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Spreading the net: Netting the next customer

The internet is a technology dealers can’t afford to ignore. That’s because four out of every five consumers make it their first port of call when looking for a new car. And one of the four will go to the showroom to buy the car that they’ve found online.

This has had an effect on customers’ buying habits; they now visit an average of just two dealerships before buying, instead of the nine visited 10 years ago.

Making sure your stock is visible at the point where customers begin their research is vital.

Advertising on websites and search engines is a must for motor retailers now. According to the Office for National Statistics, two in three UK households now have access to the internet at home.

Online marketing has meant a solution to the struggle of squeezing stock lists into the back pages of local newspapers, and cramming as many abbreviations as possible into the single line given for each car.

Some dealers now use local media to promote their brand and website address, knowing that most customers are happy to browse their stock online.

Unlike print adverts, the internet allows instant updates, more pictures and detailed information to be uploaded.

Presenting up to date, relevant information with good photos is a good way to boost enquiries. Customers use pictures to find the right car for them, and equally to screen out the ones they don't.

Because the internet allows easier communication, it brings expectations of faster responses to enquiries. research shows 90% of users expect a response within 24 hours, while 20% expect to hear from the dealer within an hour. Half of those surveyed claimed they would look elsewhere if they didn’t get a response within the expected time.

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