FT. LAUDERDALE, FL – AutoUSA has announced that in a recent dealer survey that polled 632 automotive dealerships, 29 percent of respondents listed “capturing new markets” or reaching customers that otherwise would not find them, as the most important benefit or reason to use a third-party new car leads service. Approximately 27 percent listed “increased sales/higher closing ratios," while 15 percent indicated that “more leads/increased traffic” were the most important benefits for this type of service.

“These responses confirm that dealers realize Internet leads contribute to a well-rounded marketing effort,” said Phil DuPree, president of AutoUSA. “The majority of consumers use the Internet to shop or do research prior to buying a new car, and if dealers don’t have an online presence, those consumers will go somewhere else.”

Nearly 60 percent of dealers defined a quality lead as a lead that has valid contact information and that are from people who are qualified and ready to buy.

The survey also revealed that the average number of third-party lead service providers used by dealers is 4.4. “Dealers should carefully review the performance of their third-party new-car leads service and eliminate the lowest performers. This will reduce duplication of consumers, which was a complaint from many dealers. Additional lead volume is typically available from the top performing services,” said DuPree.

Another trend revealed in the survey is the increased interest in search engine optimization and pay per click advertising. When asked how interested they would be in SEO and PPC services, nearly 70 percent of dealers responded that they were somewhat or very interested. The West Coast showed more interest than any other geographic region, according to the AutoUSA study.

The study, which concluded in February of 2007, was conducted by Gilleard Marketing, an independent market research firm retained by AutoUSA to survey a portion of its customer base on a variety of issues related to customer service and trends. Gilleard received responses from 632 automotive dealers, with more than 86 percent of respondents at the managerial level, directly responsible for managing Internet sales and leads, business development, and/or general managers.