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Mike Gorun

Mike Gorun Managing Partner/CEO

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Text Messages: Google’s Wake-Up Call to Dealers

Texting is by far the most popular form of communication for consumers – especially with younger generations. However, because of the many compliancy rules and laws that have to be followed, many dealers are hesitant to adopt text messaging -- they simply don’t want to risk it.  

Consumers prefer to communicate via text because it’s short, to the point and non-intrusive. Have you ever tried to call one of your kids or grandkids only to have them fail to answer, then text you right back asking what you need? Or have your ever received a voicemail, not bothered to listen to it, and simply texted the caller back?  

Short-form messaging is popular and should be high on your list of priorities to offer your customers as a form of communication. Why? Well, while email marketing has been around for many years, emails go into spam filters, get lost in a stack of unread e-mails, or are simply ignored. If you get an open rate anywhere north of 20 percent, you’re doing a pretty good job. Text messages, on the other hand, typically get read within 3 minutes of receipt, according to the Huffington Post. There is also no spam filter (short of a customer blocking your number, that is.)  

If that isn’t proof enough for you that consumers want to communicate with businesses via text messages, try this on for size: Google recently implemented a “Message” feature on its Google My Business pages. What does this mean for your dealership?  

In the past, when consumers searched a business on a mobile device, they were presented with a map with some user-friendly buttons such as directions, click-to-call, etc. But now, for businesses that choose to turn it on, Google will provide consumers with the option to text the business. Once consumers get used to using it, I’ll get usage will skyrocket. If the most popular search engine by far and largest advertising platform believes adding texting capabilities to its platform is what consumers want, this is a pretty big wake-up call for us all.  

While I love the idea of Google’s Message service, I do see a problem with it. Texts sent via this service go to individual cell phones. Sure, as a dealer you can set up as many cell phones as you want for customers to text to. But there is currently no way I know of for you to memorialize those text conversation in your CRM, other than manually notating it. And, as I am sure you are aware, a customer’s cell phone number is gold when it comes to data, functionality and efficient communication. Lacking this data and conversations in your CRM would be a huge hole. If anyone out there knows of a solution to this I would love to hear about it! 

My bet is that vendors and OEMs will certainly pay attention to this development by Google, as Google certainly keeps on top on what consumer’s demand. So, keep a look out for a solution soon that efficiently memorializes these text conversations in your CRM – that will be a great addition as far as tracking the consumer’s path to the sale. I strongly believe consumers will soon be using this service (assuming you turn it on and set it up). And, as more and more consumer use this method of communication through Google, if your dealership does not allow this type of functionality, you may well find you are missing prime opportunities which go to competitors which do offer it.  

Text messaging isn’t going away. As a form of communication it’s only going to get more popular. Flip the “on” switch and be there when they reach out. Your customers will appreciate it and you’ll be able to more efficiently communicate with your customers – a win-win in my opinion. 

John  Vincent

I have had this option turned on for a month now for our GMB pages. I have not received one message yet. I thought my phone would be blowing up with requests for service appointments but that has not been the case for us....yet anyway.

Kurtis Anderson

Looks like us Canadian dealers will have to wait until Google adds this feature: "Chatting with customers is a new Google My Business feature that’s currently available in select countries." - I don't see the "chat" card on any of our Google My Business accounts yet.  

Angela Wijesinghe

Yeah, sorry about that, Kurtis! I have heard (on pretty good authority) however, that Canada should be seeing the Google My Business messaging capability the end of 2017. Right now, though, I think it's mostly just U.S. businesses that have access to it.

(FYI, Contact At Once!'s integration lets you manage any of those text conversations through the same platform you can also use for texts/chats from your sites, ads, Google AdWords, etc.)

Taylor Nelson

Interested to see how much actual use that text my business feature will actually get over the coming months. It doesnt seem to have taken much hold yet, but it's still early. Regarding the wake up call, from what I have seen most dealers have already awoken to the realization they need to add text. My company (TextUps) two-three years ago would maybe get 1 inquiry per week from an interested dealer who wanted to add text. This year, it's a slow day if we only get 1 inquiry per DAY! But I like the idea of being "Text Ready" on different places than just your website, which is what we strive for as well.

Mike Gorun

Like everyone is saying... they just rolled out the feature and it's possible that typical consumers have not discovered or gotten used to it yet. Just like when they added the "call" button, etc. Dealers should be ready for it, however. Texting is a popular method of communication so, in my opinion, a dealer should have that ability anyways regardless of Google's addition of that capability. It's simply something that needs to be managed and memorialized in the CRM - as should any communications with a customer. Whether Google's feature takes off or not, if a dealership turns it on and doesn't respond, that could be a lost sale. Better safe than sorry and all.

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