Identifying Customer Intent through Conversion & Incentives

Dealer websites today are filled with conversion widgets. In most cases, customers will choose only one form or call-to-action (CTA) to convert on. If the CTA that they chose was “value my trade,” then you can be pretty sure that the value of their trade-in is their hot button. Or perhaps they filled out a credit application. Those may be pretty low-funnel customers who, in most cases, will have some credit challenges that they may need help with. Most conversions, however, are from price-based CTAs. Whether the conversion happened because there was no price and they clicked “Get price.” Or, whether a price was present and they wanted more information, the majority of the leads any dealer gets will begin in this manner. That being said, we also know that many dealers have pop up specials or incentives they offer their website visitors. It could be a “$100 off coupon” towards a vehicle. Or it could be “Get a $25 gift card with test drive.” What does it tell you, however, when the same customer converts on both forms, one right after the other?

The customer’s intent when converting on your website is to move further down the funnel towards a new vehicle. Some may be simply pricing out vehicles and doing research. While others may be planning to go buy a car tomorrow… or even today. If your dealership has a special offer pop up on the website and you get a lead from a VDP, then immediately after get a conversion on the pop up, the sirens should go off. These customers want information and have taken the next mental step towards buying a car from you. Not only are they prepared to take you up on that $100 off or gift card offer, but they have, at the very least, narrowed your dealership down to one they plan to visit.

Most dealerships have canned templates for online inquiries - some better than others. I would suggest, however, that if you see conversion activity as described above, you should have a completely different process in place for handling these leads. Just think about what this consumer’s actions tell you about their intent. They came to your website, browsed your inventory, landed on a vehicle that interested them enough to give away the one thing that they control -- their information. Consumers don’t give this up easily. They understand that the moment they input their information and hit the submit button, someone at your dealership will be e-mailing and calling them. So, they decide to leave your website and are presented with an incentive. They’ve already filled out a form indicating interest. If they then stop and fill out a second form in order to claim an offer, they’ve just told you that they’re interested in the vehicle and doing business with your dealership AND, very likely, that they’re considering doing it SOON.

It is important to have concrete processes in place and consistent follow up with all of your internet leads - and I certainly don’t recommend cherry picking and ignoring any leads. However, the lead that comes in with a message that says “I want to buy a car from you tomorrow” will definitely perk up some ears and initiate some serious action by a dealership’s ISMs or managers. If you show offers and incentives to your customers and experience 2 conversions in a short period of time, one being your special offer, treat that lead exactly as if the customer had told you they were buying a car from you soon… because that’s exactly what their behavior told you, regardless of whether they typed it into the lead form.