In the earliest days of car shopping, potential customers are trying to answer two fundamental questions: “What vehicle should I buy?” and “What dealer should I work with?” Since a majority of vehicle shoppers are visiting dealership websites long before they step through the doors of a dealership, it’s critical that dealer websites answer these fundamental questions quickly and clearly. (In other words, your sponsorship of a Little League team or Joe Smith’s promotion to service director probably shouldn’t be the first things browsing customers see on your website.)
Many websites are developed from the dealership point of view, not the customers’ perspective. Websites usually have plenty of information about why the dealership wants to sell and how, but not enough about what the customer wants to buy and where. The goal, of course, is to provide a better user experience on the website. A dealer’s website is now more important than ever because that’s where the journey begins with the client, according to Bob George, Assistant Vice President of Products at Dealer.com, in a recent interview with CBT Automotive Network.
“A website today needs to be something that listens and pays attention to what the shopper’s asking, and then puts forward a recommendation based on their needs, not just based on what they think they should sell them,” said George.
This may mean collecting data about how consumers are using the website, where they browse to, what they look at and what action they take after visiting the website. This information is vital to ensure that the website is usable, attractive, readable and informative, and not just a megaphone through which to shout sales messages. Ensure that the content you put on the website is actionable and something that’s going to drive car sales and service and further customer relationships. Post real pricing information instead of forcing shoppers to call or email for pricing. The goal is to give customers what they’re looking for, not force them into shopping according to the dealership’s preferences.
Another critical element of the dealership website is regular updates to keep the content fresh and pertinent, yet not so often that you confused vehicle shoppers. George advises to avoid sudden and drastic changes, but also not to let the website molder untouched for years.
“If you redesign it every month, there’s no continuity in the experience for people,” he said. “And they come back and they think, ‘What this even the same place I was?’ But [it’s also detrimental] if you let it go for three, four or five years. We try to think in that 12- to 18-month range.”
Finally, hire a professional to design the website. While your son-in-law may be “great with computers,” he probably doesn’t have the digital marketing know-how to attract shoppers’ eyeballs. Ask for recommendations for professional website design firms who can ask the right questions and direct you about the way shoppers surf.