DEARBORN (WWJ) — The best way for automakers to reach car shoppers is email by a country mile.

That’s one of the main findings of FordDirect’s Automotive Consumer Marketing Survey, released Tuesday.

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“Consumers are bombarded with multiple pieces of communication throughout their day, and how dealers communicate to those consumers is important to cutting through the noise,” said Stacey Coopes, FordDirect CEO. “The results of this research indicate just how crucial it is for dealers to tailor their communication outreach to grab their customers’ attention.”

The study, conducted in June, gathered responses from more than 1,300 automotive consumers on their communication preferences, vehicle shopping behaviors and automotive brand loyalty in selecting a dealer and purchasing a new and used vehicle.

Email and traditional mail methods were identified in the survey as preferred methods of communication from a dealer, with 84 percent of shoppers indicating they would prefer emails. Millennials, in particular, preferred email compared to other possible channels, including mail, social media, phone and text. The survey showed 91 percent of them would rather be contacted via email.

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The research also found that 62 percent of shoppers visit a dealer’s website when searching for a new vehicle. And while paid advertising may be beneficial, the majority of shoppers are just as likely to click on an organic search result as a paid listing.

“Our findings show the importance of developing a strong, multi-channel marketing platform that includes new and traditional communication channels,” Coopes said. “We also found that a website’s SEO is just as important as paid online advertising, further reiterating that maintaining established channels is just as important as building out new ones.”

Other key findings from the study include:
* Half of consumers have searched for automotive specials or offers for their new vehicles.
* Sixty percent of consumers are loyal to one brand the majority of the time when purchasing a new vehicle.
* While quality and value drive loyalty, price and fuel economy are the two major factors consumers consider when switching brands.

Dearborn-based FordDirect is a Web marketing joint venture Ford Motor Co. and its dealers. It provides marketing services, call tracking, lead management solutions, dealer websites, search optimization and marketing, database marketing, marketing services for regional dealer advertising groups and other digital services.

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