As kids, we can all relate to having fond memories of going from dealership to dealership with our parents, jumping in and out of the backseats of different cars, testing out all the different features. While test drives haven’t fallen by the wayside, the modern 2017 car shopper will only visit an average of 2 dealerships on their journey to buying their perfect new car. The car buying journey has radically changed due to the digital boom over the past couple years. People are spending less time in dealership showrooms and more time researching and building out the perfect car. With the massive amount of information available on every model, it’s important to attract potential customers with inbound marketing strategies to provide the right content, at the right time.
The Modern Car Buying Process
People have become so accustomed to being able to buy anything with a few clicks or taps of their thumb, and why should their new cars be any different? Although you can build out your dream car on manufacturers websites, this isn’t the typical point of purchase. Instead, their journey consists of 3 stages that ultimately puts them in the driver seat of a new car. These stages include the Research stage, Test stage, and Decision stage.
This stage is the most extensive of the three stages, as it brings the potential customer into the car buying process. Since buying cars typically isn’t a routine decision, they might not be up to date on what is currently available on the market. The average lead in this stage spends over 10 hours of research on the internet to try and connect the features and value they want with the offerings available on the market. Google identifies 5 common questions that potential car-buyers research when they’re entering the market.
The first thing people look for when buying a car answers the question “which car is best?”. This gives them a benchmark for the rest of their research and allows them to see what is available on the market. Although this research is extremely broad and sometimes irrelevant to the user, it introduces them into the car buying process by creating initial excitement about a new car.
The average car buyer won’t type “what is the best car” on Google and then buy the first one that pops up. The next two stages usually merge together and answer “what is right for me?” and “can I afford it?”. These two stages are where the majority of the research is done. During these stages, the potential customer is assessing value and determining whether each make and model falls into the 2 or 3 they’re going to end up making the decision between. Diving into the specifications, options, trims, and number of cup holders (yes, it matters) are all things that determine whether or not a vehicle will add value to their life.
Once people get the decision between 2 or 3 models, the next question is typically “where should I buy it?”. Here’s the catch, the “what is best for me?” and “can I afford it” are still on the forefront of their mind meaning they’re applying these questions to the dealership as well. As cars become more of an extension to our lives rather than a one and done purchase, the dealership from which a person buys their car from can be extremely important in the decision-making process. When people go in for a test drive they’re not only testing out the car, but your dealership as well. During the test stage, they get a little taste of the product, service from the dealership, and added value they’ll receive.
The last question people ask is whether they’re getting a good deal or not. At this point, their mind is already made up on the make and model of the car and it’s all about the value the dealership will bring to the purchase. They’re comparing prices against benefits to ensure they’re buying their dream car rather than being sold on it.
If the person thinks they’re getting a good value, they’ll go ahead and make the purchase feeling elated with the value that will soon be added to their life. As we take a closer look at how people buy cars we can see that people like to do business with other people. However, during the research process they like to find things out on their own. With inbound marketing, people will find out everything they can to make the most informed decision possible. Meet people where they are in their car buying journey to give them the content they’re looking for. This way, you can help them make the best possible decision in your favor.