Automotive retailers can’t rely on repeat purchases to help hit monthly sales targets, as most people aren’t looking to purchase a vehicle several times a year. This places a greater importance on the value of auto finance lead generation - getting new customers in at the top of the funnel and progressing them through the purchase process.
With most people’s first point of contact happening online, the purpose of the website shifts from a digital shop window into a vital and integral conversion point.
90% of vehicle buying journeys now start online, which means retailers need reliable technology that can capture consumer attention, and encourage the engagement that converts their interest into valuable auto finance leads.
There are many automotive finance lead generation tools on the market. Few cater to the complexities unique to vehicle retail, and many focus on low quality leads consisting of just the consumer’s contact details with no other pre-qualifying information.
When shopping online for small-ticket items, which make up the bulk of e-commerce, consumers typically already have the funds available to make their purchase. Long-term affordability is rarely part of the decision process.
Even when items need to incorporate finance, they’re usually short-term purchases, paid across 12-24 months, which keeps the buying journey simple. Consumers are rarely looking to part-exchange their existing television when buying a new one, for instance.
The difference with automotive sales is the reliance on third parties to progress the purchase journey. This presents automotive retail with unique opportunities to capture consumer information and generate leads online.
Just over 64% of used cars, and over 90% of new cars, are bought on finance, and more than a third of buyers are willing to self-serve much of the buying process themselves, with our data indicating that 45% of all finance applications will happen digitally by the end of 2022.
Capturing this consumer interest, and generating leads online has become a priority for many automotive retailers. And having the right technology to encourage consumers to engage and take steps toward purchasing is now a critical element of any automotive website.
Here, we’ll discuss the changing state of online lead generation and how automotive retailers can keep up.
A website is an expensive investment, it’s a motor retailer's digital showroom, the online shop window, and needs to contribute to business revenues through lead generation.
The digital world has evolved, and automotive retailers are under pressure to make sure they aren’t left behind.
As technology has evolved, so have consumer attitudes and confidence. The online world is now a viable commerce platform for the automotive industry, with buyers now defaulting to the convenience of digital transactions over travelling to a physical site.
The beauty of online engagement is the ability for consumers to browse and engage at their leisure, interacting with as much or as little of the process as they want.
The use of strategic calls to action that create an organic and relevant buying journey helps retailers sell more cars online by moving customers through the sales funnel without overwhelming the prospect.
While many dealers are rightly focussed on generating more automotive finance leads, they shouldn’t overlook the quality of those leads.
The best leads are from customers who are further down the sales funnel, progressing through the decision stage. If a consumer completes a finance check, that is a good indicator of their intent to purchase. This creates opportunities for sales teams to become proactive, establish conversations with customers, accelerate the sales process and guide buyers on the path to purchase.
Pre-qualification encourages consumers to go further by giving them the confidence they need to apply for products and services with you. But pre-qualified customers are only possible if your digital platform is able to offer a full range of finance products and services, giving potential customers the ability to self-serve a portion of the journey before your sales team is even involved.
Your business can then step in with the right level of support and information to guide the purchase through to completion.
Customers come to a retailer’s website to browse for their next vehicle, and will only persist if that vehicle is easy to find. If you aren’t offering a modern and intuitive experience online, you are likely to lose a large portion of potential buyers.
Users spend, on average, less than 15 seconds on a website. The speed of your website, and how quickly users can find the product they’re looking for, play a critical role in lead generation.
Showcasing your stock effectively is the first step in generating automotive finance leads from your website. If consumers can’t find the vehicles they want quickly, at the price point they want, they’ll move on to the next retailer.
Providing key information quickly and keeping consumers engaged, helps buyers progress through the journey with you, and move on to the next steps like assessing their finance eligibility, reserving a vehicle, or opting for the traditional route and making an email or telephone enquiry.
Customers now know what a good online experience looks like. And they will quickly leave a site that doesn’t meet their expectations.
The online experience encompasses all interactions between a customer and your business, and each contact point has an important role to play in retaining customer interest, encouraging engagement and building trust in the buying journey.
Google research suggests in-market car buyers make over 900 digital interactions before moving on to any decision-making stages.
Optimising your online customer experience to focus on meeting at what is, for many, the first touchpoint with your business should be a priority for anyone looking to trade online.
The results of improving customer experience is more conversions, which in turn creates more opportunities for automotive finance lead generation and revenue growth.
Self-service is no longer “nice to have”. It’s a necessity to provide a positive customer experience.
Long gone are the days when consumers followed a linear path to purchase their next vehicle. Experience with big-brand online shopping sites has created higher levels of engagement and consumer confidence, and people are now comfortable self-serving key parts of the purchase journey from the comfort of their own home.
Self-service is beneficial to both the consumer and the retailer, because it allows for 24-hour interaction, 365 days per year.
Providing a self-service customer experience streamlines the sales process and improves business efficiency, all while generating more automotive finance leads from your website.
A good website is one that can do it all, and a modern digital offering needs the capability to keep business buoyant in an increasingly digital world.
Many retailer websites cater to most consumer needs, but often fall flat when providing an intuitive experience, defaulting to a linear journey that we call “online retailing 1.0”.
Attention spans are short online and there are plenty of other routes to market consumers could divert to if they don’t find what they came for. Therefore, it’s vital that visitors can easily find what they’re after.
A good site will have an intuitive layout that facilitates the consumer journey rather than pushing users down predefined paths. Those menus often need to be reset when the results don’t match expectations or to explore other options, fuelling frustration in the process.
But new technology is driving alternative search structures that produce more relevant and accurate results – delivering the unique results specific to the individual user.
A good search experience is just one element that helps keep customers happy, and happy customers stay with you longer.
The longer a customer spends on your website, the more likely they are to engage and convert into valuable automotive finance leads.
Learn how the right technology can help you adapt to the changing automotive landscape
New technologies are changing the way vehicles are bought & sold. To help retailers, lenders and manufacturers create the best buying journeys to cater to all buyers, our industry experts share their specialised knowledge and insights to provide you with in-depth information on everything you need to know about digital transformation in the automotive sector.
More from iVendi
See what our lead generation tool kit can do
Read our white paper covering modern digital strategies
Manage the sales process from start to finish, wherever the customer is