Automotive Digital Marketing

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Why Chat is Becoming More Popular for Car Shoppers

Every day, we hear about how forms on websites are generating fewer leads than they once did. It's a shift that has been happening for the last couple of years, which is surprising because business has been up at most dealerships across North America.

Some say that it's the technology that hasn't truly evolved much that's the culprit, but we know that reason is simply untrue. First, lead-generating technology and website platforms have improved. Second, chat technology (something I know very well) has also improved at the same rate. However, the number of people chatting and the number of leads generated by chat are on the rise, so there's more to the equation than technology fatigue. Consumers still want to communicate with dealers, but more and more are choosing chat over lead forms and phone calls. Why?

Nobody likes to miss an opportunity, so we continue to test (as we always do) not just the methods of improving website chat but also the science behind the increase in frequency. What is it about chat that makes it more appealing today than a couple of years ago? For the answer, we turned our attention to good ol' common sense.

Texting has been on the rise since the first text was ever sent. Unlike voice calls and lead form fills, texting is the one component of the mobile experience that has grown over the past couple of years. Some dealers have even tried to implement texting as a lead option on their websites with varying degrees of success. Yet, chat continues to rise. Is there a correlation.

Our contention is that chat, when done properly on a dealer's mobile website, offers a similar experience to consumers who adore texting. However, it's better for many of them because it offers an anonymity that they do not get from texts, voice calls, and lead forms. They have the ability to get their answers in a format very similar to their beloved texting without having to hand over their personals up front.

We have seen the biggest increases in chats and leads when the mobile chat is proactive on their phones and when proper scripts are used by the operator to prompt the leads accordingly. People are still skeptical about giving their personal information, but they're willing to give it to you once they are comfortable. That's the purpose of chat, to create a gap between the dealership and the consumer that they're allowed to cross at their discretion.

When you put the right chat interface in front of them and allow them to control the initial part of the conversation, you'll be able to improve the overall lead-generation on your website. With leads comes more sale. Isn't that what we all want?

Views: 500

Tags: Chat, Texting


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Comment by Brian Bennington on October 1, 2014 at 11:06am

Dear Mike, I'm sincerely sorry you were offended by my comments, namely noting your misspelling of millennials.  Rereading what I wrote, I'd be just as angry with me about it as you are.  It was a cheap shot and I regret writing it!  As to "bragging about my experience," I didn't see that as clearly.  We all have different "stories" leading us to where we are, and if you knew me, you'd know I bare no insecurities about not being one of the "sharpest pencils in the box."  Honestly, I continually remind anyone who will listen that I need all the help I can get!

That isn't being patronizing, it's being honest.  Again, I apologize for my rudeness, and you can be sure I will reflect back on your well-founded criticisms of me for the next couple of days.  God knows I often misspell words in these posts, as they are the only things I write that aren't proofed by at least two of my employees who, fortunately, are a good deal brighter than me.

I wish you success in all you do and hope you believe me that the last thing I want to do is insult you, or really any member of ADM.  Thank you for taking time to point out the error of my ways and be assured it definitely "hit home."        


Comment by Mike Maggs on October 1, 2014 at 10:26am

Brian Bennington,  Regarding your statement I'd suggest that if you purport to have some expertise concerning this, you spell "millennials" correctly. I'd like to let you know that I find that rather offensive.  I didn't join this site to be insulted by a "self-described misfit". 

I should've made myself clear when referring to "they say".  These references are posted in my webinar I present to prospects.  I myself have been selling high ticket items for at least as many years as yourself, but do me a favor, don't bother responding to my posts, comments or replies if all you're going to do is brag about your experience and insult my intelligence.

Comment by Brian Bennington on September 30, 2014 at 7:43pm

Thanks Jeff, for trying to answer my "adores texting" question.  (I think my last comments were posted prior to my checking the site for your recent comments, thus we overlapped.)  As to your explanation, while it's a tad vague in regards to "adores," you did a commendable job "painting a picture" of a socially immature, technologically dependent and woefully narcissistic misfit.  Which, when you get right down to it, defines a rather large chunk of today's "under 35" crowd.  My Dad pretty well nailed it over 50 years ago when he told me that, in general, "People are a miserable bunch of bastards."  Be that as it may, as a sales rep, I'd give the "adore's texting" type a wide birth.  Selling really doesn't have to be that "abstract."  Especially when you consider most dealerships are loaded with neglected and untended orphan customers.

That's a big reason why I'm not "turned on" to chat, or to a good number of other programs dedicated to the complexities of bringing internet-savvy price-dependent prospects "on line."  Having interfaced with a good number of dealership managers over the past 20 years, their answer to how they attend to their existing customers will be something like "we regularly email or postal mail them coupons, etc. or other types of mass mailings."  However, many will hear the question and their eyes will just glaze over.  I like it simple and the simplest, easiest way to sell, if not to one of your past customers or their referrals, is to one of your dealership's past customers.  Can you imagine how much easier a "chat" prospect would be if you had the same amount of info you could find in a dealership customer's previous deal file?

Make no mistake about me, I'm definitely a "misfit" as an ADM member.  I joined two years ago only to get an education about automobile digital marketing.  (This old dog likes to learn a new trick or two.)  I long ago quit suggesting any ADM member "go to my website."  It's not "cutting edge" and has way too many words in it.  And in actuality, only about one in ten dealerships I've pitched even "gets" what I do.  That's OK, though, as my "dance card" has stayed "full" exclusively from dealers who have referred other dealers, who originally "buy" me not quite knowing what I do.  Everything I "sell," I developed from 20+ years of selling high-ticket items to consumers, the easiest-to-sell items being vehicles.  One last thing.  The foremost reason I've learned what I've learned is because of my love of selling and the value I place on transaction control and the freedom it gave me, not because of the money.  Nowadays, that's damned near an impossible concept for most people to understand.      


Comment by Alexander Lau on September 30, 2014 at 1:18pm

Toolbars and social media side widgets are much the same. PARASITES! Technology leeches and the relationship is non-symtechotic (incompatible). LOL, this site does just that, actually... o_O

Comment by Jeffery Sterns on September 30, 2014 at 1:15pm

Brian Bennington, I did respond an hour ago. Does it not show?

And nothing to forgive you for! This is a social site! Like a dinner party...the conversation meanders...

Comment by Brian Bennington on September 30, 2014 at 12:42pm

Sorry Mr Mike Maggs, I went to your website and didn't see a thing about "what is being said about consumers, especially Millennials, and how they prefer texting to other means of communication."  (Of note, I'd suggest that if you purport to have some expertise concerning this, you spell "millennials" correctly.)  As to a "They say" scenerio, I'm not interested in that.  I'm interested in how Jeff Sterns would describe someone who "adored texting."  He made that observation, not you.  For you, I can only caution that in this age we life in, it's common practice to torture stats, figures and commentaries until they'll say anything.  Your personal knowledge and ability to put forth your points are a lot more valid to me than "referring me to your website."  That's getting to be a really boring "copout"

Jeff, Please forgive me for responding to Mr. Maggs suggestion I "go to his website" on your post.  But, my question still holds about a description of a consumer who "adores texting."  I'd love to read your comments on this, but if you can't respond, I'll understand....       

Comment by Jeffery Sterns on September 30, 2014 at 12:05pm

"...more effective ways to make sales than through remote-controlled off-site chat..."

Brian Bennington....please call my cell anytime(unless you'd like to text lol) 727-638-0069.

There are more effective (your own website typically converts (2-3% of unique traffic?) double what our chat does (half of the 2-3%...or typically 40-60% adder to what your site already converts without us)) and less effective ways to obtain sales opportunities (you shouldn't try to sell a car through chat....any more than you should try to sell a car on a phone up). It's just one of the ways and it has nothing to do with the other it's added....same as if you removed or added your phone or removed or added email. Just a channel a client chooses due to preference or a logistical circumstance.

"... I do have one question I want to ask you.  What can you tell me about a person (consumer) who "adores texting"?"

I think you will see a person that wants to interact with many people and/or entities at once, doesn't want to (or cannot) commit to a verbal conversation and is "cultured" into the channel. That's my answer with very little overall context to the question....that's why I'd love a call! Your questions are interesting!

Comment by Jeffery Sterns on September 30, 2014 at 11:37am

 "I would submit that anonymity is protected..."

Mike, I'd bet that your anonymous shopper tool adds a lot of action for dealers. There is  a place for that and chat on a dealer's website. 

I did a Power Up Webinar for CarFax 2 weeks ago and spoke to lead converting elements on a dealer's website and mentioned that different elements are a great idea. It just needs to be compelling to the shopper and not 27 of the same thing. One may go for a gift card, one might like a Check Availability button, one might like a trade appraisal offer, etc.

The shopper will choose their communication method or info request method...whether a form, phone, chat, text, social media...whatever!! WHAT WILL BE NEXT????

Comment by Alexander Lau on September 30, 2014 at 11:21am

Good on you Jeffrey, but the industry itself and most providing to the automotive retail field pretty much suck. Thanks for your article!

Comment by Jeffery Sterns on September 30, 2014 at 11:19am

90% of automotive website chat mechanisms are annoying and bog down the load speed of the site, which reduces rank indexing power. BEWARE!

Alexander Lau, with testing you will see that the light weight nature and the software platform that we chose for our software development does not slow down site loading. Very valid concern. It is a thing to be concerned with which is why we addressed it in build. The annoying part, we are trying to work on that daily (mainly us among ourselves in the office!!). Thanks for reading and commenting.

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