Dealers facing flagging sales or low ROI from their online marketing campaigns tend to take action in one of two ways: They purchase leads in bulk from a third-party provider for a short-term boost or increase their advertising budget for long-term improvement. Both strategies can be effective, but most dealers would benefit in the short and long term by taking a closer look at the leads they already have and the traffic that generates them.
If you don’t have a clear understanding of how your leads are sourced and how they perform — and until you begin tracking all of your lead source efficiencies — you will never know if you are spending your money in the right places. You have to know what is and isn’t working for your operation.
Many dealers will say leads never convert at the expected (or promised) rate. They complain that they are wasting thousands of dollars every month while their conversion rate stands at less than half of one percent.
So what’s going on? Well, most dealers don’t have tools in place to capture leads from the existing organic traffic already on their website. There is a perception that you need more traffic to gain more leads. While that is partially true, the real question is this: What are you doing to improve your conversion rate from the existing traffic on your website?
There are many tools available today to do exactly that. These tools create content that builds relationships with consumers by positioning you as a trusted resource for all their automotive needs. Better yet, you can be sure that many, if not most, of your competitors are not utilizing them either.
To give you the inside edge, let’s take a look at three cost-effective ways you can maximize the leads generated from your website traffic:
1. Market-Qualified Lead-Generating Pages
All dealers are familiar with sales-qualified leads. They are generated by the individuals who filled out online credit forms or requested a trade-in value estimate. Market-qualified leads are a different animal. They are generated by reader-friendly pages designed to help your visitors and returning customers address a specific problem or need.
One example is a page that allows customers to determine how to improve the value of their trade-in. Others could include tips for improving their credit score or a detailed explanation of how service contracts and GAP coverage work. These pages will establish your website as an information resource, and they give you a good indication of where each visitor is in their buying cycle.
2. Exit Intent Technology
Many website providers now offer exit intent technology such as Bounce Exchange or Exit Gadget. These solutions help turn casual website visitors into potential customers by detecting visitors who are about to leave your site and offering them a compelling reason to stay.
Let’s imagine a typical scenario: A car buyer in the early stages of their process finds your site but doesn’t find the exact vehicle they’re looking for. Exit intent technology is designed to recognize their digital behavior and spring into action. Just as the visitor begins to leave the website, they will be prompted to take action that could turn into a conversion opportunity.
In the automotive industry, examples include offers for $500 down-payment assistance, guaranteed trade-in value, manufacturer incentives and more. These are proven conversion opportunities and represent a real value to customers. They can generate leads for individuals that would otherwise be lost.
Most exit intent solutions can be customized and segmented depending on the need. You can serve specific offers based on the pages an individual visits. Entire campaigns can be created around this technology. Create a page dedicated to an oil change offer. If the individual visits the landing page and does not convert, exit intent technology can serve them an offer for an even bigger discount as they leave the website. You will gain a lead and, quite possibly, a long-term service customer.
Finally, and most entertaining, gamification lets you get creative with your website — and your lead-generation strategy. Push your website provider or programmer for more interactive features, especially on your home page.
Games, trivia questions, amazing facts and animated gifs can be overwhelming in large numbers. Used sparingly, they can keep visitors engaged. They can also set your site apart from the many others that preceded and will follow it in their search.
Your online marketing strategy must include techniques to capture every individual who visits your site — including those who are about to leave. Don’t fall into the same old traps by investing in new leads and ignoring the visitors you already have. Focus on your existing website traffic and generate more leads from within rather than paying far too much for leads that don’t turn into sales.
Brian Hart is the new-business manager for Potratz Advertising. Contact him at