Pop-up specials, chat tools, auto-play videos, tons of useless slides, and more have turned our dealership websites into 1990s era MySpace pages of confusion.
We’ve done this to ourselves, really. Through a laser-like focus on conversion and leads and a desire to accommodate every idea from OEMs and our management team, we’ve turned our front door into an exit.
Where do we begin to fix this?
The first step towards optimizing our websites for the customer involves a deep dig into the data. By establishing a solid baseline we’ll be able to determine what needs attention and how changes impact site performance.
- Look at Site Content: Knowing our most trafficked pages is a good start for determining where to start the process. Content analysis can also show us bounce rate and highlight which pages are sending customers packing.
- Page Timing: Some pages should be designed to get the customer off of them as quickly as possible (hello, homepage!) and others should be able to provide them the information they came for and go for that conversion. By looking at the respective time on various pages, we can determine if a page is doing it’s job.
- Load Times: A slow site is a recipe for disaster. By analyzing the load times and browser optimization for your website, we can make sure that the site is functioning as seamlessly as possible.
- Ask the Customers! Get a group of your best customers together and ask what they like/don’t like about your website. Pick them out of the service lounge and offer them a discount for their feedback.
Once we have a good idea of what’s working and what isn’t we can get started! But before asking ourselves a few questions, let’s consider the 80/20 rule:
80% of Our Customers Use 20% of the Site’s Features
Question 1: What can we eliminate?
The real secret to site optimization isn’t the addition of anything, but rather the subtraction of items that are killing performance. Things to consider removing:
- Bounce Rate inducing Pop Up ads.
- Extra and/or busy homepage carousel slides.
- Rarely Clicked Calls-to-Action
- External Plugins
- Excess add-ons in the mobile view
- The Staff Page! (Note, this is just a personal item as it is constantly out of date and viewed mainly by staff themselves).
Question 2: What features can we make easier to find?
Customers are leaving your site because they cannot find what they want. Let’s find the most popular features and make them easier than ever to access, including:
- Quick Access to Inventory
- Most Popular Pages
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Easy Service Scheduling
Question 3: How can we make the site more helpful?
Customers aren’t visiting our websites because they want to be “converted” into a “lead”, they are visiting the site because they are seeking information. Let’s help them find it by:
- Making our own in-house appraisal tools!
- Give quick access to pricing.
- List major options and packages in vehicle comments (new cars too).
- Improve site speed and loading times.
- Prioritize the important stuff!
- Create FAQ pages for frequently asked questions (this is awesome for SEO also).
Implementation and Testing
It’s important that we make sure the ideas we’d want to implement benefit our customers and that they can be measured. Here are some implementation tips:
- Avoid changing too many things at a time, as these items can all have a “group effect” over time, we want to make sure we are only adjusting 1-2 items per month.
- Consider using A/B testing, or trying items one way for some visitors and another way for other users. (Note: this is a great way to settle a bet with someone who disagrees)
- For larger items, ask your web provider to place the page on a development server for you to test with customers or family members.
- Set a timeline for all of your changes to evaluate success and either keep them or try something else!
While some of these processes seem simple enough, the trick to a consumer optimized website lies in the execution and commitment to a data and customer focused approach.
About the Author
Kristopher Nielsen is a digital marketer with more than 10 years of experience. As the Sales and Customer Experience Operations Manager for the Soave Automotive Group, Kris oversees the sales processes, digital marketing, and customer experience for 10 luxury and exotic automobile dealerships in the Kansas City area.
Author: Contributing Writer
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