One of my favorite sessions was from this year’s DSES was “The Loyalty Loop: How Small Things Add Up to Big Business” by Andrew Davis. It was a well executed presentation and all of his points made me reach an epiphany about the experiences I create for my readers.
Regardless of the industry, consumer engagement is a key component for success; and this is proven in the several examples Andrew provides in his presentation. People don’t just want a product or service. They want an experience — and not just any experience — they want an experience that rivals other experiences.
As I sat through Andrew’s presentation, not only did I think about how “the loyalty loop” could be applied to my own work, but I thought about how it applied to a dealership’s marketing endeavors too! Coming from the same organization, Russ Chandler (Product Marketing Manager at PERQ) and myself are obviously HUGE proponents of keen website engagement. Yes.
We’ve said it over and over and over again, but it’s the truth: your dealership consumers are all conducting research online; and they aren’t coming into your dealership until they’ve basically been enticed TO buy.
If your dealership’s website experience is subpar, how do you expect consumers to expect an exceptional experience in the showroom? That simply isn’t logical. Nowadays, all a dealership website needs to be relatively successful is have a clean, functional website — one that isn’t cluttered with CTAs, easily identifiable categories and accessible information. But if we’re being honest with ourselves — and I mean, REALLY honest with ourselves — is that the type of website you want to put out there?
Although there are are plenty of websites out there that’ll make you wince, it’s safe to say that about 90% of the dealership websites understand basic website design and functionality — and therein lies the problem. When all of these dealerships remain safe and follow the rules to a T, they end up looking like a commodity, instead of something unique.
If you do a quick Google search for dealerships within a 10 mile radius, chances are good that you’ll find a nice handful of results to choose from. Aside from Google/Yelp star ratings, distance and OEM, a lot of these dealerships look like they could be a “dime a dozen.”
Even though consumers are visiting different dealership websites, they might as well be aimlessly clicking because, in this case, a dealership is a dealership. You know this isn’t the case, but does the consumer? Unless they’ve stepped foot INSIDE a few dealerships, probably not. Their opinion is formulated based on your online presence, which leads me to my main point.
While it’s important to create a comforting and unique in-showroom experience with exceptional customer service, event sales, and so on; your dealership website is basically just an online version of your showroom — and that’s something you should absolutely remember. With consumers visiting so many different websites to determine which dealership(s) they’ll ultimately want to visit, it’s crucial to stand out.
Having a clean website isn’t going to cut it anymore when consumers expect businesses like yours to go above and beyond. And even if they aren’t actively expecting an exceptional experience, are you really going to convince me that consumers aren’t going to remember and value the unique experience? Of course not. If anything, great experiences are even more impactful to consumers when they aren’t expected.
It’s completely possible for your dealership’s website to leverage the power of “the loyalty loop;” where you’re simultaneously providing consumers with excitement, value and the desire for more.
If you want to generate and maintain excitement at your dealership, it’s ideal to provide valuable resources to your consumers. Because many are in the research phase, they’re looking for trade appraisals, special offers and to learn more about your inventory.
Different tools and experiences allow consumers to interact with your website and, in the process, get immediate value from it. And in regards to maintaining that excitement (or avoiding “hedonic decline”), your website could suggest other tools to provide even greater value and answer more questions.
To avoid the hedonic decline that Andrew Davis mentioned in his presentation, your dealership’s website should consistently go above and beyond consumer expectations. It needs to provide REAL value. But more importantly, if your dealership says its different, it needs to PROVE that it’s different.
What are some of the ways your dealership tries to improve the online experience for consumers? Let me know in the comments below!