The Increasing Importance Of Phone Calls In The Online-To-Offline Customer Journey

January 26, 2016 0 Comments

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There’s no question that the massive increase in mobile phone adoption has resulted in a dramatic shift in consumer behavior. For the U.S. auto industry, this means customers who are conducting research on cars, parts or services expect immediate information and are therefore less likely to be satisfied by simply visiting a website or sending an email to outline their needs.

The Marchex Institute, which studies online-to-offline consumer behavior, has released a report about the ways to maximize the value of the growing volume of phone calls from customers to car dealerships. The research firm indicates that in a September 2013 study, Google found that more than half of consumers that are searching for cars, parts or services are “very likely” to click on a phone number to call a business. Because of this growth, click-to-call advertising has become massive in the automotive industry, where there is an estimated $4 billion spend on Google call extensions.

Dealerships are becoming increasingly aware phone calls are mobile’s fastest-growing source of lead generation. As more ad spend is invested into mobile marketing to drive these phone calls, it is essential to determine the best practices that will allow dealers to capture leads over the phone.

In its analysis of 2014 data from ad-driven phone calls to dealerships, Marchex found the following:

  • 77% of phone calls to dealerships are from new customers
  • 74% of customers that call dealerships are inquiring about parts and services
  • 14% of customers call to inquire about new or used cars

Based on this data, it becomes clear there is a big opportunity for dealers to maximize their profits with incoming calls for parts and services. Additionally, by capturing these leads, dealers can strategically increase customer loyalty, which will also drive sales of new and used cars.

Regardless of whether customers are calling about new or used cars, parts or services, Marchex’s analysis discovered many opportunities that are being missed by dealers. The study findings show that:

  • 16% of calls go unanswered
  • When customers connect with a dealer representative, 63% of the time there is no attempt to get them to make an appointment
  • 66% of the time, representatives do not ask the customer for their contact information

The data indicates that by addressing these three key issues, dealerships can expect to increase customer conversion rates by 20 percent.

Click-to-call advertising can be very effective, provided that it is managed to reach its full potential. Dealerships should be certain that the click-to-call actions on their mobile sites are working properly and should monitor the analytics to determine the best placement.

Ideally, click-to-call should be available on the home page of a dealer’s mobile site to ensure that customers do not have to look further into a website to find a phone number. Making it easy for consumers to call can make the difference between generating a lead or missing an opportunity.

Based on Marchex’s findings that 74 percent of customers call dealerships to inquire about parts or services, it is highly advisable to have an easy-to-find click-to-call button on this section of a dealer’s mobile website. Additionally, dealers should ensure that this call goes directly to the correct department to make the customer journey as simple and satisfying as possible.

Are the dealership’s hours of operation clearly visible? If a customer can easily see when a dealership is open on their mobile website, they are more likely to have a seamless and enjoyable experience overall.

We live in a mobile era where customers expect immediate information. With the increasing number of phone calls to dealers, click-to-call mobile advertising can be a very effective way to generate leads. However, there are many missed opportunities. By improving the placement of click-to-call actions on mobile websites, ensuring that representatives attempt to make appointments and ask for contact information when calls come in, and effectively analyzing advertising data, auto dealers can build valuable relationships throughout the online-to-offline customer journey to drive sales and create loyalty in the long term.

About the Author:

The DrivingSales News team is dedicated to breaking the relevant and the tough stories affecting car dealers. Have questions for DrivingSales News? Reach the team at news@drivingsales.com.