Dealers urged to exploit online tools

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Dealers have been urged to increase their use of social media and other online tools to retain a competive edge.

New research of usage by Motor Trader Top 200 dealers, conducted by GForces, the specialist web software agency for the UK car retailing sector, shows the number of dealers utilising online tools has risen in the last 12 months, but the company says dealers are still falling short of their potential.

“Over the last two years more dealers have come round to realising the power of the web and its ability to generate genuine income opportunities. However, our research shows that the majority of Motor Trader Top 200 dealers are still not doing enough,” said Tim Smith, GForces’ commercial director.

“2012 looks set to be another tough year for new and used car sales – an effective web presence will make a crucial difference for many dealerships.”

The research shows social media is now used by 83 per cent of MT Top 200 dealers, compared with 20 per cent in January 2010. Another significant growth has seen a rise in the number of mobile sites from 2.5 per cent in January 2010 to 33.5 per cent now.

“The spike in dealer social media activity is clearly justified – nearly half of UK consumers now use it when researching a new car,” said Smith.

“With Google now indexing public comments made on websites that use Facebook, the content generated via social media channels can help create interest in your products and services, potentially leading to future sales,” he said.

Less than a quarter of websites in the Motor Trader Top 200 currently feature Live Chat, even though Smith claimed this is now one of the most effective tools for converting sales enquiries.

“Websites that offer visitors the chance to converse in real-time, by phone or on-screen, are proven to convert up to four times as many leads, thanks largely to the speed with which customers can have questions answered,” he said.

“You need to be able to talk with potential customers immediately these days. Any delay or unanswered questions about a car, part, accessory, or service will lead to people clicking away from your site faster than you might think.”

Motor Trader Top 200 dealers utilising online tools as at :
January 2010 January 2012

Social media 20% 83%
Live Chat 8% 23%
Live Chat 24-7 5%
Mobile 2.5% 33.5%
Video 7% 28%

Source: GForces