New Study Finds Car Buyers Visit Fewer Dealerships; Conduct More Research Online

August 01, 2017

RESEARCH TRIANGLE REGION, N.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Netsertive, a digital marketing technology company enabling brands and their local retailers to attract more customers through turnkey campaigns, today announced the findings of its Automotive Shopper Path to Purchase Survey of over 500 car buyers in the United States. With U.S. automotive sales down 13.2 percent year-over-year through June 30 according to Autodata, Netsertive’s study is proof that automotive OEMs and dealers must work together online to drive buyers to local lots throughout their path to purchase.

Key findings:

  • Car Shoppers Gear Up Online Before Visiting Dealerships
    Today’s automotive buyers are conducting extensive research online before visiting a dealership, with 67 percent of respondents visiting only one to two dealerships before making a purchase. When customers began their online research, 45 percent knew which brand of car they wanted, but were unsure about which dealership they would purchase from. Another 34 percent of respondents were unsure about both brand and dealership, relying on digital channels to educate themselves.
  • Customers are Utilizing Reviews, Search and Web to Inform Their Decisions
    Survey respondents used a variety of channels for conducting online research, with the most popular being consumer reviews, local dealer websites and search engines. Automotive marketers have an opportunity to attract customers through these online channels, ensuring they’re top of mind when it’s time to make a purchase.
  • Dealerships Must Be Optimized for Mobile Customer Interactions
    Almost 50 percent of shoppers are using mobile devices to conduct their automotive research. In addition to researching new car options, a recent Facebook survey found that auto shoppers are also using mobile devices to reach out to dealers and book test drives. Mobile is changing the way customers interact with dealerships. Having a mobile-optimized website is essential to attract and convert these “on-the-go” customers.

“We are capturing the lion’s share of new car sales in our market, and we attribute our strong digital presence as an integral part of our success this year,” said Susan Hamilton, director of advertising for Continental Mazda in Anchorage, Alaska. “When we began working with Netsertive in 2014, we watched our website traffic and leads increase significantly. Since then, we’ve added both Netsertive’s digital video and social media advertising channels to our local search marketing campaign. We couldn’t be more pleased with our results. We are experiencing more sales and service calls and online scheduling. Our 2016 winter tire sales exceeded all expectations.”

“The automotive industry is extremely competitive, especially now that buying decisions are increasingly made before customers visit a dealership,” said Brendan Morrissey, CEO and co-founder of Netsertive. “We understand the automotive landscape and the goals and challenges each dealership faces daily. At Netsertive, we use data-driven insights to help brands and dealerships execute co-op marketing campaigns to target car shoppers throughout their purchasing journey.”

Using Google Consumer Surveys, Netsertive surveyed over 500 consumers on their automotive buying patterns. All respondents were located in the continental U.S.

To learn more about this survey, visit:

To learn more about how Netsertive supports automotive dealers with their marketing efforts, visit: