While few online customer journeys are the same, the process of buying a car is an exceptional experience, and one that can take decades from start to finish.
At the 2016 Salesforce World Tour in London, luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin revealed that a journey towards the purchase of a $200,000 sports car often begins with a poster on the wall of a teenage boy and it can take 30 years before that initial seed of desire ends with the sale of a car. Needless to say, it’s a long game to play – but it gives automotive companies plenty of opportunity to form a relationship with potential customers and encourage them to develop an emotional attachment to their brand.
However, even when a buyer cannot stretch to a six-figure price tag, Google stats reveal that it takes the average person 2.7 months to decide on a new car purchase – still ample time for dealers to make an impact on their journey, with plenty of potential touchpoints to form a relationship.
A 2014 survey by Autotrader revealed that the internet is more than 20 times more influential during the research phase of a car purchase than any other form of media. But how are different car brands capturing the attention of customers during their journey?
Adding options to cars is a well-tread route but manufacturers like Fiat and Mini have taken personalization to the next level by offering hundreds of different customization choices to engage people and make their car unique. Online configurators enable customers to add vinyl graphics, sports styling and other luxury options to create (and place an order for) their ideal, tailor-made vehicle from their local dealer.
Owning the reviews
Opinions play a very important role for car buyers. While expert reviews have a place, it’s independent, user-generated reviews that customers are more likely to trust as honest. Lexus, for example, display driver ratings to customers who have booked a test drive, while Kia proudly uses a mix of user-generated and critical reviews in its TV ads, on its website and in showrooms.
Enhancing the connection
Like Aston Martin, Porsche acknowledge that their vehicles are purchased as more than tools to get them from A-to-B. Whenever a customer places a deposit on a new Porsche, they receive an invitation to put the manufacturer’s vehicles to the test at an all-day driving event at Silverstone race circuit.
According to an article from AMonline, dealers network Ridgeway Group found that its live chat service was especially active between 7pm and 10pm, with potential buyers eager to get an immediate response to their questions. Offering this service outside of traditional sales hours was well received by customers, with 34,000 conversations culminating in around 9,000 leads.
With so much effort put into making the sale, it’s understandable that car dealers can take a foot off the pedal once a purchase had been made.
But the customer journey shouldn’t end when the customer drives off the forecourt and failing to maintain the journey with customers that dealers already know means many lost opportunities for retaining them.
The Automotive Customer Journey Study surveyed 4,200 car buyers and revealed that customers are still eager to hear from dealerships post-sale. In fact, 62% of those not contacted after their purchase would have liked to have received some form of communication.
The study notes that one in five people were not contacted after a purchase with follow-up calls, or to let them know about service offers. When 40% of customers are already thinking about their next purchase a year after buying a car, dealers are clearly missing out through a lack of communication. Similarly, a massive 75% of customers say they were never contacted by their dealership – even when they knew that leases had ended or finance terms were over.
This gap in the customer marketing lifecycle is one that IM Group, distributor for Subaru in the UK, has closed successfully.
With the implementation of a Single Customer View to unify its records from 60 nationwide dealerships, IM Group was able to centrally manage Subaru UK's marketing and personalization efforts, allocating each customer to one dealership.
This integrated database meant relevant, tailored content could be sent to segmented groups to prompt enquiries, encourage test drives and help convert sales.
A more personalized service is proven as an effective way to promote continued loyalty with a dealership, while the rise of connected cars – led by manufacturers like Tesla – is helping marketing teams to see the continued journey beyond the initial sale.
Whatever the approach, enabling dealers to be in the right place at the right time, with the correct message could encourage the next purchase.
IM Group Case Study
Read how IM Group, UK importers of Subaru cars, turned to BlueVenn to create a Single Customer View database, with the capability to support fully coordinated, national marketing campaigns
Download our case study and discover how BlueVenn enabled IM Group to:
- Handle the online marketing for all of its UK dealerships
- Create a coherent national strategy
- Increase customer satisfaction ratings
- Increase the number of identifiable sales opportunities
- Improve personalization for prospective customers