|As more and more dealers advertise their inventory online, they need the capacity to deal with shoppers who e-mail them with questions about their cars. Research tells us that most customers who are truly interested in purchasing your vehicle will pick up the phone and call you. However, you don’t want to miss the people who e-mail you since they are also viable customers. Dealers often ignore e-mails, take too long to do so or get into lengthy e-mail exchanges with potential customers without prompting them to call or, more importantly, make an appointment at the dealership. We’ve worked with dealers who successfully use the Internet to move cars off their lots, and we’ve uncovered what we call e-mail “Best Practices”—proven tactics to communicate effectively electronically.|
The first essential component to handling e-mail is response time. Today, customers expect to hear from you the same day they send you an inquiry. If you sit on e-mails, you’ll lose customers; it’s that simple. We suggest using an auto responder as the first point of contact. The major criticism about auto responders is that they are too impersonal, but what is more impersonal, an automatically generated response or no response? You can make your message personal. The key is to convey that you are the biggest, best and busiest Internet department in the market and if customers call now, you can get them in the car they want today. Make sure you include the name and phone number of the person you want the customer to contact.
Secondly, you want to give customers a clear picture of your dealership and stay with them until they buy. The top Internet dealers in the country never drop a prospect! You can do this by using an e-newsletter. Make sure you abide by current spam laws and include a place to opt out of receiving the communication. Use the newsletter to talk about you, your dealership and the cars on your lot. Tell the story effectively, use photos, and offer an incentive if they print it out and bring it in. This way, even if potential customers don’t come to the lot right away after they e-mail you, you keep yourself in front of them. Remember that these people are prospects until they are buyers.
Third, you always want to exceed expectations. If an e-mail prospect writes to ask you about a particular car, send them a photo (not as an attachment but in the e-mail) of that car. In fact, take a new picture of yourself with the car and say, “Here it is, waiting for you. For more information call me and come see it!” That exceeds the expectations of the person who wrote you about that car and motivates them to choose you in their shopping process.
The e-mail process is about taking control and getting customers to come to the lot to see what you have to offer them. It’s about taking them from e-mail to phone to showroom. Once you get them to your dealership, you know what to do from there.
Auto dealers are prime targets for automated click bots, a nefarious and increasingly prevalent form of fraud that could be forcing you to spend real money on fake leads.