Eric Brown, CEO and co-founder, inSearchX

The answer is no, but it certainly can and will help. But before we dive into the “whys” of that statement first a few words about what perpetual search is, how it compares to traditional search engine marketing, how your dealership or agency can utilize it to mitigate the impact of the inventory shortage on consumer shopping and reduce your overall cost to acquire customers.

What is perpetual search?

Perpetual search utilizes consumer self-declared buying preferences to continuously search inventory for a vehicle match and then alerts the consumer via their device notifications of the match.

The consumer can then open a dialog channel from their device with the dealer sales team to post questions, make an offer, schedule a sales appointment, and much more. The consumer’s device is essentially tethered to the dealership inventory and can open a communication channel at any point a vehicle of interest is delivered to the consumer’s device.

In simplest terms, the vehicle content is delivered to the consumer rather than the consumer delivered to the vehicle content – an inversion of vehicle merchandising as we know it today.

Why is perpetual search so important?

50% of searches today are done by voice and 30% are done without a screen present. In these instances, content is presented on the consumer’s device in the form of a custom page or voice transcription and is the only means to respond to these searches.

In addition, perpetual search removes the requirement that the consumer and the vehicle be present at the same time on your website. With perpetual search, the consumer can receive updated vehicle recommendations as your inventory updates.

Even when consumers conduct a traditional inventory search on a dealership website less than half will scroll the search results page for a vehicle. So even if you are successful in getting the consumer to your website on the same day you have a vehicle that matches their buying preferences, half of consumers will not find a car. Perpetual search allows you to stop “hoping” the consumer finds your vehicle but allows you to proactively present the vehicle to the consumer without the consumer having to visit your website. Perpetual search provides you with continuous consumer engagement, thus building an audience for your dealership rather than traffic for your website.

Perpetual search is more cost-effective.

Because perpetual search relies upon the consumer’s self-declared purchase intent, “Find me a Honda Accord for less than 35,000,” your search or PPC dollars are no longer spent on targeting keywords, or 3rd party data to find in-market auto shoppers. Rather, the in-market auto shopper has opted in and provided access to their devices. This provides 100% accuracy for your targeting, no more buying clicks for people with no intent to actually buy, which is generally over 80% of the clicks you buy.

Further, the pricing for perpetual search is static. Typically $1.00 per vehicle recommendation, rather than $3 – $5 per click for SEM or PPC, which at any moment can be bid higher. A $2,000 spend equals 2,000 auto shopper vehicle recommendations with perpetual search. Rather than $3 for a click, 80% of which is not shopping for a car, and less than 50% of the remainder even finding a vehicle of interest. So quickly that $3 click becomes a $10.00 click with a lead submission rate of less than 2%. Do that math and quickly find a lead cost of $150.00 in this example. Then bake in a 33% contact rate and suddenly you are looking at a $450.00 lead.
Because consumers activating perpetual search have opted in lead cost is less than $5.

So, how can your dealership or agency utilize perpetual search to mitigate the inventory shortage?

At this point, the answer is probably rather obvious. Because the consumer and the vehicle do not have to be present on your website at the same time, future inventory can be utilized to re-engage the consumer when it’s available. Further, because most consumers don’t scroll the search results page, inventory overlooked by the consumer can be proactively presented to the consumer independent of their ability to manage the search process.

Finally, perpetual search can be utilized to convert traffic into a perpetual or continuous search no matter where the consumer encounters it, on your website, on a publisher website, as a QR code on your car, or a mirror tag in your service department. A call to action can be deployed anywhere and everywhere to engage the consumer to activate their search.

Today, millions of consumers can be reached via perpetual search notifications and the number is growing as publishers add the functionality to their websites to monetize their audiences in new ways. I highly recommend that you take part of your SEM or PPC budget and invest it in a perpetual search solution to extend and expand your inventory as well as convert your traffic into a perpetual audience.

About the Author

Eric Brown is the founder of inSearchX, as well as Dataium, the automotive industry leader in behavioral data analysis acquired by IHS Markit. He is former President of LotLinx and a sought-after industry speaker with engagements at the NADA, JD Power, Maritz, and SAE conferences. He was named Nashville “Innovator of the Year” for 2012.

Author: Christine Corkran

Digital Dealer