How Do I Convert Visitors On My Dealer Site?


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I’ve been spending a lot of time digging into the data collected from the analytics of our dealership website recently. Ultimately, I’m trying to discover what consumers are looking to get out of my website so that I can offer them the opportunity to convert into a lead with ease. Naturally, I won’t try to make them feel like they are turning into a lead; rather, I would like to provide convenient options that cater to purchase decisions and actions in a way that entices the user to use the website as a communication tool. Most people don’t want to fill out lead capture forms (and rightfully so), so I have to give them a compelling reason to do so – but how do I do that?

I’m a young guy, so I understand why our target demographic is a little weary of filling out a form online. Personally, I’d be more than willing to fill out a form on a product that I was actually interested in purchasing. I’ve been socially conditioned to treat the Internet as a purchase tool and I’ve had quite an interesting time figuring out how to entice the older generations to follow suit. I believe the only way to do that is to make the car purchase process easier for the consumer.

From looking at my lead conversion data, I can tell you with quite confidence that users aren’t really interested in the opportunity to “Request Information” or “Express Interest” in a vehicle. So I ask the automotive website providers – why are these calls-to-action still so prevalent across dealer sites? Have you even been doing any conversion optimization testing across your dealer pages? If not, can you really consider yourself to be a respectable “player” in the automotive website business? Tangents aside, since users aren’t interested in requesting additional information, we have to decide what calls-to-action will enable them to divulge private information.

The most common call-to-action in the automotive industry is “Get A Quote.”

A quote, you say – for what? The price of the vehicle is right next to the lead capture form, so what exactly am I getting a quote for? Monthly payments? Interest rates? The ambiguity of this call-to-action is rather puzzling – would we be more likely to generate leads if we provided more options for the user that are fairly specific? I understand that people convert all the time on the “Get A Quote” call-to-action, but what if we provided more options for the user?

Lead generation is an interesting topic in the auto industry. Contrary to an e-commerce site whose primary goal is to entice the user to buy a product, we are faced with the challenge of converting visitors online for something that they cannot readily purchase through the Internet. In order to improve, we need to dissect the purchase process in an attempt to provide a simpler, more efficient means of acquiring a new vehicle. What’s the primary reason somebody will contact us via our website? It is most certainly to negotiate a price. Does “Get A Quote” imply that the user will be negotiating a price? I don’t think it does and it certainly isn’t clear-cut enough to entice the average consumer when they can just as easily “Get A Quote” in the actual dealership. We can make this process easier by appealing to the current actions of the consumer. In this case, we need to offer them the opportunity to negotiate a price online before they make the trip into the store. Consumers are already using automotive websites for this task, so let’s make it easier for them.

“But wait,” you might say, “we don’t want to encourage the consumer to request a lower price!” Unfortunately for you, the automotive industry has been doing a pretty good job of encouraging that practice for many years now. The consumer is conditioned to think that they can get a better price than what the dealer lists and I can almost guarantee that you’re selling vehicles for less than MSRP, so why not start the process earlier? You’ll have the opportunity to learn more about your customers and grab some contact information in the process. Let’s give the consumer an opportunity to start the purchase process in the comfort of their home so that they can come into the store when they are good and ready to purchase — it’s what they want to do anyway.

Our culture has done a great job of reinforcing stereotypes of salespeople in the auto industry. Although we know better as insiders, many people still believe that the shark salesman is going to rip them off when they decide to make the trip into the store. What if we turned the process into a friendly encounter with an informative, yet confident salesperson that is willing to negotiate before they get you “in the box”? If you’re looking for dealer differentiators, there’s a good place to start.

I’m not a fan of TrueCar, but I believe they got 1 thing right: consumers want an easier, more transparent vehicle purchase process. However, it is not the case that we have to give away our internal costs to make that happen. Consumers start their research online, so let’s learn from the past and appeal to their purchase behaviors, not fight them. Watch how consumers interact with your website,
track their requests, and appeal to their desires. We need informed ISMs in our industry because the current inflexibility and lack of control from automotive website providers needs to change. This is a dynamic industry, so let’s start heading in that direction with regard to our online presence.

Do you agree/disagree?

Is it useless to try to convert consumers online if they are already interested in a vehicle? Let’s discuss in the comments.

image of Kyle Suss Kyle Suss is a regular contributor to DealerRefresh and is the Internet marketing director for Denver used cars dealer Suss Buick GMC.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.