Can-I-Afford-It-Moments: The Digital Tools You’ll Need

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We’re diving deep into the car-buying journey over the next few weeks and giving you an inside look at the tools and strategies that line up with each micro-moment. You can check out our previous post here, which gives you a brief overview of the micro-moments dealers should pay attention to, as well as some useful tips to get you started.

But now we’re going to get into the nitty gritty details that are really going to set you over the top.
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How to Reach Customers at the End of the Car-Buying Journey

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Let’s be real, there are a lot of digital marketing tools out there for dealers. But they’re basically worthless if you don’t know when to use them. You can have strategic SEO, carefully researched advertising campaigns, and a website that’s been optimized for conversion – but all that high-tech digital weaponry in your arsenal won’t amount to much if you can’t reach your potential buyers at the right time.

Google has identified five key moments in the car-buying journey that all customers go through. They call them micro-moments, and you’ve probably heard of them. The first two moments have a lot to do with research, but the end of the car-buying journey is where dealers should start paying attention. It’s where your leads begin to trickle into customers, and you need to know which tools to pull from your arsenal based on the moment.
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Can psychology really help you sell more cars?

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I’ve always been intrigued with how the brain works, especially when considering the psychology behind decision-making. Whether it’s using psychology to push an agenda, persuade people or utilized to sell, it’s fascinating.

Arizona State Professor of Psychology and Marketing, Dr. Robert Cialdini, wrote the book Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion and it truly opened my eyes. I credit his book with revolutionizing how I sold cars and taking me from a truthfully awful salesman to one of the top guys on the floor.

I’ve always had a desire to learn and test my own theories and hypotheses. My newest obsession is with the psychology of pricing and using human nature to guide customers to the package a dealer wants them to choose.

For a lot of businesses, and this is especially true for auto dealers, the amount of choice a customer has can be crippling. Sure, they know the type of car they want, but which model? Which trim? How many options can be added? Is there a better deal somewhere else? Paralyzing decisions.

You know which package you hope they decide to buy; now it’s just a matter of letting them think they are choosing it themselves.

The Experiment

Let’s dive into this a little more. First, this TED talk from Dan Ariely is a great primer and the inspiration behind this post. He’ll explain further, but in case you can’t watch the video below, he focuses on simplifying the pricing process and using a “useless” price option, otherwise knowing as “decoy” marketing, that can send conversions through the roof.

Intriguing, right? Give it a view:

Pretty great stuff.

Practical Application

I’m sure some of you have already thought about how to put this into play at your dealership. Be it service, retail or fixed ops, this type of pricing can really work. Car shoppers are all bargain hunters. Pander to that and give them an option that really is “a great deal”.

Here is an example of how they put this in place at The Economist:

  • Utilize a dedicated landing page focused on your special.
  • Either expand your options if you don’t have enough (2 to 3) or simplify the choices (3+ to 3).
  • Price #1 – Set the stage. Don’t go crazy low, as it is human nature to take the lowest price. Instead, make it competitive.
  • Price #2 – Implement the “useless” price option.
  • Price #3 – The one you want the customer to select. The best deal.
  • Drive traffic to the page.

With every experiment, testing and re-testing are key to being successful.

  • Consider A/B testing multiple landing pages, each with different price options.
  • Split the traffic 50/50 or 33/33/33 to determine which is more appealing to a customer.
  • Give it time and don’t give up too early. Patience will pay off.
  • Once you find the magic combination, repeat, repeat, repeat.

If you already do or have done something similar, we’d love to hear your results. Good luck.

How Expedia’s A/B Test Could Increase Your Leads by 25%

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I think that everyone in a dealer’s internet department would agree that their most important digital asset is their website, and the most important factor in their website’s success is its ability to convert visitors to leads.

When I saw that Expedia had published an A/B test in which they dramatically increased conversion rate using the same principals and best practices I’ve been advocating in the automotive industry for years, I was excited to share it.

I am a firm believer that the forms on your dealership website should only ask for the basic information you need to schedule an appointment. Once you bring them into your dealership, where you can actually sell them a car, it becomes worthwhile to ask for more information, like their home address. Any unnecessary information that you request (even if you explicitly mark the fields as “optional”) on a website lead form, simply limits the number of opportunities your sales team has to set appointments and sell cars.

As a part of the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) mentality in website design, asking for (even if not requiring) unnecessary information can deter the potential customer from supplying any information to your dealership and lowering your lead volume.

Here are the A and B versions of Expedia’s form from their A/B test. They removed “Company Name”, a field they weren’t requiring, from the billing section of a form:

Apparently, this field may have been confusing visitors who began entering their bank name and address, instead of their billing address. It definitely generated a higher bounce rate than the shortened form on the right. Simply removing a field THAT THEY WEREN’T EVEN REQUIRING, increased their site’s annual profit by $12 million!

So, let’s apply this learning to our industry. Take your dealership’s online credit application, for example. Two reasons that most online credit apps aren’t completed are: 1) the length of the form and 2) the detail of the questions. If a customer doesn’t readily know even one piece of information, or is reluctant to share it, they’ll abandon the process and you won’t have any of their information. Try streamlining this form to only require data that is absolutely necessary to begin the finance application process and start a dialogue with the customer.

What about vehicle lead forms? Below is an example of a typical dealership website lead form. Even though many of the fields in this lead form below are actually “optional” (note that they don’t have an “*”, so they aren’t required), they also complicate the form, distract the user, and lower conversion rate. So as we consider this form we want to ask ourselves – “Are any of these “optional” fields are going to help us sell a car?” Clearly, we’re better off getting many more leads than knowing each customer’s zip code.

Your lead forms simply need to capture a name, phone number, and email address. The rest of these fields only limit the number of leads your site produces. That’s why so many websites in our industry under-perform – the dealers expect that their providers are delivering high-quality, optimized sites, but their vendors may not be any savvier about website optimization than they are.

We’ve repeated this experiment dozens of times on our platform, and I can tell you that every time we streamline a form, our dealer’s conversion rates increase. So, over the next few days, I suggest that you audit your website and identify any fields that aren’t necessary on any form on your site. Send these examples to your website provider and see if they can help you increase your conversion rate. If you can’t get your provider to do this, give me a call. I’ll see what we can work out.