In the past, I’ve heard auto enthusiasts and journalists describe Audi’s as unresponsive luxury vehicles; painting them out to be simple point A to B vehicles, void of inspiration and personality. Personally, I’ve never thought that was the case, I’ve always been a fan. From a marketing perspective however, Audi’s recent “Test Drive Cube” program for their new flagship A8 is one of the more inspirational actions we’ve seen from a German Automaker in recent years. Audi described this as the first test drive that comes directly to the customer. The pilot program was first lunched in Holland with nearly 50 potential customers having packages from Audi delivered to their doors. The contents of these packages? A solitary black cube with the familiar “Engine Start/Stop” Button located on a single façade of the cube.
Once pressed, the button serves as a transmitter to the nearest Audi dealership. After the dealership receives the signal, an Audi A8 is delivered to the customer in precisely 90 minutes.
Audi called this program the “Audi Test Drive cube” as following its delivery, the customer received an exclusive 24-hour period with Audi’s new flagship A8.
With this pilot program, Audi saw a 100% response rate and a 24% conversion rate, meaning that nearly 1 out of 5 clients felt motivated enough either by the programs exclusive treatment or the vehicle itself. Following the remarkably good response of customers the program was expanded to numerous other countries. You can see the cube in action here.
Why are auto dealers reluctant to do what’s right? There are three ingredients that so many get wrong. These ingredients only cost a little time, and yet they are the most effective ways of attracting leads. So why not embrace them? When department managers and salespeople become ‘reluctant’ to adopt modern sales concepts, I always tell them “It’s just the way business is done.” None of this is just my opinion, even though I am flattered when they think it is. I’m not just saying this to justify my existence. These are just the facts:
Describing your product in detail is a necessity.
New statistics from Google, Shopper Sciences, JD power and others show that car buyers now only visit 1.3 stores before buying a vehicle, down from 1.7 last year. That’s basically one store. They make their decision before they arrive at the dealership, and it is often based on research they’ve done online. Watch this to see how all of this comes into play. Some clients say “yeah, but if you tell them everything they won’t call the dealership.” Sorry, but that is complete and utter BS. We have a dealer who removed their online pricing information based on this old-school principle, and their bounce rate rose to 87% (this is the percentage of people who immediately leave their site after viewing a web page). Dealers who put little to no effort into vehicle pictures also have a high bounce rate of 50 – 60 %. You need decent descriptions and images to attract leads. Consider your shoppers – people in their underwear, browsing the internet in their warm cozy homes – if they don’t find the information they need, they will simply click ‘X’ and move on to another website. These are not just my ideas, nor just my research. This is verified by Google, Amazon, eBay, Kijiji, Nike, Apple, Microsoft, Wal-Mart and others who have all spent billions of dollars researching this.
Don’t be reluctant to describe your products online.
Every day I come up against dealers who are reluctant to do what is right, and I don’t know why. Explaining your products in detail doesn’t cost anything, doesn’t take hours to do and isn’t difficult. If you look at the websites of 100 of the top Fortune 500 companies, you will find their products explained in acute detail. They don’t limit their descriptions in the hope that someone might call or ‘come down’ to learn more. The only group that holds onto the false practice of limited descriptions is the automotive industry. And, ironically, the place that consumers least like to visit is a car dealership (don’t shoot the messenger!). By that rationale, dealerships should focus on having the most educational websites. If your car buyer is able to learn everything they need from your website before coming in, you will win over many more customers than that dealership down the road whose primary advertising technique is balloons on their cars and gorillas on the roof. Oh yeah, the three things: pictures, descriptions and a good reply email are three areas dealers are doing wrong.
That last factor, a good reply email, is more important than you may think.
When you receive an email from a potential customer, don’t necessarily go with your gut instinct to phone them directly. Reply to your customers with the information that they need, and in the manner that they request. If they ask you to phone them back, go ahead. But don’t call them just to work your sales magic. Build trust with your customer by giving them precisely what they request, and not pushing the sale. This is a big part of succeeding in the auto industry today. Stuart Bendall