From Clicks to Sales: How Auto Leads Move Through the Digital Car Sales Funnel

From Clicks to Sales: How Auto Leads Move Through the Digital Car Sales Funnel

Having a well-tended digital car sales funnel is increasingly what separates the powerhouse dealerships that are dominating their regions from the dealerships that are just getting by.

Still, plenty of marketing managers are struggling to make their teams see the real-world value of strong online auto marketing.

Don’t just describe it to them. To get your whole team on the same page, show them how clicks become sales.

See How Auto Marketing Puts Bodies on the Lot

It’s vital to map out your online car sales funnel so that everyone on your staff can talk strategy together.

Take this infographic for example:

Automotive Road to Purchase

This shows the most common path to purchasing a vehicle. Of the 23 most common marketing touchpoints on this path, 20 are digital.

That means that almost 90% of the auto buyer’s journey is taking place on smartphones, tablets, and computers!

If you’ve got a GM who’s still focused on television or print buys, sit them down with this graphic, and get them up to date.

Learn the 4 Main Phases of Online Car Sales

Now, let’s break down the roadmap a little further.

Keep in mind that each lead may go through these touchpoints a little differently, swapping the order or skipping some interactions altogether.

That said, here’s our best analysis of how the path to purchase can be split into four basic phases. I’ll use italics to highlight the offline steps.

1. Market Consideration

In this first stage, the shopper is just starting down the path. They’ve become aware of the problem(s) that they will eventually solve by purchasing a vehicle.

The shopper hasn’t yet decided what to buy or where to go. They’re just starting to gather information about all the possibilities.

The market consideration phase includes:

  • Using a search engine like Google
  • Browsing a third-party site
  • Seeing an online ad
  • Asking family, friends, and coworkers for insight
  • Viewing test-drive videos
  • Reading consumer reviews online
  • Searching an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) website

Notice that the digital touchpoints above are based on just seeing online ads and pages. So even if shoppers aren’t clicking, the exposure to that information is still pushing them along the digital car sales funnel.

2. Model Consideration

In this second phase, the shopper has decided what’s most important to them in a vehicle, and they’re now searching with a narrower set of criteria.

Here’s where the meat of the research happens.

At this stage, the shopper is more likely to interact with online tools. That means you have a chance to get their email and become the expert who aids their search.

The model consideration phase includes:

  • Searching vehicle models online
  • Seeing a TV ad
  • Researching vehicle models
  • Clicking a Google Ad
  • Viewing photos on dealership websites
  • Reading dealership reviews
  • Clicking a retargeting ad

3. Dealership Consideration

In the third stage, the shopper has an even better idea of what they are after. They know their price, their brand, and maybe even their trim level.

Now they need to be convinced that you’re the store to sell to them. Demonstrate that your dealership is trustworthy and places the needs of your customers first.

The dealership consideration phase includes:

  • Revisiting a dealership’s website
  • Asking for an online quote
  • Applying for financing
  • Messaging or texting the sales team

Note that this entire phase is happening online. Your leads are forming impressions of your store based on auto marketing — before any salesperson has a chance to engage them in person.

4. Deal Consideration

At this fourth and final stage, if a shopper has reached out to you, they’re ready for the full-court press.

To be competitive in this phase, you can’t just convert leads into sales. You need to move a potential buyer through the six steps of digital sales conversion.

The deal consideration phase includes:

  • Visiting a dealership
  • Test-driving a vehicle
  • Completing the purchase at the dealership
  • Sharing photos on social media
  • Leaving reviews on Google and Facebook

Get the Most Out of Your Digital Car Sales Funnel

Constantly reviewing your analytics for leaks in the funnel, researching new marketing tactics, and plotting comprehensive strategies are the only ways to manage your online car sales funnel.

We help dealerships find leaks in their funnels and work to improve and synthesize your marketing for more efficient processes. Sign up to get started with a free marketing assessment of your dealership.

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