A study of Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealers underscores how behavioral analytics on websites can drive smarter chat and better conversion

In recent years smart dealers have been re-focusing their digital marketing spend on driving traffic to their own websites, versus relying on high-priced, low-closing third party Internet leads. This means spending more on SEO, PPC, and online display ads in an effort to push direct traffic and direct leads from their own websites.

Of course, in order to produce strong website-generated leads, those dealership sites must effectively engage customers when they arrive. However, this is often not the case. In fact, NADA data shows that 95% of the average dealership’s site visitors will defect from the site due to lack of engagement, meaningful information and relevant offers. And why are the offers not meaningful? Because that 95% of traffic remained essentially invisible to the dealer – nameless, faceless, and unmarketable.

Meanwhile, consumers are quickly replacing physical showroom visits with online research: 4 in 5 people are now using the Internet to shop for vehicles, and, according to research, these customers are starting to skip showroom visits altogether. This means websites need to engage better than ever.

One way dealers have been approaching this is by adopting online chat platforms that they hope will turn their static, non-interactive website into a conversation-packed arena for engaging and converting the bottom-of-the-funnel shoppers that have reached their site. But in many cases where dealerships have been using first generation chat solutions, it has not been working.

Why? Because the first generation chat products have a tendency to talk at customers, not with them, meaning they are essentially chatting without benefit of a brain, i.e. knowledge of what that customer (that invisible 95%) has been doing, and what that customer actually is interested in: A specific vehicle in the dealer’s inventory? An oil change? Is that customer a first time visitor or a repeat visitor who has looked at the same model more than once? Is there inventory the dealership needs to move that might capture that customer’s attention?

Old school chat did not bother with these details and is often more known for interrupting and disturbing online shoppers mid-flow, and even disengaging them by interrupting their research and serving up offers that have no relevancy to what the customer is actually doing at the website.

A recent study conducted among Toyota, Lexus, and Scion dealers showed the difference that incorporating super-advanced, intuitive behavioral analytics into their sites can make to chat – and to website effectiveness overall. The technology utilized by the dealerships was able to collect data on every site visitor making truly relevant, targeted chat, offers, and site communications possible.

What does this mean? It means that suddenly, the website knows what each site visitor is doing, from the exact vehicles they are looking at, to how many times they have visited the site, and how long they are spending on each page. It then puts all that rich data in motion: assigning each visitor a unique score based on their real-world behavior, and using that score to precisely engage and re-engage individuals with calculated messages, chats and offers/coupons, about the right vehicle, at the right time – and in real time. And relevant chats reap happy customers and increased chat, lead and sales conversions.

The results speak for themselves: The Toyota dealers studied experienced a 74% chat-to-lead conversion; the Lexus dealers a 73% chat-to-lead conversion and the Scion dealers an 84% chat-to-lead conversion rate.

What is the lesson here for dealers? It is a simple one. Your website is not just your digital front door, it is your key to getting to know your customers before they enter your showroom. And it provides one of your first opportunities to communicate with a potential lifetime customer. If you are not providing them at the outset with chat and information that is relevant to their needs, or inventory that reflects what they are looking for or offers that make sense to them, you will never convert them – they will remain invisible and untouched. The technology to do this (and to do it automatically) exists today and can be implemented quickly. The results? All that expensive traffic you are driving to your website becomes visible and convertible.


Digital Dealer