Cultivating Z-MOT in the Auto Industry

I have a confession. I’m in love with Google.  I live by my Google Calendar, long for the special Google Doodles and use the search function as my lifeline for all inquiries whether they are menial or meaningful.  Recently, I was in the market to buy a new digital camera, but was unsure as to the type of camera I wanted.  While there were specific features and specifications I wanted in a device, I didn’t have a clue about the brand and model I should buy.  So without batting an eyelash, I did what I always do when I have questions: I Googled and then Googled some more.  I skimmed through online reviews and compared them with inventory listed online.

While I didn’t know it at the time, I did something very American by searching for info online.  According to a report recently published by Google, 70% of Americans turn to online reviews before making a purchase, and of these individuals, 79% utilize their smartphone to help with shopping.

The Zero Moment of Truth

Google has published an entire ebook that discusses the single, defining moment when potential customers reach for their digital security blanket – whether it be a laptop, smartphone or tablet – to research products.  They call it the Zero Moment of Truth or Z-MOT, for short.

In today’s technologically-driven and relationship-focused world, the statistics noted above should come as no surprise that we rely on many types of sources (both personal and digital) to get the 411 on products we are potentially going to add to our lives.  We turn to social networking sites, online reviews, friends and relatives, publications and advertisements until we are sure we have reached the best decision.  Why?  Because we don’t want to be let down or surprised.  It’s innate. As human beings, we hate being disappointed. It brings down our self esteem and puts us in a state of distress.  Therefore, by researching as much as we can, we hope to evade that feeling.

The Importance to Auto Dealers

Automotive shoppers consult the highest number of sources out of any industry (18.2 sources on average), and they’re consulting 25 percent more sources than the next highest industry (the consumer electronics industry = 14.8 sources).  The takeaway? Your customers believe purchasing the right car is more important than choosing the right bank, picking the most worthwhile investments or determining who to elect to public office.

This means it’s essential for your dealership to have a strong online presence, so when customers are searching for their new car, your dealership appears as valuable resource.  What can you do to secure the trust and potentially land a sale?  Be as helpful in their online research endeavor as possible by providing the information they want.

When auto shoppers go online, they are searching for three main things:

Price

Vehicle Performance

Styling

And, they’re searching for answers to these questions at least four months before they buy their car.  Therefore, it’s imperative to not only have this information on your site, but highlight it and make it a prominent feature when visitors land on your page.  If consumers find your site to be valuable, they’ll be more likely to trust you and come back to seek out more information, or ideally, make a purchase.

What’s Next?

As we delve into the future, the dependence on seeking out reviews and insight online will take the leading role; the Zero Moment of Truth will push through to center stage; and most importantly, dealerships have the ability to receive the standing ovation, as long as they provide shoppers with the information they desire.

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