Understanding customer intent has traditionally been separated into three main foci of internet searches, NIT- Navigational, Informational, and Transactional. Each of these terms denotes a way in which online users may search for information and is used to allow marketers to understand how to provide the necessary information their potential clients are looking for.

It seems, however, that within specific industries it may be more appropriate to break down these search varieties into the more subtle specificities of the niche. Car dealerships are one such industry.

For many automotive dealers, developing a well-planned digital marketing strategy can seem like a daunting task. As sales commonly occur in brick-and-mortar showrooms, it may be difficult for such companies to understand what they can do to improve their online visibility so that it has tangible knock-on benefits to their company, such as increased sales. Utilising the NIT categorization, automotive dealers may start to understand that potential online interactions are not as simple as they first may seem.

Perhaps the visitor has a favourite brand but does not know where that brand’s closest showroom is -Navigational: ‘Where is the closest Hyundai showroom to me?’

Perhaps the visitor knows what car they want but is unsure about financing options – Informational: ‘Can I lease the new Hyundai i30?’

Or maybe the visitor has already bought a new vehicle and is looking for alternative services – Transactional: ‘Hyundai Service and MOT’

It may be though that using the NIT understanding of user intent is not the optimal strategy for understanding potential customer searches. Instead, intent may be broken down into a different set of questions used to ascertain specific user queries:

Which – Which car is best suited to me and my needs

Where – Where should I buy the car that I intend on purchasing

Is it – Is this purchase decision right for me at the moment

Can I – Can I afford to purchase the car that I have set my sights on

Am I – Am I getting a good deal in this purchase

For example; when a potential customer is considering car leasing as an option for their next vehicle purchase decision, it is the ‘Is it’ and ‘Can I’ questions that they are likely to be looking for answers to. Such customers do not know if car leasing is the right move for their lifestyle, it is the dealership that needs to answer this question for them.

Moreover, this example shows that answering only some of the questions is also likely to leave out those potential customers who have different intents from their search. If, for example, you only sought to answer questions such as car leasing decision making, and forget to provide information on where you offer your services, you are likely to miss customers who are searching for terms such as ‘buy Toyota Yaris near me’ – will those customers find your dealership easily?

What these alternative questions enable a dealership to do is not only provide information that is specific to the company, but to become an authoritative source of information regarding the industry they are involved in. This strategy can provide more scope for content creation that can lead to higher rankings in search engines and greater visibility online.
A dealership that is capable on answering these questions will go a long way towards enhancing their capacity to turn potential customers into complete purchases. If a dealership can answer all or most of the questions that a user may have, they are more likely to have customers stay on their content for longer and to ultimately engage with the dealership in a more positive way. It is thus up to the dealership if they want to answer these questions, and ultimately how they will is what will matter most.

Colin Forrest is an Junior SEO Specialist at Makolab UK – a leading international Digital Solutions Agency

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