Leads dropping by 30% from last year?

It is no surprise to anyone that a statement like “the world has changed in the past year” has affected everyone in the automotive space in a big way. Belts are tighter, economists are wringing their hands, and car leads are seemingly drying up. It is also no small wonder that lead sources that dealers have depended on so heavily in the past years such as Cars.com, Autotrader.com, and AutoByTel are raising their prices and providing fewer and often un-qualified leads. This is a big problem.

Overcoming this situation forces us to be smarter at the way we approach the acquisition of leads. Customers are smarter and dealers must adopt a holistic approach to online marketing. Overall automotive industry leads are down nearly 30% but that doesn’t mean the customers aren’t still out there. One of the best things that members of the automotive industry are good at is networking and keeping relationships. Unfortunately, that hasn’t made its way into the online space. If by treating a dealership website just like a brick and mortar dealership, horizons can be expanded to reach customers where they are by means of networking, social interaction, constant contact, and friendly support.

Okay, so this may be an idealistic situation and it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. The world is changing though and the way that people communicate is changing also. Here are a few examples:

  • The average teenager sends over 1000 text messages per month.
  • The average age of a facebook user is 35 years old.
  • The normal internet user would rather be emailed then pick up a phone.

To put this in dealership terms when we take a look at our processes, both fixed and variable, we have to be able to use all of the tools that are available to reach out to where customers live. That may be by text message, facebook or twitter, email, missed opportunities in old customers, accessories, or simply by an interesting and regular communication with information that can’t be ignored.

So overcoming a 30% downturn in leads is actually possible. It just takes a bit of a process change. This may be painful, but no guts – no glory, right?