For those of you looking to increase automotive sales, get this: according to CDK Global, 70 percent of consumers expect an online option when buying a car.
For auto dealers, this is a clear sign that digital represents the future of the automotive industry.
And that means digital retailing simply has to be at the center of your strategy. Here are three ideas that will help you:
1. Make online experiences more personal
Let’s face it: people are used to car buying in an actual dealership.
The experience of walking around the showroom and taking the latest models for a test drive brings the whole purchase process to life.
But now, seeing a car in-person is just one part of a multi-faceted sales process. Before a buyer sets foot in your dealership, they’ve spent hours online researching what you have to offer:
- Comparing car dealers
- Reading online reviews
- Making customizations and comparing models
- Viewing photos and videos
- Using loan calculators
- Requesting quotes
So if you want to increase online car sales, having a passive online presence is no longer an option. You have to make the online experience as personal as the offline.
Instead of waiting for a user to fill out a form on a landing page (assuming they fill out a landing page), use live chat to engage users wherever they are on your website, just like a salesperson walking up and starting a conversation on the showroom floor.
Here are some more examples of how to use conversational CX to bring a personal touch to your online showroom:
- Cobrowsing enables you to work with users to customize their vehicle selection, set up their account, and more
- Live video allows you to give them that personalized, interactive vehicle tour from a distance
- Automated workflows help you follow up with your buyers with customized, highly relevant information
2. Engage in omnichannel marketing
According to a J.D. Power study, automotive shoppers spend an average of 14 hours researching cars online before making a purchase decision.
In total, they spend 61 percent of their vehicle shopping time online.
And in the modern, hyper-connected world, that means car buyers can make their purchasing decisions from anywhere that takes their fancy.
From the bed to the couch, the kitchen table to the car, the office to the coffee shop, people are constantly learning about new products, assessing their value, and deciding to buy.
Your marketing strategies should reflect this reality.
To make sure you’ve got your customers covered, here are some of the most popular online channels you can use to increase automotive sales:
- Social media. Two-thirds of car buyers or owners who have seen a Facebook ad say they have clicked on it. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the top social channels for auto dealers, both in terms of ads and organic reach.
- YouTube. By investing in high-quality and informative video content, your car dealership can generate serious engagement on YouTube.
- Websites. When your website is optimized for conversions, it functions as a powerful channel to drive users through your sales funnel.
Having an omnichannel strategy isn’t just about the channels you’re available on, though. A true omnichannel strategy integrates these channels into one coherent experience, maintaining consistency regardless of where and how customers interact with you. CX platforms are an essential tool in achieving this, storing and integrating data from different channels in a central location.
3. Construct digital buyer journeys
According to AutoTrader, even customers who may eventually buy a car in person will almost certainly engage online. They’ll leverage digital channels to:
- Research online car prices (71%)
- Find actual cars listed for sale (68%)
- Compare different models (64%)
- Find out what current car is worth (63%)
- Locate a dealer or getting dealer info (46%)
This means the buyer’s online experience is more than just an add-on — it’s the beating heart of your strategy.
But just having an online presence isn’t enough. You need a user-friendly funnel to guide them from attention to action.
Technologies like social media, chatbots, cobrowsing, and video chat are key to making that happen. And instead of the more traditional landing page approach, you can use automated chat flows, live videos, and other technologies to educate and engage consumers.
If you really want to increase car sales, though, then you’re going to need to provide proper support to your sales team.
Traditional car sales reps are used to linear processes:
- Buyer walks in the door
- Buyer shops for a car
- Buyer test drives
- Buyer buys the car
But the digital world is anything but linear.
Conversational CX tools help keep track of the entire customer journey in all its complexity, giving reps the context to jump into conversations in an organic, personalized way.
Having a mapped out customer journey isn’t just helpful for your human sales reps, either. If you utilize chatbots as part of your CX stack, you can use these buyer journeys to create bots that are more aligned with the questions, problems, and pain your buyers have.
It’s time for a digital-first approach to CX
If you’ve got an eye on your profit margins and are looking for ideas to increase automotive sales, a digital-first strategy is your best approach.
This means integrating technologies like video into your car sales lead gen channels, as well bringing everything together into an omnichannel approach.
And there’s other up-and-coming automotive trends to consider, too. VR, for example, which connects the brochure to the showroom, giving consumers a feel for the car before taking an actual test drive.
The bottom line is: if you aren’t leveraging technology to enhance your dealership’s customer experience, now is the time to start.