At the moment I'm on the plane returning to Salt Lake from Seattle. We spent the afternoon with some of the executives at Cobalt who are experts in search, email marketing and website utility. They lead up some impressive research that, in my opinion, is not known well enough in the industry.
What really hit me (I had about 10 ah-ha moments today, this is just one of them) is the disconnect between our commitment to a sequential process in selling cars in person and our dedication to a sequential process to converting site visitors to leads. These processes are in fact, very parallel.
These guys at Cobalt actually study log patterns of dealer site visitors and, among other things, dissect where the customers enter a site, what pages they visit, in what order, how long they stay and where they leave from. To most this might sound boring (personally for me it would be a blast) but regardless, think of the impact of this data! By studying it they find patterns to successful site conversions based on the demographic of that particular dealers store (brand, location, etc) IE: how do you convert a site visitor from simply surfing your site and leaving to go elsewhere, to actually taking a visitor and convincing them to seek assistance from your store in purchasing a vehicle. What they are proving is that just like you have a sequential process to convert a walk in to a buyer: 1 Meet and greet, 2. Needs analysis, 3. Product selection, etc"