Thursday, September 23rd at 11:00 AM ET
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11 minute read
Acquiring website traffic is an undeniably vital part of any dealership’s digital marketing strategy. But if enough visitors to your website aren’t converting into leads (and if the ones who do aren’t converting into sales), something needs to change — fast! Focusing on improving dealership conversion rates, both on- and offline, should be your primary objective, as conversions drive bottom-line revenue.
In other words, if the volume of visitors to your website simply isn’t reflected in your sales figures, it’s time to take action to turn things around. Here are some tips on how to get started:
Car dealership conversion rates for website leads average around 1.5%. However, this number can and will fluctuate. To determine your own conversion rate for website leads, take the number of site conversions and divide it by the total number of site visitors. Take solace if your own rate is greater than that of the industry standard lead conversion rate, but ultimately use your own rate as the baseline for improvement going forward.
The reason for this is that your dealership’s own conversion rate is influenced by many diverse aspects, such as geographic location and OEM, that shape both your target audience and what you can offer.
To break it down to the basics, there are two key components you’ve got to get right to succeed online. The first is your audience — the people you’re directing your messaging at. And the other is your offer — that’s your value proposition to this specific audience. Communicate your offer effectively to a carefully considered audience, and the conversions take care of themselves.
Only when you’re really tuned in to both of these components will your dealership fulfill its potential. If you’re failing to convert web traffic, there’s likely an issue with either the audience or your offer — or both. Each side has its nuances, and a little understanding of the technicalities will go a long way in repositioning you above your competition.
You’ve interacted with customers day-in, day-out for years, so it’s safe to say you know them pretty well, right? It’s easy to get complacent.
Use a combination of website analytics and your own knowledge of your customers to regularly refine your customer personas. Try to narrow down your most important customers into four or five groups and build a picture of their various characteristics. How old are they? What kind of jobs do they work in? What’s their favorite time to shop? Delving into these questions will help you to spot opportunities and variations.
Even if you think you’ve got a pretty clear understanding of customer personas, there’s always room to dig a little deeper and move with the times. Markets and consumer behaviors are constantly changing, and the way you target your audience should adjust accordingly, so keep an open mind and review your customer personas on a routine basis.
It is essential to understand where your website traffic is coming from to see if visitors from certain sources convert at a lower rate than others, or if there are sources you’re neglecting full stop.
If you aren’t getting enough customers from organic searches, work on your search engine optimization strategy. Find out which keywords your audience searches for as well as the intent behind those searches, and strategically place aligned keywords on your site to optimize your rankings on search engines like Google. One of the best ways to channel this into your site is by targeting keywords with informational intent on your blog and targeting keywords with commercial or transactional intent on landing pages, finance and core pages of your website.
Social media is another key source of web traffic. Are you using social platforms to their full potential? Think carefully about which social networks your prospects use most, and post original, engaging content that showcases your expertise — and do it regularly! As you build your following, be sure to link posts to your website to get this high-quality traffic closer to conversion.
Then there’s improving your pay-per-click ad campaigns. Experiment carefully with ad groups and keywords you want to target. If your ads are mostly resulting in impressions, mix up the criteria. Impressions that don’t lead to clicks and conversions aren’t working as they should.
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Now that you’ve got a better understanding of who your audience is and where they’re coming from, you’ll want to look at how they’re interacting with your website. The goal is to take them on the journey from prospect to paying customer through the marketing and sales funnel — a funnel that begins with a first impression and ends in a purchase.
But filtering traffic down the funnel requires engagement at every phase, including these crucial stages:
This is when your customer recognizes they have a problem and want to understand the options to solve it. That might be “what’s the best affordable family car?” Whatever shows up in the search results should satisfy their curiosities at this point — so if it’s your site, think about whether you’re communicating with buyers at this stage. Blogs, explainer videos, and industry reports are all great ways to do this.
The buyer will have researched what they’re looking for more specifically, but they still need to choose between you and your competitors. Familiarity with your brand often isn’t enough to drive sales alone. Let’s say they think they want a certain brand and make of car, but they’ve not decided which local dealership they’ll get it from. You’ll need to draw them back in with features such as informative sales copy and virtual tours.
They’ve found the specific car they’re looking for on your site — fantastic! But you’ll still need to affirm this decision, building their confidence in this big purchase while maximizing value from your side. This could be achieved with a free test drive or documented success stories — especially if they advertise any add-on features or accessories.
To get a one-time customer coming back for more, you’ll want to keep them happy and build their brand loyalty. Think free gifts, entertaining newsletters, or exclusive dealership events. Show your customers you’re still there for them, and you won’t just maintain your image in their eyes — you’ll hopefully trigger word-of-mouth advertising, too.
Even once you’ve refined your target demographic, your website doesn’t have to be a one-size-fits-all space for the various individuals visiting it. With website personalization, you address your prospects’ desires before they’ve mentioned them to create a more tailored customer service experience.
You can personalize your website based on different sets of data, such as the customer personas we touched on previously, plus geolocations and device types. Each visitor’s experience can be slightly altered based on the behavior of previous customers with similar traits. This will probably take the form of different ads and recommendations as they make their way through your site.
If your prospects can’t find what they need on your dealership’s website, or they simply don’t like what they see, you can’t blame them for clicking away and seeking out your competitors instead.
A good place to start improving your website user experience is by removing elements that don’t contribute to the purpose of any given page, like excessive images, links, and texts. Many fall short of engaging visitors by trying to do too much at once when, really, any visual clutter is more likely to distract and irritate. Keep your fonts consistent and any conflicting colors and patterns at bay and ask yourself whether your calls to action are more likely to trigger the next step or overwhelm visitors.
You also need to consider how easy it is to navigate throughout the website. Your most popular items and critical information should be straightforward to find — and for dealerships, a good search feature is key. Prospects will only continue through the funnel if they can filter their searches properly and get accurate results. And those who reach the decision stage should be greeted by a seamless conversion process without any unnecessary loopholes.
Finally, check how mobile-compatible your website is. In the age of smartphones and tablets, no one can afford to compromise on mobile optimization — so get your cross-device marketing up to scratch by carrying out tests and making the necessary changes.
Having your dealership’s name, physical address, and phone number on your website doesn’t just boil down to ticking boxes. This is key information that will help convert leads into sales, so get those details in prime position! Make sure your contact information is straightforward and simple to find.
Saying that, even when your leads have these details, they won’t reach out until they’re ready to have a conversation or maybe even make a decision. That is unless they know they can get immediate answers on their terms. This is why chatbots and live chats are such valuable tools. Remind each visitor of this support by having the chatbot option pop up when they land on your website or by fixing it as a sticky icon as they move throughout the site.
Shopping for a vehicle is a big deal, and there are a lot of details customers will want to know as they near their car buying decisions. You’ve got the information they need — so share it!
From vehicle specifications, videos, and high-quality photos to the types of services you offer, cover every touchpoint and make sure prospects can find every detail they could possibly need. This way, your value proposition will be communicated crystal-clear.
Consider your customers’ situations and any objections they might have. The main worry could be the price of vehicles, their personal credit concerns, the documents that are required, or exactly how comprehensive your warranties are.
Once you’ve pinpointed those problems, provide solutions. The most effective way to do this isn’t with a lengthy page jam-packed full of answers to frequently asked questions, but by answering questions as and when they cross the minds of potential customers. For example, showcase your financing options alongside any vehicle prices — or include explicit warranty details so they’re not left wondering what’s included.
Happy customers are your biggest brand ambassadors. While new prospects may not be friends or families with these previous customers, your website can make word-of-mouth travel a whole lot further. Use testimonials to share the glowing words customers have said about your business - and use them tactically.
A good testimonial should be short, direct, and believable. Using full names and videos or headshots will help boost their authenticity, and another tip is to choose quotes addressing specific issues and how they’ve been illuminated.
Trust seals also seriously heighten your business’ credibility, whether that’s awards or accreditations. They may not have heard of your dealership before, but they’ll far less likely be in doubt when industry giants certify you as the real deal.
Using deals, rebates, and discounts to entice customers is hardly a marketer’s secret — but it’s tried, tested, and shouldn’t be underestimated. See if there are ways you can offer your leads that extra bit of value and you’ll entice more visitors over the line.
There’s also the option to implement dynamic payments with specials that are automated based on your current and incoming inventory, so each visitor gets the best incentives available with minimal work on your behalf.
Remember the website lead conversion rate we made you calculate for your dealership in the first tip of this article? When you start to see improvements to your rate, do the following:
Run a heat map on a core page of your website, and then watch where visitors click and don’t click. Using this method, you might find a sneaky broken link people are trying to click, which is easily fixable. On the flip side, they might be scrolling past the links you actually want them to click on. In which case, you can take a closer look at why they’re focusing their attention elsewhere, and then determine how best to redirect their focus.
Heatmaps work nicely alongside user recordings, which allow you to watch real user behavior as if you’re sitting right by them. You’ll soon notice patterns as you follow their instincts, watching where their mouse goes and what they’re avoiding. You’ll also gather data on why users are leaving your site as you gain an understanding of where they’re struggling and how long they stay on different pages.
Once you’ve found where your website falls short, it’s time to implement the alternatives. Use the data you’ve collected to target areas that need improving and use A/B testing to explore what works better moving forward. This multi-variant tool allows you to select elements to test, add your ideas, and then compare what works best in terms of keeping traffic on your website and ultimately, converting to sales. You can mix up just about anything, with headlines, images, and sales copy being just a few examples.
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