Trucks are one of the most profitable and desirable segments in recent years, and their popularity has continued to attract a more diverse set of shoppers. While having inventory might be the best way to capture buyers in this segment right now, the competition is fierce. Certain aspects of the online experience can either help or hurt your chances of closing the deal.

Quantcast’s October 2021 US Automotive Insights report titled “Pickup the Competition” identifies the path to purchase for truck buyers today, and the results can help dealers understand what to expect between different types of shoppers and where to put their resources online.

The typical journey to contact

Quantcast’s report indicates that the typical truck shopper’s journey begins with three stages before they ever become a sales lead. First, they perform a model search to narrow down their vehicle selection based on wants and needs. This would include VLPs and VDPs on the dealership website, and it’s likely after performing more in-depth research on the manufacturer’s websites.

The next stage includes checking for promotions. Offers and incentives that improve affordability will engrain their vehicle choice further, bringing them further into the sales funnel.

The natural flow then reaches the payment calculator. This is where the shopper is comparing rough numbers with their uncommitted income to determine if a purchase is, in fact, realistic. And likely, they’re going to redo the numbers several times to blend their desired configuration and what they can afford.

And finally, the online journey culminates to an online lead.

The model search

When truck shoppers are narrowing down their model options and the dealers who have the model and trim level they desire, about 70% of their research is conducted on mobile devices. That won’t come as a surprise for many, but mobile-first experiences still suffer for most dealer websites. However, the most qualified demographic, 45 years of age and older, still tend to browse on desktop primarily. Both versions of your website should be optimized.

What’s even more important is an accurate representation of inventory. New arrivals should be posted daily, and sold units should be taken down immediately. Leads from old listings tend to sour quickly, and unposted vehicles are potentially lost opportunities.

Checking for incentives

In today’s highly competitive market for pickup trucks, incentives are drying up. Compared to the discounts available even one or two years ago, dealers may be shy to post current available promotions and incentives online. For buyers in the current market, what is important is knowing the actual pricing they can expect when they arrive at the dealership. Make it easy to find incentives from the manufacturer and dealer promotions or value-added services that can influence their decision to go further.

Related: As incentives drop and prices rise, how can dealers convert shoppers to buyers?

Payment calculator

Quantcast’s research found that shoppers who book a test drive when they contact the dealership from the model page do so in just two days. When they come from the payment estimator, it takes an average of 15 days.

When leads come from the payment calculator, the truck buyer has taken much more time to consider their purchase intention. That can mean a price-conscious buyer who can be a tough sale, or it can be an extremely qualified shopper who has the highest purchase intent possible.

Ensuring your dealership offers an easy-to-use payment calculator or digital retailing solution is crucial for this high-intent shopper who will look elsewhere if they can’t navigate your site easily. As well, the payment calculator must be 100% accurate across digital and in-person channels or you risk losing this shopper altogether.

Making contact with the dealership

Unlike years past, customers who contact your dealership through the website are much higher intent than ever. They aren’t a loyal customer yet, and a fast and professional response is critical. Offer real answers to their lingering questions rather than simply trying to set an appointment, letting the customer dictate the path to purchase.

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