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Big Tom LaPointe

Big Tom LaPointe Digital Marketing Consultant

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Are your chat leads counterfeit? Three huckster ways contact info is weaseled from shoppers

I once heard a manager at a Tom Stuker phone training class joke that if every vendor promise came true their dealership would be selling a million cars a month. And so it goes with managed chat providers and even some chat software. There are live chat vendors who pitch insane lead counts to dealers that have no basis in reality, and often the leads they do provide are little more than names from a phone book. One definition for weasel as a verb is to “achieve something by use of cunning or deceit.” That precisely describes some chat leads.

An effective chat program can convert about a half a percent of unique visits to leads, and a stellar program can get up around one percent. But what is a quality chat lead? It’s one in which the shopper actually said they would like someone from the dealership to contact them, not one in which the email or phone was hijacked. Here are three weasel tricks to capture contact info:

  1. What is your email address in case we get disconnected? It’s a viable phone up technique, but asking for contact information up front risks the shopper bouncing out and certainly isn’t an OPT-IN lead.
  2. Would you like a transcript of this chat conversation? Again, this is hardly an OPT-IN lead, and can you even call it a lead?
  3. Requiring name and email before the chat even starts. This is REALLY NOT a lead! Would you ask for a shopper’s phone number and email the moment they walked on your lot? The same applies to a website chat conversation. If you give them a good experience with chat, you will earn their information and an  INVITATION to contact them with more information and to start your selling process.

Handing names harvested this way to a dealer hardly constitutes a lead, and yet that’s what happens. In fact not only is this not a true lead, but can actually create a hostile relationship with shoppers who were misled into giving up their info and start receiving emails or phone numbers out of the blue. Furthermore, gathering information this way and making contact risks violating federal and state laws in the U.S. and Canada.

One of the key appeals of live chat for auto shoppers is the ability to shop with anonymity, and pushing for contact information up front or weaseling information out of them violates this premise. Just like on the lot or the phone, if you help buyers with their journey to purchase a vehicle, they will open up with not only personal contact information, but insight into their needs and wants that can help you move them closer to a purchase.

Managed chat and chat software give dealers a great way to start the sales conversation with shoppers, but how it is set up is a major factor in its success – or failure on dealership websites.

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Tom LaPointe CarChat24 CHAT GURU
www.carchat24.com/ 24/7 Interactive Automotive Dealer Website LIVE CHAT Solutions Hosted or In-House Options – FREE web chat software 727-638-0195

 

A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Tom has an MBA in Marketing and is an automotive writer and author with nearly 20 years experience in virtually every aspect of the retail auto industry. He has been involved with the internet from the beginning, building websites at Johns Hopkins University in the 90's, and has been a performance leader in nearly every dealer role, from sales and service, to BDC / internet sales and viral marketing.

Alex Lau
Good stuff Tom!I'm building the first Smart TV (Roku) automotive marketplace / lead conversion system that is already converting some really high quality leads. Only been in existence for a week and has produced over 300 leads. Particularly because of the pre-populated data (one-click process), with permission given to process it, of course. Application itself works @ https://channelstore.roku.com/details/55248/autostride. Website @ http://autostride.com. Nothing fraudulent about these, all legit!

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