Improving the Number of Credit Applications

Credit is a big topic in the automotive industry, especially for car dealers struggling with slow, post-Clunkers sales. Selling the vehicle is difficult enough but once it gets to finance, an entire other world of concerns is present.

The most important aspect to success in financing is the number of applications. You have to get as many valid credit applications as possible, regardless of whether it's for conventional or special financing. Most everyone qualifies for a vehicle with enough money down, so having a credit application up front helps make the whole process that much easier.

Here are four keys to make a Web site perform at its best level in generating F & I success for the dealership.

1) Use a Credit Application that Captures the Data Even if They Bail
A well-positioned credit application button will often be one of the most clicked links on a Web site. People are curious about where they stand, what they qualify for, and what their interest rate might be. The problem with the vast majority of credit applications is that they ask for too much information up front. As a result, many people bail out on the application before it’s complete.

The way to capture the data and the lead and minimize bail outs is through convenient, less intimidating, multi-step credit applications. Having a credit app that starts off with the simple, basic, and most important information is critical.

With a multi-step credit application, people are greeted with easy questions. What's your name? E-mail? Phone number? There may be a couple more options, but as long as you get that data, you can contact them.

Once they go to the next page and see questions about their Social Security number, income, residency, etc., many people will still bail, which is OK because you have already acquired the basic information you need to contact them. Contacting them allows you to ease them in, make them feel comfortable, and get them to complete the application and/or come in to look at a car.

2) Be the Authority ... on Google
Ranking well for search terms related to financing a vehicle in your area will help drive the traffic you need—the people looking for credit now. Conventional finance terms like "Car Loan [city]" or "Auto Financing [city]" do not draw a ton of traffic, but it’s normally of higher quality than standard SEO terms.

Special finance has a tremendous opportunity to drive traffic through the search engines because there is not a lot of competition for terms like "Bad Credit Car Loan [city]." The traffic isn't high, but the applications will go through the roof if you're ranked at the top for these terms.

3) Take Advantage When Opportunities Arrive

Behavioral targeting is huge throughout most industries, but the automotive industry has lagged behind a bit. If your Web site can target traffic based upon their sources (how they get to your site) and search terms used to find you, you will have a better chance of converting that traffic into leads.

A Web site that allows you to serve different "faces" depending on the source or search term is the best way to do it. If people search for "[City] Car Credit," the page they land on when they click should have a banner or some other form of behaviorally-targeted components that matches their search. When a visitor is presented with banners and buttons specific to finance when they search for those terms, the chances of them bouncing back to the search engines are reduced exponentially.

4) Smile

Credit is often an uncomfortable topic for people to discuss. When they search the Web looking for a loan, they are often cautious, desperate, or a combination of the two. Put your visitors at ease. It's similar to what happens in real life. A smiling face makes a world of difference when dealing with this often-delicate subject. Your finance pages (and most importantly, your credit application) should make them comfortable with images and videos of happy, at-ease people. If they're comfortable with your Web site, they'll be much more likely to become your customer. The ebb and flow of the automotive financing world makes it a moving target. Using these keys on your Web site will help you to attract customers of every credit situation so that you have as many potential buyers as possible working with you online.

Remember, it's a numbers game. You have to maximize!

Vol. 6, Issue 11