With this more accurate predictive data, car dealers should be able to align their marketing materials and advertising as well as their inventory with the predicted car shopper behavior. A shopper who keeps coming back to a search for "2005 - 2008 SUV with a price range of $18,000 to $22,000" might think his search is private and that's true as far as the shopper's identity is concerned. But there is strong likelihood that this shopper will buy that SUV.
Jason Ezell cautions dealership managers, though, not to rely on only one or two data points. Instead, the sources should look more like this:
Add in trackable activity from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and car dealers have an impressive array of data points to analyze.
And don't forget your dealership's own website. By tracking shopper activity on the dealership site, car dealers can see how they might redesign the site to redirect shoppers in ways that make them more likely to buy a car.
Car dealers that rely on only one or two data sources run a great risk of seeing "false positives." That is, they can be led to believe that customers are coming from a particular source, when in fact they are not. For example, Jason likes to tell the story of one of his dealership clients who believed that 100 percent of his customers were coming from the store's radio advertising. Consequently the dealer was concentrating 100 percent of his ad spend on radio. He was creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Only when dealerships have points of comparison do they know if the marketing and advertising is succeeding or failing.
Know what to measure by defining your "metric of success."
Normalize the results of any analysis so that you are using the right "Ruler" to measure that metric.
Look at different data sets to verify or validate findings.
With that information, you can ask yourself "Am I doing well or poorly and in what areas?"
A valuable tool for FREE!
Jason Ezell has offered DealersEdge
members a free version of his analytical tool VisiCogn (www.visicogn.com
). A screen shot of VisiCogn is seen below. With this tool car dealers can pull comparison analytics not only from their own dealership websites but also from the dealer's market area and overall brand statistics. This is critical information because it gives a dealer up to sixty days to prepare for what he knows is coming.
Inventory can be adjusted up or down. Advertising can be redirected to hit the target market more accurately.
In some cases, individual shopper profiles are provided so that they can be tracked and a salesman can make a prospect call at just the right time. Imagine having this information at your fingertips sixty days before the shopper even submits a lead!
You can see the value of being to aggregate search data from multiple sources. Tools like these also allow dealerships to drill down even further into the shopping behavior of prospects. By comparing individual shopper data against the dealership's overall website data, a dealership manager can now look at the leads being submitted against the background of shopper behavior prior to submitting the lead.
Dealership personnel can know how the shopper got to the dealer's website and which other websites the shopper visited. Information on which vehicles were searched and even which search terms were used in now available. Details down to the key words used by the shoppers and the key words used in different shopping sessions can tell a lot about how the prospect is approaching the vehicle search.
Knowing this information, a dealership gets as much as a sixty-day head start to re-optimize its website.
Now let's see how this would play out onscreen:
In this screenshot, the first thing that jumps out is that the shopper is searching only for Nissan vehicles. For a Nissan dealer, thatâââ€š¬ââ€ž¢s great news because we now know that we are working with a brand-loyal prospect. We won't have to price the vehicle as aggressively. Salespeople can concentrate on selling value, not price.
But non-Nissan dealers get valuable insight too. Knowing that a prospect is most interested in Nissans, a sales rep can ask what other vehicles the prospect might be interested in. Vehicles that compete with Nissan models can be featured. The sales approach can be tailored to fit the customer.
A closer inspection of the data reveals that the customer has submitted leads to your dealership and two others. The customer is shopping you against the competition. You know it, but your competition doesn't.
The data also indicates how far along the shopping process the customer has traveled.
What else do we know? We know a lot about the shopper based on the data:
- Vehicles looked at
- Key words used
- Time spent shopping
- Pages viewed
- Leads submitted
- Sites visited
- Direct referral
- Indirect referral
We also know from statistical analysis that:
- 77% of auto purchasers are more receptive to behaviorally targeted ads
- 61% of auto purchasers are likely to notice behaviorally targeted ads while engaged in other on-line activities.
Here's a good question with a valuable answer: Which vehicle did shoppers click on most often before submitting a lead for a new Honda Accord? The obvious answer would be Toyota Camry, but that would be wrong. After a three-year study, Dataium found that the certified pre-owned Mercedes E-Class was the most-clicked vehicle search for Honda Accord buyers.
It turns out that the loyal Honda owners tracked in the Dataium study eventually started to picture themselves driving up the school or the church in a Mercedes. The vehicles are priced similarly and have about the same warranty protection.
For a Honda dealer, that's good to know. The Honda dealer now knows who the real competition is. The keywords in Honda Accord listings can be altered to pick up some Mercedes shoppers. Banner ads for the Honda dealer can be placed in Mercedes-Benz searches. The Honda dealer might want to put a few E-Class Benzes on the used car lot as bait. You get the idea.
What else can dealers learn from this kind of data aggregation?
Dataium found that the average dealership gets 2,920 visitors to its website along with an average of 11,186 page views. More interesting, though is the fact that about half of all the shoppers who find their way to your site using their own search terms leave the site without doing anything else. Of those that get to your homepage directly, over 61% abandon the effort. But for shoppers who get to your site as a result of a Google search or other search results page, the abandonment rate drops dramatically to 33%.
Dealer Website Data: Current Trends
Source: Dataium LLC
More cool stats
- Average Visitors per site.....2,920
- Average Page Views per site.....11,186
- Average Bounce Rate per site.....50.4%
- Average Bounce Rate from homepage.....61.3%
- Average Bounce Rate from SRP.....32.8%
- Average Words in a Search Keyword.....3.21
- Average Words in an Inventory Search.....2.28
Because Dataium collects data from so many dealer and OEM websites they have also accumulate a raft of other interesting statistics. For instance, 65% of the automotive searches are for used vehicles. That has remained constant for some time.
More interesting was how the statistics predicted shopper behavior in a recent major event, the Japanese earthquake. Right after the earthquake hit, Dataium found that the ASI for Japanese brands indicated a 40% in search activity. Sure enough, two weeks later when the actual sales data came out, sales of Japanese vehicles were down 38%, a very close correlation.
How shoppers search
Even more important for dealership Internet managers is knowing exactly how people search the web for vehicles.
Vehicle shoppers on the Internet use combinations of key words to find the vehicles they are interested in. Knowing how they combine words can help an Internet manager properly craft a listing.
So for instance, the most frequently used key word combination is the dealership name only with 43%. Searches containing only the OEM's name and a vehicle model came in second with 23%. OEM-only searches were third and dealer name plus the geographical area was a distant fourth.
That result might surprise some folks who have building micro-sites with featuring the vehicle brand and geographical area, like "BMW, New Jersey," but Jason Ezell points out that there has been a shift recently as Google got more geo-centric. Now Google knows where the shopper is searching from and automatically populates the results with dealerships in the shopper's area.
Most Used Key Words:
- Dealer Only 43%
- Contains OEM and Model 23%
- OEM Only 13%
- Contains Dealer and Area 13%
- Contains Dealer and Make 7%
- General Categories
- Contains Dealer name 63%
- Contains OEM 37%
- Contains Model 30%
- Contains Area 13%
And there's more:
By far the most-used key word in vehicle searches is "used." That also means that the word "used" will be expensive to use in a pay-per-click ad. Fewer that than 1% of vehicle searches contain the word "dealer", "dealership", or "dealers." And only 7% of all keyword searches contain the word "price." Yet shoppers that add the word "price" to their search terms are twice as likely to submit a purchase request often and in about half the time. So the lesson for dealers who want to bid on pay-per-click key words: Use the word "price" in your online key words. It will draw fewer searches but those it does draw will be buyers.
Top Referring Domains - Direct
- Yahoo Search..... 3%
- Google.ca..... 1.7%
- Maps.Google..... 1.3%
- AOL Search.....1%
- Comcast Search..... .73%
- Autotrader.com..... .69%
- Cars.com..... .50%
- Ebay.motors...... .33%
- Local Yahoo...... .24%
- Yahoo Autos...... .19%
- Yellowpages.com...... .14%
These are the direct search results. It looks like Google is far and away the most important source of traffic to your website. But that is deceiving because it does not take into account how people search. More likely shoppers visited an automotive site like Cars.com or Autotrader early in their search. They found a vehicle they like and saw your dealership name. Then they went to Google to find out more about your store. Google gets the credit but other sites were more important in identifying your dealership. With that in mind, hereâ€™s the list for indirect automotive referrals:
Top Visited Sites by Auto Shoppers
- Google......... 64%
- Fox News.........5.5%
Shoppers who visit any Automotive Portal anytime before visiting a dealer website are 3.8 times more likely to send a lead, according to Jason Ezell.
Value of incentives
Car dealers and their OEMs have developed a wide array of consumer incentives to entice shoppers to visit a dealership. But how do you know which ones work best?
Jason Ezell knows.
His research revealed that by far the most effective incentive is 0% financing. It is twice as effective as cash rebates, even though the rebate might be worth more in actual dollars. And Employee Pricing? Forget about it. Car shoppers want something better than what dealers offer their own employees.
By studying thousands of car shoppers and hundreds of dealerships the folks at Dataium have reached some important conclusions for car dealers:
- 85% of customers made up their mind to purchase a vehicle before they left their house.
- 78% of customers who visit your showroom buy a vehicle somewhere.
- 38% of customers purchase within 4 hours of visiting their first dealership.
- 57% of consumers purchase within 3 days of visiting their first dealership.
- 90% of customers purchase within 1 week of visiting their first dealership.
- 71% of customers say they bought their vehicle because they like, trusted and respected their salesperson.
- 50% of customers said they bought on the spot when they got what they felt was a good presentation and demonstration.
- 85% of consumers say their salesperson DID NOT control the sales process, build any rapport or interviewed their shoppers.
- 88% of customers said they received a poor presentation and/or demonstration.
- 1 in 5 shoppers who leave a dealership without purchasing do so because they experienced poor treatment or dealer performance issues; pricing games, sales pressure tactics or discourteous treatment.
- While 43% of these buyers ultimately purchased from a different dealer of the same brand
- 57% decided to purchase from a different brand altogether
With new knowledge your dealership should be able to:
- Anticipate consumer demand by make, model, trim level, color and more
- Align sales, marketing, and promotions to individual consumer shopping behavior
- Benchmark online performance across multiple websites, nationally, by region, by market, by dealer, by competitor
- Never miss a lead, score leads by propensity to purchase, and more
- Instantly test website compliance changes, promotions, sales events, and more for effectiveness
- Know which websites generate the most leads by make/model, region, market, dealer
- Define consumer buying behavior by VIN number, make/model, body style, and more.