Evaluating Your Virtual Showroom (Your Dealership Website)
Your website is your virtual showroom, so it’s important to make sure you’ve taken care of some critical housekeeping for it to perform effectively. Caring for your site is as important as cleaning your showroom and the cars on your lot…maybe even more important! Nearly everyone goes online to do some research before shopping for a car, so having a website that makes a good first impression is critical. If your website isn’t doing it’s job, chances are good you’re missing sales you don’t even know about. Once you’ve made certain your website seamlessly integrates with all of the other systems that make your dealership run, your primary consideration should be user experience. In order to better understand what makes a good website, we need to know what your customers want when they get there.
At the 2017 Google Marketing Next presentation the Director of Audience Products explained how today’s path to buying a car has changed. Gone are the days where shoppers search for the “closest ___ dealer” or “cars for sale”. Today’s consumer spends significant time online researching a few makes and models, reading vehicle reviews, and watching some test-drives on YouTube before ever stepping foot in a dealership. Google has defined five “in-market” milestones on the path to purchase that offer you the opportunity to capture a customer.
Evaluate how well your website meets potential customers along the path to purchase. What changes could improve your search results AND your customer experience? That is the best place to start.Does your website engage potential customers along the path to purchase? Find out. #automotive… Click To Tweet
How to Discover Your Customer’s Path
There are several high-tech ways to evaluate how customers interact with your website, but one of the best methods is to ask people who shop for cars! It’s a good investment of your time and effort to discover things customers like about your website and/or what you could do better. If you aren’t getting website feedback, you’re missing an important opportunity to learn how to improve your customer experience. Add a website question to your dealership reviews, or develop a separate survey using SurveyMonkey or other online tool, and then ask your friends and employees to share it on social media. Attract more survey participants with a prize drawing to gather as much feedback as possible.
Search Yourself (on Desktop and Mobile)
Search various terms you think a customer might use to find your dealership on both mobile and desktop. (ex. Make/model comparisons, your city name and used car dealerships, etc.) Where do you appear in search? How quickly does your site load on mobile devices? Mobile search currently exceeds desktop in every category, so if you aren’t coming up near the top here are a couple of things you can do to improve your chances going forward.
The Technical Stuff
A Search Engine Marketing To-Do List
These are basic search optimization tasks every business needs to do. If you don’t have a staff IT person, hire a digital native…a high school or college-aged intern…to help with search and social media tasks. They are small but highly effective improvements to your online presence.
- Make sure you have submitted your sitemap to Google Webmaster tools and that Google is crawling your site. (Same for Bing and Yahoo)
- Make sure you’ve added your dealership to Google Business and verified ownership of your website and location. This can be a little confusing, but here is a link to instructions. Doing this is critical to helping your customers find you.
- Create social media profiles and schedule posts. Social media posts are aggregated by search engines; in other words, Google and other search engine bots crawl social networks for keywords and content.
- Add your dealership to online listings. Moz has a great tool that will suggest places to update your listing and will also show you inconsistencies in your dealership’s directory listings that work against making it simple for customers to find you.
There are many more where this came from, but this list is a great place to start!
Give the People What They Want
Make sure your website answers questions customers ask on the buyer journey that might take them away from your website. Limit intrusive pop-ups or site add-ons. Having too many integrations will slow down page load times, frustrating visitors. Make sure your website easily serves up the information visitors want without forcing them to provide information. Instead, provide the information they want and make it easy for them to ask questions anonymously. Provide landing pages with make/model comparisons and quick links to inventory with pricing and other details to keep visitors on your site longer, increasing your chances of getting a lead. Provide clear calls to action and next steps to keep them engaged.
In addition, make sure your phone number is clearly visible on every page so visitors can easily get connected to a friendly and knowledgeable dealership representative. Consider investing in a dedicated number answered by a knowledgeable and friendly (live) person at your dealership (rather than an automated “press one for ____” system) during business hours. A great first impression can make all the difference!
A Final Word on #Winning Websites
Regularly reviewing your website through the lens of your customer is critical to the success of your business in a mobile-first market. Winning websites put customer experience first by offering non-intrusive communication and detailed information. Transparency builds trust. Your website will capture leads and drive showroom traffic when it meets a need on a consumer’s path to purchase. For more information about how DealerCue might help you improve your customer’s web experience call us at 1-844-484-6283 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.