Dealerships are missing out on customer leads. It can happen when customers arrive at a dealership website seeking information — payment options, let's say — and a form pops up asking for name, email address or phone number to get an e-price.
Seeking customers' personal information is an easier ask when something of value is offered in return, said Kerri Wise, who late last month joined digital vehicle sales and finance platform AutoFi as vice president of marketing. She had been at vehicle-listings company TrueCar.
If a customer feels value wasn't exchanged, "I'm moving on to the next dealership that's going to provide more of an integrated experience, where I'm almost interacting with the dealership online like I would in the store," Wise told me.
If customers don't fill out a lead form, the less likely it is the store will get the lead.
I bought a new Jeep Cherokee in January, but I browsed vehicles for months before that. I wanted to explore payments so I could determine whether I could afford a new vehicle before I was ready to take up a dealership's time talking about one. Every time I encountered a website form, I left.
A 2019 Cox Automotive analysis found that dealerships that required consumers to complete a form before they could customize payments in a digital retailing tool — tools from multiple vendors, not just Cox — saw an engagement rate of less than 1 percent. Those that did not require a form saw engagement of 5.6 percent.
Wise said dealers should think of the online experiences they offer at their stores in the same way they do in-person experiences. That includes how they give customers information.
"We have to merge these two experiences and stop thinking about them as separate experiences," she said. "The entire experience, really, is a digital experience, because most consumers are shopping online in some way or another. And if we can transform our mindset, I think we'll see an acceleration of change in the industry."