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Auto Dealers Build Trust by Personalizing Follow-Up Emails
REPOST from Writen By Justin Braun. Auto dealers know the follow-up process is one of the most critical elements of lead conversion. This is especially true for leads generated through automotive live chat. To be successful in this business and build trust with consumers, dealers must follow-up with leads quickly and be precise and specific in their communication. For leads generated from automotive live chat, the chat transcript holds vital information about the prospect’s desires and how far along he or she is in the conversion funnel.

But, how can auto dealers be specific, personal and build trust in a timely manner?

Understandably, auto dealers hate to email out a price without first talking to someone. Dealers should simply focus on continuing to build the relationship with the prospective customer that was initiated by the live chat conversation while providing information that move the customer forward in the sales process.

In this blog, we analyze a real-life situation in which a dealer failed to follow-up appropriately with a chat lead. Then, we discuss appropriate and effective ways to follow-up with chat leads (and all Internet leads) so that they convert into sales and move forward in the sales process.

Below is an example of a failed follow-up process, straight from the chatter’s mouth…er, their fingers.

“Hello. Not too sure if you can answer my question. But how long does it usually take to get the bottom line price on a car? I originally inquired on 1.26.12 and then again yesterday. I have received the same auto reply/generic email thanking me for my interest.

Its okay. I just wanted to know if the manager would take the time to reply or if I should just forget about it and move on.”

Nothing is worse than spamming your leads with robotic, impersonal auto-replies. Something we stress to our auto dealer clients is to always be personal in your follow-up responses. As you can see from the last sentence of the chat, this ready-to-buy prospective customer has lost all trust is on the verge of giving up on the dealership.

So dealers, how would you salvage this situation and prevent it from happening in the future? Here are a few tips:

Send a personal email

A personal touch is all your prospects are looking for. It doesn’t have to be long – both you and the customer live busy lives – 3 to 5 sentences addressing the situation will salvage the sales process. Using the phrase, “My online sales assistant let me know you were interested in ______,” can be very effective. Fill in the blank and take it from there. Also, don’t forget to include a call to action. Never end an email with a statement! Conclude your email with a question to prompt a response.

Follow-up with relevant and specific information

Confirm special features/options on the vehicle ( something as simple as leather seats or advanced options like Bluetooth)
Confirm availability (and interior color and condition if it is pre/owned)
Send a pic of the actual vehicle and offer to send more
Give a bullet point of what the next steps are in the buying process
Explain advantage of buying from you
Remind the prospect of what is needed for the test drive( license, and whatever else they may want)
Provide info on what services or reconditioning on the pre-owned vehicle has been done

Read what is given to you

Read the chat transcript, form lead or any other consumer insights you have. Know what the customer wants and give it to them. It’s that easy! Remember that the chat conversation has already developed a relationship between your dealership and the prospective customer. An impersonal auto-response removes the customer entirely from the sales process and ruins your rapport.

By acting as an advocate in the follow-up process, auto dealers can provide consumers with information and then ask questions to assist them in moving forward through the sales process. Keep in mind that consumers don’t buy a car every day, week, month or year. Every “inside” tip you give prospects builds upon the trust already established by the live chat conversation.

Remember, the leads received through automotive live chat are a product of a two-way conversation. A template email saying thanks for your interest just stalls customers and erodes any trust built during a live chat conversation.

Remember, the leads received through automotive live chat are a product of a two-way conversation.

In addition to these tips, ActivEngage CEO Todd Smith offers additional advice that will not only help ensure auto dealers successfully transform chat conversations into leads, but will help them stand out in the marketplace during the critical follow-up process.

Read more…

Hey dealers, is your website equipped to out-perform competition this holiday season?  Your 2011 holiday planning should already be well underway but there a few last-minute tips to get you in the spirit of closing sales from web leads.

Cyber Monday is a marketing term created by companies to persuade people to shop online on the Monday immediately following Black Friday.   Between November 28 and December 31, a record number of consumers researching their next vehicle purchase will be visiting your dealership website.

Forrester Research predicted in its U.S. Online Retail Forecast, 2009 to 2014 report that the web would influence 48% of 2011 in-store sales, predictions which are set to come true.  The average holiday shopper plans to do 36% of their shopping online – whether they’re comparing prices, researching products, or making a purchase (or an appointment to make a purchase). Data from Experian Hitwise indicates that website traffic increases in a troubled economy because buyers research purchases more carefully online to stretch shopping budgets.

Is your digital showroom (dealership website) ready for this spike in traffic?

To capture these leads, streamline your sales process and put your holiday marketing into high gear, try these tips:

1)  Review online sales and customer-support options for better, more personalized service.

Integrating a live-chat option into your online sales strategy will help both you and prospective customers.  Live-chat allows consumers to receive the full automotive shopping experience without having to leave the comforts of home.  With the majority of consumers doing extensive research online prior to visiting a dealership, live-chat gives dealers the opportunity to engage website visitors in a personal sales process, answering questions, providing information and obtaining contact information.  Live chat will save you time and money by transforming your already present website visitors into ready-to-buy leads and appointments.

2)  Review last year’s SEO strategy

Which keywords sent the most and highest converting traffic to your website?  This holiday season, create content and paid search campaigns with a high density of these best performing keywords.  Drop the season’s worst performing keywords and determine which holiday-relevant keywords should be added.  Doing so will maximize the findability of your dealership and inventory online.

3)  Create a Mobile Site

Many holiday shoppers will be researching online and on their smartphones both before and during their trips to your dealership.  Dealers would be wise to integrate the showroom experience with relevant, timely and personalized website and mobile app info.  This can be done using QR codes that link to relevant videos, vehicle specs and inventory comparisons.  Google is forecasting that 15 percent of total online search this holiday season will come from mobile.  Dealers interested in quickly and cost-effectively building a mobile site should try out Google’s new GoMo initiative.

4)  Ask for an email address wherever you can, both online and in-store.

Design an email strategy that includes holiday purchasing incentives and promotions.  ”Email is still the king of Web marketing,” says Allison Howen, Associate Editor of Website Magazine.  ”There are about three times as many email accounts as there are Facebook and Twitters users combined, according to a recent study from Smarter Tools.

5)  Act fast to plug your leaky conversion funnel with split testing.

Use your web analytics to determine the pages on your website critical to conversion that have the poorest engagement.  Use Google’s simple A/B Split testing solution to see how subtle changes to buttons and forms can make a big impact on your conversion rate.  There’s no better time to start testing than now and there’s no more critical time to achieve your highest conversion than the holiday season.

6) Add social sharing to product pages to turn customers into sales channels.

Ask showroom visitors and customers alike to rate your dealership on your Facebook page (as well as other rating sites).  Encourage consumers on the lot to check-in via Social and incentivize the sharing of photos and testimonials of their in-store experience.  Keep your social profiles updated with holiday specials along with pictures and videos of inventory.  Also, resolve customer service issues on Facebook or Twitter to publicly display your customer service chops.

Remember dealers, these strategies are not just for the holidays.  Don’t stop just because it’s December 25.  Take advantage of the last six days of the year by ramping up the promotion of year-end sales on your website and social media.  Don’t forget to record your holiday season metrics too.  They will come in handy next year.

When did you start your holiday season digital marketing strategy?  Do you plan on implementing any of the mentioned strategies?  What can you share with the online community that will help dealers be better prepared for next year?

Read more…