The Future of Car Buying: Connecting the Dots of the Car Buyer’s Journey [Part 1]
Nothing about car sales today is simple or straightforward. Really nothing about any sale is easy at this point. These days, even the smallest purchases are subject to a scrupulous vetting process. Whether it’s in the store, at home, or on the go, mobile devices and connected cars make it easy for people to research anything they want, anywhere they want, all the time.
Back in 2001 (you remember, those “dark days” of dial-up, before connected everything?) the average purchase involved only two touch points…just two. Now, the average buying journey involves six touch points across multiple channels and devices.
As we all know, most of the car buying journey involves independent research online, making it critical that dealerships show up for customers at key stages to ultimately win the sale.
According to Think With Google’s recent study “The Future of Car Buying,” there are five key factors that auto brands need to account for along the customer journey:
- Lifestyle Fit
- Price Range
In part one of this series, we’re going to cover lifestyle fit, price range and features. Check back next week for part two where we cover comparison shopping and videos. That said, let’s go ahead and get after it shall we?
Lifestyle considerations carry a lot of weight for car buyers; and there are a number of ways that dealerships can use lifestyle in sales and marketing.
You can start building awareness with shoppers early in the journey by publishing lifestyle articles on trending search queries (examples above). You can also bid on search queries that show purchase intent through paid search.
Some dealerships have taken it one step further by building out categories on their websites, making it easy for users to browse inventory by lifestyle. In addition to driving high funnel shoppers to view your inventory, this approach has the added benefit of giving you valuable insight on shoppers as they move through the journey.
Price is a key factor for a lot of shoppers when looking for their next car. Although it is interesting to note that studies now show that less than 20% of people are focused on the lowest possible price. The other 80% are looking for a reasonable price with considerations for convenience, service level and key features.
Once customers are in your store, arm your sales team with the tools they need to prove the value of used and new vehicles on your lot. If you don’t, shoppers will go to your competitors and you could well lose them before you even knew you had them. You can also follow the lead of early adopters who have added vehicle delivery, as well as service pick up and drop off as part of their dealership services. One dealership was able to increase average ROs by 50% simply by offering that level of service.
Features are one of those factors that will vary depending on price range and lifestyle fit. However, there are some handy go-to’s that dealerships can generally rely on to pique shoppers’ interests.
New Model Releases: According to Viant, 47% of shoppers are motivated to buy when a new model comes out. What new safety or technology features can you promote for new models ahead of their release? Are there any videos that you can share to put shoppers in the virtual driver’s seat to check out new model features firsthand?
Safety Features: Technology and features related to safety remain a top interest for car shoppers today. Forward collision warning, backup cameras, lane departure assist, blind spot warning, automatic emergency brakes – features like these are hot on consumers’ lists of must-haves in new cars today. You can get creative here with a video showcasing these features in action, either with videos from the manufacturer or by publishing your own walk through on YouTube.
Connectivity & Infotainment: Technology in general is a big selling point for car buyers these days. Hands-free and Android/Apple Car Play are just two of the big tech trends that make a difference for consumers today. It’s not necessarily going to make or break the deal depending on the person, but it certainly does help keep them interested.
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