There are a lot of practices that we constantly battle regarding dealership websites. For every sound marketing practice out there, there are several that have been disproven and debunked as complete myths.
Unfortunately, there are a number of auto dealers who continue to abide by these “rules” despite having been debunked. By continuing to believe these myths, many dealerships miss out on opportunities to engage with consumers who are looking for the most insight from you.
Here are the four most common myths that auto dealers believe and that are cause for their dealership’s greatest pain points:
Myth No. 1: Use Lead Forms as Part of a Website Strategy
Static website forms don’t allow for two-way interaction between the dealership and the consumer. The information a consumer submits into a static form can do one of two things: go into a black hole, never to be seen or heard from again — or, it can go to a salesperson who will promptly badger the consumer with phone calls. Consumers genuinely don’t like being sold to when they’re in the research phase. They simply aren’t ready.
Trade appraisal tools and payment calculators are some of the best performing website tools around because they provide consumers with a highly personalized experience as well as valuable resources. Static forms can’t provide that. Of course, what’s particularly cool about interactive experiences, as opposed to static forms, is that they provide consumers with a place to start — especially if they’re overwhelmed and at a loss on where to begin the car shopping process.
Myth No. 2: Consumers Only Visit My Website When They’re in the “Buy” Stage
The second most common myth I’ve heard is that consumers only visit dealership websites when they’re in the “buy” stage. Most consumers who visit your dealership website aren’t yet in the “buy” stage, but rather, the “research” phase — where they’re basically in the middle of the funnel. According to the recent reports, 22 percent of consumers were at the beginning of the car-buying process, 55 percent were in the middle and 23 percent were at the end (when they were ready to buy).
Because consumers don’t want to interact with a salesperson while they figure out what they want, they’re going to sift through your dealership’s online inventory and leverage tools that help them make better decisions going forward. Think about it — Amazon and Google allow consumers to conduct research freely and easily. It’s pretty obvious why they’re successful.
I don’t know how often it actually happens, but many dealerships we’ve spoken to have consistently been under the impression that consumers on their website are there because they’re ready to visit a dealership and make a purchase. The key takeaway: If you don’t have anything on your website that can engage consumers to help them in the buying process, they’re going to visit another, more-helpful site that will.
Myth No. 3: Offering Prices on My Website Is Bad
A lot of times when we’re talking to dealerships, we hear about tools like the payment calculators and trade appraisal tools. Sometimes dealers say something like “Well, I don’t want to offer a value on my website. I don’t want to allow dealers or customers to calculate payments on my website.”
This idea began to come into fruition when dealers decided consumers should come to the dealership to get that information. Dealers didn’t want to share pricing or trade values online, not only for fear of competition, but because a dealer didn’t want to have to defend a different price when consumers arrived at the dealership. Essentially, many dealers want to hold a certain price point over their consumer’s heads.
The reality is that, no matter what the circumstances are, people are going to try to calculate payments, they’re going to evaluate their trade and they’re going to do all the research and fact finding on other dealership websites — as well as on third-party sites. Consumers desperately want control over the buying process, so they’re going to try to obtain information in the easiest way possible. They can do this for every other item out there, and they’ve come to expect that it should be the same way when shopping for a vehicle. You need to provide pricing.
Myth No. 4: Visitor Lead Conversion is the Most Important Metric
The last website strategy myth that we need to break is that visitor lead conversion is the most important metric. Although it is an important metric in its own right, it isn’t the only important metric. In fact, you could very well refer to Visitor Lead Conversion as a
“vanity” — or “feel-good” — metric if you don’t understand the layers and why it’s a good metric.
Metrics that are arguably more important pertain to website visitors in the research phase of their shopping journey: time on site, average number of pages visited, bounce rate, etc. These key performance indicators provide insight into what content on your website is relevant to your visitors.
The majority of your visitors aren’t going to become a lead. Even the best converting website typically sees a 5 or 10 percent conversion. That means 90 percent of your website traffic isn’t becoming a lead. If you rely on “visitor lead conversion,” you’re using a metric that only really clues you in to 5 to 10 percent of your traffic. After all, most people are only converting 2 to 3 percent.