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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Jim Bell

Jim Bell National Sales Executive

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Advertising Today

Advertising in the automotive business is a tough thing to track, especially when it comes to direct mail, TV, newspaper, and radio.  More and more dealerships are starting to pull more and more away from the ‘traditional advertising’ and putting it where you can track it more effectively and that is the internet.  How many times does a customer walk in the showroom and the salesperson marks them in the CRM that they are a ‘drive-by’?  

Almost  80% of the buyers that walk in the showroom did research online, but did not establish contact before coming in to look at the vehicle.  67% of those buyers went to the dealer’s website to get information on the vehicle.  This is a reinforcement that you have to have quality photos, good descriptions, and be competitively priced, or they will never show up at your front door.  Of the 80%, 64% were ‘walk-ins’, 27% picked up the phone, and 9% emailed into the dealership.  This shows me that almost every person that walks in the showroom is an internet customer. 

Since so many consumers are hitting your dealership’s website, how does it look?  Is it user friendly?  Is your website easy to navigate?  Does it encourage them to engage with you (i.e. chat, a coupon pop-up, etc)?  Is your website mobile phone friendly?  You want your website to convert that consumer to make a call or send in information on a vehicle or special.  That percentage should be in the 3-5% range of your total unique visitors.  I have been leary of chat, but have become a proponent of it in the last couple of months after putting it on our website. 

Things to concentrate on for 2011 is to make sure that your website are all of those things above.  Also, work on SEO to direct traffic to your site.  Buy urls that will enhance your visibility on the internet.  Buy for example buy a url that has a model and your city.  Build that landing page and direct them back to your main website.  Not only focus on sales, but look at your fixed operations.  Look at buying your city oil change dot com.  I did this and it was the top of google searches within 3 weeks.  We are generating phone calls and click throughs to our website.  Click throughs and engagement with the customer is the key.  Make it happen in 2011!

Jared Hamilton
Jim - no doubt that a website is the center piece of a successful dealership strategy. I recently helped my brother in law buy a vehicle, since he lives on the other side of the country from me i played the dreaded "3rd baseman" and spent time on many dealer websites as an actual customer. It was a strange experience for me but frankly showed me the importance of vehicle photos and descriptions, and underscored the importance of easy navigation of a dealerships site. The biggest thing I came away with from my recent experience was that good cars are easy to find. Good dealers are not. THere are plenty of good dealers out there, but you cant tell them apart online very easily. Make sure your site does an excellent job of telling YOUR brand story and selling how you care for your customers. thanks for sharing your experience, glad to hear you are doing great things!
Brian Pasch
Jared, and I would add if a dealer claims he is good or the best it may be distrusted. Customer videos however, can make a big impact on a consumer. I'm working to find the right balance of how to add these videos to a landing page, or a call to action on the home page that drives visits to a video channel. Let the customers sell the dealerships for sales and service. For example, Google Boost can show the "star" rating for a dealership in a PPC ad. Taking visitors to a landing page with a call to action and a video channel would be a cool test. For example, the landing page is design to showcase why consumers should service their car at this dealership. The videos you would display woul be from the service drive from customers and non-customers.

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