The consolidation of website vendors and OEM mandates makes it challenging for dealers to feel like they can get an edge over their competitors. With the right best practices, you can take what you have and make it amazing.
Here are five things we recommend to our clients that are pretty much universal. Some might be doing one or two of these. There may be some of you savvy DrivingSales folks who are doing three or four. If anyone is doing all five, we should take. I know a great place that could use your services.
Many dealers wish they had a tool that could tell them how their different advertising sources were really working, what results they were delivering, what buttons people were clicking on... the list of desires is huge. The problem with these desires is that the tool is available to everyone free of charge. Google Analytics, when used properly, is extremely powerful. It's not the best tool in the world. In fact, the data can be misleading. However, if you set up goals, tags, and custom dashboards, it can be a great way to get a clearer picture about all of your advertising and marketing investments.
At some point, a correlation was made between SRP/VDP views and sales. The more that people saw inventory, the more likely they were to buy. This is correct and is completely logical if you think about it. If they're on your website and they're going to buy a car, chances are they're going to want to look at inventory. However, the correlation was somehow translated into causation and everyone started focusing on driving as much of their traffic directly to inventory as possible. The right approach is much more detailed than what can be communicated in a bullet point on a blog post, but proper use of landing pages and messaging that allows for easy access to inventory will yield better overall results. I'll elaborate in the future.
More is not always better. If you give them too many choices, they're less likely to make one. You can't force someone to fill out a form for a vehicle they don't want and you can't prevent someone from filling out a form on a vehicle they do want.
There are all sorts of quotes and idioms that we can apply to the concept of calls to action, but at the end of the day it comes down to keeping it simple. You don't need 17 calls to action on a page. Instead, you need a few at most. One is actually best. Again, not enough space here to elaborate, but I'll go into more detail about this in a future DrivingSales blog post.
The good news is that more dealers and vendors are building unique content pages and blog posts on their web site. The bad news is that since more dealers are doing it, they're not working as effectively as they once did. Dealers who want to achieve great success particularly on search with their content must support it with offsite signals such as links and social shares.
The first banner gets the monster share of the clicks. The second gets some. The third might get a few. Beyond that, the numbers get down into the single digits, even going down so far as none.
I have no illusion that I'll be able to convince dealers that the best way to position messaging on a homepage is to take the absolutely most important and compelling message today and make that the only banner. I'll start with baby steps. At the very least, reduce your banners down to a few. Eventually, I should be able to show you through data that you'll get more by giving less in the form of banner messaging, but it's hard to break a paradigm like banner overload. We'll start small.
There are plenty of things that dealers should be doing with their websites. These five might not even be the top five, but we have to start somewhere if we're going to improve the industry.