Before you start considering different automotive marketing campaigns or automotive software options, take a look at how you’re tackling those micro-moments in the car buying process. Consider them the hundreds of opportunities you have to engage prospects.
Micro-moments, a term popularized by Google, are those varied actions taken by people with their smartphones, tablets and laptops — acts they take to “learn something, do something, discover something, watch something or buy something.”
According to a detailed study conducted by Luth Research and featured by Google, the average buyer could be involved in more than 900 digital interactions — micro-moments — while researching their options online.
Let that sink in.
More than 900 times a person conducts searches, clicks, visit websites, consumes videos, fills out forms — or any number of online interactions while on their way to purchasing a vehicle.
That brings things into more perspective than a generic determination that prospective car buyers are spending anywhere from to 10 to 15 hours searching online as part of the buying process.
Assessing your gaps in the online car buyer’s journey could help you think more strategically about developing the best approach to take and choosing what automotive software will help.
In the study, the researchers followed the path of Stacy, a 32-year-old woman who was searching for a larger vehicle to fit her growing family. The study, which took place over a 3-month period, revealed that Stacy:
- Conducted 71% of her online search on mobile
- Looked at 89 images and 14 YouTube videos
- Conducted 189 Google searches
- Explored 14 brands and considered 6 before narrowing it down to 2
- Had 186 interactions with manufacturer sites, 69 with dealer sites
If nothing else, the study revealed there’s a lot going on before this buyer, at least, would ever show up at your dealership to finalize the purchase.
One of the most surprising outcomes, from our perspective, is that this buyer explored 14 brands and considered 6.”
Not so surprising was that search, videos and images played a significant role in the process. The interactions with manufacturer and dealer sites seems about right too.
The study also confirmed how important it is for your dealership to be present — showing up in as many of those micro-moments as possible, especially as a mobile experience.
That’s where the automotive software comes into play. Use it strategically to capture those micro-moments that play a significant role in where the buyer will go next.
Take a look at the different ways automotive software can position your dealership to be a major player when it comes time for the buyer to finalize a purchase.
Find Automotive Software to Capture Micro-moments
When considering there could be 900-plus opportunities to make an impression, it’s obvious that a comprehensive automotive software strategy will need to come into play.
Take a look at a few of the stages of the buyer’s cycle, and the software you can use to be more present during those critical interactions.
Early in the Buyer’s Journey
What’s happening: A prospect is checking a variety of options:
Whether leasing or buying a new or used vehicle, consumers generally are checking out numerous options, similar to the way Stacy in the Luth Research study was considering as many as 14 brands.
Another study revealed that only 30% of car shoppers already knew which vehicle they wanted to purchase by the time they visited a dealership.
A whopping 70% were still undecided, meaning they could change their mind by the time they arrived at the dealership.
As any car dealership realizes, you need to show up early in the car buyer’s journey. It’s critical to make that first impression.
And one of the best ways to make an impression at this stage in the game is with an up-to-date view of all your inventory. All of it. Including the 2012 SUV you added to your lot yesterday.
Automotive software solution: Present relevant, up-to-date options
Software technology is key in several areas at this stage. Not only should you invest in tools to make sure that you’re able to keep details about your inventory updated — including year, make, model, mileage and CARFAX history, you should be able to streamline the process of getting it onto your website for car shoppers to quickly gather that information.
Some studies show that car shoppers are even checking inventory on their mobile devices — after they already arrived at your dealership. They could be checking and comparing for other vehicles on your lot or those of your competitors.
Advanced automotive software in this area is also is key in helping you determine which vehicles you should be adding to your lot based on the type of customers you’re attracting; their interests, behavior and geography; and what’s trending among their demographic.
The more you can fine-tune the process, the more likely you’re able to position yourself to gain more sales from car shoppers who find you relevant to their search.
Early to Midway in the Buyer’s Journey
What’s happening: A prospect is narrowing options
It appears you have a small window of opportunity to get a prospect to head to your dealership. According to one survey, 38% of car shoppers say they only visited one dealership in person before their purchase. The average is about 2.7 dealerships.
Also, mobile search is a significant portion of the process as shoppers continue to navigate their options. That same study revealed that 46% of respondents are using their smartphones to access automotive information, and 23% continue to do so after they arrived to check inventory, compare inventory, and research trade-in pricing.
Automotive software solution: Deliver customized experiences
At this important stage of the buyer’s journey, you want your dealership to show up in a big way — connecting with prospects, and engaging in a meaningful exchange of relevant information — even it’s still online.
The most valuable piece of information you can get at this stage is contact information — email or phone number or both.
It sets the stage for you to provide them with content that is relevant to their decision-making process. For many of our clients, PERQ’s interactive forms and trade-in tools allow them to deliver a more personalized experience.
One BMW dealership in California said it has eliminated the cold-call experience that their sales team regularly faced.
Under the old system, they were only able to capture the visitor’s name, phone number and email address, said Jason Burger, an internet sales manager for East Bay BMW.
“They don’t get us nearly the response we get from the PERQ technology now,” Burger said. “We take visitors through a few pages asking them what’s most important to them and their buying preference.
We get more information and the customers are willing to engage with us. We’re not going in completely cold. As long as a dealer can read into the details and respond correctly, it gives you a bit of an edge.”
With PERQ, he said, they’re able to determine what is really important to the customer, including their buying motivations and timeline.
Midway to End of the Buyer’s Journey
A prospect is ready to bring financing options into the mix
What’s happening: A prospect is calculating costs
Unsurprisingly, the cost of a new car is continuing to increase — with a 2016 assessment revealing that the average cost is $33,666 — about 2% higher than it was just a year ago in March.
Whether shopping for a new car or a used car, a buyer will want to know if they can afford to take on that payment. Some will be interested in comparing the cost of a lease to that of a purchase.
However, consumers are reporting that this stage leading up to the sale is among the most frustrating steps, according to the survey by RelevateAuto.com.
Those frustrations are compounded by the need to fill out stacks of paperwork. The survey also revealed that dealer satisfaction significantly dips if they have to deal with four or more people at the dealership.
Automotive software solution: Streamline the financing process
With the right automotive software, you should be able to provide prospects with plenty of answers about the type of car payments they’re looking at long before they show up at your shop.
Equip your website with calculators and other tools to help them determine a payment on a car or a lease, depending upon variables ranging from credit scores and interest rates to trade-in appraisals that provide more than generalities.
Your website also should provide a clear explanation of financing options, so that there are little to no surprises when it comes time to finalize financing.
By implementing automotive software to meet customers during hundreds of micro-moments, you can set yourself up for a more successful strategy to gain sales.