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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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What is a website's phone call to email ratio? The answer will surprise you.

“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.

 

 

Jim Bell
Great post my friend but I have one thing to add. Yes, it is increasing phone traffic, but it is also increasing floor traffic. We are seeing more and more people just get in their car and drive an hour, 2 and 3 hours to buy a car without picking up the phone. It all comes down to the basics of online marketing. We hear it time and time again and it's good custom comments, multiple photos, and all of the info in front of them. There isn't too much of a reason for a customer to call if you are doing things right other than to see if the vehicle is available...if you're lucky.
Jared Hamilton
Holy Cow! 5 to 1 calls to email? I knew it was heavily leaning towards calls, but that difference really shows how much emphasis should be on phone skills at the store. Fantastic article and great data! Too bad we cant get a good count on walk-ins.
Jim Bell
Jared, chances are that walk in traffic is a true 'Internet customer' and they saw it in the web somewhere. Out of the close to 300 that we have sold this month, only 17 said that they were a drive-by on our sourcing sheets filled out in f&i.
Mo Radji
true. Without refute. The real question is: Are you measuring calls per campaign.... separating paid search from organic from local map?
Jon Quade
Excellent comments from all of you. I have just a couple of follow up notes… Jim: You’re absolutely correct that walk-in traffic is often forgotten vis a vis today’s ‘BDC Mentality;’ I’ve seen some research that states for 61% of people, their first contact with a dealership is in-person! That blew me away. So, we MUST have a strategy to deal with walk-ins appropriately. That cold walk-in experience (where the customer has no one to ask for in particular) is often precisely the reason people call in the first place, in my experience. By calling, many are trying to remove dealers from a list of intended in-person visits, because if we don’t handle the call properly, they definitely won’t drive to see us. In other words, we have to be gas-worthy on all contact fronts. Mo: Sounds like your suggesting we take things to the next level by determining the effectiveness of individual ad campaigns or efforts and, while you're absolutely on target, I find that the vast majority of dealers can most positively impact the effectiveness of their ad spend by first paying attention to properly handling the calls they’re already getting, no matter the source. Once we have that handled, moving on to effective sourcing is an excellent strategy. Thanks again, and keep your thoughts coming! Jon

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