Posted: Thursday 29th March 2018 in Performance Marketing.

The automotive sector is currently experiencing a digital revolution. To service customers and ultimately make money, stakeholders in this industry need to accept that the question of embracing digital has changed from ‘if?’ to ‘when?’.


Test drives are one of the most tangible services provided when buying a car. Usually, a customer will request a test drive from a dealer as part of the research process of buying a new car. The test drive service has ensured that for decades, dealers have been able to get potential customers into dealerships – which is great.


However, customer behaviour is changing, and dealers who do not see the traditional service of test drives being impacted by digital may be in for a rude awakening. Below are a few points to consider when thinking about how digital is impacting test drives, traditionally a mainstay of the car dealership.


1.      The customer is more informed than ever


Many customers today spend hours researching in preparation for a trip to a dealership, purely in the hope of not being blindsided by a salesperson or pressured into buying something they don’t really want. Using YouTube and other digital publications to understand their specific needs and questions, a customer can now be more informed than the dealer themselves on the car they are looking to buy.


Due to the breadth and quality of content now available online and the ever-increasing specifications of cars from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), more and more potential customers do not feel the need to test drive a car at all.


Therefore, if the test drive is not part of a customer’s journey, they will not naturally find themselves in a highly engineered sales process. Instead, they will need alternate routes to transact, and a simple online journey might be the chosen route.



2.      The OEM B2C model


OEMs who are building a B2C capability will have to deliver test drives as part of the car buying process. However, they do not have the luxury of a physical location like dealerships do to develop this service.


Alternative methods such as: delivering cars to customers’ homes to test drive, adding a smooth return process, for example trying before you buy, may become the norm as the influence of digital accelerates the transformation of the car buying process.



3.      Accurate measurement is becoming essential, not a luxury


For multi-location car dealerships, potential and existing customers come across many touchpoints. As well as physical locations, customers can interact with dealers via their website or over the phone when speaking to call centre advisors.


The requirement to join up and measure the customer journey online, in alternate store formats and through call centre interactions, will become more of a hygiene delivery factor than innovative thinking.


The importance of test drive measurement across all touch points will become an essential factor in reporting on marketing and sales success, rather than a luxury reserved for leading automotive dealers.


Join Summit on Thursday 26th April 2018 at our Automotive Leaders Event. We’ll be joined by industry thought leaders as we look to analyse the traditional test drive, industry challenges, what the future holds, and the role digital technology will play moving forward.

Whether you’re an OEM, a dealership, or an automotive eCommerce specialist, book your seat here.