Shopping sites to dealers: Show us some love
Online operations want more credit for influencing shoppers
Filan: Buyers point to online sites’ influence.
AutoTrader, Edmunds, Cars.com and other online shopping sites are rolling out products to get dealers noticed by car shoppers. Now, if they could only get more credit from dealers for their efforts.
A study funded by AutoTrader found that Internet sites tend to play a bigger role in the way car buyers end up at a specific dealership than dealers give them credit for.
Part of the issue is how dealerships ask shoppers what influenced them to come to the store, the study shows.
For the study, the firm of KS&R interviewed 4,700 car buyers from 42 dealerships to determine what influenced them to buy where they did.
The firm then scoured the stores' customer relationship management software on those customers to see how the dealership logged what brought the customer to the store.
There was a disconnect, said Kevin Filan, AutoTrader vice president of customer marketing.
When surveyed, car buyers cited the Internet as a source of influence 3.5 times more frequently than CRM data depicted, Filan said.
For online shopping sites such as AutoTrader, the number was 4.6 times.
Sales staff logging the way a customer ended up at the store may have omitted asking about the Internet or misattributed influencing sources for a variety of other reasons, he said.
The findings by AutoTrader are important, Filan said, because dealers allocate marketing money to TV, radio, the Internet and other media based on how they judge the effectiveness of each.
The shopping sites are promoting innovations at this year's conference. Edmunds is rolling out to dealers nationally a "price promise" service that allows dealers to guarantee a vehicle price online to consumers who visit Edmunds.
Cars.com's new PowerDrive advertising product lets subscribing dealers promote special offers and online reviews to shoppers as they view vehicle inventory.
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