Every Customer is an Internet Customer

All too often, dealerships separate the digital marketing aspects of their business. Our industry has drilled in and reinforced the concept of an “internet department” for as many years as I can recall. The reasoning was sound: We believed the internet customer wanted a unique experience, and to be treated like an internet customer.

The truth is, 9 out of 10 consumers are shopping online prior to setting foot in the dealership. In other words, the internet customer and the “regular” customer are one and the same!

It’s time to re-evaluate our thinking. Online reviews, real-time inventory, mobile sites and online service reservations show how the digital experience has moved from the back office into every aspect of your operation. We can’t consider a dealer’s web presence as an independent effort anymore.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I treat “web” customers differently than regular walk-ins?
  • Are the sales personnel at my dealership aware of the message on our website, including current specials or promotions?
  • Does my site convey the experience a customer in my dealership would receive?
  • How does my online reputation compare to my overall CSI?

A disconnect between the online experience and the in-store experience can lend an air of disorganization and deceit for a prospect. Don’t encourage the stigma!

Of course, your dealership should follow the underlying principles of web lead management: quick response time, answer specific questions directly. However, it is time to stop viewing the online customer as a unique character who is “just out to shop me” or “get the best price.”

Truth be told, isn’t that what your walk-in customers are doing too?