One in three chat users bought a vehicle after having an online conversation with a dealer, according to a new study conducted by Polk and commissioned by Contact At Once!

Polk analyzed 10,000 Contact At Once! chat transcripts in which consumers volunteered personally identifiable information, such as full name or driver’s license number.  They then matched these individuals to households with vehicle sales and registration data over a 60-day period to understand any connections between the chat conversation and purchase behavior.

The analysts found that chats originating from dealership websites, OEM sites and automotive marketplace sites, like, ultimately resulted in purchases one-third of the time.

“It validates the many anecdotal reports we have received from dealers that chat does help them sell cars,” said Marc Hayes, Contact At Once! founder and executive vice-president of product and strategy, in a recent press release.

Nearly 12,000 customers currently use Chat, included in all ad packages, to connect with shoppers, though many others have yet to take advantage of the tool. If your dealership hasn’t registered for chat, consider it as an opportunity to engage with customers who may not contact your dealerships via phone or email. This study reinforces similar research related to SMS messaging that indicates nearly half of shoppers age 18-34 believe a text message (comparable to chat) is as meaningful as a phone call.

Chat is most effective when multiple people at the dealership handle conversations. To increase availability to potential customers, it’s best to provide your entire sales team with access to Chat and have a manager monitor activity.

Moreover, Contact At Once! provides a mobile desktop extension and iPhone app for dealers that aren’t able to be tied down to their desk all day. It’s simple to use and prompts shoppers to connect with the dealership even if a chat is missed.

To get started with Chat on, simply contact your representative or email

How do you effectively engage shoppers with chat?  Share your tips in the comments section below.

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