The automotive industry’s move to digital can make the personal touch seem irrelevant. These days, people interact first with dealerships online rather than in person.
They do massive amounts of digital research before even making a phone call. And they are hesitant to give out their contact information. From the looks of it, today’s auto shoppers would rather interact with a screen than with other humans.
Does this mean the traditional warmth and relationship-building of the dealership has gone out of fashion? No. In fact, today’s shoppers actually crave a personal touch more than ever, both in-store and online. A MyBuy study reveals that 48% of customers spend more with companies that provide a personalized digital experience, and 86% say personalization plays a role in their buying decisions.
Thus, the embrace of the digital dealership by customers does not signal a rejection of the personal. But it does mean that personalization cannot begin and end at the door to your showroom — it must continue wherever customers are, even online. This presents a challenge for today’s dealership.
You can’t respond to someone online the way you can in person. The technological tools currently available allow for a huge amount of digital personalization, however. And dealerships that can provide a customized experience online stand to win more loyal customers and increased revenue.
Here are some specific tips and strategies for personalizing key digital touchpoints.
Most customers meet you first on your website, so that first impression is crucial. There are several ways to personalize at this point.
Your website visitors aren’t all looking for the same thing. Some are in early research stages, some are ready to move forward with a trade-in, and others are just looking for an oil change. Make sure your website contains engaging content to reach all the different people shopping your site.
The key with your varied website content is to deliver it to the right shoppers at the right time. This is where smart-targeting tools can help. Smart targeting is an artificial intelligence application that tracks and analyzes user online behavior in real-time in order to predict the most relevant content, then present it at optimal moments.
For example, if a site browser visits the VDP of a particular truck numerous times, it makes most sense to show a sale offer on that truck during a moment of demonstrated interest. This will bring the highest conversion rate because the content is tailored to that browser’s needs.
But for a first-time visitor who has not yet left your home page, that offer is less relevant because that person has not shown particular interest in it yet. Instead, this visitor might see a promotion for a storewide holiday sale.
The goal of predictive analytics is to create personalized interactions on your website, instead of generic ones. In this way, it actually takes today’s technological advances and uses them to provide greater customization. Greater customization means more leads, and more leads mean more sales.
Another way to personalize your website experience is with tools designed to help customers further their shopping process at their own pace.
Tools such as trade-in and valuation calculators should be user-friendly, quick to fill out, and not require too much information too soon. Similarly, chat tools must answer customers’ questions quickly and accurately. Tools that customers can easily use for their own individual needs, make conversions — and sales — more likely.
Also, make sure to “read the lead” — that is, review not just the form leads converted on, but also their time on site, number of visits, and page views. This will give you key insights into each lead’s interests and stage in the shopping process.
Armed with this data, you can have truly personalized conversations with leads that address their questions, speak to their needs, and help them move forward. This is a great example of how using data can create even greater personalization, and win the appointment and sale.
Keeping in touch after the sale is crucial for staying top of mind with customers, and fostering retention. Most of this communication is not in person, and much of it is digital — but again, the right tools can provide customization.
Take advantage of marketing automation to create post-sale follow-up campaigns. Segment these by type of vehicle purchased, or whether the customer bought or leased.
Next, set up your system to provide automated service reminders, product updates, and even birthday messages. With automation, you can continue to personalize customer service without a huge investment of time, which keeps the relationship with customers going, and encourages them to come back to your store.
The move to digital does change the methods of personalization. Personalization online is crucial, however — and entirely doable. Dealerships that implement effective strategies to customize the entire shopping process — wherever customers are — can stay ahead of the curve and increase their bottom line.
Devorah Wolf is the content marketing manager at AutoLeadStar, a conversion optimization platform for the auto industry. With many years of experience in content writing and editing, she blogs about making the most of your online traffic and making your online shoppers happy so you get more customers to your showroom. Devorah is always open to industry interviews and reports, so please reach out to collaborate: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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