How to Control the Internet

Alright, you got me. I can’t help you control the internet, “win” the internet, or otherwise become the ruler of all that’s digital. But the internet is where your customers are spending an increasing amount of time during their car buying journeys, and your dealership (and dealership website) needs to do something about it.

While I can’t give you command over the entire internet, I do have some hard-hitting advice to get more control over your customers, long before they reach out to your dealership. Here’s how:

1. Reach your customers early

Let’s start with the top of your funnel. If the first thing that comes to mind is your radio ads or print flyers, think again. Substantially
fewer than 50% of consumers are influenced by TV, printed flyers, direct mail, radio, or print classifieds. To get to your customers, you need to advertise through online classifieds. And don’t forget social media advertising – it’s a growing area of influence among consumers.

2. Invest in your website

The dealership website is the most influential step in the buying process, by a long shot. That means that your website needs to be your biggest marketing investment if you want to make the sale. And don’t think that you’ll have a chance to make up for lost time when customers come to your dealership: buyers now visit an average of 2.5 dealerships, total. They pick these dealerships online, so your website must offer something unique in order to draw customers in-store.

3. Be flexible

Your customers typically switch between online and offline channels four times during their buying process, and they want that transition to be seamless. Think about how many competitors you have online; if a customer is fed up with your process, it’s all too easy for them to bounce to a competitor. Make your process easy to navigate online, offline, and in between.

4. Offer a complete digital experience

More than 60% of customers decide on brand, model, and pricing online. It’s time to meet your customers where they’re making their key decisions, and give them the option to act on their choices faster and more easily than with your competition. A digital retailing
empowers your customers to complete as much or as little of their purchase online as they want before coming in to sign on the dotted line. Make it easy for people to buy from you, and they will.

5. Keep them in your ecosystem

Every step of your current buying process is a chance for customers to leave. When every dealership offers the same online experience, what’s to keep customers on your ‘site? By integrating an omni-channel digital retailing solution, your customers can save their progress.

Vehicle selections, configuration preferences, financing status, trade-in appraisals, and virtually every other choice your customers make get stored in an account that follows them back and forth between website and showroom. Your physical and online experiences become one integrated journey that keep customers from leaving.

6. Train your staff

A true omni-channel solution can make you one of the 2.5 dealerships your customers visit before buying. The last hurdle is that final transition. Training your staff to lean on a leading digital retailing platform creates a uniform and fluid experience between your website and your showroom, which makes it easy for consumers to choose you for their purchase. Get the right tools, and learn how to use them.

7. Get started

There’s a lot of inertia in the automotive industry, and that gives you power. If you can commit to real innovation online, you’ll see a dramatic increase in high-quality leads and deals. Stop waiting for change to happen to you, and become a leader.

Andrew Tai is the CEO and co-founder of Motoinsight, but his influence extends far beyond the company. A contributing columnist to The Globe and Mail and a prolific speaker, Andrew is a recognized authority on digital retailing within the automotive industry. Connect with him today to learn how your dealership is going to change, or see the future yourself at

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