How to be a Consumer’s First and Only Choice

By: Steve Lausch, Director of Product Marketing, Dominion Dealer Solutions

Last year, my wife and I celebrated our fifth anniversary by cruising the southern Caribbean.

Being my first cruise, these were unchartered waters (pun intended), but I was determined to make this trip a special one for both of us. Two things about me: I’m a researcher by nature, and I hate buyer’s remorse – especially on big dollar purchases. So, I built my spreadsheet and began gathering every bit of information on all suitable options, with the goal of finding the best fitting and highest value, anniversary vacation.

Of course, when “shopping” for a cruise, one can’t truly go anywhere to investigate the product itself. You certainly can’t “try before you buy,” although I like the concept. Yet, in today’s world, cruisers have so much information available to them on the Internet that, to a large extent, they can show up at the pier with the kind of confidence that says, “We chose the perfect cruise line. This is the perfect cruise. And this is the perfect ship.”

How is this possible? It’s no longer by solely researching the product on the vendor’s website. Sure, that has all the great facts, figures, and details; but let’s face it: these specs are surrounded by marketing messages that promise heaven on earth. Come on, right? Give me something real to help me make the call.

That’s why the rest of a cruise line’s web presence is so critical. Customer ratings: whether on travel sites, channel partner sites or critics’ sites, give a clear view as to whether someone was bedazzled or left wanting. Consumer reviews: give visibility into the real experiences from real cruisers: the ship, the staff, the food, the activities, the excursions, the night life, and so on. And with Social Media, I don’t have to go much further than Facebook or Twitter to learn the good, bad, and ugly of cruising from not just my own friends and family, but also hundreds, if not thousands, who sailed that particular cruise line or even that particular cruise.

So, what does my experience cruising have to do with anything on an automotive retail blog? If you haven’t connected the dots, let me start with two compelling stats:

  • The average consumer visits 1.3 dealerships prior to making his or her purchase decision (JD Power Automotive Internet Roundtable Study)
  • 61% of consumers initially make contact with a dealer by visiting the dealership in person (DrivingSales)

Following my cruise research, I made a singular purchase decision, ultimately, because I had to do so. The data above indicates that most car shoppers are visiting a single store to make a singular purchase decision because they are equipped to do so.

Furthermore, while consumers visit your OEM and dealer websites to get the facts, figures, and details on the product, they want the real scoop on what it’s like buying at your store. And they will likewise gather so much information through ratings, reviews, and social media that they won’t even bother with submitting a lead online.

Because they have enough information to simply show up, that’s exactly what they are doing.

If you are going to be a consumer’s first and only choice, it is critical that your dealership creates a compelling, consistent, authentic, and trusted expanded web presence. It is critical that your website, search and digital marketing efforts, ratings, reviews, and social media all work in concert to attract the new car shopper.

Whether you’re just getting started in this area or you’re looking for new and innovative ways to be their first and only choice, know that Dominion can help.

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