Buyer Detection: How to Find the Shoppers in Your Browsers

The Silver Bullet for Driving Sales & Impressions: DATAFor considered purchases like automobiles, understanding whether or not a prospect is actually in the market (vs. just browsing) is key to making sure you’re not wasting valuable sales resources. But gaining that understanding is a huge challenge.

In the automotive space, buyer detection is rapidly gaining traction. Powered by predictive analytic models, buyer detection helps companies understand which prospects are actually ready to buy, so salespeople can focus their efforts where they are most likely to pay off, and allow marketing to keep nurturing everyone else.

The three main issues addressed via buyer detection techniques are:

  1. Which customers are actually ready to buy?
    This allows sales to focus on customers who are most likely to buy in the short term.
  2. What are your customers shopping for online?
    Twenty-four percent of people researching vehicles at automobile dealer web sites are shopping specific vehicle inventory – if not a certain model, then certainly a vehicle class such as sedan or SUV. This preference data is extremely valuable to a salesperson in the sales process.
  3. Which customers are considering defecting from your brand for their next purchase?
    Of that 24 percent researching a specific type of vehicle, 40 percent are shopping multiple brands, and only one in five are primarily interested in a particular brand (which may not be that dealer’s brand). Most interestingly, 99-plus percent of the original 24 percent and are likely to shop at their existing dealer first. Knowing that, and when those customers are in-market can give the dealer’s sales team the edge they need to bring the shopper back into the fold.

Buyer detection analytics reveal complete profiles of customers and prospects; from online shopping activity to recent email clicks and service bay visits. When salespeople understand not only whom to call, but how to approach the conversation, their rates of success increase – dealers employing buyer detection models have seen conversion rates increase as much as 447 percent!

Dealers can also use buyer detection to understand who their competition is and make sure their sales staff are trained to highlight how their brand’s models stack up. This can help win business that might have otherwise gone elsewhere — data shows that 42 percent of those who purchased from the dealer were identified through buyer detection as shopping competitively.

Buyer detection relies on a variety of data sources that feed the aforementioned predictive analytics to build a rich mosaic of the shopper. For buyer detection, anonymized data is commingled with other shopping data the dealer can directly gather to identify in-market buyers that have previously purchased, serviced, or shopped at the dealership.

For example, that other data might include:

  • When a customer or prospect clicks on a link in an email;
  • When a known customer or prospect visits the dealer’s website;
  • When a customer has their vehicle serviced or repaired.
  • When a shopper schedules a test drive.

When the shopper visits automotive sites that subscribe to a data utility, and/or intensely shops on the dealer’s website, the dealer gets a report providing information on each shopper’s shopping intensity, and detailed make/model information on what they’re shopping for.

Assuming the buyer’s vehicle interest intersects with the seller’s offering, a sales rep can then reach out to the shopper with a tailored offer — just as they would with any prospect or lead with whom they’ve had prior interaction.

Buyer detection can also help dealers determine when an older “dead” lead comes back in the market for a vehicle, enabling them to capture incremental sales from leads they rightly retired — and turn the dead lead into a sale. Across the industry, only 8 to 10 percent of all leads close, so being able to re-capture value from this “dead lead” population — especially when the dealer purchases the lead from a third party automobile shopping site — is enormously beneficial. In this case, the next step is to reach out to the prospect to say, “We talked a few months ago. How’s your search going? Are you ready to buy yet?” and restart the conversation.


Dan Smith is the CMO of Minneapolis, Minn.-based Outsell LLC, a digital marketing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company that is transforming the way automotive brands engage with customers.


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