Digital Tools have been a driving force in automotive for well over a decade, but are now an essential element as opposed to an innovative or interesting idea. Dealers are bombarded daily with new products and enhancements for their website to make the digital experience “seamless” for the customer. It is not enough to throw a widget on the website, though. Now is the time to evaluate what you have, create a sustainable plan of action, and then implement and measure your success. There are specific tools that should be considered a need more than a want, and their success depends on how you utilize them and how you educate your staff at the dealership.
The three digital solutions every dealership needs:
- Chat/Texting Solutions
- Digital Retailing Tool
- A Solid SEO Plan
These three elements are critical to a dealer’s success today and moving forward, and the majority of stores we see have adopted most of these solutions. Customers are looking for them, and to maintain the online customer experience, we need to implement these well.
This is nothing new, but it is always surprising when a dealership decides not to have this functionality on their website.
Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of respondents are more likely to purchase from a shopping site communicating with them about their products in real-time, with a real employee, via chat messaging. In fact, they are so enticed by these services that they would even recommend their friends switch to the site (63 percent).
Consumers are looking for an easy way to communicate with live people who can answer their questions immediately, and chat/text/messenger is a quick and safe solution for them. These customers do not want to talk to anyone at the dealership, but feel more comfortable communicating in this manner. This does not mean they are passive customers, but it does mean this digital format is their preferred method of communication. If you have not adopted a chat/messaging/text tool, this should be one of the first things you look in to.
One last thing about Chat--remember that this is a customer facing tool which gives them a means of communication and information gathering. You will receive leads, but once you stop evaluating chat only as a lead generation tool and more of a customer engagement tool, you will see the different and varied benefits. Time on site will go up, customers will be more satisfied with the experience, and you will have an omnichannel approach to communication (website, Facebook messenger, and text).
Digital Retailing Tool
If you read any industry magazines or news websites, you know that DR has been a headline for the past year. And it makes sense--with companies like Carvana, Tesla and Vroom, the online car buying experience is more relevant and important than ever. Add in the shade that some of these companies are throwing at traditional brick and mortar dealerships, and it is evident that we need to create our own best version of the “Online Buying Experience.”
As we have discussed previously, Digital Retailing encompasses many elements. Customers may choose to take one action (lease or purchase pencils), many actions (credit application) or they may want to complete everything virtually and have you deliver the car to them. With the other purchasing models becoming more accepted, you need to ensure that you not only have a DR tool, but also the process in place to create your online buying experience. In next week’s article, we will look at what it takes to make sure your DR tool is successful.
While many may not see this as a “solution” because it is not a widget on your website, focusing on SEO is one of the most important elements of marketing at the dealership. Not only will it drive low funnel traffic to your website, but it will also help bring down the cost of your paid search efforts. SEO makes all elements on your website stronger, including your Digital Retailing and Online Buying Experience.
What to think about with SEO:
- Do you have a landing page that outlines your online buying process and educates the consumer on the steps to take?
- Are all your pages optimized with the correct title tag (H1)
- Have you purged your site of old-fashioned keyword stuffing? (That can actually hurt your Google organic ranking)
SEO is truly one of the most important areas to invest time into on your website, and it does not need to be overly costly. If you are paying for SEO, don’t set it and forget it. Make sure it is a regular part of your monthly calls with your provider. SEO drives traffic to your site, which can convert to leads.
All three of these elements combined ensure that your customers have multiple ways to get to your website, engage with knowledgeable automotive experts, and begin the online buying process.
And all three elements should increase engagement and leads for your dealership.
Next week we will discuss how to optimize these tools, and what to do if you do not have a team of experts to ensure every lead is responded to. Because, if you are putting in the time and money to gain customers, you don’t want to lose them at the lead.