Getting into the Minds of Today’s Car Buyers

[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]Today’s car buyers prefer a hands-off sales approach when shopping for a new car, but they still want a good trade-in value and the best price. Deliver the incentives they seek and eliminate the need for upfront human interaction by allowing consumers to interact with your auto dealership through technology.


The stereotypical pushy car salesman at your local auto dealership is becoming a thing of the past as auto dealers change the way they sell cars to better respond to car buyers who are more informed and who demand a more personalized and hands-off approach.


“The majority of customers really don’t want to pick up phones and talk to dealers, or anyone in the sales process, anymore,” says Peyman Rashid, CEO of Fishers Imports in Fishers, Indiana. “They really want to hash everything out over the internet.


“Just a second ago, I had a guy who wants us to buy his car and sell him a car, and he wants us to have it delivered to Martinsville, and he doesn’t even want to come in,” he adds.


Car Buyers Prefer Online Research


Customers’ preference for a hands-off approach to car buying shines clear in PERQ’s recent Annual Car Buyer Insights Report, with an overwhelming 68% preferring contact by email, followed by text (25%) and phone (7%). Trade-in value (55%) and vehicle price (30%) remain the top two incentives that car buyers are most interested in.


It’s not like the old days, where a customer drives by a dealership, looks at 20 cars and then decides to buy one, Rashid says. Today’s customers conduct research online before ever stepping into an auto dealership, and if they find your dealership’s vehicles are overpriced, they quickly lose interest.


“When customers are coming here, 90 percent of the time they know exactly what they want and they know exactly what they want to pay,” Rashid says. “As long as we have those facts and put them together, we can sell a car a really fast.”


Fishers Imports implemented PERQ’s online guided shopping solution as an interactive feature on its website about a year ago and it’s changed the way the auto dealer conducts business by eliminating the need for upfront human interaction, Rashid says. “It allows you to interact with us through technology, giving you instant and accurate information without a human having to look it up and maybe not providing the right information,” he says.


PERQ’s analysis of car buyer insights also serves as a good refresher for Fishers Imports to pay attention to what’s working and really focus on those areas, he says. “We are so involved in our business every day, and there are times that we get carried away and lose our direction. PERQ shows us what’s working,” Rashid says, noting they can readjust their strategy as needed because data helps to inform them along the way.


The Human Touch Still Important When Buying a Car


With only a couple of months of data from the PERQ software on his company’s website, Bill Erbstoesser, e-Commerce Director at Sheboygan Auto in Wisconsin, says he’s pleased with the direction of the upgraded website, but he remains unconvinced that a majority of customers will start buying cars without visiting a dealership in person.


“I think the human touch in this whole thing still has a whole lot of relevance, especially when something goes south,” Erbstoesser says. “If everything is hunky dory, the customer gets a nice car and they don’t have any troubles with it, they don’t need the human being. But get into some difficulties, or some questions that were not answered properly or misconstrued through emails … can you really sell that unseen?”


Erbstoesser says while visiting a website is different than a showroom, it’s still as equally as important and must deliver what the customer is looking for. “The bottom line is you want to give them a great shopping experience, just like they would get if they were in here physically.”


While Sheboygan Auto has sold and shipped vehicles out of state, overseas, and even to Canada, Erbstoesser says a completely digital transaction works best when trade-ins are not part of the equation. “That isn’t as easy as it sounds,” he says. “If you’re just buying a new car from a dealership, that’s fine. You throw a trade in there, and you’ve got a whole other ball game.”


Car Buyers Value Trade-In and Price Incentives


Getting a good trade-in value or the best price on a new car encourages car buyers to move down the sales funnel more than any other incentive or special offer, according to the Insights Report.


The PERQ trade-in valuation module is popular with clients at Fishers Imports, Rashid says. “It’s a spot that every customer is worried about. What do they have? What is it worth?” he says. “PERQ allows the customer to do all of that [research] within our website. It basically minimizes customers leaving our site. They can get KBB [Kelley Blue Book] trade-in value, shop and know that the price is fair.


“We can really curb our business toward what their needs are,” Rashid says. “We are approaching the customer in a really educated manner and not starting from ground zero.”


Erbstoesser also likes that he can engage consumers on his website by asking them questions. For trade-in offers, however, he still prefers to make a real offer in person to avoid making a lowball estimate online and potentially losing the customer.


Consumers still want a good deal when they’re on your website. Offering an incentive, such as a coupon for an extra $100 toward a trade-in vehicle or other incentives further entices consumers to visit the showroom and make the purchase.


An Informed Car Buyer Makes a Better Buyer


The Car Buyer Insights report also shows an uptick in car buyers who aren’t quite ready to buy. 77% of shoppers felt like they were in the beginning or middle stages of the car buying process, while 68% said they were still browsing and doing general research.


Informed consumers definitely make better customers, Rashid says, adding that he’s sold cars to customers who make an instant decision to buy, but they often have second thoughts and buyer’s remorse after the fact.


“We’d much rather have a customer who is 100 percent educated about a car before they buy a car,” he says. “If a customer is not 100 percent educated about that car, we try to educate them, so when they buy it they feel good about it.”


Erbstoesser says he often lets existing customers speak for Sheboygan Auto through video testimonials that he emails to new leads. Through the PERQ leads, he’s now able to pull out the specific needs and wants of the customer and point them down the right sales funnel.


“The better we know the customer through their process, the better we can help them to get to where they want to be,” Erbstoesser says. “They’re definitely more informed — they know what they want.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Press Release: Car Buyers Prefer Texting Over Phone Calls for Dealer Communication

Press Release: Car Buyers Prefer Texting Over Phone Calls for Dealer Communication

[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css=”.vc_custom_1521224734716{padding-bottom: 25px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]Based on the behavior of thousands of consumers on dealership websites, PERQ’s Car Buyer Insights Report upends preconceived assumptions, including finding that the majority are NOT in the BUY PHASE and that PHONE CALLS are their LEAST DESIRED method of contact.


Indianapolis, IN – October 9, 2017 – New data from thousands of consumer profiles studied by PERQ, experts in online consumer engagement and behavior, in their Car Buyer Insights Report questions key assumptions about dealership website visitor behavior, from where these consumers are in the buying cycle to how they prefer to be communicated with, and with what content.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css=”.vc_custom_1521226682387{padding-top: 25px !important;padding-bottom: 25px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]Among the top findings are that, despite a prevailing view that consumers are in the “buy phase” when they reach a dealership website, the majority are, in fact, nowhere near ready to transact: 76% are only at the beginning or middle of the process. And, when it comes to communications preferences, email trumps phone by a mile (67% versus 8%) while text is preferred by nearly a quarter of dealership visitors.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css=”.vc_custom_1521237414253{padding-top: 15px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1531325908646{padding-bottom: 25px !important;}”]

5 Key Car Buyer Myths and Realities


Myth… …Reality!
1.     By the time consumers reach a dealership website, they are ready to
make a purchase.
76% of dealership website users say they are not ready to buy (30% are at the beginning and 46% in the middle), while dealers are only optimizing websites for those who are ready-to-buy.
2.     Consumers on dealership websites
want “to be sold.”
46% want to continue browsing inventory as an ideal next step, with 20% preferring to continue a broader search for information and only 19% ready for pre-approval.
3.     Quick and easy purchase is most important to consumers. Relevant incentive and discount information are most important for 31%, finance options for 27% versus 20% who cite quick and easy purchase.


“The idea that a consumer will only engage with the dealership website at the end of the buying process is simply not true,” said Muhammad Yasin, Vice President of Marketing at PERQ. “Especially because many car buyers are still researching, which is something they want to do on their own. Our report found that consumers are often looking for research assistance and information to help them in their journey and that they have very specific communication requirements. Dealerships should be optimizing their websites with relevant tools and information across the car shopping journey.”


Data gathered during Q2 of 2017



Myth… …Reality!
4. Get that phone number above all else! Just 8% of consumer prefer it when dealers contact them via phone, while 68% prefer email.
5. Text is the third rail of communications. 24% of website users prefer it, a percentage that far outpaces phone calls as preferred method of communication.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css=”.vc_custom_1521237406917{padding-top: 15px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]“Clearly, these results indicate that dealerships should not be looking at phone calls as their communications priority: car buyers are telling them that text or email is better, and less intrusive,” continued Yasin.


“This is all about delivering the digital retailing experience that the modern car shopper wants and it is a huge, generally unmined opportunity for dealers. These consumers have found the dealership website through effective online marketing, and, if dealers optimize their websites to give them the information and communications they need, when and how they want it, the likelihood of them buying from that dealership should dramatically increase.”


Study Methodology

PERQ reviewed consumer data captured from thousands of leads in Q2 of 2017, from a sampling of 100 auto dealerships. Data is collected via all types of lead formats, and during all phases of the consumer journey in order to provide a more clear and targeted view of important consumer buying and research preferences.


About PERQ

PERQ, a marketing technology provider, boosts website conversions by creating and delivering interactive experiences to the right consumers at the right time. Founded in 2001, PERQ solutions today are used by more than 1,000 businesses across the United States. PERQ’s brands have been named to the Inc. “500 Fastest Growing Companies in America” list on three separate occasions, and its Web Engagement platform is a 2017 Gold Stevie® Award winner for lead generation software.


PERQ Media Contacts

Melanie Webber, mWEBB Communications, or 949-307-1723

Cassandra Cavanah, mWEBB Communications, or 818-397-4630

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

Additional Auto Resources


Top 5 Reasons Car Buyers Loathe Your Online Experience

Top 5 Reasons Car Buyers Loathe Your Online Experience

[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css=”.vc_custom_1521226682387{padding-top: 25px !important;padding-bottom: 25px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]It’s no secret: consumers dislike the car buying process. Don’t lose a sales lead because your auto dealership website experience is dreadful. Avoid these online car dealership mistakes.


“Buying a car is literally the first thing on my list of things I hate to do,” says Joi Nichelle, who recently bought a 2016 Chevy Malibu from a dealership. “The process currently really sucks.”


Other car buyers we interviewed echoed Nichelle’s frustration, citing how complicated and time consuming purchasing a vehicle can be for the average consumer. All of the car buyers started the process by researching online, which means you’re only a few clicks away from making a good first impression with a potential customer.


Don’t give car buyers a reason to dislike your dealership website. Avoid these five common mistakes to keep consumers engaged and coming back for more.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css=”.vc_custom_1521237431822{padding-top: 15px !important;padding-bottom: 25px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1522692918647{padding-bottom: 25px !important;}”]

Your Dealership Website Asks Car Buyers for Information Without Returning the Favor

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1574361949346{padding-top: 25px !important;}”]Static lead forms tend to result in dead ends, especially when you ask online visitors for information and send only a generic “thank you for your message” reply in return.


Through our research at PERQ, we’ve discovered consumers who fill out a static lead form leave a website within 45 seconds. Plus, most car buyers we talked to say they’re leery of filling out static forms for fear of being harassed by the dealership.


Interactive engagement software subtly captures a website visitor’s information without blatantly asking for a bunch of information all at once. Interactive web engagement forms result in 18 percent click-to-lead results — compared to 6 percent with static lead forms.


Dealerships can reward website visitors who engage with their website by providing interactive tools like trade-in assessments and calculators, helpful quizzes, and scratch-off coupon deals. At the same time, auto dealers capture the detailed information consumers provide as they engage with the tools.


Your Dealership Website Visitors Get Irrelevant Results


Car buyers report spending weeks or even months researching vehicles online before ever stepping onto a dealer’s lot. Does your current website force online visitors to sift through pages of irrelevant search results and content? If so, it may be time to simplify to keep a potential buyer’s interest.


Thanks to sites like Amazon and Google, online shoppers now expect a personalized experience when browsing the web. These sites turn visitors into buyers by remembering customers and their shopping preferences each time they visit.


A car shopper doesn’t want to fill out a static contact form on a car dealership’s site, only to fill out another form with the same information when they return to the website.


By collecting information through engagement automotive software, dealership websites can remember each visitor and use the data they provide to personalize their online experience, even remembering the vehicles they were last looking at when they visited your website and whether they have a trade-in vehicle.


PERQ delivers dealerships with five times the consumer profile data than what’s collected through a standard auto lead, such as how soon a visitor is ready to buy and if they prefer to be contacted by email, phone or text. Car sales teams can then use that captured data for a more targeted sales approach when the consumer visits the showroom in person or returns to the website.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”29445″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1574362080035{padding-bottom: 25px !important;}”]

You Fail to Keep Vehicle Inventory and Information Online Updated


Outdated website information really frustrates consumers. Don’t let someone fall in love with a car on your lot, only to find out it’s not available when they visit the showroom for a test drive.


Dealers must work to keep websites fresh and updated in order to keep up with consumers’ high expectations in the online shopping realm. Invest in interactive software that collects and measures overall website metrics and tracks converted leads so the dealership better understands the value of regularly improving and updating website content.


TMI: You Overload the Dealership Website With Information


Most car buyers report feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of vehicle information available online and on dealership websites, which tend to be cluttered and busy.


Dealers can make the car buying journey less painful by providing a limited amount of interactive CTAs that accurately reflect what the consumer is searching for, while assisting them down the sales funnel, as well as surfacing tools that give visitors helpful information all in one place.


Show the right person the right information at the right time — not all at once — in order to convert website visits into showroom sales.




Ultimately, car buyers want the process of finding the perfect car to be easier, take less time and be more transparent. All of the above mistakes cost consumers valuable research time.


When shopping for a car, drivers not only need to narrow down a make, model and desired amenities, they also must pick a dealership or two to visit for a test drive and figure out financing. It’s exhausting. Be a car buyer’s hero with a personalized approach and you’ll win their loyalty.


3 Challenges Automotive Digital Marketing Agencies Help Dealers Tackle

3 Challenges Automotive Digital Marketing Agencies Help Dealers Tackle

[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css=”.vc_custom_1521224734716{padding-bottom: 25px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]As the digital market continues to change, so do consumers shopping habits. Automotive digital marketing agencies are helping dealerships face these common industry challenges from analyzing regional data to finding the best online solutions to capture more leads.


Along with the day-to-day challenges of minimizing sales team turnover and handling customer service issues, dealerships are faced with the challenging task of getting consumers through the doors.


Many dealerships hire automotive digital marketing agencies to come along for the ride — helping to identify the key components of a strategy to land a steady stream of business.


We identified the three major challenges dealerships and automotive digital marketing agencies are up against.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css=”.vc_custom_1521237423302{padding-top: 25px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1531404952220{padding-bottom: 25px !important;}”]

Challenge 1: Consumer car buying priorities have changed

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]With high inventory and slowing sales, manufacturers like General Motors and Ford recently cut back on production. Numerous reasons are behind the overall decline in vehicle purchases, but the vast majority are simply related to changes in consumer buying. New priorities have emerged.


Most automotive digital marketing agencies are analyzing consumer data nationally and regionally on behalf of their clients to assess how those priorities are shifting. Consumers’ car buying behaviors may vary greatly, based on their geographical location, income, age and other factors.


Your used car inventory also could be moving slow because teenagers are slow about getting their driver’s licenses. According to University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey, 71.5 percent in 2015 of high school seniors had a driver’s license. That’s a record low and down from 85.3 percent in 1996.


But there are other gaps that you could be missing out on. Electric cars, for example, have been accelerating in sales. How many have you moved off your lot? Are you even offering them?


According to the International Energy Agency, the market grew 60 percent in 2016, with consumers putting 2 million of them on the road.


Electric cars could be a significant factor if you live in a region that places a high priority on minimizing the area’s digital footprint. Again, data analysis for your selling region will provide the clues your digital marketing agency needs to guide you toward the best marketing strategy.


By gaining customer insights through search behavior, an automotive digital marketing agency can help you capture sales based on the top consumer interests.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css=”.vc_custom_1521237414253{padding-top: 15px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1531405223522{padding-bottom: 25px !important;}”]

Challenge 2: Car buyers have changed the way they shop for vehicles

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Many of the challenges that automobile digital marketing agencies are stepping in to solve can be traced directly to the Internet, says Melissa McCown of Brainstorms, a marketing firm based in Texas. Unlike previous years, in which marketing in print or broadcast was fairly straightforward, dealerships must consider a more comprehensive digital strategy to generate qualified leads.


“Changing technology has led to changes in how people are buying cars,” says McCown, a marketing consultant. “The Internet is always evolving. Our job is to come up with the latest solutions and most effective strategies for connecting with consumers.”


“Changing technology has led to changes in how people are buying cars.”

— Melissa McCown, Brainstorms


With guidance from the right agency, McCown says, an auto dealership should be able to develop a customized marketing solution that takes into account how potential consumers search the Internet for a new vehicle. That solution should feature numerous pieces that work cohesively together and personalize the online experience for shoppers.


Not only that, dealerships should be able to get evidence of an ROI based on their marketing investment. “A dealership should be able to determine if they are closing the business that’s coming from leads generated from the Internet,” McCown says. “That’s how you can tell if the marketing is effective.”


Working with an agency also can give the dealership the leverage it needs to reach consumers effectively. “Dealerships often are too busy on a day-to-day basis to try to keep up with all the moving parts of a marketing strategy,” McCown says. “An agency can provide the extra eyes and ears to make sure things aren’t falling through the cracks.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css=”.vc_custom_1521237423302{padding-top: 25px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1531405327978{padding-bottom: 25px !important;}”]

Challenge 3: Automotive digital marketing agencies see high dealer turnover

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Experienced sales staff is critical in an industry that still relies heavily on making a face-to-face connection to close the sale. Unfortunately, the auto industry has one of the worse turnover rates in the workforce.


According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the retention rate for dealerships fell to 45 percent — down from 47 percent in 2014.


You may not have considered it, but once again, this is an area that a strong automotive digital marketing agency can help. When your sales reps and marketing team are equipped with the right tools to succeed – engaging in more relevant conversations with prospective clients that lead to sales — you should be able to boost employee retention. With increased sales, you also should be in a position to offer more incentives.


Some dealerships are seeing success by giving more generous bonuses as a way to boost employee retention.


That’s how a Volkswagen dealership was able to retain employees — even in the wake of negative news about the Volkswagen manufacturer.


The Volkswagen team was strategic with employee retention strategies — fully expecting that it could face a high turnover rate.


The strategy included regular communications about the Volkswagen emissions controversy, trained them on how to answer consumer questions, and boosted incentives and bonuses. As a result, the dealership was able to keep turnover low.


With the right focus and a little help from automotive marketing digital agencies, dealerships can overcome the major challenges as the industry shifts with changing consumer patterns.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]