In the past, I’ve consistently discussed the importance of providing a self-service experience to your dealership’s online visitors. Although consumers want to speak with a salesperson at some point, they want to be left alone during the online research phase. It’s only when they’re actually ready to make a purchase that they’d be willing to talk to someone.
HOW CONNECTED DIGITAL RETAILING TOOLS CAN CHANGE THE CONSUMER EXPERIENCE
Digital retailing tools, such as trade appraisal estimators, evaluation quizzes and payment calculators, have proven to be extremely helpful at providing consumers with answers to the plethora of questions they have — or even questions they haven’t come up with just yet. It really can’t get more self-service than that!
Now, while these tools are all exceptional in their own right, some consumers might visit your website looking for one simple answer; without realizing just how much more information they could use to make a proper buying decision. Let’s say you have a buyer who visits your website looking to get a trade appraisal on their current vehicle. To them, it’s the only information they want or need.
What that online visitor doesn’t realize, however, is that he has the ability to gather other types of information that can potentially help make other parts of the car buying process easier. Along with getting an estimated trade appraisal, it might be beneficial for shoppers to also calculate their monthly payment if they’re interested in purchasing a specific vehicle and want to see if it fits into their budget. Or, they might want to lock-in the current price of a vehicle they have their eye on.
The dealership should be making every effort to get consumers to take initiative and seek out information that helps to educate them. Through the power of Smart Calls-to-Action (or Smart CTAs) and info memorization (basically when a website remembers a visitor through cookies, IP address and contact information for later use), a dealership can connect those different digital retailing tools on their website to ensure its consumers are getting the most value.
If a consumer completes one experience (say, a trade appraisal experience), the website will automatically present a Smart CTA (or button) that pushes them toward a new experience that only makes sense after completing the first. A common tool that consumers use following a trade appraisal tool is a payment calculator.
Not only can increased connectivity between your different tools drastically improve the way consumers attain value from your website, but it can have a positive impact on the overall consumer experience as a whole. Here’s how:
Consumers Push Further Down the Purchasing Funnel
One of the more obvious and drastic changes that occurs when your dealership uses connected digital retailing tools is seeing consumers move further and more rapidly down the purchasing funnel.
As I mentioned before, if a consumer completes one experience, or rather, uses one digital retailing tool on your website, a Smart CTA or button should prompt them to go to another experience.
The previous experience should act as a prerequisite for the next experience they’re about to enter, because it’s essentially “the next step.” If your website leverages Smart CTAs appropriately, it can recommend the best next steps to your consumers; thus pushing them closer to an actual purchase, similar to how your best salesperson reacts in your showroom.
Returning Visitors Are Introduced To Newer Experiences
This might not be something you or anyone really wants to hear, but let’s be honest with ourselves: your website isn’t the only one that consumers are visiting. In fact, consumers are probably leaving your website after 5 minutes to go to another dealership’s website. It’s a bummer to think about, but that’s the reality of it. Heck, you’re probably one of those consumers, too. We all are!
However, just because consumers leave your website doesn’t mean they won’t come back. Because it’s such a massive purchase, of course a consumer is going to weigh all of their options. They’re going to investigate dealership histories, look at different makes and models, and of course, look for the best prices they can get.
Your consumers might not go through all of the experiences on your website, but if your website is capable of memorizing contact information, or rather, capable of creating a profile for each visitor (during that visit), then it’s certainly capable of remembering a returning visitor.
“It is a process that they (the consumers) are in control of and can complete in a start and stop fashion,” says Russ, Chandler, PERQ’s Product Marketing Manager. “That means if they leave the site and come back, they can start back up where they left off the last time.”
When your website signifies that it remembers a returning customer, that gives your dealership the opportunity to continue pushing them down the purchasing funnel with NEW experiences.
Instead of presenting the same digital retailing tools that you would present to the standard consumer on their first visit, you’d show them a button or CTA or something that could or should follow the one they previously completed. Not only will the consumer appreciate not having to re-enter all of their information (and go through the process of re-calculating or re-evaluating), but it’ll speed up the process and alleviate the stress of picking out a vehicle and selecting appropriate financing options.
Consumers actually spend an average of 12 to 13 minutes using connected PERQ experiences on dealership websites, compared to a 2-minute average visit for dealers using other digital retail tools that aren’t connected. Interactive experiences that remember your visitor increases engagement and time on your dealership website.
“Our research shows when a car shopper continues to another CTA, like Schedule a Test Drive, they are 66% more likely to buy from your dealership and that likelihood increases with each experience they complete,” Chandler says.
The Online Conversation Prompts The Offline Conversation
One cool thing about having connected, interactive experiences on your website is that it simulates an actual conversation between a consumer and a salesperson at your dealership. Lots of questions are being asked in these experiences and those questions, in turn, are being answered.
“Digital retailing is an experience.” Chandler says. “It actually isn’t a tool, or a widget. It’s an experience that starts on your website and ends at your dealership.”
As a consumer continues to go through these experiences, there’s a constant back and forth that takes them further down the purchasing funnel. And when consumers finally get to a point where there aren’t anymore digital retailing tools to complete, the next step would be to have an actual conversation with someone at the dealership.
There’s a natural progression that occurs when a consumer speaks with your website and is able to get what they need ahead of time. Hopefully, following the use of connected, interactive digital retailing tools, your consumers will be armed with everything they need to have an even more productive conversation once they pay the dealership a visit. Additionally, the dealership will be better prepared to assist that consumer because they’ve been following along from the very beginning; and therefore, know how to help.