The following article was provided by Contact at Once!, the leading all-in-one chat and text messaging platform for automotive, apartment and real estate websites. Contact at Once! is Used Car Week 2017’s audio/visual and tech sponsor. It appears here with minimal edits.


It would be fantastic for dealers and manufacturers if car shoppers only researched in one place. You could focus all your attention there, ensuring a consistent presence, quick follow-up and a great consumer experience.

The reality is not so simple. Consumers have many different ways to discover and reach out to you. Google counted 24 research touchpoints back in 2013, and it’s even more now. Keeping track of them all is challenging and can result in lost opportunities.

Let’s say you’re not visible in all those places, but your competitors are. Those are lost opportunities. Your team could be juggling multiple tools to respond to inquiries from all those channels, which can lead to headaches, inconsistencies and slower responses. Again, lost opportunities. You might miss conversions when inquiries “drop through the cracks” — lost opportunities.

The good news, though, is that you can overcome those challenges and be where shoppers are, ready to guide them down the purchase path. You just need to create a messaging network.

What’s In a Network

A messaging network unites all those consumer touchpoints by first enabling them with consumer-to-business messaging and then helping you manage the resulting conversations in one place.

With the tap of a shopper’s finger, they can start a direct conversation with you from any of the following locations, the same way they now communicate with friends and family (via chat, text or in-app message):

  • Your site: Messaging options don’t have to be restricted to one department, nor do they have to be generic. On your dealership site, for example, you can dedicate messaging channels to all sorts of customer needs, from those with service questions to sales or finance questions.
  • Your mobile appsIf your company has a mobile app, you could set up in-app messaging. This allows customers to communicate with you without having to leave the app, which can boost customer satisfaction and encourage more use of your apps.
  • Your digital retailing processCurrently, digital retailing helps shoppers fill out some of the paperwork involved in buying a car, like trade-in valuations and applying for credit. Integrating messaging into this process is smart: 73 percent of surveyed consumers said they’d be very or extremely likely to use live messaging assistance if they had a question here, and 74 percent would be more likely to completely forms online if they had access to such help.
  • Brand, regional or corporate sitesSome manufacturers offer messaging to shoppers higher in the funnel, including chat and text options on their own sites or CPO listings. A little over half (51 percent) of surveyed consumers would choose a car brand that offers such messaging assistance over one that doesn’t. Depending on how it’s set up, dealerships can sometimes answer the messaging inquiries just like they do from their own sites.
  • Classified/shopping site listings (Autotrader.com, Cars.com, KBB.com, CarSoup, etc.): The convenience of a messaging conversation here can lead to increased inquiries — proven to be a 20 percent incremental lift on advertising sites — which can convert into more leads and sales.
  • Google My BusinessWhen car shoppers search on their smartphone (like for a dealership near them), Google My Business listings can now include a tap-to-message feature. If you set this up, shoppers can immediately connect with you via text.
  • Google AdWords (click-to-message extensions): Shoppers could also start a text conversation with you directly from pay-per-click advertising in mobile search results. Let’s say someone is looking for a specific brand of car or for a service/repair shop nearby. If you enabled click-to-message extensions and your ad appears, the consumer can tap to text right then and there.
  • Facebook Messenger: More and more people are communicating with businesses via Facebook Messenger, too. As part of your messaging network, those conversations could be managed just like the chats and texts from your website.
  • Traditional advertising (print, radio, TV, signage, etc.): You can even connect your “offline” advertising to your messaging network. Your messaging platform provider can provide you with textable numbers to place on any number of traditional advertising campaigns. Consumers who text those numbers then join the network, so to speak!
  • Apple Business Chat (coming soon): In 2018, consumers will be able to tap to message with businesses they discover in Spotlight, Maps, Siri or Safari and hold that conversation in the standard Apple “Messages” app. With over 1 billion devices in use, Business Chat will only increase people’s awareness of — and expectation for — consumer-to-business messaging.

The bottom line is that consumers have hundreds of available access points into your dealership or brand, most of which you don’t directly control. But when you tie all the above together with an all-inclusive messaging platform, you can create a unified voice to the consumer. You can ensure a consistent “there-for-you” presence wherever customers are. You have a simplified way to access and respond to each person. And you can track and manage those engagements in one place.

In other words, a messaging network puts the consumer conversation in palm of your hand, giving you the chance to create more connections and build trusted relationships.

 

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