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FordDirect Survey Finds Consumers Prefer Dealers Who Engage in Online Conversations

    FordDirect Survey Finds Consumers Prefer Dealers Who Engage in Online
                                Conversations

New survey of automotive consumers announced at NADA pinpoints important
dealer trends in reputation management, social and digital media

PR Newswire

DEARBORN, Mich., Feb. 9, 2013

DEARBORN, Mich., Feb. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- At the National Automobile
Dealers Association (NADA) Convention and Exposition today, FordDirect
announced results of its Digital Automotive Shopping Survey. The findings
revealed the increasing importance for dealers to develop a strong online
presence and reputation as the process of shopping for a new or used vehicle
continues to evolve.

"Today the auto shopping experience begins long before the customer steps foot
into the dealership, and the dealership's online reputation can determine
where a consumer ultimately elects to do business," said Valerie Fuller, chief
operating officer for FordDirect. "The results of this research indicate just
how crucial it is for dealers to enhance their online presence and reputation
to attract customers."

The study, conducted in December, 2012, gathered responses from more than
1,100 automotive consumers on the importance of reputation management and
social and digital media in selecting a dealer and purchasing new and used
vehicles.

A dealer's online reputation was identified throughout the survey as a key
influencer in the buying process, with 63 percent of shoppers reporting they
are less likely to purchase from a dealer who receives negative comments
online. However, even negative comments can be an opportunity for dealers to
win a consumer over. In the survey, 59 percent of auto shoppers said they feel
more positive about dealers who respond to negative comments.

"These findings point to the importance of active monitoring and response in
relation to reputation management for dealers. As social media and review
sites grow in popularity, consumers increasingly are turning to them before
making purchasing decisions," added Fuller.

Other key findings from the study include:

  oNearly 40 percent of auto shoppers access dealer websites using a mobile
    device (i.e., smartphones and tablets)
  o42 percent of consumers are interested in connecting with dealerships via
    social media for access to incentives like coupons
  o71 percent of used-auto shoppers and 64 percent of new-auto shoppers
    visiting dealer websites are most interested in viewing videos showcasing
    a vehicle's interior and technologies

Trends in consumers' reliance on social and digital channels to inform their
auto shopping experience has led FordDirect to enhance its Social Media and
Reputation Management Service to include new offerings for Ford and Lincoln
dealers. FordDirect has traditionally provided free social media services
where dealers are offered syndication of three to five engaging weekly posts
to the dealership's Facebook page, news about Ford products, national sales
events and industry trends. Nearly 1200 dealers already participate in the
free services. Next month, Lincoln working with FordDirect will be rolling
out its social syndication tool to Lincoln dealers.

In working with the Ford Digital Team, FordDirect's free offerings have been
expanded upon to include a new sales event sweepstakes application. Through
the application, sweepstakes promotions including vehicle giveaways and
one-of-a-kind experiential events are integrated onto the dealership's
Facebook page to drive social media engagement with consumers. Additionally,
FordDirect and the Ford Digital Team are currently working to launch a
reputation reporting tool where dealers can track, measure and assess their
online reputation. The reputation tool will be available next month.
Additional services are provided through the paid versions of FordDirect's
full-service Social Media and Reputation Management Service. 

"Digital technology is a key driver in dealer sales and profitability," said
Fuller. "Social media and reputation management can help dealers attract
customers, increase engagement, and ultimately positively influence where
consumers elect to go to buy and service their vehicles." 

For more information on FordDirect, reputation management, and social and
digital marketing, please visit: www.FordDirect.com/DealerCenter.

About FordDirect
FordDirect (forddirect.com/dealercenter) is a joint venture between Ford Motor
Company and its franchised dealers to create a comprehensive Web presence for
dealers and provide digital marketing services that help dealers sell more
cars and trucks. FordDirect provides dealers new and pre-owned marketing
services, call tracking, lead management solutions, dealer websites, search
optimization and marketing, database marketing, marketing services for
regional dealer advertising groups and other digital services. FordDirect is
headquartered in Dearborn, Mich.

Contact : Deana Alicea, 248-304-1457, alicea@airfoilgroup.com for FordDirect

SOURCE FordDirect

Website: http://www.FordDirect.com/DealerCenter
 
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