Is Your Website All That It Can Be?

October 13, 2017

The purpose of your dealership’s website is to present your image, inventory and services in the best image, right? That may still be true but, in today’s car-buying universe, the primary goals of your website should be to guide customers through the car-buying process and motivate them to eventually buy a vehicle from you.

Here’s some information to consider the next time you redesign your website. And after you read this article, you may want to redesign it soon!

Making things easy

Car buyers now spend an average of 14 hours shopping online, up from just five hours a decade ago, according to a study by the National Automobile Dealers Association and global consultants McKinsey & Company. So, the more you can do to help customers zero in on the right vehicle using your website, the faster and smoother their shopping experience might be once they arrive at your store.

Focus, in particular, on your online product presentation. Make it easy for customers to browse your entire vehicle inventory online using whatever criteria they choose: used vs. new, price, make, model, mileage and so on. Include plenty of high-quality vehicle photos and even videos to enable customers to take a virtual test drive of the car or truck they’re interested in.

Gearing up for trade-ins

To boost profitability, try to get your customers thinking trade-in before they set foot in your door.

Consider developing a trade-in page on your website that includes an explanation of the benefits of trading in at the dealership vs. selling a vehicle to a private party. Also explain how your trade-in process works. And work with your website designer to create an online trade evaluation tool that customers can use to get an idea of their trade-in’s approximate value.

Providing useful content

Content is king in the online marketing world, so include plenty of resources on your site designed to help educate and inform customers, rather than just sell to them. Adding fresh content to your site regularly also can help improve your search engine optimization results.

Articles, e-books and videos on buying and maintaining vehicles are helpful types of content found on dealership websites today. Some dealers prefer to outsource content creation to an agency that specializes in this instead of trying to create and manage it themselves.

Putting it all out there

Many dealerships use a wide range of digital marketing tools such as e-newsletters, social media marketing and online videos. Your website should centralize and organize all of these marketing initiatives.

Are there prominent links on your home page to your social media platforms, such as your dealership’s Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages and your YouTube channel? Is there a sign-up option for your e-newsletter? Also, consider adding a live chat option (if you don’t have one already) so customers can communicate virtually with a customer service rep.

Spotting trends

The desire among customers to adopt a fully digital car-buying experience is relatively small but growing, according to Foresight Research’s recent Dealer Action Report, Making Digital Work for You.

A full online showroom where they can complete the car-buying process without visiting a dealership was preferred by 14% of respondents, up from 10% a year earlier. Conversely, 60% said they prefer physically visiting the dealership, down from 68% a year before.

Not surprisingly, a higher percentage of car buyers ages 18–34 (20%) and a lower percentage of buyers age 55 and over (11%) prefer a full online showroom.

Given these trends — and because young buyers are especially interested in purchasing cars online — it might be smart to begin taking steps toward creating a fully digital car-buying experience for the customers who want it.

The best website, ever

Common dealership wisdom used to be that your showroom should be the most attractive, comfortable and inviting place it can be for prospective buyers. And that might still be the case. But your website also should meet those criteria if you want the best shot at making the sale.

© 2017