Calls in automotive trade – vital for digital success

by | Nov 6, 2021

The phone is the most important contact channel for car dealers

Do you work in the automotive trade or are you responsible for the online marketing or lead management of car dealers?

Then no doubt you are aware of the challenges and the realities.

In our experience, the automotive trade in particular has many sources and channels for leads and inquiries, both online and offline.

Customers often use the quickest and easiest method available for their inquiries: the telephone. “Old-school” methods (see photo) make it virtually impossible to maintain order and transparency in the face of this flood of inquiries.

Intransparency is the biggest danger for car dealers

This lack of transparency results in imprecise deployment of the marketing budget with lots of wastage and sometimes frustrated customers too when their inquiries are not answered.

One of these new ways is the modern, contemporary way of dealing with customers, their trust, their wishes and their desire for things to be done as smoothly as possible. “Remove friction” as the American likes to say.

One way to avoid this friction is to take better care of your customers. To handle all customer inquiries as quickly as possible, as professionally as possible and with the necessary empathy. As a channel for these often emotional purchase decisions, the voice channel is still preferred. And the front-runner in voice communication is still the telephone, i.e. a call.

How does measurement take place today?

The lead generators sometimes report on generated (telephone) inquiries; sometimes they don’t. If salespeople are instructed to ask about, specify, and report on lead channels, implementation is often imprecise and inconsistent. You may also need to overcome extreme resistance when wanting employees to capture this information.

A multitude of lead sources – a curse or a blessing?

Car dealers have a relatively high number of lead sources. This becomes evident when you compare the automotive trade with the real estate sector or other industries: the number of lead sources is extremely diverse.

Examples of lead sources for car dealers

Automotive platforms and referral partners

Proprietary manufacturer platforms

Social Media

Directories and other listings

  • Google mybusiness
  • Werliefertwas
  • Gelbeseiten (online and offline)

Company website (CMS System)

  • WordPress
  • Hubspot CMS
  • Typo3
  • Shopware

Newsletter (Tools)

  • Newsletter2Go
  • Rapidmail
  • Cleverreach
  • Mailchimp
  • Cleverelements
  • Getresponse


  • Newspapers
  • Flyer
  • Posters
  • Other

Manufacturer campaigns

  • Test drives
  • Service campaigns
As you can see from our small, incomplete list, the person assigned this task needs to manage and organize several dozen lead sources, and quickly too. There aren’t many dealerships with fewer than 20 lead sources. A portion of the budget is currently invested in the various lead sources, sometimes with no consideration of the ROI as precise measurement of the results is not possible.

How can Call Tracking help resolve issues for car dealers?

In general, it is important to have a defined lead management process and to optimize the various touch points that a customer has with the company on the journey toward purchasing a car. Transparent measurement of the sources and touch points is worthwhile as it provides a basis for optimization. It is precisely within this measurement of sources and the telephone touch point that Call Tracking delivers a considerable advantage by providing the relevant information about a call (source/origin, caller’s number, answered/missed, local network, time of call). This vital information can be transferred to existing tools (dealer management systems, tracking tools, data warehouse, BI) to enrich the existing data. Integration with existing tools can also enable information to be added about the result of the call (test drive, service appointment, potential customer, other) and a quality measurement to be taken.

How can car dealers implement telephone tracking effectively?

To begin with, it’s important to define the aim of the project. It’s good to know if you want “just” an overview or are seeking streamlined optimization.
Now it’s worth naming the various lead sources and being familiar with the available reporting methods.

What data is reported by the individual lead generators?

If calls already feature in this, are they real calls or “just” clicks on the telephone number?

In which formats is this data available and can this data be integrated into our overall evaluation without major effort?

Once the lead sources have been defined, the next step is to think about the required “depth of measurement” for these sources.

Is it sufficient for me to know how many calls I receive via platform XYZ?

Do I want to know how many calls I receive for each vehicle segment (car/SUV/motorcycle)?

Do I want to know how many calls are generated by specific individual listings?

This is also relevant for other sources: for print media, individual campaigns or “print overall” could be evaluated; on the website, it could be “web calls” or keyword-level evaluations for Google Ads (“test drive model XYZ”).

What’s more, many dealerships are also listed in many ways offsite; do you know how many calls you receive via the various workshop portals, etc.?

Once the measurement depth of the individual sources is known, the next decision is into which tool(s) this data is to be integrated and processed. To begin with, we recommend simple integration in existing tools and the use of existing reports. More complex integration with data enrichment in other systems is best left until later.

What should I do with the data?

Here too, it helps to define the aims for the collected data. For example, the aim at the beginning may be to increase availability by telephone. With the call tracking data collected, it is possible to assess the days and times at which you need to take action in order to improve availability. You can also use this new data to set up a lead recovery process for initiating messages and/or callbacks in the event of a missed call. As a minimum, alongside this the most cost-intensive online advertising channel (usually Google Ads) should be optimized to enable the fastest possible ROI while collecting general data from the other channels and sources. The important thing here usually is not to gather this data “for measurement purposes,” but to include this in your basis for decision-taking and your improvement initiatives. Only then will the project be a success.


The large number of lead channels/sources in the automotive trade means that transparency is of particular benefit to enable the targeted deployment of campaigns and budgets. As calls are the most important and most valuable leads within the automotive trade, a clear basis is of primary importance. This also results in a whole host of optimization opportunities for an improved customer experience.

Call tracking is already standard practice for many manufacturers and experts in the sector and is continuing to establish itself as an indispensable tool within this industry.

Nov 6, 2021

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