Dealers who want to best engage with tech-savvy buyers should try text messaging to communicate, according to survey results released today.
Morpace Omnibus, a monthly online survey of U.S. consumers matched to demographics from the U.S. Census Bureau, found that the use of text messaging -- for selling vehicles and for communicating after the purchase -- may be a significant opportunity for dealers to connect with their customers.
Morpace Inc., a market research and consulting company, has administered the survey every year since 2011, asking 667 to 804 respondents, who text regularly, about their preferences regarding dealership communication.
Almost half of those surveyed said they were very interested or somewhat interested in corresponding with the dealership via text message after the vehicle purchase.
Messages may pertain to topics such as service updates, recall notices and maintenance information. Last year, 42 percent said they wanted these text messages. In 2012, the year with the most interest, 50 percent said they were somewhat or very interested. In 2011, 37 percent showed interest.
“Consumers are increasingly comfortable communicating informally on their mobile phones and through a myriad of mobile devices,” said Ed Knopp, Morpace vice president of automotive research. “This type of messaging allows for ongoing, immediate dialogue with both parties able to respond.”
Survey participants weren’t as convinced about text messaging during the buying process, but they still showed interest. This year, 37 percent said they wanted text messages from the dealership, communicating vehicle availability, price, discounts and price negotiations. Last year’s interest was three points lower, at 34 percent. Again, 2012 had the most interest: 39 percent said they wanted text messages throughout the car-buying process, compared with just 29 percent who were interested in 2011.
“Dealers should fine-tune their message so that it is not only informative, but appealing,” Knopp said.
But dealers should be wary of abusing text messaging instead of using it as an effective communication tool, he said.
If customers say they are willing to communicate via text message, “texting gives the dealer another option for regular communications with customers, and the potential to develop a stronger, long-term relationship,” Knopp said.
Engaging customers with a text message may become more common. Last month, Edmunds.com purchased a startup texting technology called CarCode. Edmunds’ dealership subscribers will be able to offer texting services to mobile customers with the program.
Customers can use a CarCode text number to speak with sales associates at the store, and Edmunds dealerships can put a text button on inventory shown on Edmunds.com. Mobile users can touch the button to text the store a question or comment.
With 30 percent of traffic to Edmunds.com now coming via mobile device, texting is an increasingly popular way for shoppers to communicate with dealerships, Edmunds.com President Seth Berkowitz told Automotive News last month.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.