How to improve response from car searches

“How can I improve my marketing response?” is a question we’re often asked. Whilst the answer can take all day, often it is the smallest changes that can make biggest difference.

We surveyed every used car locator of the AM 100 to understand how they use their telephone numbers as a response mechanism. The results show that nearly 50% do not follow best practice and, with simple changes, would improve their response rates if they did.

When a consumer searches for a used car, their first avenue of enquiry is to either phone, submit a form or instigate live chat about the vehicle in question.

Our own internal research shows that consumers are five times more likely to make a phone call than they are to either fill in a form or instigate live chat. Therefore, if car dealers want to improve their response rates, where they place their phone numbers on the search results is critical.

Research basis

We reviewed the used car locator of every member of the AM 100 group of dealers to see where they placed their phone numbers. This device used was an iPad and specifically looked at the following:

  • Is there a phone number on the first page of the search results and, if so, is this above the fold?
  • If there is no phone number on the first page is there one on the second ‘details’ page and, if so, is this above the fold?
  • Do dealers have no phone number on either the first or second page of a search?

The results

Before we started the research we expected that all dealers would have a phone number on the first page of their used car search. We also presumed that the majority would show these numbers above the fold so that they were easy for a consumer to find and call. The actual results were as follows:

  • 55% AM 100 dealers have telephone numbers on the first page of the search. Of these 38 (69%) were above the fold.
  • 39% AM 100 dealers have telephone numbers on the second ‘details’ page and, of these, 28 (71%) were above the fold.
  • Only a total of 66% were above the fold for either the first or second page of the search.
  • 6% AM 100 dealers had NO telephone number on either the first or second page! If you wanted to find the number it was either via a further click away from the second page or not available at all!

Clearly, if a phone number is not easy to find this will stifle the ability to respond to an enquiry. We showed a large classified site the importance of having phone numbers on the first page of search results, which they were not doing. When they moved the number to the first page they saw their response rates improve by 20%.

Blue Sky Interactive is one of the UK’s leading automotive digital agencies. They tell us that when people search on a used car locator, only 70% of the users click through to the second page. Therefore, in order to generate maximum enquiries, phone numbers should be on the first page of a used car search and above the fold.

Once a number has been placed on the first page above the fold, it’s important that it is easy to read. People are used to reading numbers that are split up – either by STD code (01428 869xxx) or into 4/3/4 digits (0800 235 xxxx). Where numbers are great blocks of text, they are difficult to read from a screen and to dial – easily causing problems with ‘fat fingers’.

The importance of tracking the calls

Reviewing where the telephone number is placed on the used car locator will ensure that you follow best practice. The next challenge is to track the calls and ensure that your sales team is up to the task of responding. It’s all very well increasing call volumes – but there’s no point doing this if they are not managed properly.

If you want a copy of the raw data that shows every single AM 100 group and where they place their telephone numbers, get in touch and I’ll send it to you.

About the author

Author: Natalia Selby

Marketing coordinator at Mediahawk, with over 10 years experience in analytics, content management and eCommerce.

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