Establishing the Real ROI of Dealer Chat


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How auto dealers can maximize the ROI from automotive live chat - a presentation given by John Hanger, CEO of Contact At Once! at the Ignite Dealer Summit, September 2011

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  • Whether you are already using chat or not, this session will have something valuable for you. n
  • Explain the study and the results – both 2008 and 2010. So what does this tell us? That people increasingly like text based communication!
  • And cell phone text messaging is not the only evidence of this – twitter, facebook, skype….all include text-based communications features that play a big part in the popularity of these services.
  • Of course the auto industry is selling to those same people that like text-based communication so, guess what…the use of chat has accelerated dramatically over the past few years. The third party automotive website providers were among the early adopters. By making chat available as part of their advertising packages, they were responsible for introducing chat to many dealers. There are over 9000 dealers receiving chats from these websites every day. ……Given the earlier stats proving that people like text-based communication one can understand the logic of companies like CarSoup,, and that have embraced chat, but what has their ROI been?
  • The answer for is about a 20% increase in shopper interaction. Wow! spends big $ on TV ads, MLB sponsorships, NBA sponsorships, etc. all to get car shoppers onto their website. If 20% more of those people contact dealers, that means a few things. First, it means their dealers are happy! Second, it means they get a higher return on all those advertising dollars they are spending. Both are big wins. And the third party site that most recently announced a chat feature,, stated in their press release that they measured a 40% increase in the number of leads their site generated once chat was added. That’s powerful ROI for the third party website providers.
  • conducted a study to better understand the quality of chat leads generated via chat from their site. Check this out…67% were ready to purchase within the next month. So not only does chat increase the quantity of leads a website converts, but also the quality.
  • Here’s something else you may find interesting…my company facilitates millions of consumer-to-dealer chats each year and we’ve plotted the time-of-day and day-of-week data. Chats can happen anytime, but note that mid-day Tuesdays and Wednesdays are when you can expect to get the most chats. It is no coincidence that these are working hours…people shop for their next car while at work and it just isn’t cool to be calling a dealership, or having the dealership call them. It is, however, discreet and convenient to chat with the dealership in order to ask a few questions and schedule an appointment.
  • As mentioned earlier, over 9000 dealers are currently using chat driven largely by 3rd party website rollouts. But what about chat on dealer websites – the proverbial “first party chat leads”?
  • According to independent research site, only 17% of dealer websites have chat on them! That number is increasing, but we are still early in the adoption cycle. That spells competitive advantage for those dealers that already have chat on their websites, and opportunity for those that add it.
  • The leading chat vendors as measured by market share are shown here. Most of these vendors provide some type or ROI calculator that you can use to quickly and easily get some idea of what chat might do if added to your dealership’s website.
  • Here is a brief movie showing my company’s ROI calculator in action. You simply plug in some basic information such as your number of unique website visitors and typical close rates and, wala, you get an answer. Our calculator provides a range, based on the results we’ve observed across the thousands of dealers already using our solution.
  • Here is a summary of the results when using the same set of assumptions with the ROI calculators from other chat vendors. If you are not yet using chat on your dealership’s website, I encourage you to try one or more of these calculators.
  • Calculators are good, but of course there’s nothing better than learning from other dealers. Here are some interesting real-world results.
  • Now, for those of you that are already using chat on your dealership’s’ website… How can you go beyond first base to maximize your chat ROI? The answer is to ensure you have chat at every possible touch point in the online sales process. Let’s take a look…
  • Last but not least, let’s take a look at dealer website platforms. As more and more dealers as chat to their websites, chat will become a more tightly integrated feature. The typical chat implementation today is what I call superficial…add a chat button or graphic to certain pages of the website and that’s it. But there are more desirable approaches from a dealers POV. The most desirable is where the website platform and chat software are tightly integrated AND the chat software is fully compatible with, and the other third party websites. In that scenario, a dealer only needs to learn one chat product and can truly maximize the ROI of chat. I recommend that you have a conversation with your website provider about their chat strategy, to see which quadrant they are in now and how quickly they plan to get you into the upper right quadrant.
  • To begin wrapping things up, let’s summarize what we’ve covered. Dealer chat is a major trend, with dealer adoption driven by three different forces…consumer preference, the inclusion of chat in advertising packages from 3rd parties, and the integration of chat by dealer website platforms.
  • Establishing the Real ROI of Dealer Chat

    1. 1. 1<br />Establishing The Real ROI of Online Chat<br />John Hanger<br />President & CEO, Contact At Once! LLC<br />© 2011 Contact At Once! LLC, All Rights Reserved<br />1<br />
    2. 2. Pay Attention If:<br />You are not using chat (see what you’re missing)<br />You are using chat (maximize ROI)<br />Everyone else is excused ;-)<br />2<br />
    3. 3. Nielsenreports that beginning in 2008, text messaging surpassed phone usage as the primary method of communication<br />35% more<br />2010 Text Messaging<br />2010 Phone Calls<br />In 2010, text messaging exceeded phone calls by more than a third.<br />3<br />
    4. 4. People Like Text-based Communication<br />4<br />
    5. 5. Dealer Chat Milestones<br />5<br />
    6. 6. 6<br />“Tests… by showed that (dealers) experienced an average <br />lift in shopper interaction of about 20%”.- Press Release, 3/15/2011<br />“Faster than email and more convenient than a phone call, online chat enables consumers to get instant answers to their questions while enabling dealers to begin creating a relationship with shoppers before they show up on the lot.”<br />Chip Perry, President & CEO of<br />
    7. 7. 7<br />67% of Chat Users Plan <br />To Purchase<br />avehicle in the next 30 days<br />67% … Ready to purchase within the next month<br />25% … Ready to purchase <br />w/in the next 1-6 months<br />4% … Not currently in market to buy a vehicle<br />3% … Ready to purchase <br />w/in the next 7-12 months<br />1% … More than a year<br />Source: Dealer Chat Consumer Survey, 2009 <br />
    8. 8. Time of Day Chat “Heatmap”<br />8<br />Note that the peaks occur during the work day: Workers are shopping, but don’t want to announce that fact to their co-workers!<br />Relative distribution of chats over a 24x7 period<br />
    9. 9. 9,000+ Dealers Using Chat<br />Websites <br />with chat<br />16.8%<br />Websites <br />without <br />Chat<br />83.2%<br />9<br />
    10. 10. 10<br />
    11. 11. 11<br />
    12. 12. 12<br />ROI Calculator<br />
    13. 13. 13<br />ROI Calculator Results<br />Contact At Once! » 18-93 Additional Units<br />Outsell » 21 Additional Units<br />Active Engage » 42 Additional Units<br />Car Chat 24 » 20 Additional Units<br />
    14. 14. The Real ROI<br />of online chat<br />Rob Fontano<br />Marazzi Dealerships<br />"Out of the 125-130 cars a month our BDC is responsible for selling, a good 20 of them are the result of a chat."<br />Jeff Kershner<br />Frederick Nissan &<br />"Whenever you can engage in chat, you're differentiating yourself from the competition. We fluctuate between a 20-25% closing ratiowith our chat leads."<br />14<br />
    15. 15. The Real ROI<br />of online chat<br />Wayne Ussery<br />Jim Ellis Dealerships<br />"Group-wide, out of the 4800+ cars our internet department sold last year, 10-12% came as a direct result of chat."<br />David Parrot<br />Global Imports BMW<br />"We sell between 10-20 vehicles each month to customers that first contact us via chat."<br />15<br />
    16. 16. Online Touch Points<br />Chat allows you to connect with customers – no matter where they land.<br />16<br />
    17. 17. Regardless of where you place chat <br />the RESULT is a:<br />TYPICAL<br />LEAD LIFT<br />17<br />
    18. 18. Dealer Website Platforms<br />18<br />
    19. 19. What Is Driving Dealer Chat Adoption?<br />19<br />
    20. 20. Your Takeaways<br />Chat will help you to sell more vehicles<br />Many dealers use chat; few maximize ROI<br />Max ROI = Chat at every touch point<br />20<br />
    21. 21. Your To-Do List<br />Start Chatting<br />Understand Your Website Provider’s Chat Strategy <br />Maximize Your ROI By Adding Chat to All Possible Touch Points<br />21<br />
    22. 22. 22<br />Questions?<br /><br /><br />Slides available<br />