure an email address or cell phone number without giving any relevant information in exchange.

btw... I'd like to feel bad about being a "vendor" but I don't.  And well constructed websites serve a multitude of functions.  Quickly finding pertininent information without disturbing busy owners or managers just makes sense.  I find it ironic that any dealer engaging in stalking their website visitors about the internet (which frequently happens after I look at a site) would be offended that I am doing exactly what he wants his staff and his website to do... look for opportunities, provide great service that creates customer loyalty and make a profit.  Right?

Comment by Kathy Wiley on May 3, 2013 at 6:59am

As a consumer, I like asking a question in the chatroom and actually talking to a dealership employee.  The other day I was on a dealer's site and the chat box kept chasing me around.  I was trying to learn who the general manager is.  So I asked.  Five minutes later my chat buddy apologized and told me they could not answer that question because the information was not available on the website. lol

Anyway, I think dealers should treat their website the same as they do their store.  A knowledgeable salesperson should be available online at least during regular business hours.  They can provide relevant information in real time and begin to build rapport.  

Blowing up my cell phone or my email with irrelevant canned spam is not the way to build trust.

Bruce Daniel's 80-20 formula in the comment below is always the best way.  It's why we were all born with 2 Ears and 1 Mouth. 

Hope everyone in the dearer community had a good April and are on their way to a prosperous May.

Comment by Michael Stafford on May 3, 2013 at 6:58am

In addition to my previous comment for David not only did the customer shop you but let's say he shopped 3 other makes now multiply that number by 4 total brands shopped and your first quality response may be the 27th or 36th depending on what order the consumer shopped brands on that same third party site they were doing side by side comparisons on

Comment by Michael Stafford on May 3, 2013 at 6:55am

Bruce I think you bring up another great point maybe even another post. How do we engage the Internet customer as well as we engage the showroom customer. With these customers shopping 4 brands who all make a decent product where is the personal level of service to consider you as a person?

Comment by Michael Stafford on May 3, 2013 at 6:54am

I agree the key is response time but let's say the lead came from a third party that you do not participate with so you get the lead from the manufacturers third partyt program. It is a selection based site that automatically checked 4 dealers to send the lead too. The consumer got an autoresponder from the lead provider, and autoresponder from the manufacturer, and likely 3 dealership autoresponders before you even had time to look at the lead. Then 2 of the 4 dealerships sent a BS we will be with you email to stop the clock on sent a bad template and forgot to fill in the "blanks" and your first quality response is now th 9th email to hit the consumer. What are we doing to ensure the 9th email gets opened? Are we thinking about mobile open rates, are we thinking about ways to engage the customer in the first sentence to let them know we sent the the information they wanted? I agree we need quality responses and with the buying cycle today it can't just be first response what are we doing later? Is there a fair balance between follow up and letting the customer digest the quality information we are sending and weed through the BS? Also how is our voicemail different? Will it get a call back? Do we practice so we don't stutter. I am sure there are plenty of you out there that do but even within large groups your competition may be failing and hurting you because they fail so bad and cause brand defection.

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