Would you like to be getting more leads from your website? Well, duh! Of course you would.
But what are you doing to actually drive leads?
How many places on your site does a visitor get the option of providing their contact information?
The Fundamental Problem
Getting a visitor to fill out a lead form is getting progressively more difficult. Today, 96%-98% of website visitors leave without filling a form. Why?
Buying a boat or an RV is a big deal. It is complicated and costly. Dealers are, or should be, experts on the vehicles, the financing, on all of the nuances of the transaction. Wouldn’t the shopper be better off and better served by using this expertise in making their purchase decision? What has caused consumers to stop filling out lead forms and become stealth shoppers?
There are three dominant factors driving the majority of buyers to become stealth shoppers who refuse to complete a standard lead form.
1) Engaging With Dealers Is Seen As Predominantly Negative
Both anecdotal and statistical evidence abounds demonstrating that consumers would prefer never to engage with a dealer. The nagging perception of having to deal with a “slick salesman” is still prevalent among many consumers.
The different attitudes presented by millennial buyers have been repeatedly, even exhaustively documented. This rapidly increasing segment of consumers who now represent over 25% of all new buyers, expect to be treated differently and share a distaste for engaging with dealers.
Millennials would, by a wide margin, prefer to go to the dentist than negotiate with a salesman.
Moreover, millennials have grown up with access to vast amounts of available and anonymous information. They rarely are required to communicate personally in order to gather the insight they require during the research or purchase phase of a new product. One study shows that millennials would prefer to complete the entire purchase online, forgoing the need to ever visit a dealership.
2) Pervasive E-Commerce Has Changed Consumer’s Beliefs Around Online Shopping
The post-Amazon emergence of consumer e-commerce has changed the attitudes of young and old alike as to what the online shopping experience should be. The following highlights the consumer’s current expectations:
Convenience – Anytime, anywhere availability
Speed – Complete answers right now
Visibility – The ability to get information on all competitive products
Transparency – Accuracy, honesty and full-disclosure online
Anonymity – Privacy with no disclosure of personal information until the consumer is ready
When these expectations are combined with millennial desires and general prevailing attitudes about engaging with dealers, it is easy to understand why stealth shopping is the new norm. The magnitude of this attitudinal and behavioral shift in such a relatively short period of time presents a great challenge for dealers.
3) Information Is Readily Available Online
Just a few years ago, consumers had little choice but to visit or at least call dealers. Dealers, after all, had not only the inventory, but also all the information.
As the “internet age” emerged, with the promise of new leads, greater speed and availability, and more access to a larger pool of consumers, some of the power began to shift to the consumer. Dealers still maintained a level of dominance through their ability to exert control over information; requiring the consumer’s name, phone number and email address in exchange for vehicle details, pricing and availability.
Today, the majority of consumers that walk into the dealership having completed all of their research, price gathering and comparison online, without any opportunity for the dealer to engage or influence. Due to their e-commerce mentality, the consumer has independently drawn their conclusions and established their boundaries; the dealer just has to “deal with it” when they show up. This often yields unsatisfactory results for both sides, resulting in reduced margins, lower customer satisfaction scores, frustrated sales people and general discontent.
What Can Be Done?
Consumers don’t feel like they need to “buy” information with their name, email address and phone number. So, they don’t give up these personal details for information they can get for “free”. They will give it up to gain knowledge that is unique and is not otherwise available.
A Credit Application is NOT a lead form. It goes way beyond just name, email and phone number and gets the Social Security Number, Date Of Birth, income and much, much more. Consumers won’t fill out a credit application 99.9% of the time. They may already know what their credit is – so there is no need – and there is no promise from the dealer associated with filling out the form. If your primary lead capture form is a Credit Application, you are grossly inhibiting your dealerships ability to capitalize on the website traffic.
Allowing people to get pre-approved with just their name and address is of value. This relies on the now available soft-pull technology. There is real value to a customer and to the store to understand how much vehicle they can buy quickly, easily and with minimal personal intrusion. Step one in increasing web leads is to replace your Credit Application with a soft-pull solution. Your finance leads will more than double.
Beyond this, make sure that there are multiple obvious places for consumers to enter just their name, email and phone and give them a valid reason for doing it. Perhaps you can offer a gift card, or a free maintenance feature or a life jacket or anything else that places value on this information.
Do you have research documents that help a consumer select between multiple products – maybe with tables that they can fill in? Offer these online for just a name and email address.
Hold some exclusive, invitation only events at your store and start advertising on your site at least three months ahead of time. Invitations cost a name, phone number and email address.
There must be a small lead form on every vehicle detail page, with a “Get More Information” tag associated. You will capture some leads this way…and without these forms you won’t.
Stealth shopping is the new norm. Capturing online leads is becoming progressively more difficult. It is not impossible however.
Make it easy for the people who will fill out forms to do so. Provide real value to induce visitors to give up their information. Replace your Credit Application with a Soft-Pull form.
Make it easy – make it valuable. Your sales team will thank you!