The average driver keeps their vehicle for a little over 71 months. But rather than stepping directly onto a lot when they’re ready to buy, they’re going about things a little differently than they did six years ago.
Quality service and fair pricing are still crucial— but today’s buyer has grown accustomed to a customer-centric way of shopping. Access to almost unlimited product reviews, seamless mobile experiences, and customized content…these are now the standard, not the exception.
While a customer’s journey used to begin and end in a showroom, today buyers are researching prices, comparing models, finding trade-in values, and reviewing dealership reputations before even stepping on to a lot. Your dealership has to extend far beyond the walls of your physical location to meet these new buyer expectations.
But even if you can have strategic SEO, fantastic advertising campaigns, and a well-designed website optimized for conversion, your online presence won’t amount to much if you aren’t reaching your potential buyers at the right time.
A few years ago, Google defined the key “micro-moments” of the car shopping journey. By thinking of these five crucial points in a customer’s buying journey and making sure you have the right content online for each, you can take your dealership to your customers instead of waiting for them to come to you.
The “Which Car is Best” Moment
According to Think with Google, sixty percent of car shoppers don’t have a particular make or model in mind when starting their search for a new car.
Cue the internet. From search engine queries, manufacturer sites, automotive review sites, and emails back and forth with friends and family, this first stage in a buyer’s journey follows many paths. So how can you catch their attention as they hop from site to site trying to narrow down their selection?
Studies show video greatly influences research moments like these. Searches for car reviews on YouTube have increased dramatically, with users searching for everything from detailed customer reviews to videos comparing different models head-to-head. Having videos on your site keeps people on your website, and the longer you can keep them there, the more likely you are to get them on your lot.
For buyers at this stage, new model test drive videos help them see things from the driver’s seat without having to leave home.
The “Is it Right for Me” Moment
A consumer in this stage asks themselves if the car they’ve chosen will fit their lifestyle. As buyers weigh how realistic their choice is, they begin to form their list of must-have features, like:
- How many people will it seat?
- How many child seats can it fit?
- Is there a backup camera?
- What are the entertainment options for a long road trip?
Search interest for “pictures of [make and model]” is high at this stage, as are video views. Ensure you have interior and exterior photos of your inventory, and call out any special features. 360-degree photography can set your dealership apart and allow your visitors to focus on the features they want to see. Buyers trying to decide if a particular car checks off all their must-haves want walk-around videos to check the features and condition of vehicles that have made the top of their list.
The “Can I Afford It” Moment
Once a consumer has their eyes set on a particular vehicle, they need to know if they can afford it and may need help deciding how to buy. According to NADA, most buyers make decisions based on payment options rather than the total cost of the vehicle, asking themselves how a new monthly expense fits into their budget.
Searches for MSRP and list prices are at their highest level ever, and people are grabbing their phones to find a fast answer. Having transparent pricing and payment options listed on your site is essential–as is making sure your website is mobile-friendly.
For many buyers, the value of their current car is as important as the price of the new one. Guess what might happen if someone comes to your site looking for information on their trade-in value, and it’s nowhere to be found? That’s an opportunity lost.
Buyers considering how a new car fits into their finances aren’t just thinking about down payments and interest rates. The thought of unexpected repairs can deter them from taking the next step, so this is a great time to familiarize prospective customers with the vehicle protection plans you offer. Videos, PDFs, and coverage descriptions on your site can encourage buyers to factor in this level of security when making their decision. If your VSC provider has your best interest in mind, these things should be easy to obtain and could be as simple as using an embed code from a video on their website.
The “Where Should I Buy It” Moment
“Near me” searches have more than doubled year over year, with 82% of users using a search engine when looking for a dealer nearby. To show up in these searches, make sure you’ve completed your Google business profile with a local phone number and photos. To get website hits from geographically-based searches, use location-based keywords in the titles and headers of your site, emphasizing cities or towns nearby. Encourage buyers to leave reviews for your dealership to move up your rankings in map-based searches.
The “Am I Getting a Deal” Moment
The search for the right price doesn’t stop once they leave home. Searches for Kelley Blue Book and competing dealers frequently happen while at a dealership. Buyers are confirming that they are getting a reasonable price on a vehicle right up to the last minute. Make sure the pricing you have online matches what you’d tell a buyer on the lot–they’ll notice if it doesn’t.
Positive customer reviews, a reasonable response rate on your social media channels, and awards your dealership has won can make a big difference if the price difference between you and a competitor is slim. The top sites people look to for reviews are Facebook, Yelp, and YouTube, so monitoring your reputation and what these sites say about you is critical.
The average customer engages in over 900 digital interactions before buying a vehicle. Dealers have to treat their online presence as an extension of their showroom, providing consumers with the information they need during the different stages of the buying journey. Doing so can differentiate you from the competition and create a consistent experience for consumers from online to on your lot.
Contact us to learn more about how EasyCare can help you further your success with our digital retailing insight and dealership development tools.
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