As you know, most of your customers will have spent plenty of time on the web before visiting your store. These days, car shoppers have tons of resources literally at their fingertips.

Via laptops, tablets and smartphones, modern car shoppers can read vehicle reviews and check out online buying guides. There are also automotive blogs, and interactive forums to explore. And, in addition to all of these options, some consumers turn to social media for information.

In fact, a recent study from J. D. Power has revealed that more car-buying customers than ever are tuning in to social media for tips and advice. However, just because they're visiting these platforms doesn't mean that they're finding what they want there.

Findings on New-Vehicle Shoppers and Social Media Usage

Car Buyer and Smartphone

For their 2016 Autoshopper Study, J. D. Power took a good look at how car shoppers use digital devices for vehicle research. These factors were analyzed:

  • Favored devices among consumers: tablets, smartphones or computers.
  • The types of content accessed by new-vehicle buyers.
  • The content that is the most useful to consumers.

According to the study, 22% of automotive buyers use social media sites when researching their next vehicle. This is up from 16% in 2015. Which platforms are these consumers using? 13% go to YouTube, while 7% prefer DealerRater and only 5% rely on Facebook.

About these findings, Mike Battaglia, vice president, automotive retail at J. D. Power, has stated:

"Social media plays a large role in many consumers' lives, so it's not surprising that it's one of the tools they're using during the vehicle-shopping process. While we would not expect social media sites to compete head-on with designated auto shopping sites like Toyota.com and Kelley Blue Book, it's easy to understand the role and relevance social plays in the automotive shopping process."

It should be noted that while 22% of car shoppers consult social media, they are not always impressed by what they find. In fact, only 13% of these social media users say that they've ever found anything on a platform that influenced their decision. Also, a scant 2% report that a social site has ever been the "most useful site" they visited.

Where Car Shoppers are doing the Most Online Research

If less than a quarter of automotive customers are doing research on social media, many must be turning to other sources.

Results from this J. D. Power study show that:

  • Nine out of 10 consumers go to at least one manufacturer's site while car shopping.
  • 84% visit at least one dealer site.
  • 79% venture over to third-party sites.

This is the breakdown of the average internet car shopper's experience: They typically visit 10 automotive websites during the research process. They go to four automaker sites, three third-party pages and approximately three websites belonging to dealerships.

What are they mostly looking for on these sites?

  • 89% want model information.
  • 88% are checking out vehicle pricing.
  • 81% wish to view photo galleries.

As it turns out, what consumers are looking for has a big influence on where they go to find it. The shoppers surveyed here reported that different types of sites are better than others for certain information. For example, they say that vehicle brand sites are the best for model info and photo galleries. However, dealer websites are the go-to spots for vehicle pricing. Finally, they've had the best luck with vehicle ratings and reviews on third-party sites (like Kelley Blue Book).

Planning Online Marketing Strategies

Social media platforms may not be the "end all, be all" for car shopping research, but they are clearly important. In fact, about 34% of new-vehicle buyers will post a picture of their new vehicle on a social site. 88% will post this pic to Facebook, while 21% will show off their new ride on Instagram.

Think about it. Having happy customers posing in front of a new car that they've purchased from your store is great (and free) advertising. So, encourage your buyers to post pics to their favorite platforms. More customers might be happy to pose for these pictures with just a little encouragement from salespeople.

Also, as far as your store's website is concerned, you should make it as inclusive as possible. Certain shoppers may not have to go to an automaker's site if your picture galleries are awesome. Of course, you'll want all of your pricing info to be up-to-date. And, in addition to car prices, why not add detailed model information and vehicle reviews into the mix.

After all, you know what customers are looking for, so give them what they want.

Finally, because 53% of online car shoppers are using their phones for automotive research, make sure that your site looks good on mobile.

Where Subprime Car Shoppers Go to Buy

Subprime customers can be great for business. They're typically very serious about buying and they're typically loyal to dealerships that treat them with courtesy and respect. And Auto Credit Express can help you reach out to more of these customers with our industry-leading subprime sales leads.

We also offer our patented LotPro® subprime management system and other innovative dealer products. Find out how to do less work and increase your gross profit on every deal by giving us a call at 888-535-2277. You can also reach out to us through the convenient contact form on our website.