It’s a well-known fact the best leads aren’t the ones that are bought, but those that convert on your website. These leads close faster, close at a higher rate, and close for higher gross than any other online lead. The problem is that websites are consistently converting less than 1% of their traffic into leads. Some are higher, some lower, but rarely does anyone convert at higher than 2%. Below are a few design tips that I have seen drive website conversion rates as high as 10%.
These guide consumers to where you want them to go and pique their curiosity. By eliminating choice, they drive consumers to do what you want them to do on your site, submit a lead; giving your sales team one more chance at bat with an in-market car shopper!
1. Where Do We Go from Here? – Imagine driving towards a destination, in the dark with no road signs, and your GPS stops working. Sadly, that’s very similar to the experience many dealers currently offer their online customers on their homepages.
90% of visitors to your site are looking for one of three things: new inventory, used inventory or service. Doesn't it make simple logical sense to have these
areas clearly marked at the top of your homepage? I always recommend 3 large CTA's on your homepage, one for each of these options. If you have additional profit drivers you can add simple CTA's for those as well (no more than 6), but again, 90% of clicks are going to new, used, and service. These should be the first 3 CTA's on your homepage. They should be above the fold, and they should clearly indicate where they will take a consumer.
Your homepage, above the fold, is the map you are providing to consumers. “Here’s how you get to the destination you came here to find.” Somewhat counterintuitively, you want to eliminate choice for the consumer. You want to direct the consumer where you (the dealer) want them to go, to your product.
Another point to keep in mind for your homepage is that few consumers will scroll down on your page at all and less than 5% will ever make it to the bottom of your homepage. This means that the content found below the fold (anything you must scroll down the page to see), isn't really for consumers. Sure, you should put some specials on sliders, and a small fraction of consumers will interact with those. Truthfully though, almost all the below the fold content is strictly for SEO purposes. You should ensure that your website provider provides quality SEO content on your homepage, but that is a topic for another article.
Think of the lowest common denominator and structure your website so that the dumbest person in the world can easily find their way. If you make it simple for customers, more of them will find their way to where you want them to go AND have a better customer experience along the way.
2. Don’t Create Friction in the Search Process– The key to continuing consumer engagement once they do click on a CTA is to deliver relevant results. Just as Google focuses on relevance, the same concept applies to your site.
Once a shopper clicks on a CTA, many dealer sites take them to an irrelevant page. Most are set to deliver SRPs in a specific order. In most cases, all new or used vehicles and price, high to low. The problem is that this page is often irrelevant to the consumer.
Let's say I'm shopping at a Toyota store because I am interested in a base model new Camry. I come to your site, click new inventory, and am given an SRP with all your new vehicles priced high to low. This result is irrelevant for me, requiring me to either scroll through hundreds of other vehicles to arrive at the ones I am interested in or take additional steps to filter through inventory.
What if you delivered relevant results instead? This really isn’t that difficult. After a consumer clicks new inventory, rather than delivering them an SRP with every vehicle you have, first take them to a page where they can filter their results. This can be done by price, body style, model, etc. This simple change will result in a lowering of your bounce rate on SRP’s (sometimes by as much as 30-40%), which means that a higher percentage of consumers interact with your inventory. This will also lead to an increase in lead volume.
One more thing on this point, when it comes to your SRP and VDP pages the same principal about limiting your CTAs applies. Don’t overwhelm your potential car buyers with 30 options. Keep it simple, limit to 3 CTAs with a focus on results that you want. Generally speaking, these are a lead form, click to call, and either digital retailing or a credit application.
3. What’s the Ultimate Goal? – The ultimate goal of any dealer’s website is to interact with the customer. The only way to convert a customer into a sale is to gain interaction. If you structure your site correctly, more customers will engage with you, leading to more sales.
It’s ironic that many of the things that we did in the 90s still work today. The bottom line is that – especially today – consumers need to be incentivized into giving up their information. The number one reason that consumers do not submit a lead is that they believe it will provide no benefit to them. Consumers don’t see the need to "check availability," feeling that if the vehicle is on your site, it should be on your lot. Dealers must provide the “why” behind lead conversion. The most compelling “why” I have seen is offering a pricing concession in return for lead submission. This can be achieved by clearly indicating to a consumer that a lower price is available if they simply submit a lead.
Today’s consumers are conditioned for instant gratification. Many dealer websites promise a price reduction in return for a lead but don’t deliver; instead, they return a message, "a salesperson will call you with our price shortly." All this does is upset consumers. Imagine you are shopping for a TV. You see a button that says, "get the best possible price on this tv instantly!" You click it, you give your name and phone number, and then a page pops up saying, "we will call you soon with your price." That method isn't likely to make you a fan of that business. The same principle applies here. Give a CTA that incentivizes consumers to submit a lead, and then deliver on your promise of a lower price, instantly.
It really doesn't matter how much savings you offer; so long as it is provided instantly and fulfills any promise made in your CTA.
4. First to Make Contact Wins – In the end, typically the first dealership to contact the customer, to interact, build rapport, and set a sales appointment wins the sale. The faster a dealership can get a customer on the phone; the more likely that customer will still be on the dealership's website and looking to buy a vehicle. There are a multitude of tools available to achieve fast connections with your consumers. However, you also have to examine your internal dealership policies. Take the time to test your lead process yourself. Go to your site, submit a lead, and see how long it takes for you to receive a response. Five minutes? Ten? Longer? Ask yourself, if I had submitted this lead on my site and my competitors who would have contacted me first? If the answer is your competitor, you have a problem! At that point, you need to identify if the problem is people, process, or product.
When I work with dealers on this issue, the answer is almost always process or product.
The highest converting dealer websites are winning by creating a pathway that fulfills the customer’s desire for immediate gratification by delivering relevant results. They provide clear calls-to-action and respond promptly via phone and email to initiate the right kind of engagement to drive a sale.
Dealers who encourage customer engagement by providing precisely what they are looking for find they engage via form submissions more often and, ultimately, are more willing to work with the dealership. Customers are more likely to continue engagement either via phone or in person. And that’s how you increase time on site, decrease bounce rates and sell more cars.