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We all know at the end of the day that if a vehicle is not sold, no one makes money. A very simple and basic tenet of commission based selling we are all familiar with. The root principle of this model is that more traffic drives more sales. Thus, dealerships’ advertising spend was based on a linear 1+1=2 model—Dealership A spends $X in advertising for a linear return.
The internet has exploded that model from 1+1=2 to 1+1=3. How is that you ask? Simple. Blogs, Online video, Search engine optimization (with text and video), search engine marketing, online video, etc. The results of online advertising are definitely exponentially than the archaic, traditional, offline advertising. The speed to market is much quicker, the rate of return is much higher and the longevity of the customer could be much more sustaining.
The first lesson focuses on driving more traffic to your website. However, in order to drive more traffic, you must first analyze where you are. This involves reviewing the usability of your website and the technical aspects of your website.
What I have found in assisting other dealerships and analyzing a few of our dealer group’s websites is that before we seek outside assistance, we must first start with our current solution. We must review it very closely and objectively. We must not coddle the website (like it is our child) and make excuses for its lack of performance. The challenge for a lot of dealerships is reviewing the dealership’s website under the right eyes. Too many times we review our own websites misguided by our limited knowledge of internet principles. We truly need to observe other websites external to the automotive industry to understand how traffic is developed, increased and maintained.
For example, how many successful websites have pop-ups? Have many websites have music or other sounds playing when the visitor immediately enters the website? These are definitely distractions for the customer and can cause your customer to visit your competition. (Review your bounce rates to fix this problem). In our case, we removed a pop-up on one of websites with strong opposition from the vendor. The result was over a 30% increase in traffic. This change only occurred through education external to the automotive digital space.
This leads me to the technical aspects of your website.
The example I will use here is page titles. Do your page titles provide the right information for search engines to find your website and consequently help you rank higher on websites? Now I know some of you might not know what page titles are, but they are the very top on your screen. For example, if you go to the homepage of this website, you will find, “Automotive Industry Social Networking and Best Practices and Vendor Ratings…” Yes, believe it or not, these can help you immensely improve your rankings with the websites. Speak with your webmaster about changing them if you have questions. A reputable vendor will be a solid resource in this area.
Do an honest evaluation of your website. Your customers do it every day. Their decision is being made by where you rank on a search engine and how easy your website is to use. Make it as easy as possible to find you and work with you. That’s the beginning of online marketing.