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5 Compelling Stats About the Car Buyer’s Journey

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The car buying journey is constantly evolving. Rapidly changing technologies, increasing competition and shrinking profit margins are making it harder for dealers to stay ahead in hyper-competitive markets. To gain the upper hand and consistently win more business, your dealership has to put the customer at the center of everything you do.

To help you start thinking with a customer-centric mindset, we’ve compiled five compelling statistics about the car buying journey along with action items designed to maximize the effectiveness of your digital strategy.

1. Final Purchase Decision Comes Down to 2 Dealers

Although the average car shopper begins their journey with up to 14 brands, they visit just two dealerships when making their final purchase decision. With that in mind, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be one of them for high potential, in-market buyers, right?

Buying a car is a long and complex process for the majority of consumers, and not one that’s taken lightly. Given the financial investment and social status that comes with a car purchase, consumers have moved the majority of their research online and away from your showroom.

Action Item: Invest in your website and digital marketing to make sure you are reaching in-market buyers at the right time and delivering the best possible experience to keep them engaged. 


2. In 2017, Dealers took home about 2.5% of the selling price of the average new car, down from about 4.7% in 2009

Dealers are feeling the pinch as new competition emerges. Whether it’s ride-sharing apps, digital retailers, conglomerates buying more independent dealers, or people moving back to urban cores and relying on public transportation, competition is only going to grow. To stay ahead of the curve, dealers need to challenge the status quo and continually add new, relevant offerings. There are plenty of opportunities to capitalize on mobility as a service, AI and other emerging trends, you just have to know which ones are right for your business.

Action Item: With dwindling margins, dealers need to be on the hunt for the best ways to maximize sales while hitting their ROAS goals.


3. Searches for ‘trunk space’, and ‘towing capacity’ are up 15% and 30% YoY. Also, “nice-to-have” features like ‘panoramic sunroof’ are up 31%

As consumers shift more of their attention and car buying research online, they’ve become savvier about searching vehicle features and options. They want all the ‘bells and whistles’ with their new car purchase. Google has found that major life events act as key catalysts for new car searches, which is something that you need to factor into your marketing and sales strategy. People want to make sure that the vehicle they purchase has enough space and capacity to transport their valuables while comfortably accommodating their family and pets at the same time.

Action Item: Make sure your online property and advertising is built around more than just a brand or vehicle type. Go deeper with content around features, options and benefits to entice consumers.


4. Nearly 25% of all automotive searches are parts, services and maintenance related

If you are a full-service dealer, you are probably well aware of just how much of your business is related to your service bay and routine maintenance requests. As you look for ways to grow your incremental revenue, your consumers are also searching online for dealers that can service their vehicles.

Action Item: Don’t just run digital campaigns around the vehicles on your lot. Capitalize on the other piece of your business – your service bay. Run localized search and display campaigns that are designed to capture local customers searching for maintenance and repair centers.


5. More than half (53%) of automotive shoppers use a mobile device when researching

In 2016, smartphone usage had already surpassed tablet usage at 37% vs. 33%, respectively. While desktops remain the auto shopper’s tool of choice, even that number is shrinking as mobile’s usage rate continues to grow. If you aren’t already optimizing digital experiences for mobile then you’re losing out on potential customers every day.

Action Item: Make your website responsive. You should offer visitors a seamless experience across devices, whether it’s a desktop, tablet or smartphone. Most customers will consume your site content on different devices during their buying journey. You should follow them with the same messaging, site elements and branding across devices.


Key Takeaways

The new customer journey gets more complex every day. To beat out competitors, you have to challenge the status quo, pivot quickly and innovate constantly. To learn more about the modern customer journey and how you can win more business, check out our blog post chronicling one customer’s journey. You’ll see just how big a role relevancy played in her final purchase decision.


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