The Good, The Bad ... The Opportunity!
There is so much good to focus on when we look at how the car biz is amping up and accepting the formally fear inducing world on online marketing. That's why I hate focusing on the negatives, but alas, how can we ever grow unless we admit, identify and analyze our failures. Website conversion is one of those failures.
Now, we aren't talking about selling cars online here ... cuz that just ain't gonna happen. What we are talking about is conversion ... conversion in whatever form it takes on your site as it pertains to your individual goals. Only you know the objective of your web presence. You may be trying to get credit apps filled out, you may be trying to get subscribers to your newsletter, or you may be trying to improve online service bookings .. it really doesn't matter. What does matter, is that industry wide, car dealers see thousands of visitor to their sites every month but very little to show in terms of conversions as they relate to the dealers goal. We need to tie together what we want with SPECIFICALLY what the visitor is looking for .. match our processes.
Some Quick Math ...
2-3% is considered and average conversion rate across many diverse industries online, and 5% is considered excellent. So ... how many visitors do you get each month, and based on that number, quickly calculate your own conversion rate (number of visitors divided by the number who performed your desired action)? If you not sure how to determine this number, post a comment and if there are enough, I will write a separate post on how to set up goals and funnels in Google Analytics. Many dealers are getting north of 5000 visitors (and some as many as 10-20,000) but fall miles short of the 100 leads on the low end and even further from the 250 leads they could and should be seeing. The facts are that an average dealer may see only 15 or 20 leads from all this traffic (if that) which represents a conversion rate of less that half of 1% ... wasteful, disgraceful and .... very fixable.
For purposes of this post, let's assume the dealer is looking to capture an email so his team has contact information to follow up. So how can we get 150+ emails from visitors that usually come - look - leave?Personas
It is a unusually difficult task to persuade someone to do something when you know nothing about them. We tell our sales people (or we should) that closing becomes a by-product of a great needs based presentation and demo. When we build $1.25 worth of value in our product and only ask for $1, the Value Proposition drives action. Had we not known the prospects Hot Buttons by doing a great interview, the presentation and demo would have likely missed the mark, and the value in the prospects eyes would have not been as compelling. The exact same process must exist online to achieve our goals. In other words, we must get to know our online prospect and determine his/her hot buttons.
If You Build it They will Come Convert
You must build out buyer personas for different product, and service pages on your site ... based on your experience, and the experience of those around you. Why? Here's an all too common example ... for a Honda dealer, why in the world would you have similar content structure, tone and delivery etc.. on the page for a Honda Insight as you have for a Honda Ridgeline? These pages should be polar opposite; because the buyers certainly are; yet the tone of the copy is surprisingly similar on most sites. We need to ask ourselves who the Insight/Ridgeline buyer is, and what makes them tick? We then create his/her Name, Occupation, Family, Leisure Activities, Political Views, Education etc etc. make this Persona seem as real as if you've known the person for many years. You must me excruciatingly detailed and specific with their characteristics and demo/psychographic make-up.
Now that you have your Persona built for each model line, you now need to talk to that Persona by way of your page copy, images, offers, trust factors and calls to action (some are a sneak peak into parts 2-7). Remember, you probably had your site built be a company that cranks out sites by outsourcing them to India or the Ukraine .. (sad but true), and they are just not going to take the extra time to do any of this .. your site is cookie cutter no matter how much they told you it isn't, and how much you paid, and it will perform as such until you start to take control of the content.
Building Personas is NOT a solitary activity. You should use the full power of your human resources to create each one. Send out email surveys to your SA's and Sales Reps asking questions like "would a CR-V buyer be more likely to use the vehicle for hauling soccer gear or going to Home Depot?" This is not a quick process, but it will pay HUGE dividends when used in conjunction with the remaining 6 tactics!
You don't talk to your college buddy the same way you talk to dear old grandma ... and you shouldn't talk to all your online visitors the same way either. Build Personas so you can start communicating with people the way they want to be communicated with, and your site will be on it's way to become exponentially more persuasive, when it come to converting traffic.
Up next Part Two ... Building a Better Landing Page
Written by David Briand
David Briand is an Independent Inbound and Internet Marketing Consultant and Former Automotive General Manager and Managing Partner.