The Key to Selling More Cars: Understanding Your Buyers’ Path to Purchase


hand holding car keys over road

If you’re looking to increase sales, strengthen your dealership, and improve your bottom line, it’s critical to understand your customers’ path to purchase and which channels you need to leverage to get them there faster and easier. After all, the journey your customer takes before purchasing a new or used car involves more options, influences, and decision-making factors than ever before.

Leveraging touch points along the path

Along the path to purchase, your potential buyer will engage with your dealership in multiple places, on multiple devices, and at varying depths of interest. It is crucial to have a defined strategy for leveraging each channel to influence their decision while researching online, including:

  • Website
  • Email marketing


  • Display advertising
  • Paid search
  • Social media

Since each customer is unique, these channels will have a different influence depending on the audience. But there are some fundamentals that are important to consider no matter who you’re trying to reach.

There are various technologies and tools available that allow you to measure multi-channel benchmarks along the path to purchase to better understand what is driving action and what isn’t. Using smarter analytics, you can determine what is “assisting” the decision making process and what might be the final push a customer needs before making the decision to buy a car.

For example, your paid search can be a big driver for making a purchase, but it is more likely that social media or organic online search results were the factors that made a customer finally take action.

Along the path, you will want to use the proper channels to influence your customers’:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Intent
  • Action

Google has recently released information that shows there is a direct correlation between how long it takes to buy something and the value of that particular purchase. For example, most online purchasing usually happens within a 24 hour period and with minimal interaction. Conversely, higher value buys (such as purchasing a new car) usually have a longer path to purchase, as it takes more time for a customer to make up their mind or “take the leap” for such a long-term decision.

Multiple channels and multiple screens

Today, your customers have many devices and many ways to receive messages from your brand such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. All of these devices come into play when using analytics to impact the path to purchase and improve your sales.

In fact, many customers use multiple devices before making their final purchase. For example, they might see an email on their smartphone and archive it later to research on their tablet or laptop. Your buyers need to get the right message at each of these touch points before they make a final buying decision.

Smarter data, smarter business

Staying conscious of the many levels of interactions your customers will have is key to communicating effectively and successfully. Optimizing each level of engagement will allow you make the path to purchase shorter and easier for your customers and boost your bottom line.

Bill Parlaman is the vice president of digital marketing for Stream Companies, the leading full service integrated automotive advertising agency. Want even more information on SEO? Watch the Truth about SEO Webinar at: info.streamcompanies.com/dealer-seo.

Michael Bowen

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