Online Marketing: A Matter of Trust
Five key ways dealers can earn the trust of buyers.
It’s a matter of trust. Trust builds confidence. Trust closes deals. Trust builds loyalty in the after- sale relationship.
It only makes sense, right? In the automotive world, you’re dealing with someone making one of the bigger purchase or financing commitments they will make for at least several years, and you’ve got to convince them to hand that money to you. Of course, it takes trust to make it happen.
So how do dealers win that trust? And more interestingly, how do dealers keep trust, since the opportunity to extend the relationship with an individual goes beyond the moment when they make their purchase and leave the lot.
Kijiji recently did a series of comprehensive research studies based on the mindset of car buyers, which included in-depth interviews and online surveys of people intending to buy or lease new vehicles, as well as thoughts from the dealers wanting to serve them.
The research reports found many things, but one of the biggest overarching findings was the idea of trust, and how to gain it and maintain it throughout the car buying journey, and beyond. With that research in mind, here are the top five ways dealers can think outside of the box to build trust with prospective buyers:
1. Value and trust go hand in hand
Customers are doing online research like never before—an average of seven weeks of online research for the average intended buyer. By the time they engage your sales staff at the dealership, they’ve already identified the make, model and price they’re after.
But before they sign, they need to feel assured they’re getting the best possible value from someone they can trust. Making sure you have the right team on hand to not only be transparent about the sale that they can make, but also make a buyer feel like they’re being taken care of during the purchasing process, leaves buyers with more of a lasting impression (and likelihood of a referral down the road).
And to take this point one step further, recent studies found that 41 percent of consumers said that if they had to choose between two dealers with the same vehicle at the same price and the same distance away, they’d choose one dealership over the other based on the salespeople, staff or customer service. This is a good reminder to dealers that soft skills when selling could, and often are, the tie-breaker when it comes to making the sale.
2. Your website is crucial
One-quarter of prospective buyers said the dealer’s website is the most important driver of their business. The actual vehicle manufacturer’s website scored lower (17 percent) and, surprisingly, so did word-ofmouth: only 11 percent will visit a dealership based on what they hear from friends and family.
3. The top three motivators…
… for people to visit a particular dealership, the top three motivators are sales/ promotions/deals, past experience with the dealership and transparent pricing—all key builders of trust.
In addition, studies have found that trust can be built at every stage of the car buying journey, particularly post purchase when looking to gain loyalty from consumers. With 66 percent of dealers agreeing that consumers are less loyal than they used to be five years ago, it’s interesting to note that car buyers claim to be quite open to being re-contacted by the dealership after their purchase, enquiring about the vehicle’s performance, notifying them of deals or sales, and so on. So don’t think that once the sale has been made the opportunity for trust is over.
4. One key finding from studies…
… showed that dealers were significantly underestimating the importance of sales and promotions, and the level of influence they have on a consumers’ choice. Price and financing offers like zero percent interest, cash rebates and extended warranties are popular and common incentives, but so are more rare offers like free winter tires or maintenance for a year—both of which are incentive examples dealers said they currently aren’t leveraging, but consumers said would matter to them.
So start thinking about different goodies you can put into the mix to close a sale. How about free storage for those winter tires, as well? Finding out-of-the-box opportunities to extend a meaningful incentive— especially ones that come at little to no cost to you—could be the deciding factor in making or breaking a sale or a potential referral.
5. The more detail and transparency…
… in your ads, the more honest and trustworthy you’re perceived to be. Studies have found that consumers claim to be quite logical in what they want to see in ads: price is top, followed by fuel efficiency, mileage for used cars, warranty, accident history, etc. And yet, only 52 percent of dealers said that they always include the total price in their ads and only 50 percent include fuel efficiency.
Therefore, dealers have the opportunity now to make their ads more effective than ever with this insight into what consumers actually want. In addition to that, make ads professional, not gimmicky. Be honest and show as much transparent information as possible. Include lots of images and, ideally, video.
Trust building happens at all points in the purchasing journey: Presale through digital advertising and your website; during the sale when those incentives are offered; and post-transaction through follow-up communication, service and other relationship drivers.
Trust is also something that takes time and dedication, so if you start making small changes today you will reap the rewards in the long run.