Dealers, It’s Time to Join the Digital Conversation


shaking digital hand

Today’s auto shopping experience begins long before the customer steps foot into the dealership, and a dealer’s online reputation can determine where a customer ultimately chooses to do business. FordDirect’s recent Digital Automotive Shopping Survey shows just how critical it is for dealers to connect and engage through a proactive online presence and positive reputation.

A recent survey conducted by FordDirect uncovered that, for a large proportion of consumers, a dealership’s website and its activity in social networks are key influencers during the purchasing process. For example,

  • About 40 percent of consumers said their choice of an auto dealer is impacted by visiting the dealer’s website. The Internet has become so influential that a trip to the dealership often is the last step in the buying process.
  • 71 percent of used-auto shoppers and 64 percent of new-auto shoppers visiting dealer websites are most interested in viewing videos showcasing a vehicle’s interior and technologies, demonstrating that just having a website isn’t enough – content is king.


  • More than six in 10 survey respondents said they are less likely to purchase from a dealer who receives negative comments, but an almost equal proportion indicated they feel more positive about a dealer who responds to negative comments.
  • Nearly 40 percent of the shoppers in FordDirect’s survey said they access dealer websites through handheld devices, like a smartphone or a tablet.

But simply creating a Twitter account, Facebook page or basic website isn’t enough. Dealers should keep in mind the following when building their online presence:

  1. Be Where Your Customers Are – It’s important that dealers understand online, social and mobile trends and grow these channels to engage and interact with customers where they are.
  2. Engage – Social media sites are among the most visited online sites, making them important channels for dealers – but dealers also need to understand what content consumers are looking for to encourage conversations and engagement.
  3. Not Just Social – Dealers should develop a strong web presence through a customized website, allowing customers to learn more about the dealership and the vehicles.
  4. Monitor and Participate – It’s important for dealers to not only monitor what is being said about them and where it appears, but to also respond appropriately and turn negative feedback into an opportunity to create a positive outcome.

Trends in consumers’ reliance on social and digital channels to inform their auto shopping experience has led to an opportunity for dealers to leverage this cost-effective marketing platform to drive sales and service opportunities. Dealers need to evolve their digital strategy to connect and engage with customers where and how they choose to shop.

Kate Bullach is vice president of communications and marketing and a member of the leadership team at FordDirect. Bullach brings 15 years of experience to the position and is responsible for marketing communications, public relations and marketing.

Michael Bowen

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