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DESPITE fears of a further decline in vehicle registrations linked to political and economic uncertainty, UK car dealers experienced a pronounced rise in online inquiries during the third quarter of 2019.

New analysis of more than 162,000 inbound online inquiries received by car retailers throughout the UK was conducted by Marketing Delivery, the sales eCRM (electronic customer relationship management) provider.

The company found there had been a 20% increase in total enquiry volumes compared to Q3 2018.

Rising capture and consent rates

Marketing Delivery reported that dealers are becoming increasingly effective at gathering customer contact details, with the total volumes of captured data rebounding to pre-GDPR levels for the first time since the Regulation was introduced in May 2018.

The proportion of buyers consenting to receiving dealer marketing communications has also risen.

Email remains customers’ most preferred method of contact, and capture rates on email addresses grew from 88% in Q3 2018 to 90% in Q3 2019.

UK car dealers captured prospective customers’ mobile numbers for 82% of all enquiries during the third quarter of 2018, compared to 83% over the same period in 2019.

Capture rates, however, only tell half the story, as customers must give their consent to receiving marketing communications before dealers can act on the contact information gathered.

Customer consent rates fell dramatically following the introduction of GDPR but have risen steadily since. Marketing Delivery’s data reveals that customers are more likely to give consent to emails, with email consent rates rising from 67% in Q3 2018 to 69% in Q3 2019.

Reinforcing the positive trend, consent for contact via mobile was secured in 57% of enquiries in Q3 2019, compared to 54% during the same period last year.

Jeremy Evans, Managing Director at Marketing Delivery, said: “This data suggests more drivers are beginning to consider their next car, and it is encouraging to see dealers introducing new processes to grow capture and consent rates in a way that works for prospective customers.

“Dealers can use eCRM to record the growing number of inquiries, even the ‘coldest’ ones, and open up lines of communication. By capturing prospects’ emails and gaining consent for future marketing, dealers put themselves in a strong position to nurture leads, even if a prospective buyer may not be ready to commit at that particular moment.”

Marketing Delivery’s eCRM system helps dealers engage with customers and prospects via mobile-responsive email, SMS and social media messages, nurturing inquiries, increasing sales conversions and enhancing aftersales retention.

In addition, the company’s Car Alerts service enables dealers to provide prospective buyers with automated ‘real-time’ notifications about vehicle availability if their initial inquiry doesn’t immediately lead to a sale.

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