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How Timing Can Affect These 3 Elements on Your Dealership Website

“You don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it’ll go.” – Yogi Berra

Three American League MVP awards, 10 championships, and 15 All-Star Games — Yogi Berra is arguably one of the best catchers in MLB history and knew a thing or two about the importance of timing.

It got me thinking about today’s post and how lead generation can be the equivalent to your online at-bat. So taking Yogi’s wisdom into consideration, what are some dealership website elements where you have the opportunity to hit a home run if your timing is right?

Lead forms

Getting your online shoppers’ information on a lead form is tricky. Understanding that many of your shoppers are concerned about privacy — how can you proceed?

I’ll start with a don’t — don’t put lead forms on your dealership’s homepage with an overwhelming number of fields. Consider where most of your shoppers are in the sales funnel when they are on your homepage.

Why occupy precious space there with trade-in, test-drive, and appraisal forms?

HubSpot compares your contact forms to dates. Just as you wouldn’t grill someone for personal information on a first date, doing so in a lead form too soon could also be a turn off. If your shoppers haven’t considered buying from you just yet, odds are they aren’t ready to hand you their personal information.

NOTE: Like many components on your dealership website, lead form timing is not a “one size fits all” element. Understanding what’s important to your dealership (quality vs. quantity of leads) will be important when deciding the right placement of your lead forms. More importantly, testing your efforts is always the best way to know when and where most of your customers are filling out your lead forms.


Promoting your dealership’s specials is a great way to entice shoppers and encourage them to buy or receive service from you. However, over-promoting on your webpage can be overwhelming and actually distract your shoppers from your specials.

At least 64% of today’s shoppers prefer to receive offers relevant to their specific interests. Timing your sales and service specials can be a great way to present your shoppers with an additional reason to buy from you AT THE RIGHT TIME.

For example, let’s say you are offering 0% APR on a 2014 Toyota Tundra to qualified buyers. Having a behaviorally targeted offer appear when a shopper is on a 2014 Tundra VDP page could be a good way to coax your shopper to fill out that contact form (or at least point out that you have sales specials on vehicles).

I am in no way, shape, or form saying that you should ONLY target your inventory and service specials. In fact, think of it as a supplemental way of reminding the customer what your offers are once they’re closer to making a decision.

Chat invites

Before you pick up those torches and pitchforks, believe me — I get it. Pop-ups are annoying! But there is substantial evidence demonstrating that pop-ups show an average increase in chat conversion of about 23%.

However, too many times we see dealers who are so put off by chat pop-ups that they take them off indefinitely, thus hurting their lead conversion.

What about targeting your chat invites?

Having the option to deploy a chat pop-up invite based on what page your shoppers are on, their time spent on a particular page, and their behavior is a good way to send assistance to shoppers who have shown a more serious interest in your inventory!

DISCLAIMER: Let’s not get timing-happy with pop-up deployment options! Having a live chat provider who can recommend the best practices for targeted chat invites on your dealership website will be an important factor in your success.

ActivEngage Customers:

Remember that you can use the ActivTarget feature to enhance your website’s effectiveness and send your shoppers the right message at the right time. It is included as part of our chat packages, at no additional cost to your dealership. Speak to your customer success manager to learn more about customizing your behaviorally targeted chat and specials pop-ups.

ActivEngage Mobile Chat App Now Includes Picture-Taking Capabilities

October 21, 2014 (Orlando, FL) — ActivEngage, the most trusted brand in automotive live chat, has released their newly enhanced mobile chat app now available on both iOS and Android platforms for all ActivEngage chat customers.

vehicle_picture_in_phoneAmong the many great features built into the updated iPhone app, dealership employees can now capture and send photos of vehicle inventory and vehicle repairs during a chat, which helps to quickly answer customer questions about a vehicle’s condition and alleviate concerns about service orders. To easily take these photos, employees can seamlessly transfer conversations from a desktop to their mobile phone just by logging into the mobile app.

To help ensure the appropriate dealer representative answers the chat, the ActivGoMobile app allows dealers to transfer chats between departments. The app also gives managers the ability to monitor chats in real-time to assist with any difficult questions.

ActivEngage also says their mobile app is a safer communication tool than texting by allowing dealers to avoid all of the potential liability issues and response delays associated with text-based conversations.

“Our new mobile app with photo capabilities is a first for the automotive industry,” says Todd Smith, CEO of ActivEngage. “Dealers can now send photos through chat and shoppers don’t have to switch to an SMS platform or wait for an email to receive the information they are requesting. Live chat is meant to be an instantaneous form of communication and our new mobile app features are sure to impress any impatient online shopper.”

auto dealer chat tips

3 Live Chat Tips for Your Dealership’s In-House Team

Investing in self-managed live chat can be a big, yet profitable step for your dealership. It saves you money and allows you to connect with your online shoppers in a way that builds trust and starts lasting relationships before they even reach your physical store. However, managing chat at the dealership can be quite a challenge. That’s why I’m sharing some quick live chat tips to help you get started.

Tip #1: Understand Your Customer’s Expectations

Having live chat is important — not just because it’s expected — but because your customers are benefiting (and so are you) from this opportunity to answer questions.

Your dealership’s reputation depends on your ability to understand your shoppers’ points of view and from there, provide a great consumer experience. But what exactly do your online visitors expect when they click to chat?


The truth is, many of your online shoppers don’t want to give you their contact information (those that are more willing usually call your dealership or fill out a contact form on your site). Live chat gives timid online shoppers the opportunity to get their questions answered FIRST, without the obligation to share personal information until they are ready.

Time-saving assistance

Most of your shoppers will use live chat to get answers to questions they couldn’t find on their own. It could be specs, availability, hours, etc. — but they expect the person on the other end to have those answers…fast. If they wanted to wait, they would have filled out a form or called.

Personalized responses

There is nothing more annoying than starting a chat conversation and instantly noticing the rep is using an automated response. Your customers don’t want to chat with robots — they want to have real conversations with real people, so they can start real relationships.

Live Chat Tip #2: Be Timely

Although this was technically in tip #1 (time-saving assistance), I’m going to elaborate on the importance of timeliness.

When your shoppers chat in, they do so to get their questions answered quickly and to continue their research. By making them wait, you are wasting their time and giving them an opportunity to go elsewhere. Don’t make them wait!!

According to ActivEngage research, if a shopper waits more than 10 seconds for a chat representative to start a conversation, the likeliness of them dropping the chat increases exponentially.

ActivEngage’s managed chat team picks up chats almost immediately, and our response time in a conversation is a maximum of 30 seconds. We convert 80% of our chats into leads, and have found that time is a BIG factor in our success.

We recommend that your dealership’s self-managed chat team uses these standards to create your own success as well. The faster you respond, the happier your online shoppers will be and the more sales you’ll get because of it.

Tip #3: Provide Customer-Centric Service

Dealers, your online shoppers expect excellent customer service when they use chat, regardless of what department the chat reps are in.

To get the most out of your live chat investment and protect your dealership’s reputation, you have to ensure the chats your staff has are quality conversations.

Here are a few customer service do’s and don’ts in a live chat conversation:


  • WRITE IN ALL CAPS (this is equivalent to YELLING!)

  • Use sarcasm (or humor that may be taken as such)

  • Be curt and unhelpful, while repeatedly asking for contact information

  • Forget to spellcheck


  • Introduce yourself first

  • Be friendly, conversational, and polite

  • Be knowledgeable in your responses

  • Review your responses before sending them

BONUS LIVE CHAT TIPS: The right software will play an important part in the success of your dealership’s live chat conversations.

Does your live chat platform have language translation capabilities that will allow your staff to chat with diverse customers? Does it have a response time-saving tool like PreRead that will allow you to see what customers are typing as they are typing it?

If you’re still considering a self-managed chat service, be sure to look for beneficial tools like these that will get your dealership the most out of chat!

Want more live chat tips? Download our free eBook, “7 Reasons Live Chat Fails”.

live chat shepherds

Chat Representatives Are Your Website’s Shepherds

Since the beginning of time, there have always been lot of lost sheep on websites. And, until a few years ago, there was no possible solution to help them find their way around your dealership’s digital showroom. Your shoppers were all alone to roam and be lost little sheep. But then dealership website chat was born, and live chat representatives took over the role of shepherd. Today, shepherding is a big part of live chat’s purpose.

Your shoppers want someone to be there for them—not just asking for their contact information—but leading them in the right direction through your Digital Showroom. Because of this and all the reasons mentioned above, your online shoppers need dealership website chat shepherds.

What Shepherding Abilities Should Chat Reps Have?

  1. Chat reps should know your website thoroughly. They should know where to find any kind of information that is readily available to any shopper. This way, if a shopper asks about vehicle specials or specs, they don’t need a lot of time to provide an answer to a question.

  2. Chat reps should be able to direct the shopper to a specific page on your website to move them along in the sales process. For example, ActivEngage’s software has Co-Browse and Push Page features, which allow chat reps to not only see what page the shopper is currently look at, but they can also direct the shopper to the right page they need, such as a Finance Application, Trade-in Form, or Service Scheduler.

They can even direct people looking for a job to the Careers page!

  1. Chat reps should be able to offer suggestions. Not every shoppers knows what kind of car they are looking for or what cars you have that they can afford. Chat reps should be able to listen to the shoppers needs and then look on your website and suggest vehicles to your shopper that they might be interested in.

  2. Chat reps should be able to discuss your specials or events. One great benefit to live chat is the ability to proactively talk about specials that would be relevant to a shopper’s needs based on the information they disclose in a chat conversation. You can provide the shopper with the right message at the right time, and it will influence the sale.

You can also get more traffic to your physical showroom when your chat reps are able to mention details about your upcoming events!

  1. Chat reps should be able to not only lead the way for shoppers on your website, but they should also be able to provide directions to your physical location. Sometimes, all a shopper needs is the right route to get to your store to make the sale happen, and a chat rep can easily provide that information in a chat.

  2. Chat reps should be able to make the shopper feel like they aren’t alone on their journey in the digital world. Online shopping can be so impersonal, and sometimes it’s nice to know someone is there for you, even if you don’t have any questions yet. By having a live chat service on your website, you are providing a message to your shoppers that there is always someone who will be there to help them when they need it – that’s great customer service!

Dealership Website Chat Guides Help You Help Them

Websites are not always easily navigable. That’s why we do our best on this blog to provide dealership website chat tips to make navigation easier for your shoppers. We want to help you help them! And in turn, you get more sales! Because the easier it is to find information, the less frustrated a shopper is, and the faster they can make a decision.

Want more dealership website chat tips? Check out “3 Ways to Jumpstart Customer Texting with on Your Dealership Website”.

Winter Tips for Better Dealership Processes

Have You Winterized Your Dealership Processes Yet?

Dare I say it…soon enough, it’s going to be winter. And when winter comes, you’re not going to share another Game of Thrones meme, but you are going to ensure that everyone (your staff, your vendors, etc.) is prepared for what happens in winter – such as holidays, bad weather, illness…maybe even snowball fights.

So, what kind of processes are we talking about? Where can you get started in preparing for winter?

Well, first let’s talk about the cheery stuff!

Send Your Team Home for the Holidays

When holidays come around, sometimes dealerships have closings so their employees can be with their families. However, your chat provider doesn’t always know when those closings are – unless you tell them.

It’s imperative to communicate with your chat provider about any closings or change in hours you may have during the holidays so that they can relay that information to your online shoppers during chat conversations. You don’t want car buyers coming into your dealership when you are closed (no one likes to get upset during the holidays!), so make sure everyone is on the same page regarding your changes in hours.

Furthermore, in case a shopper calls your store directly, it’s important to update your phone prompts so that it mentions you are closed – cover all of your bases when customers try to contact your store!

Right now is also a very good time to start thinking about how you will bring in more business during the holidays for your Sales Department.

Questions to Ask:

  • Are you going to have Santa visit your dealership?

  • Are you going to have a special Winter Sales Event?

  • What is your winter marketing strategy going to be to sell more cars?

  • Are you using winterized keywords on your website?

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like….a Winter Storm!

When bad weather comes through your area, sometimes your electricity goes down which means no phones or computers for your team to communicate with customers! To ensure your digital showroom stays up and running, make sure to have a managed chat service that can take over for you during emergencies. A managed chat team may not be located in your direct area (but hopefully in North America!), allowing them to be available when you are not able.

If your employees are unable to make it to work or you have to close during a storm, be sure to have a process in place to contact your chat provider to let them know! You do not want your shoppers traveling to your dealership on dangerous, icy roads because your chat team told them the dealership is still open for business. Not a great way to spread holiday cheer!

It’s also wise to have a contact system to notify your team when they should not come into work in the case of a nasty storm. Make a plan for who will call the employees, and get everyone’s phone numbers and put them in a Bad Weather Emergency Contact spreadsheet.

Please Stay Home for the Holidays!

During the winter months, your staff may be more prone to illness and need to stay at home to recoup. To ensure you dealership always has enough personnel available to answer all of the chat requests you receive, ask your provider if they offer a dual-service option. This way, in the event your team is unavailable to chat, their managed chat team can pick up chats for you and provide a seamless service.

Please note: Making shoppers wait for answers does not give a good first impression of your dealership so steer clear of the “backup” services that wait 30 seconds before responding to chats. Rather, look for a service in which the managed chat team can help you pick up chats at any time without additional time delays for the shopper. For an excellent example, see ActivEngage’s Race to Chat.

You may also want to look for a web-based or mobile chat solution. Even if your store’s computers are down, you can still chat with shoppers on your mobile devices, or anywhere there is an Internet connection (like your living room couch)!

Additionally, if you have one manager that handles the distribution of incoming leads to your team (rather than a round robin approach), you need a backup employee if that manager gets sick or can’t make it in. Without a secondary process, your incoming leads will not be responded to immediately or will go unanswered.

Question to Ask: Who will take over the process of handing out leads if the manager gets sick?

How to Get Your Service Center Ready for Winter

Your Service Department needs to start implementing specials and programs for the winter months before the 10 inches of snow arrives!

To help your shoppers winterize their vehicles, consider promoting specials for:

  • Winter Tires

  • Brakes

  • Cooling System

  • Full Winter Car Care Packages

Send out coupons for these services via direct mail or email before winter hits that will attract those proactive customers to visit your dealership for all of their winter prep needs.

You may even want to promote a Winter Survival Car Kit Giveaway contest on social media. This contest could not only add original content to your social media strategy, but it also gets your followers thinking about their needs for the winter months!

Ideas for items to include in the Winter Survival Car Kit:

  • Blanket

  • Small Shovel

  • Flashlight

  • Batteries

  • Hand/Feet Warmers

  • Matches/Lighter

  • Candle

  • Cat Litter or Sand

  • Bottled Water

  • Flares

  • Whistle

  • First-Aid Supplies

  • Tire Chains

  • Ice Scraper/Snow Brush

Don’t wait until the last minute to implement these processes! Get started NOW.