Bots don’t buy cars, but efforts to block them can unwittingly prevent real customer digital leads from reaching car dealerships.

When Internet filters diligently battle bots and spammers, such collateral damage can occur. That’s an ancillary finding of the 2018 Internet mystery-shopping study by consultancy Pied Piper Management Co.

Overall, it annually measures how dealerships by brand respond to customer inquiries received through dealer websites.

Mercedes-Benz leads the pack this year, with Porsche, Lexus, Acura and Lincoln in the top five, in that order. Mercedes has shown consistent improvement in

The Pied Piper Internet Lead Effectiveness Benchmarking Study measures whether dealership employees perform the duties assigned to them, such as responding to digital inquiries, how quickly they do that and how well they answer specific customer questions.

But successful dealership web responses depend just as much on multiple software processes that often are invisible to dealerships and manufacturers, says Pied Piper CEO and President Fran O’Hagan. That’s where bot and spam filters factor in.

First, a customer inquiry must successfully transition from the website to the customer-relationship management system and avoid getting misclassified by a third party’s bot- and spam-detection software, he says.

Likewise, when a digital lead does make it through, a dealer’s response – whether automated or manual – must avoid getting flagged as spam by a customer’s email provider.

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