“May I have your attention, please: the Internet has not replaced the telephone. I repeat: the Internet has not replaced the telephone.”
In the frenzy of the automotive digital marketing land grab, have you let flashing animated banners dazzle you? Has the faithful jingle of the dealership phone become a pesky buzz in your ear? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to both questions, you’ve missed the boat. Don’t worry, though; here comes the life raft!
Digital automotive marketing doesn’t replace phone leads. Digital automotive marketing CREATES phone leads. In fact, our own Cobalt research shows that over the past year, phone calls have actually outpaced email leads in a dramatic fashion. Our research shows that in March of 2010, there were approximately 7 phone calls for every 2 e-mail leads. In March of 2011, that ratio jumped to almost 10 phone calls for every 2 e-mail leads.
Now, let’s be clear: these statistics don’t mean your digital marketing efforts are wasted because we all know today’s consumers prefer to do the bulk of their car-shopping research online. It just means that when it comes time to actually visit a dealership, many people still prefer to pick up the phone and call rather than fill out an email form. The reasons are numerous: identity theft concerns, privacy issues, or plain old “field fatigue” at the thought of filling out a long, cumbersome online form. And, on a more ‘sinister’ front, when customers call they are attempting to cross you off the list of dealerships they intend to visit.
So yes, the Internet does play a more powerful role than ever in the car-buying process. BUT the phone is still the contact method of choice for most serious buyers. In other words, if you’re doing automotive digital advertising right, your phone should be ringing off the hook. The question is, are you prepared to pick it up?
Jon Quade, Performance Improvement Consultant at ADP Digital Marketing (formerly The Cobalt Group), is one of the most-recognized trainers in the automobile industry. He has 8000+ hours on camera and years of seminar experience with OEM clients like Ford, General Motors, Nissan, and Infiniti.