Survey Says: Email is Auto Dealers’ Best Bet to Connect with Shoppers

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Most customers shopping for cars prefer dealers contact them using email and that the message be tailored directly to them, says a new survey released by FordDirect in Dearborn.

“Consumers are bombarded with multiple pieces of communication throughout their day, and how dealers communicate to those consumers is important to cutting through the noise,” says Stacey Coopes, CEO of FordDirect, a joint venture between Ford Motor Co. and its franchised dealers. “The results of (the) research indicate just how crucial it is for dealers to tailor their communication outreach to grab their customers’ attention.”

Overall, 84 percent of shoppers prefer to be contacted by dealers via email. This holds especially true with Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000), 91 percent of whom prefer email to mail, social media, phone, or text messaging, according to the Automotive Consumer Marketing Survey.

The study found that 60 percent of consumers are loyal to one brand the majority of the time when purchasing a new vehicle, and if they consider changing brands, it’s more likely to be because of price and fuel economy than anything else.

The study gathered responses from more than 1,300 automotive consumers on their communication preferences, vehicle shopping behaviors, and automotive brand loyalty in selecting a dealer and purchasing a new and used vehicle.

The research also found that 62 percent of shoppers visit a dealer’s website when searching for a new vehicle. And while paid Internet advertising may be beneficial, the majority of shoppers are just as likely to click on an organic search result as a paid listing.

“Our findings show the importance of developing a strong, multi-channel marketing platform that includes new and traditional communication channels,” Coopes says. “We also found that a website’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is just as important as paid online advertising, further reiterating that maintaining established channels is just as important as building out new ones.”

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