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ATLANTA and SEATTLE — Contact At Once, a provider of dealer chat software, and Cobalt announced a new partnership on Tuesday.

The deal means an enhanced version of Contact At Once's chat solution can be integrated into Cobalt's dealer Web site suite.

Executives highlighted that dealers now can support more shoppers' natural communications preferences with the potential to increase total sales opportunities generated by their advertising investments. Because of this partnership with Cobalt, results reporting now can include chat-based opportunities along with e-mail leads, phone leads and walk-ins.

Officials from both companies believe more than three quarters of all vehicle shoppers use the Internet before visiting a dealer. They offered recent research data to confirm that shoppers engage more with dealers that support the type of communications methods they prefer.

"This solution takes dealer chat technology to a new level by making it easy for dealer sales personnel to use, personalizing it for consumers with real images of dealership staff and eliminating the need for expensive, less-effective external call centers through 'presence aware' smart technology that knows when dealership personnel are ready and able to chat," executives explained.

A member of management from the Jim Ellis Automotive Group shared what chat technology did for that organization's performance.

"Contact At Once chat encourages online shoppers to connect and converse with our dealerships," noted Wayne Ussery, director of Internet marketing for the Jim Ellis dealerships that include Chevrolet, Buick-GMC, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Saab, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Audi and Porsche franchises.

"Many of our stores receive 50 or more chat requests each month," Ussery added.

Executives from both Contact At Once and Cobalt elaborated further on what this partnership could mean for dealers.

"We're thrilled that an industry leader like Cobalt recognized the advanced capabilities of Contact At Once and chose us as a partner," stated John Hanger, president and chief executive officer of Contact At Once.

"This is the first partnership of its kind for Cobalt," shared Chris Reed, Cobalt's chief marketing officer.

"This type of partnership provides our customers with the flexibility and choice they desire to optimize the performance of their digital marketing without sacrificing the integrated performance reporting and service delivery they value from Cobalt," Reed went on to say.