For something that happens very often in America, buying a car can be a challenging experience for the buyer and the retailer. Most auto sales happen as the result of face-to-face interaction with a sales person, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a role for technology in the industry. Many dealers know how a website can help find customers and showcase inventory but there’s more to it than that. A recent study from Crowdtap shows that social media plays a large role in purchasing decisions of modern car shoppers.
In February of 2015, Crowdtap conducted a survey of 500 consumers who planned to buy cars in the near future to see what steps they planned to take and what influenced their decisions. The results painted a clear picture of an auto sales industry where social media permeated each part of the landscape. Consumers used social networks to research cars they might want, get advice from friends on what car to buy, and even find specific cars to buy through their social media accounts.
“Media-empowered consumers – who increasingly rely on the opinions of their peers to inform buying decisions – are flipping the automotive advertising model on its head,” said Matthew Scott, SVP of Strategy & Business Development at Crowdtap in a press release. “Auto brands that are able to steer the power of peer endorsements and social sharing will find success in marketing’s people-powered future.”
Here are some of the ways auto buyers are relying on social media to inform their purchase decisions. According to the survey, two out of three customers (68%) surveyed said they had purchased a car they found on social media. Additionally, 87 percent said they research potential car purchases on social media prior to making a decision.
Consumers rely heavily on the input of friends (and the strangers in comments sections) to make value judgements on items they consider buying online. The Crowdtap data confirms that this sentiment is true for car shopping. Four out of five (80%) of auto buyers said they are more likely to turn to their social network for car buying advice than a car salesperson.
Similarly, auto buyers value the recommendations of friends and family members more than any other source. Over a third (36%) cited friend or family recommendations as the single most influential source on car services, followed by online review sites (19%) and social media (16%).
The study also found that auto buyers are likely to talk about cars on social media. The overwhelming majority (95%) said they would post about a great model or maker on social media.
The takeaway for car dealerships is that they need to double down on internet marketing for their dealerships and inventory. In the modern age, a dealer can’t assume that customers will travel to various dealerships to find the best price since it’s easier to search online. Buyers intend to know a lot about a car before they even arrive on the lot. By including the information that consumers are looking for at an early stage of the buying process, dealerships can steer customers their way.
For more information on how internet marketing and cars, read this article with eight statistics on marketing channels within a car.