Shopping for cars online is easy for car buyers of 2017, but how can a dealership convert traffic into sales? Get four timely tips to supercharge your website.
Consumers shop around a lot before buying a car, and now they do much of that comparison-shopping online. Nearly half (48 percent) of buyers will spend from one to three months shopping before committing to a purchase. Needless to say, they aren’t spending those months chatting with your sales team at the dealership. On average, a new car buyer will spend over 16 hours shopping around online. With a better idea of how those consumers are comparison-shopping online, you can tailor your website to convert online traffic into customers on your lot.
They’re Looking at More Than Just Dealerships
The modern, savvy consumer isn’t satisfied with just looking at the inventory for one or two of the nearest dealerships. They use a combination of manufacturer, dealership, and third-party websites, pulling different types of information from each. Manufacturer sites are commonly used to compare different models and features. They trust the manufacturer to let them know about the latest upgrades on the new model years. Third party websites are used to get an estimate of the market value and fair pricing for cars, and dealership sites give buyers information about which models are available. Consumers are also progressively visiting more of each type of site. In 2015, buyers visited more than nine sites on average, including more than four dealerships.
Fortunately, dealerships who can invest in their website can easily cater to this kind of buyer. Your website should be more than just a listing of your currently available inventory. Develop content that provides information for comparison shoppers, and you’ll earn the trust (and traffic) of buyers looking to get a better understanding of different models. Don’t waste online leads by letting shoppers go elsewhere for the answers to simple questions. Pop-up chat windows get the conversation started between your sales team and future buyers. Be the first to answer their burning questions, and you will win!
Buyers Looking at Dealerships Are Ready
In the eyes of your sales staff, every person who walks into the dealership is asking to be sold a car. People who visit dealership pages are in a similar mindset, even if they aren’t physically standing in the showroom. A dozen other sites provide model comparisons and other information about pricing, and so buyers are more likely to use manufacturers and other sources during the early phases of comparison shopping. Buyers who want to learn as much as possible may spend time comparing the latest models and reading reviews for those model years. Nearly half (47 percent) will use sites like Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader. When they’re done comparing and are ready to buy, 58 percent of consumers will visit dealership pages.
Once a buyer is looking at local dealerships, there is a good chance that they are ready to make a commitment. Since many buyers are looking for specific models, you’ll need to rank high in more than just generic “new car” searches. Make sure you have search engine optimization (SEO) that makes your site competitive for most individual models. If other local dealerships rank higher for popular models, then you are missing out on potential business.
A Dealership’s Online Presence Is Critical
The Internet is the top resource for over 75 percent of both new and used car buyers. By comparison, just 20 percent of new car buyers (and 10 percent of used car buyers) are mainly influenced by radio. Locals who haven’t ever stepped into your showroom will get their first impression from your dealership’s website. Of course, they may never visit your homepage if you haven’t invested in professional SEO. There are a lot of things you can do yourself to improve your search rankings, depending on the types of searches you hope to attract.
To improve your overall ranking, consider building out your website further. Add a FAQs page and other content that visitors will find genuinely useful. With an entire team of staff members, your dealership has knowledge and experience worth sharing when it comes to the types of vehicles you sell. Consumers will be able to tell when your content is empty and promotional, so be sure to put time into developing quality resources. To rank higher for individual models, add specific pages that discuss those models. Incorporate the model name into metadata for a more noticeable ranking boost.
There’s no better resource for developing website content that will move the needle than your salespeople and staff who deal with customers every day.
Your Dealership Needs Social Media
The buyers you want are all on Facebook, and there’s no reason to miss an opportunity for free advertising.
Americans check their social media accounts an average of 17 times a day, and sites like Facebook allow you to target users by region and demographics. By updating your social media accounts regularly and occasionally paying to push your posts onto local social media newsfeeds, you can target the people who are most likely to be in the market for a new vehicle. By encouraging your customers to tag and interact with your dealership, you can multiply the potential word of mouth advertising traditionally associated with a sale.
Building up your presence on places like YouTube can have a real impact on your search rankings. It’s also important to claim and update your dealership’s listing on places like Google My Business. Make sure that hours and contact information are accurate because people who comparison-shop online will be skeptical of pages that look suspicious or incomplete. Claiming these types of listings also gives you the opportunity to respond to any negative reviews. Everyone knows how negative Yelp reviews can have a cumulative effect on a restaurant, but Google My Business reviews will appear when a customer just wants the address or hours of operation. This heightened level of visibility makes reviews especially important.
Ultimately, the principles behind sales have not changed—drivers still want a good deal on a quality vehicle—but how we advertise has evolved. For years, car dealerships have positioned themselves alongside thoroughfares and intersections, and they’ve used balloons, flags, and signage designed to make the lot, and the inventory, eye-catching. However, those same balloons won’t attract online traffic. Make sure that your dealership is highly visible online, and you’ll have potential buyers with one foot in the door.
Join me for my session “10 Ideas to Drive Traffic to Your Website” at the 22nd Digital Dealer Conference & Expo this April, where you’ll learn 10 actionable tips for getting more ready buyers to your website or blog. From Schema updates to Facebook advertising target hints, you will leave with a checklist of items you can immediately implement in your online marketing efforts.
Author: Will Scott
Will Scott is CEO and Co-founder of Search Influence. He founded Search Influence in collaboration with COO Angie Scott in 2006 with the goal to help businesses find new customers online. Scott is a recognized leader in local search, social media, and content marketing and is a frequent speaker at national conferences and contributes to projects such as the Annual Local Search Ranking Factors project. He also sits on the faculty of Local U. Scott has led Search Influence to become nationally recognized for excellence in SMB marketing and the largest online marketing company on the Gulf Coast. Scott was New Orleans’ only Inc. 500 honoree in 2011 and an Inc. 5000 honoree in 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016. Search Influence is a Flyover 50 Winner, 2015 Inner City 100 (one of only two LA businesses to do so) and winner of the American Marketing Association’s 2012 Marketing Awards of Excellence (MAX). EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org