How to Beat the End-To-End Game with a Connected Platform

Now more than ever, we need to make every dollar count and acquire more customers online, for less budget. Each opportunity in the current climate is that much more valuable, so together we need to up your digital game to get more of the shoppers who discover your dealership all the way to buying from your dealership.

That’s the game — carefully bridging the shopper through each phase of journey with you, avoiding all the pitfalls, gotchas, and other nasty surprises that can cause your online customer to have an unpleasant experience that’ll send them searching for somewhere else to shop.

If you’ve played this game in real life or in the classic 8-bit video game Super Kart Buyer 2 that we just made up — then you know it’s not easy. But with a little guidance, skill, and a connected platform of solutions, you can create a seamless shopping experience that will take more shoppers all the way from search to signature.

In order to win the online game of car shopping, you have to seamlessly connect the four phases, or levels, of the customer journey:


    • Advertising: where in-market shoppers first become aware of your dealership.
    • Website: where you engage and convert your shopper into a lead.
    • Follow-up: where you connect shoppers with a salesperson to guide them to purchase.
    • Dealership: where you meet the customer — at your place or theirs.


So how do you master these four levels of the game? Simple! All you have to do is tune into this webinar and we’ll share all the tips, tricks and cheat codes you need to succeed.


…But to give you an idea of what you’ll need to do, let’s break down the four levels of the customer journey you’ll need to navigate to lead to a sale.



Car dealers are no strangers to digital advertising. From paid search to paid social and everywhere in between, most dealers dedicate a significant portion of their overall advertising budget to digital channels.

But did you know that 10% of digital ads lead to a disconnected experience? That’s what our team found when performing an audit of over 1,000 ads from other DigAd providers. That means 10% of the time, when a user clicks or taps an ad, they’re being taken to a webpage that’s not related to the ad copy.

When you consider that the automotive industry spends about $12 billion annually on advertising, that means there’s at least one billion (BILLION!) dollars of spend being wasted on disconnected experiences.

And that doesn’t even take into account the times when an ad and its resulting landing page are aligned, but the actual website experience is so poor it causes the user to bounce off the website before taking a single action.

Usually the first level of a game is relatively easy compared to later levels, but for this game it can be super challenging if you don’t have the right skills to get through it.

In order to escape the Advertising World, all you have to do is change the way you think about customer acquisition in order to make sure you’re not wasting a significant portion of your digital advertising budget.

The issue is that most car dealers are marketing backwards. You shovel a bunch of cash into the ol’ advertising machine to “drive traffic”. The resulting traffic is sent somewhere(?) on your website and then 30 days later (maybe) the results are looked at but all you see are the final performance metrics and you don’t have a real understanding as to why things turned out the way they did.

In order to fix this, you have to reverse your actions so you can make the most out of every single dollar in your budget. We call this new approach D-M-A, and this is how it works:

Destination: Before you spend a single dollar on advertising, you start by building the perfect destinations (aka your website and resulting landing pages) for your customers to land on from your ads.

Measurement: Next, you need to make sure your analytics are set-up so you can monitor and measure the success of your campaigns.

Advertising: Once you’ve set all that up, that’s when you launch your engaging, relevant and targeted ad campaigns..

And look, we get it. Getting all this set up and working properly can be challenging. Thankfully there’s a cheat code that will help you ace the Advertising World each and every time.



DigAd + SEO + Managed Services + Website = INVINCIBILITY!

When you have all of these services under one roof — when you can just call up your Performance Manager and have them connect all of your campaigns across channels and all linking to the right experience on your website (whether that’s on desktop or mobile) — you are basically invincible from ever having a disconnected campaign.

So I know it sounds weird for an advertising agency to tell you not to spend money until you’ve embraced the D-M-A mindset, but it’s truly the best thing you can do to set your dealership up for success. Because if you don’t, you’re going to really struggle getting through the next level of the game — Website World!



We just touched on this above, and now let’s take a deeper look as to why it’s so important to have a great website experience. First up, there’s the simple fact that 79% of shoppers will leave and never return if they have a bad experience.

So it doesn’t matter if they found your website from a Google search, a Facebook ad or YouTube video — if that person visits your website and has a bad experience, not only are you losing that customer in the moment, but you could be losing them for good.



I think we can all agree that’s not a situation you want happening on your website, so how do you make sure you’re not serving up a poor website experience? Well, there’s a lot of factors involved — from technical aspects like pagespeed to design elements and accessibility. But to truly master this level, the one thing you really need to address is, how well does your website answer questions?

You see, every visitor is coming to your website to find something out. Do you have the content and tools to answer them?

For example, one of the most important questions that almost every car shopper has is, “Can I afford it?”. What we have found is that 75% of shoppers won’t even consider visiting your dealership if your website doesn’t answer this basic question in a transparent and meaningful way.

And make no mistake, answering this question with an MSRP or “Internet Price” won’t cut it. Shoppers are looking for real payments based on their personal preferences, terms, and credit.

How you deliver the answer to the “Can I afford It?” question is equally important. For decades now, car dealerships have relied on Get E-Price type CTAs to capture leads by withholding the pricing answer from potential customers — the only problem is people expect instant answers to their questions.

Think about it. A shopper visits your website, does a bunch of shopping, fills out a form but they don’t get the answer to their question. So now what, they have to wait? For who? For how long? Why don’t you know? And why do you not want to tell me right now? Is this what it’s going to be like when I go into the dealership? This isn’t fun!



And look, I’ve done enough mystery shopping in my life to know that even after a shopper clicks the Get E-Price button and fills out a form, a lot of dealers still won’t even respond with a meaningful quote. This is one of those frustrating experiences that will make a shopper take you off their list and move on to the next dealer.

Online Shopper™, our end-to-end digital retailing solution, is designed to solve the question problem along with many others: when you remove extraneous CTAs and focus on driving your shoppers to explore their payment options with Online Shopper™, not only are you giving your visitor everything they need to make a thoughtful and educated decision, at the same time everything they do will be delivered to you within the lead that’s created so you can have more productive follow-up.

And speaking of follow-up…



A lot of dealers mistakenly think they’ve won the game once the lead is received. And I get it because I know that seeing your advertising entice folks to visit your website and then seeing those visitors have a great experience that also results in a lead for your dealership can be highly satisfying. But the game’s not over yet, not by a long shot.

This next level of the game is so important because it’s all about having helpful follow-ups with those customers who’ve engaged with the technology you put on your website specifically to answer all their questions.

Just like shoppers are expecting instant answers to their questions on your site (well, everywhere really), they’re also expecting dealers to change the way they communicate. While an endless stream of emails and phone calls was once the standard for dealership follow up, today it’s just not effective enough.



Using the same out-dated tactics you’ve always used to follow-up with your leads isn’t going to work here for a variety of reasons.

The first reason is very practical. When asked how they’d like to receive their digital garage key to access Online Shopper™ from any device, 66% select text, and only 33% select email. So right off the bat, you CRM’s email-heavy follow-up process is rendered useless to a majority of Online Shopper™ users.

No email you say? Well great, I’ll just pick up the phone and call…

Not so fast my friend!

Before you start smilin’ and dialin’, make note that 76% of people won’t answer a phone call if it comes from a number they don’t recognize. Then to make it even more challenging, Apple recently added a feature in iOS 13 that allows a person to automatically silence any incoming phone call originating from a number that’s not already in their contacts.

I’m not trying to make you feel bad here, I’m just laying out the facts so you can see that the absolute best way to follow up with a lead is with a text message.

But what if there was a better way? What if there was a way to treat an online customer who’s on your website right now the same if they were standing in front of you on the showroom floor?

Well it just so happens there’s a cheat code for that!



Website + Live Messaging + Digital Retailing = A SALE!

The Dealer Inspire connected platform allows you to create an experience that treats every website visitor like a walk-in by giving you the tools to interact with guests in the moment to close the deal. Remember, you don’t have to follow-up with a guest if they never left 😎


For those customers who you do need to follow up with, I’d remind you that an Online Shopper™ lead is even better than a walk-in because of all the information you have up front before you make contact with the customer. You get their contact info, vehicles of interest, their preferred finance scenarios, credit rating, trade-in info and personalized monthly payments. So your job is easy, make a connection and guide them through the rest of the process leading to the sale. Piece of cake!



Ok, here we are: the final level of the game.

Like the levels before, if you’re not prepared this can get really tricky and ultimately cost your dealership real money.

The reality is people are going to visit your website, use the tools you provide to customize their perfect deal and then one day they’ll magically appear on your showroom floor without you ever having made contact with them prior to their visit.

If your entire team isn’t prepared to handle the online to offline transition, the results won’t be pretty.

Think about it…a shopper knows exactly what she wants. She’s got her exact model and trim picked out, calculated her monthly payment, has 3K down, and even has her trade-in evaluated. At this point she’s done all the work on your website, and just needs someone to help her take the vehicle for a spin and then sign.

If your salesperson greets this customer and doesn’t know what they’re talking about, or does but doesn’t have the tools to actually continue the progress the shopper has made, that’s it.

Game over.

If you have a digital retailing tool, you need to set-up your dealership to greet shoppers and allow them to seamlessly continue their experience. With Online Shopper™ all you need is your website up on any device that’s connected to the internet, and that’s it.

Your salesperson can greet the shopper, ask if they started creating a deal on your website, and if the answer is “Yes”, then they just need to enter the customer’s phone number or email on whatever device is handy and all the work they did online will be available for both to review.

You don’t need a big fancy kiosk for this either (although they are pretty cool if you have one). The customer can literally just bring it up on their phone.

Again, this should be easy. At this point your salesperson’s job is to pick up where the customer left off, assist them in getting any last answers to their questions, going for a test drive, and then signing them up.



So there ya go, that’s the game and we at Dealer Inspire can help you play it at the highest level possible. Our company was literally built as an advertising agency first and then step by step we built the technology to bring that traffic all the way to signature.

Whether you’re an existing client using some or all  of our solutions, or you’re brand new to us and are looking for help — It’s our job to help you use our connected platform to its full capabilities so you can grow your business efficiently and continue to adapt, especially during these uncertain times.

If you’d like to learn more about anything we talked about here, or just want some more tips and tricks for playing the end-to-end game, just drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you!


Let’s Connect!

Jason Stum
As the Director of Content Marketing at CARS, Jason draws from his hands-on dealership experience in Sales, Business Development, and Digital Marketing to lead a team in crafting actionable and insightful content for car dealers.

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