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The Dealership Playbook for a Successful Website

Venturing into stores looks very different than it did a year ago, as facial coverings, social distancing measures and limited store capacities are now the norm. Many individuals have become hesitant to visit places that they would never have questioned before. And, for an industry that has always relied heavily on face-to-face interaction, that’s a significant issue.

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Our society’s love for all things digital, however, has the potential to be a saving grace for your business. Customers don’t want to go from lot to lot, especially in a time of heightened caution. Consider that 41% of all car buyers will only visit one dealership. This means there’s a good chance your website will be the deciding factor in whether or not you attract potential customers. 

Can your website compete with other successful dealership websites? Read on for the strategies and tools that can help your website succeed and give you a competitive advantage.

Create a Competitive Strategy for Your Website

First, your online presence has to reflect who you are if it’s going to be successful. 

Your website is inevitably part of the customer experience, much like a dealership visit. Your customer-facing strategy is visible through a wide range of web elements, which may include your choice of wording, images, layout and style. When you’re establishing your brand in the customer’s mind, there shouldn’t be any inconsistency between your physical dealership and your online presence. 

For many during COVID-19, it seems easier to conduct a web search than it is to make a socially distanced visit to a dealership. For that reason, a website that’s not goal-oriented won’t convert a searcher into a car buyer without a call to action, like “Set up Appointment” or “Talk to a Sales Rep.”

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Use Interactive Tools

COVID-19 has taken a toll on the level of personal interaction we engage in daily. To build a relational connection between your visitors and your website, it needs to do more than just display your inventory.

Car buyers can access a wealth of information on nearly any site, so providing vehicle specs should be the bare minimum. But, finding the vehicle that they’re looking for also needs to be a simple process — the last thing you want to do is annoy them. Striking a balance between interactive website tools and ease of use is critical.

Certain page features can intrigue site visitors, offer assistance and communicate your messaging. Videos help retain the viewer’s attention with sound and dynamic communication and can do so without interfering with the rest of the screen.

Successfully capturing and holding visitors’ attention is just the beginning, however, to convert, you have to engage. One way to achieve this is to set your site up to be receptive to dialogue and ready for two-way communication, such as with chat boxes monitored by actual, live employees. 

You can also spark greater engagement through hyper-personalization. Show the same personalized offers on your website that you do in email, direct mail and social media ads. If a customer has a high propensity to buy, make it easy for them to research. 

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Invest in Design

Your website’s appearance is paramount to success. In fact, 94% of consumers report web design is an indicator of whether or not they trust the brand. Visual appeal and professionalism not only give you credibility but also provide customers with a better overall experience. 

Perhaps even more influential than the customer experience is intuitive web design. Distinguishing your site from the competition has never been as needed as it is now, making it critical to boosting your organic search rankings.

Converting page visitors to car buyers doesn’t happen randomly; it happens by design. This means you should be setting a high standard of only using high-resolution images, high-quality digital video, fonts that are easy to read and page layouts that aren’t overly complicated. Good design helps build trust early on and keeps your visitors interested. 

Set Yourself Apart

COVID-19 has radically changed public places, so your dealership’s website is more important than ever. To optimize your online presence, consider building relationships with web service providers that will help you align your site with a competitive strategy, adopt hyper-personalization and ensure excellent web design. The world is an unsteady place right now, so make sure your website is firmly grounded.

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