Building Your Automotive Business

  • The Most Common Problems for Car Dealer Websites

    When you specialize in one industry you find yourself encountering the same scenarios. Even with car dealers coming in all shapes and sizes, repeat issues, requests and opportunities pop up all over the place – and as a digital marketing agency we’re ideally positioned to share some of the most common missed opportunities with a dealer’s website presence.

    Here are ten of the most common automotive website problems we encounter – but let’s think of them as opportunities in disguise!

    1. Hidden contact options

    A dealer website is where potential customers will go to get contact details – so they need to be obvious.

    In an ideal world there is just one number to ring, but if not, dealer websites should make it easy to choose the best number.

    Don’t over-focus on calls either – remember that different people prefer different enquiry styles. Some people hate calling so want to send an email, or are maybe hunting for their next car whilst in the office - cue a sneaky live chat conversation that the boss won’t pick up on. Being flexible and clear should help you to reach all these types.

    2. Reliance on multi-step forms

    A multi-step form seems like an amazing piece of tech at first glance – but it’s not often as good for your customer as it is for you.

    The more steps a form has (no matter how fancy and “convenient” the options), the more opportunity a buyer has to drop out of the funnel.

    We are working on a new, conversion-focused service booking form for exactly this purpose – balancing different customer profiles and giving multiple contact options to maximise the number of bookings.

    3. No social proof

    Car dealers don’t necessarily have the best reputation in the retail space – even if that reputation is now largely out of date!

    That means that motor traders have more work than other comparable retailers to convince a customer to trust them. Sharing “social proof” and enabling customers to seek approval from the people they trust the most is a vital part of your digital presence.

    How can you improve your website’s social proof?

    Independent reviews providers like JudgeService, Feefo or Reevoo can help, or you can just add your own testimonials. Supplement that with social sharing capabilities and ideally the ability for people to send your cars to mobiles, and you’re well on your way.

    4. Not mobile friendly

    This list is in no way in any sort of order – and being fully-mobile friendly is nothing short of vital for any business with a website.

    Responsive web design (that is, a website that rearranges and resizes to fit on any device and screen size) is Google’s recommended best practice, and it allows visitors to your website to have a consistent user experience no matter what screens they arrive on your website from.

    Plus, you only have to upkeep one website and one set of offers – much simpler for everyone involved.

    What makes a website mobile friendly?

    Click-to-call phone numbers, simple layout, legible text, swiping functionality and buttons that have enough room around them for even the clumsiest fingers to click them. That’s a good list to start with!

    5. Forgetting to showcase your brands

    Dealers tend to focus on showcasing their manufacturer’s brands on their website – especially with a lot of manufacturers being very strict with their website brand guidelines. However, you need to remember to showcase your own brand too.

    If a dealership has a brand name, history and local recognition, then that is what will make them stand out from a wide selection of other franchised dealers. As such, sharing content that sets your company apart from the rest is vital.

    6. Not mentioning reasons and benefits

    A motor trade website needs to make it obvious what the next action is for a visitor – and also, why they should take that action.

    The reasons and benefits help convince customers, and can come in the format of icons, micro-copy (little pieces of text that help support your page content) and more. For instance, rather than just putting a phone number, why not add a little line of text that says why you’d want to ring, or that reassures the customer with open hours and response times.

    In a form, you can consider putting micro-copy in the fields. For instance, in the email field, a little line of text saying “This is where we will send your confirmation” can make it less scary to hand over personal details. It’s all in the psychology.

    7. Over-crowded banners

    A banner should be clear and obvious at a glance – and should be relevant to a wide audience rather than a very limited collection of car buyers.

    This is especially important with regards to banners on mobile – always consider the smallest size your banners will be – are they still legible?

    Are banners useful on a dealer homepage?

    It’s worth questioning whether banners are useful on a website homepage – they rely on a huge amount of luck to appeal to your visitors. Here’s a radical idea – are you better off focusing on getting people to the right section of the website on the homepage (new, used, aftersales), and then putting more relevant and focused banners on the next level down?

    8. Poor used car listings

    It’s not a secret – how well you present your car stock will have a direct impact on enquiry levels.

    That means you need to feature the right information, in a format that is appealing and easy to read. You need to make the price obvious, and take lots of useful, high quality photos. That said, don’t take photos for photos sake – you want to make sure that each of your images and videos is showing something relevant to the customer.

    It’s not rocket science – but good stock presentation is missing from a lot of dealer websites.

    9. A confusing user journey

    Car buyers or car owners should be able to come to your website and know exactly what they need to do to achieve their goals.

    Dealer websites all too often put a lot of content and pages on the site to please certain departments, without thinking of how customers will find that information and what their next action would be.

    How can I work out the best user journey?

    Sit down with actual car buyers on your current website, and watch them try to achieve a range of objectives – finding the price of a car, making an enquiry, finding the dealership location, booking a service. You should easily be able to identify improvements where customers get stuck in a section of your website, can’t achieve their goals, or generally get confused.

    10. Too much industry jargon

    We are a very insular industry – which means we have a lot of phrases and jargon that we understand, but car buyers probably don’t.

    In an ideal world, dealers need to think about their end user when writing copy and naming website sections. For instance, does a normal car buyer know what "pre-reg” means? Should it be called servicing, or aftersales? Is “transmission” the kind of lingo that people understand?

    Do any of these common dealer website problems ring a bell with you? Have you identified any opportunities for your dealer website?


    Want to learn how to fix your issues and get some free tools? 

    Contact us Optimus5 Company

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  • How to Improve Your Auto Dealer Marketing in 10 Steps

    If you want to boost lead traffic and close more car deals, start by changing your auto dealer marketing. Here’s a 10-step process to get started!

    auto dealer marketingYou just started as the new GM of a pre-owned dealership with three locations. The owners understand that car sales, at the end of the day, is a face-to-face business. They’ve hand-picked their sales teams and provide regular training sessions throughout the year. But there’s one problem: they’re not getting enough traffic to the dealership.

    So what do you do? You’ve been in the car business long enough to know that buyers are online-based. Getting them into the dealership starts with smart marketing, focused targeting, and quality incentives. You’re in a time crunch, so it’s a good idea to follow a step-by-step process and focus on the areas that matter.

    Step 1: Build your A-team to tackle this project

    If you want to transform your auto dealer marketing and achieve real results, then you need to start from the bottom. Gather the right team of professionals to help tackle different tasks and brainstorm ideas.

    Get your marketing managers, back-end developers, writers, and a few salespeople into a room. Pinpoint the problems in the marketing strategy and what needs to change. Host two or three meetings with your team to find solutions and assign tasks with a deadline in place.

    Step 2: Research your local competitors to see what you can do differently

    Turn your focus to the surrounding car dealers in your area. What are they doing, both online and offline, that you’re not? What’s working for them and how can you do it better? Take time to research their entire marketing scheme, and how it all works together (or how it’s not working):

    • How current promotions are marketed at the dealership
    • How the website is setup to convert visitors into leads
    • What referral and loyalty programs are offered to customers
    • What audience is their marketing material targeting

    Once you’ve finished your research on local competitors, start looking up dealerships around the U.S. that are ideal examples of what you’d like to achieve.

    Learn from the best to become the best.

    Step 3: Analyze current marketing channels and allocate funds towards what is working

    Work with your marketing department to figure out the ROI for each marketing dollar that goes out. What areas are giving you the most return? Think in terms of quality leads, referrals, and hard sales. If you have channels that are not working (or difficult to measure), consider redirected those dollars somewhere else.

    Marketing success, just like every other aspect of business, depends on how intelligently you spend your money.

    Step 4: Start with your website (the digital doorway to your dealership)

    Car buyers are researching your dealership. If they find your inventory online, they will inevitably end up on your website. Make the user experience unique and capture their attention (and information) right away.

    • Create several “trip” offers to capture your web visitor’s information and turn them into a lead.
    • Make use of video content, such as tutorials, walk-throughs, vehicle presentations, and employee spotlights.
    • Showcase high-quality photos of your inventory and provide in-depth information.
    • Make it easy for every lead to get in touch with the dealership. Make your web forms short and simple.

    Step 5: Become a resource for your customers with useful and educational content

    What kind of content can you give customers and leads that will show your expertise and professionalism? Starting a blog is one of the best ways for two reasons:

    1. Blog content can be “search engine optimized” (SEO) to target specific audiences.
    2. Blog posts consistently provide new and fresh content to engage customers.

    Brainstorm with your marketing team to write about topics your audiences will find useful. Get up-to-date with content marketing practices and target online searches with relevant blog posts. Promote your blog posts over social media channels to drive further clicks and traffic to your website (and sales funnel).

    Step 6: Market to the demographics with the most revenue potential

    Segment your customers and figure out your exact “bread and butter” demographics. Penetrate that local market with promotions that offer better incentives than your competitors.

    Even if you’re offering lower prices than most dealerships, that’s okay—profit opportunities are all over the board. Penetrate the market first, then focus on building profit opportunities with each customer. Referrals, F&I, and service departments all come into play.

    Step 7: Invest in a CRM that is made specifically for car dealers

    Choose a CRM software that’s made for your business. There are many CRMs available today, but “one-size-fits-all” software doesn’t work for car dealerships. Your workflow is unique, so choose a tool that understands how to support that plan.
    Here at AutoRaptor, we understand what dealership teams need to succeed:

    • Customizable lead management and assignment
    • Web-based software accessible by mobile phones 24/7
    • Analytics and reporting tools for viewing progress
    • Step-by-step workflow reminders to keep staff focused
    • Email campaigns and templates for customer engagement

    Step 8: Smooth out all the bumps in your lead pipeline and sales funnel

    Your inbound sales funnel is the most important aspect to auto dealer marketing. All of your efforts should focus on different points of the “customer journey.” For example:

    • Awareness stage: online and offline promotions, targeted content, advertising
    • Searching for a car: third-party listings, website content, conversion funnels, incentives
    • Locating your dealership: video content, special offers, email capture, drip campaigns, calls-to-action
    • Follow-up process: lead management and assignment, follow-up, setting an appointment

    These processes work together, and your auto dealer marketing should focus on engaging with prospects at every stage.

    Step 9: Create referral and loyalty programs your customers will share with others

    Remember: the sales cycle doesn’t end when the customer drives off the lot. Your biggest lead generation opportunities lie with happy customers willing to spread the word about your dealership. Repeat business and customer loyalty is also an important factor to longevity.

    Research what referral programs stand out amongst car dealers. Take advantage of great customer experiences and opportunities to obtain strong leads.

    Step 10: Measure and refine your strategies for better results

    Finally, the last step is a continuous experiment. You have to test your marketing strategies and figure out what works best. Marketing is constantly in flux, so you need to keep a watch on your results and adapt over time.

    Create a schedule to review your current efforts on a monthly basis. Crunch the numbers to see your ROI and make changes are you go along. Also, if something is working well, don’t fix it of it’s not broken.

    Be flexible with trends—auto dealer marketing best practices change all the time

    Marketing strategies change with customer behaviors. That’s what drives the marketing world. Read up on the latest trends in the consumer world and try to stay ahead of the curve as best you can. It will pay off in the long run. You’ll be offering services and experiences to customers while everyone else is trying to catch up.

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