How would you describe the average visitor to your dealership website? If you are like many of the progressive auto dealerships we talk to every day, you will probably say they tend to be current or returning customers who have made their decision and are very close to purchase. It’s a view that makes sense and has been conventional wisdom for quite some time. At PERQ, we like to question the status quo, so, as part of our ongoing analysis of consumer online behavior, we put this piece of ‘wisdom’ to the test.
We’re glad we did. Our analysis showed that not only are the bulk of dealership visitors new to the website, but they also are hot prospects looking to make a decision. Yet, instead of fully engaging their website visitors — traffic that dealers spend a good chunk of their marketing budget generating — many are missing this opportunity. Why? Because there tends to be a dissonance between the experience these dealership website visitors are having and the experience they actually need to help them slide down the purchase funnel into your showroom.
In order to get a clear picture of online auto shoppers, we looked at consumer data captured from thousands of leads over a three-month period, from a sampling of 350 auto dealership clients. This is what we found:
Conventional wisdom misconception No. 1: “My visitors are mainly pre-existing customers.”
Reality: The majority of visitors to your dealership website are brand new and very hot prospects: 74% of them! Only a quarter of consumers visiting your website are existing customers.
Action: It is critical that you find ways to educate these new consumers about what makes your dealership diﬀerent and unique. For example, an interactive “New Customer Welcome” can help guide visitors onto the next steps in their car buying process and prove to them that your dealership is here to help.
Conventional wisdom misconception No. 2: “Most website visitors are low in the purchase funnel and ready to buy.”
Reality: 77% are still looking for information to educate them about the purchase, representing prime opportunities for conversion. Only 23% are at the end of their decision-making process.
Action: Your website should be able to learn and remember the visitor’s information so each can receive a personalized experience that changes Calls To actions and other preference data to assist them in the next stage of their research. Finding ways to keep consumers engaged and informed will help drive them down the buying funnel. Interactive assessments help shoppers conﬁrm the best model match or whether to lease or buy, and it gives consumers validation to help them ﬁnalize a decision.
Conventional wisdom misconception No. 3: “If visitors are not high in the purchase funnel, they are a long way from a purchase.”
Reality: Most want to purchase sooner rather than later: 61% say they want to transact now or within 2 weeks.
Action: Make sure you have access to consumer proﬁle data that can help you know which of these “hot” leads to follow through with ﬁrst. If you don’t have that data, you are losing out: most visitors to your website want to transact sooner rather than later, so an efficient, engaging website experience that guides them down the purchase funnel is critical.
These misconceptions fuel what is one of the biggest online consumer mistakes our industry makes: setting lead traps disguised as “interactive” assistance on their websites. After all, if conventional wisdom is undermining the reality that these consumers are still researching and looking for information that will guide them in their process, then it is not surprising that many of today’s dealership websites are an obstacle course of lead traps for consumers. And — make no mistake — today’s online shoppers are rebelling against obvious “lead traps.” They are expert researchers who expect complete control of their shopping experience, and they demand an engaging, intuitive experience.
Think Amazon, Google and Facebook, companies that have spent millions training consumers to expect “smart,” efficient websites that know who they are and what they like. Major third-party auto brands, like Autotrader, Cars.com and TrueCar have also kept pace with consumer expectations, but dealer websites have not.
By reassessing who your website visitors really are, and embracing the (data-supported) reality that your website is fertile ground for new sales (versus a static receptacle for returning customers), you can re-orient the online consumer experience in a way that translates into buying customers.
Make your website your best salesperson by engaging these ‘new-to-your-dealership’ customers as they narrow down their choices with the information that is most relevant to them. Help them remain in control of their experience. Stop turning the dollars you send driving traffic to your site into vapor and start making your website work for you, your customers…. and your bottom line.
About the Author:
Jenny Vance, EVP of Sales at PERQ, has helped over 350 companies from across the world develop sales generation strategies, including Fortune 50 clients, companies with series A/B/C funding, and early-stage entrepreneurs at seed stage. Jenny has a strong ability to identify sales talent, cultivate leaders, scale proven sales performance and develop aggressive ramp towards value for new employees. For five consecutive years, she was honored by the Sales Lead Management Association (SLMA) as one of the 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management. She also was recognized by SLMA as one of 20 Women to Watch. Direct Marketing named Jenny to their 40 Under 40 lists, and she received the McDermond Medal for Excellence in Entrepreneurship.
Author: Contributing Writer
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