Cobalt The Guide To The Modern Car Shopper- ebook Dec 4, 2012

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Get Real Car-Shopper Insights like: …

Get Real Car-Shopper Insights like:

The average number of dealerships car-shoppers visit
What percent of car-shoppers visit OEM websites
The average length of today’s car-shopping journey
And yes, what made them decide to buy

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  • 1. A Guide to the Modern Car-Shopper Journey Connecting the Dots from their Screens to your Lots
  • 2. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey Contents 04 07 The Four Stages of Car-Shopping 13 Explore Real Car-Shopper Journeys 24 The Big Ideas Behind the Modern Consumer Journey 29 02 The Consumer Journey: Adding it all up In Conclusion
  • 3. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey Science Sells Cars The data we’re sharing represents real shopping behavior as analyzed by Cobalt data scientists. Cobalt employs over 80 car-buying behavior analysts 03
  • 4. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey The Consumer Journey: Adding it all up Until now, we’ve measured the car-shopper journey in terms of website metrics: visitors and visits, leads, and phone calls. But these standalone metrics represent mere snapshots in time. It’s time to start viewing this journey in a more complete way, by stitching together those snapshots to produce a true continuous experience, a “movie” of the new consumer journey. This ebook will investigate real car-shopper journeys. Throughout this book, we’ll show you a handful of these shoppers—modern families, Gen Y’ers, and even truck drivers—unique behavioral segments you’ll ultimately want to advertise to in a targeted way. 04
  • 5. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey So, how do we have all of this insight into the consumer’s car buying digital journey? There isn’t another company on the planet that has as much online car shopping data as we do. COBALT DATA: A PEEK BEHIND THE CURTAIN 1.3 Every day our network sees Each week, we track 5 million leads. million visits to our website properties. 1 Every month, over billion online ads are served to local shoppers and tracked in our advertising systems. All resulting in 1/2 billion inventory searches per year. Want More? See Real-Time Car Shopper Search Activity in Action 05
  • 6. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey So, what does this all mean? All of this tells us a lot about shopper behavior. It tells us how they engage with online information. It tells us what they respond to, or don’t. We know what vehicles they are interested in, and what actions they take as they get closer to buying. And most importantly for dealers, we now know unequivocally how to deliver shoppers from their screen to your lots. This information also allows Cobalt to paint an amazing picture of the journey that each individual shopper takes. Here’s a high-level view, and then we’ll break down three individual journeys. This data is the petri dish from which these three modern consumer personas were extracted. We saw numerous patterns across all buyers, and these three composite personas represent of the more common patterns we observed. 06 Disclaimer: The Cobalt Business Intelligence team collects activities, not identities. No personally identifiable information is collected in our business intelligence.
  • 7. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey The Four Stages of Car-Shopping During the average car-shopping journey, most consumers spend 19 hours shopping (60% of it online1). While every shopper’s journey is unique, they experience four phases… 18.2 sources2 of information influence the decisions shoppers make along the way. Google / Shopper Sciences, June, 2011 1 07 RL Polk / AutoTrader Auto Buying Study, 2011 2 Google / Shopper Sciences, June, 2011
  • 8. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey 1. Inspiration: This is what makes someone aware of your brand and ultimately inspires them to consider it. They’re not in-market yet; but they are being influenced by advertising and social media as they go about their daily lives. Maybe it was their friend who drove them to the mountain to go skiing in their brand new 4 wheel drive. Maybe it was an ad during the holidays Maybe it was a Super Bowl TV commercial New car buyers typically start the shopping process with 2-4 models3 in mind. Over 60% start with a focus on one model but may expand their consideration set as they discover alternatives.4 They are likely inspired to consider these brands because of national advertising and social influences. 3 4 08 2010 CapGemini / Cars.com study Google / Shopper Sciences, June, 2011
  • 9. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey 2. Discovery: This is where shoppers begin to research brands in their initial consideration set. They are pulling for information in this phase. Our Cobalt Business Intelligence reveals 75% of car-shoppers visit manufacturer websites, and most of those shoppers visit the OEM website and the dealer website in the same thirty minutes.5 They also visit 3rd party websites for model reviews and comparison shopping, as well as multiple dealer websites to explore inventory and pricing (61% search inventory on dealer websites6). Shoppers are more aware of their options than ever before, and they’re likely to ADD more brands to their consideration set before whittling it back down. 75 % of car-shoppers visit manufacturer websites, and most of those shoppers visit the OEM website and the dealer website in the same thirty minutes.5 Cobalt Business Intelligence 5 09 Cobalt Business Intelligence 6 Google / Shopper Sciences, June, 2011
  • 10. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey Discovery Cont’d: According to Google research, 50% of shoppers select a dealer during this phase of the journey. They’re most likely to engage with the dealer who makes frequent impressions through online advertising and positive consumer reviews. Did you know that 7 of the top 8 influences in the Discovery phase occur online?7 1 2 Searched online, used search engine Searched the inventory of a dealership 71% 61% 3 Sought information from an automobile brand/manufacturer website 59% 4 Comparison shopped automobiles online 59% 5 Sought information from a dealership website 56% 6 Talked with friends / family about automobiles 56% 7 8 Requested a quote on an automobile Searched online for a dealership 53% 49% These digital influences have more impact than TV, newspapers and radio. When it comes to influencing the purchase decision, online influences are second only to the experience consumers have in the dealership8. 7 10 Google / Shopper Sciences, June, 2011 8 Google / Shopper Sciences, June, 2011
  • 11. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey 3. Engagement: This is when a shopper is done researching and initiates contact. Congratulations, you are officially in their consideration set. The consumer makes contact with you, virtually, by phone, email, and/or by visiting your dealership. Remember that shoppers are getting more and more selfsufficient due to new technology and platforms (smart phones, tablets, social media). Most never call or email you; 69% first contact you when they walk on your lot.9 If they have a positive experience, they purchase a vehicle. 69 % of shoppers first contact you when they walk on your lot.9 9 AutoTrader Auto Buying Study, 2011 11 RL Polk / AutoTrader Auto Buying Study, 2011
  • 12. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey 4. Ownership: They accessorize their new vehicles and return for maintenance. Their ownership experience influences someone else’s “discovery”; as owners, they write reviews and influence their social circles. 12 Without further ado, let’s take a look at our first journey:
  • 13. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey Explore Real Car-Shopper Journeys Remarketed customers are 3x & 4x more likely to click on your ad more likely to convert than new customers 13
  • 14. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey Shopper #1 Miss Pop Culture is an Internet savvy shopper. She embarked on a 36 day shopping journey, about half the average length. She cared deeply about color, features, trim and style of the cars. She looked at: 5 different models. 8 different dealers—NOT of the same make, but of competing brands. Over her journey, she looked at a whopping 127 different VINS. At the end of her journey she bought a car. 14 MISS POP CULTURE Like a large majority of shoppers, Miss Pop Culture never filled out a lead form on a dealer website. For more information about this journey, visit: www.cobalt.com/consumerjourney
  • 15. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey She looked at these different models. The model she bought was model E. She spent 40 minutes on this single VIN. You can tell based on these patterns where she was leaning. A digitally savvy dealer will show her targeted ads based on the models she’s looking at. JAN FEB 40 Minutes on this Day 36 DAYS Model A Model B Model C Model D Model E Each color represents a different car model searched over the span of 36 days. The size of the bubble represents the amount of time Miss Pop Culture spent researching that particular VIN. Why didn’t she buy the light blue model—maybe it wasn’t the right segment of vehicle (ie SUV vs sedan). Maybe it was the way the dealer was or was not advertising to her. We can show that the dealer with model E on the lot was keeping ads in front of Ms. Pop Culture with the right message. 15
  • 16. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey Key Insight #1: Get Vain about VINs. Make connections between your dealership and the shopper. Job 1 is making your inventory content compelling and engaging. VIN views, time-on-VIN and Hours & Directions page views are your best predictors of future sales, more so than total visitor traffic or other traditional web measures. Best Practices: Drive emotional attachment! Add as much detail to your inventory pages as you can to create a rich experience and drive deep engagement. 16 Let’s take a look at our second journey:
  • 17. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey Shopper #2 Mr. Big Wheels is a brand buyer. He shopped for 45 days Looked at 2 models, both of the same brand. He consistently went back and forth between the brand website and multiple dealer websites. At the end of his journey he bought a car. MR BIG WHEELS In one day Mr. Big Wheels shopped 20 different dealers. Although he was clearly loyal to the brand, he shopped around. 17 For more information about this journey, visit: www.cobalt.com/consumerjourney
  • 18. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey Across the board, we found that 75% of shoppers who go to both a brand and dealer website do so within the same day— most do that within the same 30 minutes. 20 dealers shopped in ONE DAY. 45 DAYS Each color represents a different dealer’s website visited over the span of 45 days. 75 % of Shoppers who go to both a brand and dealer website do so within the same day—most do that within the same 30 minutes. 18
  • 19. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey Key Insight #2: You are One with the Manufacturer Still think shoppers are loyal to you? All of these shoppers shopped a minimum of 8 dealers, and Mr. Big Wheels shopped 20 in a single day. Online retail makes ruthless comparison shopping a way of life—it takes less than a minute to “drive” from dealership to dealership. Best Practices: Have a strong “Why My Dealership” message on your dealer website. Retargeting is key to keep your dealership top-of-mind. “ Online retail makes ruthless comparison shopping a way of life. ” 19
  • 20. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey Key Insight #3: Think About the Consumer Consumers experience the dealer website as an extension of the manufacturer website, offering complementary information they need to make a purchase decision. To maximize shopper confidence and purchase intent, consistency between manufacturer and dealer website is critical. Discordant style, models, or incentives will confuse shoppers and lower conversion. Still think ALL you need to do is align with your OEM? Not true. Mr. Big Wheels shopped a single brand and 20 dealership websites. As one of our more eloquent data scientists put it, “He knows what team he plays for, but he’ll go home with anyone.” Translation: Brand alignment just gets you in the consideration set, then it’s all about your competitive advantages. Best Practices: Balance OEM alignment with a strong “Why Me?” Message. 20 Let’s take a look at our final journey:
  • 21. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey Shopper #3 Throughout The Modern Family’s 90-day journey, we saw that they engaged with: 8 different dealership websites. Every single day throughout the 90 day journey they had interaction with a dealership—via website visits, inventory searches, digital ads, etc. They were exposed to digital ads 329 different times. At the end of their journey they bought a car. THE MODERN FAMILY The dealership that this shopper bought from was one who began interacting with the family from the beginning of their 90 day journey and kept the line tight. 21 For more information about this journey, visit: www.cobalt.com/consumerjourney
  • 22. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey You can see in the graph below that the dealer The Modern Family purchased from began building an online relationship early on in the journey with advertising and then kept the line tight through every phase of the purchase process with continuous online advertising. Exposed to 329 different dealer ads 90 DAYS Each color represents a different dealer’s online ad exposure over the span of 90 days. 22
  • 23. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey Key Insight #4: The Ever-Present Bird gets the Worm Still think you can swoop in at the low funnel and capture the sale? Our data shows that consumers buy from the dealer who messages them first and most frequently. Savvy dealers are building a relationship with the shopper long before they call or walk in your store. Best Practices: Start your digital marketing efforts early and be present throughout the entire journey. “ Consumers buy from the dealer who messages them first and most frequently. ” 23
  • 24. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey The Big Ideas Behind The Modern Consumer Journey While there is plenty of tactical strategy to be gleaned from these three individual personas, there are also some high-level insights we can conclude about how the overall nature of modern car-shopping has changed. 24 Here are just a few top-level takeaways:
  • 25. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey The Modern Car-Shopper Journey is a Road Trip, not a Commute As we’ve seen from these paths to purchase, to call the modern car-shopper journey non-linear would be an understatement. Rather, today’s car shopping journey is dynamic, digital, and consumer-driven. To put this in context, it’s helpful to contrast the difference between a commute and a road trip. Rather than a speedy journey from point A to point B, the modern car-buyer journey is self-paced, meandering, and riddled with sensory distractions. From inspiration to destination, online research is the steady fuel throughout the journey. 25
  • 26. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey Cont’d Modern car shoppers are digital tourists who, like most travelers, start out their “automotive research road trip” armed with a clear plan, which inevitably falls apart. The path becomes riddled with wrong turns, backtracking, scenic distractions, and breaks to stretch your legs. The digital journey is no different: Modern car-shoppers may make a reviews “pitstop”, then travel to the dealer website, then backtrack to reviews, and so on. As a dealer, your goal is to put enough signage on the highway to keep drawing shoppers down the path to purchase—your path. 26
  • 27. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey There is no Virtual There are no “virtual” shoppers. There are just shoppers. Our research shows that 64% of your website visitors are likely to purchase a vehicle within 60 days.9 Online and offline exist in one single experience, which is why we talk so much about connecting the dots from screens to lots. 64% DAYS 60 9 27 Cobalt Business Intelligence
  • 28. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey It’s an Online World While the in-store experience remains critical, the sheer volume of online car-shopping activity is staggering. We know from Google’s ZMOT playbook that seven of the eight automotive buying influences are online, and our shopper journeys underscore this in mind-blowing ways: MISS POP CULTURE alone completed THE MODERN FAMILY viewed MR BIG WHEELS shopped 329 20 249 Online activities. dealership ads and interacted Online everyday for 90 days. dealership websites in a single day. We know what you’re thinking: don’t these people have lives? The answer to that is debatable, but we can tell you these in-market shoppers are voracious for automotive shopping information, so it’s more important than ever to shine online. 28
  • 29. eBook: The Modern Car-Shopper Journey In Conclusion: Know what makes them TICK to know what makes them CLICK A true understanding of digital car-buying behavior is now available, you as dealers have a responsibility to immerse yourselves in understanding these journeys. Do you speak digital? Become fluent in online buying behavior for more car sales. 29