Arguably, one of the most important marketing channels any dealership has is their website. Think about it. How much money do you spend simply to get customers there? When you combine all marketing efforts including, but not limited to, SEO, SEM, some third-party listing sites and more, dealerships spend tens of thousands of dollars (or more) per month.
Once that customer hits the dealer’s site, most dealers have the additional cost of all of the widgets it has chosen to adopt. Whether that’s a chat service, trade-in appraisal tool, inventory merchandising on VDPs, video and photo content and more, everything is designed to communicate with customers and/or provide the information that they need so they convert and purchase a vehicle.
But what about the most profitable area of your dealership? What about those customers that need vehicle service?
A huge piece of the puzzle is missing from most dealership’s websites: the service department.
According to NADA’s 2017 annual report, the average dealership’s service and parts department enjoyed sales of $6,793,905. But, when it comes to marketing, at many dealerships this profit center is overlooked.
That makes no sense whatsoever! Why would any dealership exclude marketing their biggest profit center when they could do so relatively easily?
All that money spent on SEO and SEM is mostly designed to attract car buyers. Ah, but many current customers go online when they have service-related questions, such as how to pair their iPhone with their in-vehicle entertainment system, how much does service cost, or to perhaps search for available coupons. The sad part is that far too often the dealership’s website has very little, and sometimes no service information at all. Those that do are often full of outdated information and expired coupons.
So, where do theses customer go to get that information?
While you’re completely focused on acquiring sales customers, your service customers are finding all the information they need in the worst possible place for the future of your dealership’s largest profit center… on independent repair shop’s websites!
And, at that point, where do you think those customers will go for service? It’d be silly to think that consumers aren’t motivated by low prices, offers of speed and convenience and attractive coupons.
But, the biggest problem many dealerships have in this highly competitive service space is NO MESSAGE WHATSOEVER! What is a dealership supposed to do? Why not pay attention to the very strategies independent repair shops have long used to steal your customers: implement a few of them and reclaim that service business.
Consider revamping your website and provide the information your customers are seeking — rich service and parts content, tutorial videos, effective appointment scheduling services and more. Provide your dealership with every opportunity to serve these customers, establish value in dealership service versus independent repair facilities and this will quite simply help to prevent customers bouncing from your website to an independent’s. That rich content will also attract new service customers.
Another huge benefit of relevant, user-friendly content which is continuously posted and updated, is that it helps your dealership rank higher in Google searches. The exact thing you desire on the sales side is much easier to achieve in fixed ops. In most cases, you are not in competition with manufacturers, third party listing sites, lead providers and so on, vying for customer eyeballs. You may even want to consider creating a standalone website on a sub-URL designed specifically for service.
It’s absolutely possible for your dealership to outrank PepBoys, Firestone, Midas and Jiffy Lube! In addition, because Google search results are now location-based, you have an edge over competing brand dealers to get that local service work by ranking higher in common routine maintenance searches.
Stop ignoring your service department and start using your online real estate as a powerful marketing platform for vehicle service. Don’t be afraid to advertise service-related pricing, the independents do, and they are doing just fine. Take back the service work that is rightfully yours by adopting best practices that will drive service customers. Some of them, as you know, do convert to sales customers. The bottom line is; the more customers you have coming to your dealership – whether sales or service – the more profitable you will be and, in the end, isn’t that what you want?
Online reviews, and especially Google reviews, should be a huge priority for any business operating today. It takes some time and constant effort to properly execute a review management strategy, but it’s worth it: reviews provide the very foundation of your online reputation, and how you manage them can mean the difference between life and death for your dealership.
Trust-building and Brand Differentiation.
We live in an age where widespread internet access means that dealers don’t get to make the first impression when a customer walks onto their lot. With a vast majority of consumers conducting a vast majority of their research online before ever setting foot inside a dealership, dealers must be able to establish and build trust at the very outset of a prospective customer’s online journey. To this end, online reviews are critical to the initial establishment of trust for online shoppers. Research has shown that:
These numbers speak volumes about the necessity of online reviews for today’s shopper, and why including them in your reputation management strategy is no longer merely an option. Review management, as one component of a greater rep man strategy, will continue to be critical for the foreseeable future.
Reviews are also necessary for brand differentiation. Consider that the automotive industry is an almost perfectly competitive market: a consumer can find the same or essentially the same products and features at any dealership within a given segment. As a result, we must find other ways to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. One way many dealers are doing this is by creating a unique and pleasant car-shopping experience. But even if you’ve formulated a slam-dunk customer experience, how will online shoppers know about it? You guessed it: by reading reviews on the internet. Given that 90% of consumers read online reviews before deciding to visit a local business, your reviews are what will make you stand out so that buyers want to visit your store rather than the one down the street.
Making Reviews Work for You.
Like social media, online reviews are not a one-and-done thing; making them work to your advantage requires incorporating them into your larger reputation management strategy, and growing and monitoring them on a regular basis. Three of the most important factors for effectively managing your online reviews are recency, quantity, and quality.
When an internet user enters a search query into Google, Google’s aim is to serve up content or businesses that are most relevant to the search terms. It follows, then, that recency increases relevance, and dealerships with the most recent content and reviews will fare better on search results pages.
Along with being a key search ranking factor, the recency of your online reviews has a direct impact on whether consumers decide to visit your website and, ultimately, your dealership. BrightLocal’s 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey revealed several key findings that go to the importance of recency:
To sum this up, you must be constantly seeking new reviews – every day, from every customer. Getting ten great reviews in two days in order to cover up one bad review is not a viable business practice; today’s customers are more savvy than ever, and they will quickly catch on, resulting in a degradation of your dealership’s credibility and perceived trustworthiness.
Constantly seeking new reviews isn’t important only for recency, either; it goes to quantity, too. Consumers look to see how many reviews have contributed to your dealership’s overall star-rating. Think about it from a consumer’s perspective: Are you more likely to trust a business with five stars and only 2 reviews, or one with 4.5 stars and 50 reviews? Common sense points to the latter.
The star-ratings and content of reviews is, as you can imagine, hugely important, both for SEO ranking as well as for building consumer trust. On its support site, Google has said that “Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking.” Rating and content quality are important to prospective customers, too. According to Podium’s State of Online Reviews survey, 3.3 is the minimum star-rating a business must have for consumers to even consider engaging with it. And since 68% of consumers would pay more for the same product or service if assured they would have a better experience, it’s important that the substantive content of the reviews include an evaluation of the various aspects of each customer’s experience that led them to write a review.
There’s an important caveat here, though. Having a few negative reviews isn’t always a bad thing; the key is how you respond to and manage them. In fact, a large number of online car shoppers say that they’d trust a dealership that professionally and caringly responded to a negative review more than they’d trust a dealership that had no negative reviews whatsoever. If you manage them properly, one or two negative reviews can actually enable trust rather than hindering it.
The bottom line is that online reviews have a huge impact on your bottom line. If properly solicited, managed, and monitored, they can propel car shoppers to both your website and your brick-and-mortar dealership, and ultimately result in a significant lift in sales.
If your dealership doesn’t already have a dedicated YouTube channel, it’s time to get one. You may think that since you post videos on your website, there’s no need to post them on YouTube, but the opposite is true: If you post videos on your dealership’s website, you should absolutely have a corresponding YouTube channel where you post those same videos. Why? Three simple words: reach, visibility, and cost-effectiveness.
Many of us don’t think of YouTube as a search engine, but that’s exactly what it is. In fact, it’s the second-largest search engine in the world — second only, of course, to Google. Moreover, YouTube is the world’s third-most-visited website after Google and Facebook. It gets more than 30 million visitors per day, adding up to around 1.5 billion visitors each month. That’s a massive potential audience that dealers cannot afford to miss out on. And if you think people aren’t interested in watching car dealership videos, think again. According to David Mogensen, Head of YouTube Ads Products Marketing at Google, “views [on the platform] of test drives, features, options, and walk-throughs have doubled in the last year.” Even more telling is that 70% of people who watched YouTube during their car-buying journey say that it influenced their ultimate purchase decision. These are powerful statistics that illustrate a huge opportunity for dealers to grow their marketing reach and thereby expand their customer base.
Not only does having a YouTube channel expand your reach in a huge way, but it can drastically improve your dealership’s online visibility, as well. The three major search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Bing) have now started blending their search engine results pages (SERPs) to include mixed media like news, images, and video. This, in turn, has created yet another great SEO opportunity: When a user searches for a brand or model that you carry, a properly-optimized channel can create an additional link on SERPs, increasing your potential visibility to that user.
Having a dedicated dealership YouTube channel can also increase your SEO authority. According to Launch Digital Marketing, “Google’s job is to give searchers the best answer to any question, and their algorithm has started to rank YouTube results and web pages with video as the best (most helpful, useful, engaging) answer for many search queries — particularly tutorial-, how-to-, review-, and test drive-related queries.”
As a marketer, your job is to gain maximum exposure, traffic, and conversions while spending as little of your budget as possible. And let’s face it: this can be a tough feat in today’s ultra-competitive digital marketing world, especially for car dealerships. But not all marketing efforts require a massive chunk of ad spend. Take, for example (you guessed it!), YouTube. Creating a YouTube channel for your dealership is completely free! And considering the reach and visibility it offers, the wildly popular video platform can be one of the most cost-effective ways of advertising and promoting your inventory and dealership.
What to Post
Now that you’ve decided to create a YouTube channel for your store or dealer group, the question remains: Where do you start? What types of videos should you post, and how often? Stay tuned for the answers to these questions later this week.
We talk to many dealers who are frustrated by having an OEM-mandated website program. But there IS a way that dealers can deal. Check out the video below to learn more.
Want your website to convert at a (much) higher rate? Click here for a free demo.
Website bounce rate directly correlates to site speed; it’s a hand-in-hand combination. Our research and tests have found that when a site takes longer than three seconds to load, bounce rate will increase by up to 150% per second. This fact, combined with the announcement by Google that, starting in July of this year, site speed will be a major ranking factor for mobile searches, means that a fast website will be a significant game-changer to your online storefront.
So, what does this mean for dealerships? In his presentation in April at the Digital Dealer 24 Conference and Expo, fusionZONE CEO Brett Sutherlin addressed exactly that. Click play to watch the presentation and learn how your site speed is affecting your business.
The purpose behind Google’s new Speed Update is to reward business whose websites cater to today’s consumer. Therefore, faster page speed will result in:
- Lower bounce rates
- Increased consumer engagement
- Higher rankings on SERPs
Google encourages you to check your own website speed using its official PageSpeed Insights tool. This will help you find out the average load time of every page on your website. It provides simple visuals to help in analysis: between green, yellow, and red scores. You want to be in the green. If you’re not, you’ll want to ensure that you are meeting Google’s guidelines to avoid getting penalized in SEO performance when they crack down next month.
It’s just that easy!
Set your target for your site to load in less than 3 seconds. If you can decrease that to 2 seconds, you’ll notice an even greater increase in conversions. Why? Because your customers are finding your website before they are finding your competitors.
Contact fusionZONE Automotive today to double your website leads, guaranteed. Known for building the fastest websites in automotive, we’ll not only help you navigate the playing field – we’ll help you dominate it.
In order to stand out within the automotive website creation space, you must have effective dealership marketing strategies in place from the get-go. And as the needs of clients and the demands of the industry change, so must the company.
In a world that was once focused on getting the client into the storefront itself for face-to-face interaction, dealership marketing has shifted to creating an online presence that enables the customer not only to find your dealership but to actually close the deal. It’s true that maintaining established relationships is vital within the digital marketing realm, but dealers must evolve with the times in order to survive.
Many website providers have become more technology-driven, pushing things like “buy online” tools, attributions, and online retailing — working hard to convince you that a shopper will not take the time to fill out a lead form. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Driving customers to your site. Amidst all the seemingly innovative online tools that are inundating the market, it’s necessary to look at the hard, factual data. The conclusion that can be drawn is what we’ve been telling our dealer peers for years: A focus on speed + conversion will drive customers to your website. It’s important to go back to the basics of dealership marketing, because at the end of the day, a fancy website that is difficult to find, packed with links, and running high-tech programs isn’t going to sell cars.
What sells cars? The answer is quickly being able to connect with a potential buyer and turning that lead intoto a conversion. The more leads a dealership website can deliver, the more cars the dealer can sell, period.
If you’re looking for year-over-year growth (and who isn’t?) with an impressive 5% conversion rate that shows no signs of decreasing, the answer is simple: speed + conversion. A correctly optimized website leads to a thriving, profitable dealership.
While times are changing, with many dealership marketing vendors innovating for themselves rather than for the dealer, the fact remains that if you cannot find a way to connect with your customer quickly and in a way that is easy for them, you won’t close the deal. Conversion and site speed are here to stay.
When it comes to website speed, slow and steady will never win the race for market share.
Think of your website like a race car. Pole position on the racetrack is important, but it doesn’t guarantee a win. When you consider its value and performance relative to selling cars, a blazing fast website is your marketing cornerstone.
Speed matters. According to Google, website speed has been a ranking factor for several years. However, it has primarily focused on desktop searches. This changed on January 17 of this year, when Google announced that page speed will be a mobile ranking factor beginning in July 2018. They’re calling it the “Speed Update” and they say it will affect mobile websites that deliver the slowest experience to searchers. If your website is the slow car, this is bad news. If your website is the slow car and no one wants to drive it, this is even worse.
Staying on the track matters.
Stay focused on getting the most out of your website before spending time in the echo chambers of our industry, or you might find yourself blindly following ideas and trends that amount to wasted time. Digital retailing, attribution, and BI tools are just a few of the hot topics I hear about daily. Unfortunately, it’s usually from dealers who have given up or don’t know how to hold their website provider accountable. While some of what’s new may be good for dealers, it’s easy to be distracted when you’re ignoring bigger issues, like website speed. When you disregard the performance of your most important marketing tool, you make yourself a prime candidate for those offering solutions to problems you don’t actually have.
Take it from a car guy who grew up in the business and then built a successful automotive website company from the ground up: website leads are not dead! No dealer should be happy with a website struggling to convert 2% of its visitors. When you consider how much money your dealership spends to drive traffic to its website, increasing your conversions becomes a high priority. Someone telling you consumers no longer fill out forms on websites is someone selling worthless websites.
See you in the winner’s circle.
It’s true, new technology and variations of existing tech continue to impress us and often easily steal our attention. But it’s crucial to focus on tuning your website for higher
performance so you can grip the wheel and start winning some races. If your engine has already blown cylinders, make a change soon, because no one enters a race hoping to lose.
The formula for your dealership to win is simple: speed + conversion wins the race. Focus on these two things, and you’ll sell more cars — guaranteed.