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Chat and text growth in the auto industry

What Car Buyers Want: Digital Channels for Today’s Automotive Shoppers

The role of the car salesperson is changing. While back in the day, shoppers would learn about car models at the dealership’s physical showroom, thanks to the Internet, they now often arrive at your lot fully equipped with a competitive overview of the vehicle they want.

The way people buy cars is evolving, and so are their expectations toward the entire purchasing journey, from research to sale. Car dealers need to find innovative ways to engage and sell to increasingly tech-savvy and informed consumers.

So, what exactly do we know about the modern, digitally-driven car shopper?

Car buyers want to chat and text.

Peter Leto, the Head of Automotive Retail at Google, gave a fantastic presentation at NADA 2016, and shed light on some interesting consumer trends:


According to Google, car buyers no longer prefer to stop by the dealership, call the store, send email, or fill out a form. Instead, today’s shoppers are increasingly turning to chat and text to connect with your dealership.

Is your dealership in it to win it?

If your dealership is not using live chat by now, you’re missing out on the opportunity to connect with consumers on a convenient platform they love to use.

And your dealership should love it too, for many reasons. For example, live chat helps you:

  • Cut costs. Phone calls are 1-to-1 conversations; Chat conversations can be 1-to-3, allowing staff to engage more shoppers efficiently.
  • Increase leads and sales. When implemented correctly, live chat reduces website bounce rates, and helpful reps can move shoppers further along their purchase journey.
  • Get an edge over your competition. You sell cars, just like the dealer across the street. Live chat allows you to provide unique, compelling experiences to your website visitors.
  • Improve customer relations. Live chat isn’t just for car sales. Your customer service department can utilize chat to engage upset shoppers and give you a second chance.

Bottom line, live chat is a win-win for everyone. And the numbers don’t lie. If your shoppers increasingly prefer to utilize text-based communications to engage with dealerships, and you’re not one of them, they’re going with the competition!

If you do have chat, you need to ensure your staff or managed chat provider is providing the best customer service to your prospective buyers. The increasing trend in chat and text popularity means more and more shoppers are bound to communicate with your business this way.

If the chat conversations being had on your behalf aren’t helpful, engaging, and dynamic, you’re pretty much handing them over to the competition.

What to look for in chat and text providers.

Google’s recent study shows that unlike other lead generation tools, real-time online and mobile communications are on the rise. And the quality of these conversations has never mattered more.

Whether you utilize live chat software, or you implement a managed live chat solution, here are a few things to look out for:

  • Training and troubleshooting. If you chat in-house, does your provider offer training on how to use the software and troubleshooting assistance? If you’re outsourcing chat and text, what is the management system like? Where is the team housed? And how are the representatives trained?
  • Features and platform functionality. While it might be a slightly less common question if you are outsourcing chat, it’s important to shop and compare software features when you will be handling chats and texting at the dealership. Will they help your team’s efficiency? How do the features impact the consumer experience?
  • Reporting and analytics. Like all other digital marketing efforts, it’s essential to monitor your results (number of chats, leads converted, average conversation time, etc.) in chat. Does your provider offer real-time reporting and analytics so you can better track the success of your live chat and texting solution?
  • Chat and text for all departments. The Sales Department is not the only profit center in your dealership. Does your managed chat provider offer chat assistance for all of your departments? If so, how are leads routed to the appropriate team?
  • Chat and text transcripts. It’s proven that the more your staff reads chat transcripts before following up, the more likely they are to get prospective customers in. Not to mention it allows for more transparency and quality control. Does your managed chat provider send you every chat transcript?

Don’t Limit Your Consumers’ Touchpoints

The facts are: Your shoppers don’t want to call the dealership or fill out a form on your website; they want to communicate via live chat and text. Offering these services can help bridge the gap between your digital and physical stores.

But don’t be fooled into thinking all chat providers are the same. When it comes to chat and text, you always get what you pay for. Before adding live chat and text to your dealership website, do your research. Be sure to ask the right questions because the quality of these conversations will directly impact your bottom line!




SMS texting at the dealership

3 Ways to Jumpstart Text Conversations with Your Dealership

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, you’ve noticed that just about everyone has a smartphone in their hand nowadays. In fact, over 2.8 billion people use the Internet from their smartphones.

But even with the promise of a miniature computer in our pockets 24/7, it’s surprising that more dealerships aren’t leveraging the full potential of mobile engagement via texting.

I mean, real-time communication that’s available for car shoppers at any time in their shopping process is not just invaluable for them, but a great opportunity for your store! Am I right?

If you’re one of the forward-thinking dealers looking for ways to start or improve your texting strategy at your store, check out the tips below:   

Keep a Clean Website Layout

A cluttered website is the number one culprit of consumer confusion and cause of lag time in a shopper’s path to purchase.

For shoppers to engage and text with you, they have to find the “Text Us” button first — and if your website is a convoluted mess, chances are they won’t see it!

So, to help potential buyers find your invitations to text more easily, do a quick run-though to evaluate the effectiveness of your website.

Here are some quick points to look for during the evaluation process:

  • Is there a pop-up ad on the home/VDP page?
  • Are all the main pages accessible from the homepage?
  • Can you easily find the text invite?
  • How many calls-to-action are on one page?

This quick website review is the perfect opportunity to remove the clutter and focus on emphasizing calls-to-action that will move shoppers further down the sales funnel.

And Remember: A “Text Now” button is only as effective as the website it’s on.

Strategically Design Your Website Graphics

Both text invitations and any other graphics on your website need to be strategically created to flow with the theme of the website.

There are a few main focus areas to keep in mind when creating your graphics and text invitations:

  • Color – Design text invitations in line with the color scheme used throughout your site.
  • Design – Keep text invitations as similar as possible to other buttons on your site.
  • Placement – Make text invitations easily visible, and make sure they don’t overlap important information.

Stay away from tacky or flamboyant colors and design. Keep the text invitations simple and place them in an inviting location that doesn’t inconvenience to the customer.

Key Take Away: Consumers will be more reactive to “Text Now” buttons that seem to be a part of the website design rather than a foreign popup or third party provider.

Use Behavioral Advertisements

Billboard advertisements, paper ads, email campaigns, etc., just don’t cut it anymore. It is time to embrace the power of behavioral targeting technology. The ability to personalize an experience by segmenting consumers and providing relevant content can increase consumer follow through significantly.

A Bibliometrics published study, authored by Jun Yan and associates, found that “Click-Through Rate (CTR) of an ad can be averagely improved as high as 670% by properly segmenting users for behaviorally targeted advertising.”

For example, at ActivEngage, implementing custom advertisements with ActivTarget is as easy as contacting your complimentary Customer Success Specialists. ActivTarget is a feature that has been created to allow dealers to provide consumers with relevant content at the right time. The ActivTarget feature tracks viewer habits and will deliver a customized offer or advertisement dependent  on the actions of the consumer.

Bringing It All Together

As the digital age of communication and shopping continues, it is your job to stay current with emerging technologies that can get you ahead or hurt you if you don’t have them. Keeping your website clean and user-friendly, designing chic, but relevant digital graphics, and using strategic targeting strategies to provide customers with deals and promotions that fit theirs needs are the best business practices that will your dealership maintain a steady competitive advantage. After all, maintaining a sustainable competitive advantage is marketing 101. So don’t be afraid to try new techniques and invest in technologies that will aid you in bringing your dealership into the future.

Looking for an SMS texting solution that fits your dealership’s needs? Check out our SMS software capabilities today!