Dealers pay big bucks for SEO, PPC, chat and lead response templates but fail to generate the ROI they were promised.

Top tips to deliver the ROI you’re paying for.

I’m intrigued by the way our industry struggles to convert Internet leads. Dealers pay big bucks for SEO, PPC, chat and lead response templates but fail to generate the ROI they were promised. Some even have a digital marketing “guy” to manage their social media and repair their printers, yet their results are still abysmal.

In an effort to understand why leads are failing to convert, my team mystery shopped 100 dealerships online. We asked one question, “what’s your best price” on a vehicle that we selected from their inventory.

We were stunned by the results. First, the majority dehumanized our online experience by reducing us from humans to data. They did this by deploying cold, impersonal or automated conversion technologies designed to control the conversation and make appointments. Some offered managed chat, none of which were able to answer our question. Instead they doggedly pursued our information which is ironic because the main reason people use chat is to remain anonymous.

Once we provided our contact information 62 percent responded with template that said “someone would get back to you shortly’. By the second or third reply it was obvious that they were automated, fill in the blanks responses as opposed to personal responses.

Often times they would try to make an appointment or ask a number of irrelevant questions instead of giving us their best price. One template actually said, “In order for you to make an intelligent decision I’d like to ask you the following questions.” Were they suggesting that we were incapable of making intelligent decisions on our own?

Seventy-one percent completed these steps within 24 hours, but only 18 percent answered our question. Some of them continued to follow up with templates for several weeks, without giving us their best price. In an era where transparency has become the cornerstone of digital marketing, our experience was anything but transparent.

Google Reveals The Lead Conversion Secret

Google claims that 50 percent of people shopping for cars online were unhappy with their experiences for the following reasons.

  1. Dealer was too slow to respond
  2. Dealer was too pushy
  3. Dealer did not respond directly to the question

Sound familiar?

Of the people that were dissatisfied with their online dealership experience:

Twenty percent said they would never consider that BRAND again.

The number jumps to 50 percent for Millennials.

The Zero Moment Of Truth (ZMOT)

In 2011, Google coined the phrase ZMOT, which refers to the point in the buying cycle where people research products online. Google said that people perceive digital inquiries as conversations and expect answers in “real time”. Google also said that people don’t want to provide their contact information and then wait for someone to get back to them. They further went on to say that in order to win the ZMOT you must be present at the precise moment that people want information.


Mobile devices have changed the way we shop online by empowering us with the ability to research in micro-moments. Micro-moments are brief searches that can occur anytime, anyplace and on any device. To engage people in micro-moments we must answer questions personally, directly and in real time. If you don’t, you run the risk of being bested by a competitor.

Fragmented Information in a Channel Agnostic World

Another problem is the information that car dealers provide is fragmented between OEM, dealer and third party websites like AutoTrader. Meanwhile people are becoming “channel agnostic”, which means they move from desktop, to tablet or smartphone and expect seamless continuity on every device. Unfortunately, the fragmented landscape of our platforms is anything but seamless.

Omni-Channel Marketing is the solution, but your people won’t use it.

The technology to convert leads online is available, but most dealers tell me that their salespeople won’t use it.

An Omni-Channel Marketing platform automatically detects a person’s contact information and the specifics of vehicle they’re researching on your websites. Customers can initiate conversations on any device and choose text, chat, email, phone or even video conferencing. Omni Channel uses behavioral targeting so salespeople and chat agents can review your customers’ activity on your website in real time and initiate conversations with those that don’t click a chat button. They can to send and receive images, video and co-browse from any website including Facebook.

Omni-Channel provides seamless experiences that complement one another as people switch between your digital properties and from one device to another. This means you can share information deliver the same experience every time and in every micro-moment. For the first time dealers can provide intuitive and compelling experiences that are consumer-centric and of equal value on every device.

Answering questions and sharing information in real time on any device is the ultimate way to offer transparency, build trust, save time and convert people into customers. Isn’t it time that we employ the right people to engage your customers and deliver the ROI you’re paying for?

Jim De Luca

VP Digital Road to a Sale Inc.

905 865 8734


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