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Car dealers must treat their website as 'a digital forecourt'

UK consumers spend more time browsing websites on mobiles and tablets than on desktop PCs and motor retailers need to ensure their websites are responsive and optimised for all of those devices, Auto Trader market research director Nick King told delegates at the AM & Auto Trader Digital Marketing Conference.

Nick King,  Auto Trader market research director  


♦  Most consumers still browsing dealer websites in the evening, outside traditional opening hours  
Mystery shop of 2,000 dealers found 50% of online queries went unanswered  

Most consumers still browse websites in the evening, outside typical dealership opening hours. Live chat is a useful pressure-free tool for dealers to respond quickly to these out-of-hours browsers and studies show one in two live chat enquiries converts into a hot lead.

Outside live chat, people making an online enquiry generally expect a response within an hour. But of almost 2,000 dealers King mystery shopped recently, 50% never responded.

For those that do respond, dealers need to encourage proper, useful responses that engage the customer even if the car they’ve been looking at has already sold.

King said consumers have embraced mobile internet because it’s easy to use and it’s a personalised experience.

Compared with a decade ago, using the internet now is as easy as using a TV and dealers risk missing out if they don’t properly cater for all consumers.

The UK is top globally for internet penetration with 87% compared with the average of 34%. The UK is also second in the world, behind South Korea, for public Wi-Fi access points.

Consumers expect to be able to get online, so dealers ought to offer  free Wi-Fi in showrooms.

These could be accessed through a password from reception that could change daily or weekly to reflect seasonal campaigns, with passwords such as ‘winter tyres’ or ‘MoT tests’.

Another reason for offering Wi-Fi is that customers will ‘check in’ on their social sites while on your premises, giving you free brand exposure.

Dealers’ own social media activity must be engaging and fun. Done well, it can cleverly promote the business.

“As car dealers we’re a scary entity to most people. If you can humanise yourselves, make yourselves less scary, you’ll engage consumers through social media,” King said.

Bluetooth beacons, which send a message or coupon to a mobile phone, could also be an opportunity for the dealership. A customer driving onto the dealership could be sent a targeted notification, such as informing them that the dealership’s data shows their car’s MoT is due.

King said consumers are getting used to a personal experience, so dealer marketing could pick up on trigger points to offer different things at certain points.


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