Automotive Digital Marketing

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You can't make sales without customers. As one of the fundamental rules of retail, whether you're selling vehicles, clothes or light fittings, you would think that customer service would be the one area of business that everyone focused on getting right. But you'd be wrong.

Earlier this year, research revealed that 50% of inquiries to the automotive sector didn't get a response.

As perhaps you would hope, dealers did slightly better than OEMS, getting back to 66% of the inquiries that they received, but let's not kid ourselves - that still means that 

out of every 3 inbound inquiries to a dealership, 1 received absolutely no response.

Is business really doing that well that dealers can afford to ignore customers?

And that's before we even start looking at how long it takes dealers to respond. One third of dealers failed to respond to inquiries within four hours. In a world of digital diversity, if you don't respond to your customers quickly you will lose their interest. Or, in other words, you snooze, you lose. After all, when a customer is looking at 10 different vehicles, why should they need to make the effort?

So here's my challenge to you. As we come up to the beginning of a new month, challenge yourself to respond to every inbound inquiry within 1 hour. It may seem impossible. But unless you're one of the very few dealers who have got their process here right, then you are forgetting the most basic rule of retail: you can't make sales without customers.

The extra mile

Responding to inquiries promptly and professionally will boost your sales. What will boost your sales even more is responding with a video. Imagine you're the customer here. You've got in touch with 10 dealerships about 10 different used vehicles. Based on the research done by the mystery shopper survey, let's see what you can expect and how many points you'd score as the dealership:


  • 5 dealerships won't get back to you so that rules them out straight away. Your first target this month is not to be one of these five. Points scored: 0
  • 2 dealerships will get back to you - but only after let's say half a day. By then you've already forgotten why you contacted them in the first place. Points scored: 1
  • The next dealership phones you back after 3 hours but you're in the middle of a work meeting and the chances that you'll remember to call them back are low. Points scored: 3
  • The 9th dealership not only sends you an email within 2 hours but they've added more information about the vehicle, asked questions about your particular requirements, and even attached some photos. Points scored: 5

As it stands, dealership number 9 is winning by a long way in the battle for your business. They may not even have the vehicle that you were most interested in but given that according to Google only 1 in 5 car purchasers end up buying the car that they initially looked at, you're highly likely to be swayed by good customer service. Now let me introduce dealership number 10.

  • Dealership number 10 gets back to you within one hour. You've barely clicked away from the dealer's website before they've sent you an email. And in that email is a link. It's a link to a video presentation of the vehicle that you've just been looking at - and the sales exec has made it just for you. It gives you a better idea of the vehicle than photographs, it shows you the dealership's location and forecourt, and it introduces you to the sales exec who has gone that extra mile to make this decision easier for you. Points scored: All of the above and more.

Views: 71

Tags: Automotive Marketing, Car Marketing, Car Sales, Customer Service, Point Scoring, Responding to Inquiries, Rules of Marketing


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Comment by Danny Benites on October 30, 2013 at 1:46pm

On one hand, this information is depressing.....But on the other, LOOK AT THE OPPORTUNITIES WE HAVE!  Great info, Joshua.  Thanks

Comment by Big Tom LaPointe on October 30, 2013 at 10:21am

that is well stated. it IS shocking that the response rate is so slow. at this point, I wonder there the slow responders are in the food chain, because most franchise dealers I have worked with are johnny-on-the-spot with a personal response. independents, perhaps? I wonder.

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