Infiniti dealerships ranked highest in the Pied Piper PSI Internet Lead Effectiveness Study for the second year in a row, showing their ability to successfully work through the supply shortage and pandemic.
Pied Piper submitted 3,628 inquiries on dealership websites asking specific questions and gave a score out of 100 based on how well the dealerships responded over the next 24 hours, it said in a press release Monday.
Although Infiniti's score of 67 dropped from 71 last year, it still was 2 points higher than second-place finisher Cadillac.
Mazda and Subaru ranked the highest of mainstream brands, with scores of 61, the study said.
Both the pandemic and supply shortage have made Internet leads even more important for dealerships, as many serious buyers may not want to go into stores without knowing when a specific model will be available, Pied Piper CEO Fran O'Hagan told Automotive News.
Infiniti, despite its one-year drop, still posted the largest increase in its score since the beginning of the pandemic, up 18 percent from 57 in 2020. The Nissan Motor Co. luxury brand has successfully instilled in its dealerships the importance of responsiveness, O'Hagan said.
"For any of these brands that are scoring towards the top, the manufacturers consider this part of the business to be critical," he said. "Infiniti management has an opinion on how the web customers should be treated, and it is not shy letting the dealers know what that opinion is."
The study said 15 out of the 34 brands declined in their score this year, including Fiat, which dropped to last place.
Dealerships' method of contacting customers has been changing as well. Phone calls to follow up Internet inquiries continue to decline each year, as email responses rise and come close to taking over calls as the most common way to reach out.
However, successful dealerships do not follow up in just one way, O'Hagan said.
"If you go down just the email path or just the phone path, you miss about a third of your customers," O'Hagan said.
He said there is still a lot of room for improving this outreach, even among the top brands, which are still nowhere near a perfect score of 100.