Finding new ways to attract customers and gain a leg up on the competition is always important for car dealers. Edmunds.com’s Chief Economist Lacey Plache, PhD, has recently completed extensive research on how, for many dealers, a sales boost and significant return on investment can come from creating or enhancing their relationships with third-party websites. Her guest post follows:
Third-party websites offer at least four key ways for dealers to grow their sales:
- Customer Acquisition opportunities
- Retention opportunities
- Personalization opportunities
- Communication opportunities
Customer Acquisition Opportunities
Popular third-party websites deliver promising customer acquisition opportunities for dealers looking to grow their businesses. Studies show that third-party sites attract a larger and largely different audience than dealer sites. What’s more, that audience is a desirable one for dealers:
- According to Compete data, third-party sites tend to attract above-average income earners and over-index on Millennials.
- Third-party sites draw engaged, in-market shoppers whose online behavior indicates that they are actively preparing for purchase.
- Third-party sites appeal to shoppers of both new and used vehicles.
Beyond acquisition opportunities, third-party sites also offer the unexpected benefit of helping dealers retain their own customers. Edmunds research has found that visitors who visit a dealer site before coming to Edmunds are significantly more likely to request a price quote. And, a joint study conducted by Edmunds and CDK Global shows that car shoppers who combine dealer website research with Edmunds research are four times more likely to purchase a car.
Why is this true? Edmunds’ analysis shows that the explanation lies in how visitors use the two different sites—that is, how they use them differently. Dealer site visitors tend to limit their site activity to viewing inventory and looking for dealer specials, while visitors use Edmunds for a much wider range of pre-buying activities, including researching vehicles, using tools such as vehicle appraisers and payment calculators, and reading articles on car-buying as well as viewing inventory. Supplementing and validating dealer site info with Edmunds info is what pushes dual site visitors to pull the buying trigger.
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