A quality website will not only help you land more business, but it will also give your dealership a professional look that builds credibility.  -  IMAGE: Getty

A quality website will not only help you land more business, but it will also give your dealership a professional look that builds credibility.

IMAGE: Getty

As a car dealer, you know the importance of people being able to find you online when they are searching for a new car, or for a place to sell their car. However, just having a website isn't enough. You can try to drive all of the traffic in the world to your website, but you’ll just be wasting money if it’s not optimized to convert that traffic into leads. Digit

If your website isn’t driving you new business, it might do little more than take up space on a server. Here are five tips that will help you get more value out of your site by generating more leads for your business. 

The Importance of a Conversion-Ready Website

As a dealership owner or general manager, you are already too busy. There isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done as is, and your website isn’t necessarily “hurting” anything. While we understand the struggle to find free time to take on new projects, here are a few stats that may have you rethinking your digital priorities:

●      Nine out of 10 automotive internet shoppers visit at least one automaker’s website during the shopping process.

●      Of those shoppers, 84% visit a dealer’s site and 79% visit a third-party site.

●      Automobile consumers visit an average of 4.2 websites in their purchasing process.

●      76% of new and used vehicle shoppers run a Google search before buying.

Simply put, a quality website that is ready to convert can be one of the most powerful tools available to your business. The internet plays a massive role in nearly every business industry in the 21st century, and that certainly applies to dealerships. If your site isn’t designed strategically to turn visitors into customers, you are leaving money on the table.

Tip #1: Make sure your website is responsive, fast, and mobile-friendly

Today, 60% of car buyers access dealership websites from their mobile phone. Remember, your website doesn’t need to be the most advanced piece of technology on the web. The goal of your site is to deliver important information to potential customers and encourage them to contact you for more information or to make an appointment. So, investing a lot of time or money into developing a high-tech site doesn’t make a lot of sense.

With that said, your site does need to hit on a couple of key tech points:

  • It needs to be fast. If your website takes longer than 10 seconds to load, your bounce rate increases by 123%. Site users aren’t going to wait around for slow pages to load. If your site is slow, visitors will simply hit the “Back” button and look for another site to explore. Large images and low-quality servers are two common causes of slow page load times, so check on those issues if your site feels sluggish.
  • It needs to be responsive and mobile-friendly. The majority of your site’s visitors are going to be using a mobile device when they access the site. Given that fact, you need to use a site structure that will automatically adapt and display the content properly on mobile devices. This functionality is standard with many site platforms today, but it’s important to confirm that your pages are rendering correctly on smaller screens.

Tip #2: Ensure your main call to action is above the fold on every page

“Above the fold” is a term that is left over from the newspaper days. When a newspaper is folded in half to be sold or delivered, the most important information was placed “above the fold” — meaning it could be seen without even unfolding the paper. While websites obviously don’t fold in the physical sense, this concept still applies today.

Today, “above the fold” means the content appears immediately on the screen while the page loads without having to scroll down. Your primary call to action should be displayed in this area of the page. For example, if you just want people to call and schedule a dealership appointment, then your phone number should be right at the top with easy to click to call enabled. 

Tip #3: Optimize your website navigation for ease of use

Simplicity is the name of the game when designing a website. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the fancy features that can be added to a site, but you need to keep the user experience in mind first and foremost. When a new visitor lands on your site, are they going to be able to find exactly what they need? Your main navigation is the launching point for where you want your visitors to take their next step, so make it clear, not confusing. Optimize your main navigation with a firm hierarchical structure that will encourage their next step. Depending on who your customer base is, a good start for a dealership main navigation is:

  • Shop (or New)
  • Trade/Sell
  • Offers (or Specials)
  • Finance (or Get Pre-Approved)
  • Service & Repairs
  • Resources
  • Contact Us

Tip #4: Create optimized vehicle landing pages

When a potential customer clicks on a car listed on your site and visits the dedicated landing page to learn more about that car, this means they’re one step closer to calling, filling out a form, or visiting your dealership. Don’t waste this opportunity.

Optimize these pages to entice visitors to take the final step. For starters, make sure your information is up to date. You will quickly lose any trust that has been established if the information is limited or outdated. Next, provide enough information that will make them want to reach out. This could include videos, high-quality images inside and out of the vehicle, specs and features, and a prominent lead capture form. A common tactic that is used is to require a person to submit their email information in order to get an estimate on pricing options based on different financing scenarios. 

The other benefit of building out vehicle pages comes in the form of a search engine optimization (SEO) boost. We could have an entire article — or book — on SEO, but the basic concept here is that creating pages for each of your vehicles with the property page markup and meta data will give you a better chance at having people find you when searching for a specific vehicle.

Tip #5: Refresh your website copy to build trust and credibility

It’s hard to write good copy. Even if you know your business inside and out, it can be tricky to convey the right messages to your target audience in written form. If the words on your site have been sitting there for years, take a close look at the copy and think about how it can be improved to better explain your services and the value you offer.

If you aren’t happy with your site copy after putting a little bit of time and effort into improving it, hiring a freelance writer for the task could be a good option. There are countless writers available today, and many are well-versed in the automotive space. The use of a professional writer could take the quality of your site to a new level, and the cost should be relatively modest in the big picture.

It might seem like a hassle at first to spend time optimizing your website, but this effort is going to more than pay off in the long run. A quality website will not only help you land more business, but it will also give your dealership a professional look that builds credibility. Tackle this project as soon as possible and see what it can do for your bottom line.

Matt Buchanan is the co-founder and chief growth officer at Service Direct, a technology company that offers local lead generation solutions for service businesses. He has 15-plus years of expertise in local lead generation, sales, search engine marketing, and building and executing growth strategies.