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Jared Hamilton
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Russ Chandler

Russ Chandler Product Marketing Manager

Exclusive Blog Posts

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Yes, Car Buyers Are Judging You…. By Your Website

Look, I know it. You know it. Everyone knows it. There’s a tremendous amount of competition between dealerships. It’s something that I mention all the time in my articles. In fact, all of my articles throughout the past few months have been about the importance of personalizing aspects of your dealership’s interactive lead capture strategy in order to stand out. 


Now, while I’ll admit that website and tool personalization is extremely important, there are other things you need to do to ensure you’re making the most of your digital marketing efforts. In fact, how your consumers engage with your dealership’s website (tools and all) can make or break your reputation. 


Consumer engagement is important because it influences your consumer’s purchasing decisions. Before any of your consumers even talks to one of your sales reps, they’re likely on your website — looking at inventory, getting their trade-in value or learning more about a promotion. Your dealership website is typically the first thing a consumer sees. If they aren’t satisfied from the get-go, it’ll be the last you see or hear of them. Sad, but 100% true. And whether you choose to leverage a variety of automotive software solutions or get help from a vendor, working with a professional is never a bad idea.


Even if they haven’t stepped foot inside your dealership, your digital presence can have an immediate impact on how you’re perceived by consumers. As consumers engage with different parts of your website (filling out forms, browsing, etc.), they’re innately classifying each action (or interaction) as positive or negative. The more positive interactions consumers have, the more positively they view your dealership. The more negative interactions would mean the exact opposite — and that ultimately means you’ve lost that prospective customer. 


Your dealership’s website only has so many chances to strut its stuff. Whether it’s positive or negative, every aspect of your website can influence the way that consumer perceives your organization. Here are a few types of consumer interactions that might influence your consumers: 


Site Navigation


One of the first things I’m going to discuss is site navigation — or in simpler terms -- the way your consumers manage to search for inventory and information on your dealership’s website. The ability to navigate a website with ease is incredibly important, because most consumers want and expect to find what they’re looking for almost immediately. If a car buyer can’t find a specific make/model, or can’t find financing information within 2-3 minutes max (and I’m being generous here), then you’ve already lost that customer. Like everything that I’ve harped upon over the last few months: people like instant gratification. Period.


When consumers visit your website and aren’t able to find the information or inventory they’re looking for, it’s most often because the layout of your dealership’s website just isn’t working out. Your landing page might be too focused on inventory, and not enough on financing; causing your consumers to have to dig to find minor information. Or, it might be difficult for your consumers to find the area to schedule a test drive. Regardless of what they’re having difficulty finding, your website’s layout should allow your website visitors to find what they’re looking for within a few seconds. Links to the most popular sections of your website should be readily available for consumers; and all sections of your website should act as if they were folders on your computer. Each section of your website should go from “broad” to “specific.” For example: Let’s say you have a trucks section. Within that trucks section should be a link to different types of trucks, and then to manufacturers, and then to models, and so on. 


Now you might be thinking “Russ, that would require an entire site overhaul. Is there another way I can improve site navigation until I can actually do all that?” The answer to that question is a strong “yes.” If you don’t have the time or resources to layout your website differently, you might consider integrating behavioral CTAs onto your website that point consumers to exactly what they’re looking for. For those who are unfamiliar, behavioral CTAs are banners on your website that change based on your previous website activity. So, if you were looking for information on financing, a great CTA button would be “Appraise your vehicle” or “Lock in your price.” Since the website notices that you’re interested in getting financial assistance, it assumes you might be looking for other ways to get money for your new vehicle. 



Interactive Experiences 


Judging by how much I talk about interactive experiences, it's safe to assume that I’m a big, BIG fan of them. Now, if you haven’t read any of my previous works, the reason I love interactive experiences is because it allows your dealership to fully engage with buyers who are visiting your website — playing games and taking assessments in order to gain monetary and non-monetary incentives (special offers, additional information, etc.). Since interactive experiences almost always provide instant gratification, they’re a great and fairly easy way to provide buyers with a positive impression. 


As much as I’d like to assume that all (if not most) interactive experiences provide buyers with lasting positive impression, this isn’t always the case. The types of interactive experiences you place on your website might cause certain buyers to react differently. For example: An assessment titled “what vehicle is right for you?” might not be completely necessary for the person or groups of people you’re catering to. Instead, they might benefit from an financial calculator; or they might react more positively to a “spin-to-win” contest. So, when you’re thinking of what interactive experiences you want to integrate onto your website, think about your target market. Even though your experiences might be impressive, they might not be beneficial for some people — and that could cause a negative/disinterested response. 


One last thing to note with interactive experiences is overall functionality. Although you might think the experiences you’ve integrated onto your website are crazy impressive (and they probably are), some buyers might not be able to go through the experience at all. Your tool might not work on mobile platforms, or on certain browsers. If those consumers can’t leverage the interactive experiences on your website, that could very well lead to a lost customer. That being said, make sure that whoever is creating and integrating these experiences does lots of QA testing on their product; and tests the product on multiple platforms. You don’t want a prospective buyer to come onto your website and assume that you don’t know what you’re doing; or that you simply don’t care. 


Even the most minor details on your website can have a huge impact on how prospective customers perceive you. You’re obviously not going to please everyone — but if there’s one thing I learned throughout my career, it’s that folks like finding what they want and getting what they want as fast as possible. 


That being said, what is your dealership doing to keep its digital customers satisfied? 


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