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Guest opinion: online videos help push customers to dealerships

Ajay Syal

Online research and the consumption of video have transformed the way people buy cars.

A total of 41% of consumers will contact a dealership after watching a video.

While many dealerships are left trying to catch up, the more agile ones are finding opportunities in this new cross-channel landscape.

Naturally, there is a large amount of online research involved with a car purchase - around nine in 10 car shoppers research online nowadays, but this works in synergy with offline resources.

More car buyers start the process online (59%) compared to offline (35%) and perhaps surprisingly, it’s the 30/40-something customers who are most likely to turn to the internet first (73%).

The internet is deemed more helpful than other on- and off-line resources throughout the whole decision making process.

From becoming aware, comparing and narrowing down choices to the final decision. But where are the key opportunities that you can take advantage of to attract auto consumers?

Car buyers turn to a number of different devices to make their research

Most buyers are on smartphones (55%), tablets (24%) and computer (72%).

Overall, 52% of users said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company

Why does this matter?
It shows that optimising your website for multiple screens is vital. Google themselves say, “responsive design is our recommended design pattern”.

A responsive website will align itself to whatever device the website is being viewed on. There are many touchpoints across the car buyer’s research journey (an average of 3.6 for smartphone researchers). A consistent brand image and message across these devices will make your dealership more memorable. This applies from website, to adverts, to imagery.

Online research broadens buyers’ awareness of different makes/models

In the early stages of research, information found online created awareness about makes and models, especially amongst younger researchers (96% of those aged under 25 years). 81% said that online research helped them to learn more about or discover car makes or models.

Why does this matter?
This is the time to educate and convert.

By the time consumers get to the dealership these days, they already know which car they’d like to purchase. If they’ve discounted your range, they may never step foot on the forecourt.

Consumers change their minds during the process

When they embark on their journey to car ownership, 72% of buyers are not fully decided about what make or model to buy. This is particularly true of young customers (87%) .

Around 65% of luxury car buyers are undecided.

There are, on average, 3.3 different car makes considered during the consumer journey.

Roughly half of auto consumers switch the make from their last car.

Somewhat surprisingly, 49% of car buyers didn’t end up buying the car they had in mind initially.

Why does this matter?
This is your opportunity to provide helpful advice.

Being in the right place at the right time applies to almost everything in life.

This could be a well-placed article or a paid search ad.

Consumer are more open to paid search ads online these days; after all, if it provides relevant, requested information, an advert is no longer just ‘an advert’.

Emerging popular sources of research

Overwhelmingly, research took place on search engines (77%), with online video the second most popular source of information (57%).

Reassuringly, manufacturer or dealer websites were still used by roughly half those surveyed. Comparison websites lagged behind somewhat, at 19%; classified ads were not deemed particularly helpful in the research stage, with just 8% of consumers using them.

Nine out of 10 online researchers said they found the information they saw helpful.

Search engines (62%) and online video sites (59%) were cited as the most helpful sources of information. A third of people found manufacturers’ and dealers’ websites useful.

Vehicle comparison sites were not thought to be as helpful (just 19%).

Why does this matter?
There are now multiple marketing opportunities across the internet, but it’s important to concentrate on the media most likely to return on investment.

Video is the new catalyst for conversions

YouTube reports that mobile video consumption rises 100% every year. Online video is a key activity among auto intenders.

89% of them watch online video in general, while 62% of consumers use online videos to narrow down their set of car choices.

Indeed, 58% were introduced to a car they hadn’t considered before, based on something they saw in an online video.

Furthermore, auto shoppers actually engage with video content. And not just the odd ‘like’ or comment.

They share the content online and in person (over a quarter of them do).

This is great for awareness and buying in. That person they share the video with could be the second decision-maker, after all.

Why does this matter?
Video is not the future of marketing, it’s now.

YouTube views of test drive, review and walkthrough videos have doubled in the past year.

And people are influenced by what they watch - eight out of 10 people took a shopping related action after watching an online video.

So, where does offline come in?

Digital may be important, but offline still plays a role in the consumer journey.

75% of buyers conducted research online and offline, whereas just 13% used online only, and 7% used offline only. Interestingly, 5% did no research at all.

That’s a confident consumer!

Offline research is driven by contact with dealers and test drives (76%), followed by talking to family and friends (25%) and traditional ads (32%).

Net helpfulness for magazine/newspaper/flyer ads is a low 19%, while test drives and dealer visits are seen as useful in almost half of all cases.

Why does this matter?
Offline touch points are still useful, but it’s the personal touch that matters.

The key to conversions is to target customers online and promote visits to your dealership.

Conclusion

  • It’s not just young people who predominantly search online for their next car choice.
  • People research on a variety of devices per person, so be accessible on each.
  • Consumers consider and compare across their buying journey, be on hand to educate and help them.
  • Embrace the new opportunities to convert, before the consumer has even set foot on the forecourt.
  • Look at emerging resources to provide help for the knowledge-hungry car buyer; namely, video.

Author: Ajay Syal (pictured), Broadplace Advertising managing director

Data sources: Google Auto CB 2015 Local Report, www.youtube.com/yt/press/en-GB/statistics.html , Broadplace Advertising

data courtesy of Think With Google



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