In today’s automotive market, consumers are beginning most of their car buying journey online, with car buyers spending 59% of their time researching online (Autotrader) and an even greater share of traffic coming from mobile sites according to L2 Gartner. With car buyers spending more time online in comparison to visiting a dealership showroom, auto dealers can harness a substantial amount of shopper data to entice and retain car buyers with personalized retargeting messaging and offers.
The problem for the industry is that it is just not happening.
Amazon’s experience is a leading example of personalization
Personalization has seen a wide adoption as a marketing tactic; according to eMarketer, 90% of marketers report usage in some way. E-commerce and tech giant Amazon is leading the charge as seen on their homepage which is filled with personalization options including recently viewed items, new product recommendations (heard of AmazonBasics?) and even call-to-actions across all their product lines like Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Echo Dot.
Nearly everywhere you look from Best Buy to local affiliate sites for Verizon Wireless, it is clearly an overwhelmingly effective and in-demand approach. In fact, eMarketer says that 78% of consumers now expect this level of personalized experiences.
So what is taking auto dealerships so long to implement these concepts? Maybe their website vendors don’t make it easy because they have evolved into clunky content management systems (almost being forced to by OEM compliance and customer requests). Maybe all the vendors adding uncoordinated widgets and gadgets is being mistaken as personalization. Or, maybe it is just that dealerships find it hard to understand. But we need to face the facts – this is important and it needs to happen now.
Personalization sounds harder than it really is
Auto dealers are often unaware of the amount of accessible first-party data on their website that are readily available to use to customize the experience from one shopper to the next. Combining this data with the right combination of content management and marketing automation will drive better engagement and conversions from the car buyers by making it easier for them to find what they are looking for. There are endless possibilities with this type of personalization.
Let’s walk through some examples. Dealerships can add a shopper history widget that allows their visitors to quickly navigate back to their previously viewed and favorited VDPs and see additional recommendations based on that list. Automated emails in conjunction with a shopper history widget can help remind shoppers of their car buying journey with follow-up emails listing these previously viewed and favorited cars, prompting them to come back with customized offers.
Auto dealers can start implementing personalization today
Sure, there are some basic capabilities provided to you by your web vendor, but you need to demand more for the benefit of your shoppers. Start taking note of what you see as a consumer at the retailers you visit and imagine your website with similar functionality. And ask your vendors to see how they can help make this a reality. Doing so will allow your rooftop to connect better with the prospects and customers in a more purposeful and personalized way. The results from this type of experience aren’t immediate, but as you adapt your website and messaging, you will begin to see increased time-on-site, improved quality conversions and maximized ROI from your existing advertising spending.