Digital Automotive Shopper Journey

As we move into the middle of 2019, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate the evolution of the automotive shopper journey. Just a decade ago, the entire automotive shopping experience was purely offline. The few digital touch points usually revolved around reading articles or going to an OEM website. In 2019, based on a recent comprehensive survey of in-market auto shoppers, over 80% of all customer touch points are now digital. In fact, even when you think you have the consumer at your dealership and ready to purchase, almost half of consumers do a final price & deal comparison from their mobile device (while already on your lot!)

The Journey

Let’s take another step back and see how this consumer journey typically transpires in 2019. A consumer finally decides that they need to replace their car. This is usually triggered by a life event (new job, current car breaks down, promotion at work, etc..). Regardless of how it happens, data shows that the next step is almost always digital: the consumer logs on to their computer, most likely pulls up Google.com, and begins their initial research.

As the consumer continues their research, they exhibit the below behavior (not always, but most typically in this order):

  • Searched on Google
  • Inquired with family, friends, colleagues
  • Visited OEM website
  • Visited a brand’s social page
  • Looked at photo’s online
  • Influenced by a consideration online ad
  • Browsed newspaper ads
  • Watched video on YouTube
  • Watched video ad
  • Searched on a mobile device
  • Used an online loan calculator
  • Built-and-priced a vehicle on an OEM site
  • Saw a TV ad
  • Searched for a local dealership
  • Browser the inventory on a dealership website
  • Read professional reviews online
  • Located a dealer from a mobile device
  • Visited a dealer website checking for specials/pricing
  • Clicked a display/remarketing ad
  • Requested a quote online
  • Researched model comparisons
  • Visited a car magazine website
  • Read consumer reviews
  • Filled out a contact form on a dealership website
  • Visited a dealership
  • Used a mobile device while at the dealership
  • Test drove and/or purchased a vehicle

When looking at this list, you can see how many of the consumer touch points happen in the digital space. In fact, I’ve specifically bolded the 5 steps (out of 27) that did not happen online. Understanding the NEW customer journey is a very important piece to helping a dealership establish their marketing strategy and to be able to influence consumer decisions and capture purchases in the most effective way.

Consumer Moments

Now that we understand the consumer Journey, let’s talk about the specific moments in the journey and the best ways to influence them. We can break down the moments into 5 distinct categories and a well run marketing campaign will target these moments completely separate as each demands it’s own unique messaging, call to action and landing page.

Awareness: Which-Car-Is-Best Moments
This is the first moment in the consumer journey. Although it’s very important to establish awareness, this is usually best left to marketing done at the OEM level where they run huge awareness campaigns to drive consumers from one brand to another.

Consideration: Is-It-Right-For-Me Moments

As we get further down the funnel, at this time the consumer is considering if a specific car is right for them. Although there is some merit advertising to these consumers, it’s also not as affective of a spend as the next 3 moments.

Can-I-Afford-It Moments

This is the first moment where it makes sense for a dealership to invest funds to target these consumers. At this level, the consumer has determined which brand they are interested in, has picked out a specific car that’s right for them, and is now looking to make pricing work for them. In this moment you want to focus on prices, lease deals, financing prices, etc..

Am-I-Getting-A-Deal Moments

Similar to the previous step, here the consumer is looking for a deal. However, the difference is that they have established that they can afford it and are now just looking for a good price or deal to pull the trigger. At this point, you want to emphasize specific seasonal sales and limited time offers.

Where-Should-I-Buy Moments

This one I would consider the most important moment in the automotive shopper journey. At this point, they know they need a car, they know which car is perfect for them, they know they can afford them, and they have decided to pull the trigger. At this point, you want to make sure that your dealership is top of mine, top of search, etc.. so you can capture this final step of the process. At this level, terms like “dealership near me” become very important at grabbing the consumer in their final decision-making process.

This one I would consider the most important moment in the automotive shopper journey. At this point, they know they need a car, they know which car is perfect for them, they know they can afford them, and they have decided to pull the trigger. At this point, you want to make sure that your dealership is top of mine, top of search, etc.. so you can capture this final step of the process. At this level, terms like “dealership near me” become very important at grabbing the consumer in their final decision-making process.

Of course, even with perfect marketing, a bad dealership experience or other external hiccups can ruin the process. However, with operational issues aside, a marketing strategy that perfectly aligns with the consumer journey will always generate the best results from your marketing spend and will generate the best ROI.

As we move into the 2nd half of 2019 and into 2020, it’s important to stay cognizant of the consumer journey. As it becomes more and more reliant on digital, it’s more important than ever to target your consumer in the digital space and target them differently in every part of their journey.

Original Source:

The Digital Automotive Shopper Journey for 2019 and Beyond