Take a quick look around fellow commuters, colleagues, friends and family members and it’s no surprise that today’s car buyers prefer to interact more with brands and dealerships online, than they do in person.
Whether it’s following our friends on Instagram, discovering the latest tunes on Spotify or keeping up with breaking news on Twitter, our insatiable appetite for browsing on our smartphones shows no signs of slowing and we’re being exposed to more automotive-related messages than ever before.
It’s little wonder then that - according to the latest research from Google - 95% of buyers use digital as a source of information, with twice as many starting their research online versus at a dealer.
In fact, Google’s research highlighted that 60% of all automotive searches come from a mobile device.
For carsales.com.au—Australia’s number 1 automotive classifieds website—the ease and convenience of smartphones resulted in 69% of visits in October 2017 via mobile, of which 40% came from the company’s acclaimed iOS and Android apps.
Mobile consumers enquire 24/7
Forget traditional business or retail hours, the mobile shopper validates purchase options at their own convenience.
The latest carsales data reveals that Australian car buyers are shopping for their next purchase at all times of the day and night, browsing dealer stock listings on work commutes, at lunchtimes and before bed.
In October 2017, 46% of stock enquiries on dealer stock listed on carsales were made outside of business hours, with many enquiries made out of hours, between 6am – 8am and also between 6pm – 9pm.
In this way, mobile websites and apps are empowering dealers to maintain 24/7 visibility in front of buyers, resulting in almost as many buyer enquiries outside of business hours.
These behavioural trends beg the question – how can dealers capitalise to convert more enquiries and sell more cars?
SMS enquiries take off
To meet the buyer’s expectation for a more efficient and seamless mobile buyer experience, carsales recently introduced an SMS enquiry option available on dealer stock listings. Despite launching as recently as September 2017, SMS now makes up more than 14% of enquiries.
“SMS enquiry really opens dealerships to sales opportunities from the growing mobile-orientated audience and provides a widely used and efficient communication platform for the buyer,” explained Michael Holmes, carsales Executive Director - Dealer.
“A mobile website or app combined with the ability for SMS enquiry submission gives buyers the ultimate speed and flexibility to find their next car. SMS communication is quick, easy and convenient and has long surpassed the traditional phone call as the most popular means of communication, and it’s not surprising that it’s a hit with shoppers,” he added.
For dealers, the advantages of an SMS enquiry are twofold. An SMS enquiry captures the prospect’s phone number, which can then be used to as the main communication channel in their vehicle purchase journey.
Plus, with recent upgrades to carsales’ leading AutoGate platform, dealers can now quickly send an SMS to all prospects, both via their desktop and the brand new app, regardless of how they originally enquired. The app also empowers salespeople to respond to an SMS enquiry outside of business hours, with minimal effort and maximum timeliness.
Recent research indicates that 98% of text messages are opened, making SMS the best option for dealers.
“Mobile phone users have constant access to their devices and SMS messages can be received and read instantly, making it an efficient option for dealers to convey key information about a vehicle or set up appointments, all in a timely manner. With just a text or two, a dealer can quickly advance a buyer in their path to purchase,” said Holmes.
In time, SMS responses will also help improve customer satisfaction and conversion rates. Despite timely follow-up being critical to conversion, 1 in 3 enquiries on dealer stock listed on carsales received no contact from the dealership within 24 hours.
“18.6% of enquiries convert to sale after just 24 hours, underlining the importance of quick and direct customer contact and why SMS is already pivotal to dealer success,” added Holmes.
2. carsales internal data, October 2017
3. Five Marketing Tips For Small Businesses In 2017, Forbes, March 2017
4. carsales.com Ltd Internal Post Enquiry Surveys 1 January 2015 – 22 November 2017. (N>452,000)
This article first appeared in Edition 10 of Auto Market Watch. Check out the rest of Edition 10 below: