Ten years ago, consumers would visit several dealerships before buying a vehicle including returning to the same dealership to "look over" the vehicle or maybe take one more test drive. Now with the digital age, the trend is to visit the dealership once, buy, or move on.
I'm sure we can all agree that "ninety percent of car buyers begin their search on the internet". In addition, NADA recently reported eighty-eight percent of all buyers go to the dealer's website before they purchase.
The consumer journey starts online and a buyer's mind is pretty much made up before he or she visits the dealership.
As a dealer, you need to think about how to attract consumers to your website and how to keep them there. If you don't capture their attention, there's another dealer ready, willing and able to do it just a click away.
Consumers are drawn or sent to a dealership's website through multiple channels including: search engine, natural or paid, and traffic building strategies like email or traditional channels.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has the potential to double your visitors but the downside is it takes a lot of effort and time.
PPC (Pay Per Click) is good for quick results like special finance offers or incentivized test drives. make sure the sponsored link in your ads point to relevant content or you are going to waste a lot of budget on clicks with no conversions.
One strategy some Internet Managers like to use with PPC is to target conquest prospects. This can be a double edged sword though. For example, if a Toyota dealer decides to target Honda buyers looking for a specific model, you can buy those key words so when the consumer does the search and clicks, he's actually directed to the Toyota page. Google doesn't like this though, and it's not advisable.
PPC for automotive can be one of the most expensive strategies available, simply because the keyword that convert the best are the most expensive.
There are other real, winning strategies though. Your website's content is fundamental. it builds your foundation for organic traffic, longer page views and ultimately conversions. Original content is becoming more important than links now that Google is clamping down on excessive link building.
So what's an example of great content?
According to Cisco, over 50% of all internet traffic is video. In other words, video is the number on media on the web. 25% of shoppers will watch at least an hour of video before buying a vehicle. This is a great way to show virtual test drives, make comparisons and keep the consumer engaged on your site longer. Keep the videos short and to the point! Long, boring videos are death on the internet.
One of the most cost effective ways to bring consumers to your website is through email marketing. Compared to PPC and other forms of traditional media, the cost is lower, traffic is higher and ROI is better.
Putting your offer in front of the prospect when they are starting their research is key. That's when buyers are at the "tipping point" or sweet spot, and putting your brand in front of them plus driving them to your site for more engagement will increase your conversions dramatically. Email can be used to target conquest prospects or your DMS list. The tracking is superior and the traffic with the right offer can be massive.
Make sure you have all the right tools to measure your effective campaigns. Google Analytic's of course is a must to review how long the traffic was on your site, new visitor percentage, where the traffic came from and more.
Another great tool is heat mapping. Services lie Crazy Egg show you a picture of where people clicked on your site. This lets you see what's hot and what's not, so you can make changes that increase conversions. Maybe you're driving people to a new car model with lease payments but find based on your page views and heat mapping that your conversions are below par. Changing the position on the page or the featured vehicle to a high demand used vehicle could make all the difference.
Instant online chat will also increase your conversion. it's non-threatening for a prospect to ask a question about a feature or model without worrying he's going to get a dozen calls from a pushy sales person. This allows your BDC or Internet Manager to engage with the prospect as a consultant and at the right point of time gently persuade them to come in for a test drive.
As a franchise dealer, it's imperative to embrace new ways of driving and engaging with consumers on your site to compete in the 21st-century market. using the right strategy or combination of strategies will give you a genuine competitive advantage.
If you would like to find out how many potential conquest customers are looking for automotive offers in your area check out our Free Market Analysis.