Did you know that 95 percent of vehicle buyers use digital as a source of information during the car buying process?
Twice as many vehicle buyers start their research online versus beginning at a dealership. And, beyond just the initial purchasing process, an online search is the number one place consumers turn to when looking for maintenance information.
With so many people using the internet to locate vehicle information, find good deals, and even schedule routine maintenance, it follows that dealerships must curate a quality online presence. And, while the majority of businesses have at least established a website, many dealerships struggle to know how to improve their overall online presence.
Today, we’ll take a look at ten quick and practical tasks that your dealership can do today to begin improving your online presence.
1. Give Your Website a Test Run
While your dealership’s online presence should span a wide number of digital channels, one of the first places to begin is with your website. Your website will act as your dealership’s digital showroom, and in many cases, a lot of your online interactions will result in funneling customers there.
For this reason, one simple but important task to undertake is a quick test run of your website and the experience it provides. Try stepping outside of your current role to test your website. Take on the persona of an interested buyer, and give your website a spin. During this process, ask yourself and even jot down some notes on the following questions:
- How fast does each web page load? According to Google, you should aim for under two seconds for load time. While two seconds seems fast, the average internet user will bounce when a web page takes longer to load. If you notice a webpage that is lagging, jot down the specific URL to address with the team responsible for your website performance.
- How easy is each web page to understand? Click through all the major pages on your website. As you do so, how easy is it to gain a quick understanding of what the web page is about? Things like headers, bullet points, and clear calls to action should make it easy to digest the content on your website.
- How easy is it to navigate? Test this on both a desktop and mobile device. Nothing is more infuriating than trying to navigate a website where the menu is unresponsive or buttons are shoved off-screen when switching to a mobile device. Note any areas where you couldn’t follow the navigation flow easily.
- How simple is it to find information? Set up a scenario for yourself. For example, you might take on the role of a customer interested in purchasing a used Toyota. You are looking for information online and turn to your website. From here, take note of how easy it is for you to find relevant information. How simple is it for you to reach out to a sales representative?
Sometimes a quick spin around your own website will help you identify areas where you can make small tweaks to create vast improvements. Since your website will act as the backbone for all your other online channels, this quick task should be your first stop.
2. Ask Your Employees for Feedback
While your own perspective can be extremely helpful in unearthing any unwieldy or less than ideal online experiences, your employees can also provide you with a wealth of information.
Ask your employees to each submit feedback around two areas of your online presence:
- From their experience with customers, where are there areas for improvement for your online presence? Ask for specific examples.
- In their day-to-day job, does your current online presence help or hinder their work? Ask again for specific examples.
Often, your employees are far more in tune with the reality of your online presence than you might be. They may hear feedback from customers that never reaches your desk. They also might have their own frustrations with how your website or other online channels work.
Make sure to encourage open feedback. Gather this data, and look for any patterns. In some cases, you might even find that your own perusal of your website showcased the same examples that your employees bring to the table. This makes it easier to prioritize work that needs to be done.
3. Join Social Channels If You Haven’t Already
While a website is a great place to begin when launching your dealership’s online presence, it is not enough on its own. Customers are accustomed to interacting with businesses across channels.
If you haven’t already joined social media, set up your dealership’s pages today. Good places to begin are with Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. These three channels can increase your customer reach dramatically and open up additional doors for communication with potential clients.
Additionally, once you build out your social channels, you’ll have more options for diversifying your marketing ad spend. This can allow you to test out where your money is most effective in reaching your specific demographic of customers.
4. Check Out Your Landing Pages
Beyond just your initial walkthrough of your website, dive deeper into your landing pages. If you are running any online ads, these ads are funneling your customers to a specific place.
The question is: where are your customers being sent?
Determine what landing pages you are currently running, and analyze how effective they are. Each ad campaign should have a landing page that matches the ad being run.
For example, if you are running an ad promoting an upcoming sales event, you don’t want to dump customers who click on that ad on your website’s homepage. Instead, send them to a landing page specifically designed for this sales event. There should be a clear call to action and a way to track conversions.
- Not using landing pages and instead dumping customers on a broad web page?
- Using the same landing page for all your ads?
If either of these situations is happening, it’s time to revamp your strategy. Create specific landing pages that match the ads you are running. This quick and practical tweak can dramatically improve your conversion rates and help your dealership lower ad spend.
5. Sneak a Peek at the Competition
When was the last time you took a look at what other dealerships in your area are doing online? If you haven’t done so recently, spend some time analyzing what your competitors are up to.
Start by checking out their websites. Note areas where they are doing better than you and where you feel your website shines. You can use this information to help improve your own online experience.
Next, peruse their social media pages. How well are they interacting with customers online? Could you learn from anything they are doing?
Finally, dive into their ad campaigns. There are two easy-to-use free tools that can help you spy on the competition:
- Google’s Ad Preview: This tool allows you to type in a search term that your competitors might be running ads around. You can also choose a location and device to check out. Next, Google will show you what ads are running in the location you chose for the keyword phrase you typed in. This makes it easy to see exactly what your competition is doing to reach your customers.
- Facebook’s Ad Library: With the rise of social media marketing, it is important to look at what ads your competitors are running on Facebook and Instagram. Using this ad library, you can type in a keyword search phrase and see the ads your competitors are running on these two channels.
6. Create New Goals
How often do you set new digital goals for your dealership? If you are still running the same ad campaigns as a year ago and haven’t implemented new goals, now is the time to create a new benchmark.
A new goal could be as simple as gaining 100 new followers on Instagram. Or it could be a more challenging quarterly goal of improving conversion rates.
The benefit of creating new goals, at least once every quarter, is that it keeps your strategy fresh. It also allows you to gather more data on what is working well for your dealership and what is not, opening up the opportunity for iterating on your strategy.
7. Ask for Reports
If you have an in-house team or an agency running your digital marketing strategies, check in with these teams frequently. If you haven’t done so in a long time — or possibly ever — ask for clear reporting.
A good cadence for reporting is to ask for a quick weekly report and a more detailed monthly report. Weekly reports allow you to keep your pulse on your dealership’s online activities, while a monthly report can help you see the bigger picture.
With the remarkable amount of data available through platforms such as Google and Facebook, there is no reason to shy away from reporting on metrics. These reports can become valuable tools as you look for ways to improve your online strategy.
8. Try One Bold Experiment
One of the best things about operating in a digital-first world is that you can try out new ideas as often as you want. There is an immense amount of opportunity in testing through online channels.
Think of it like this: back in the day, if you wanted to change up your marketing campaign, you had to call up the printers, change the copy on your flyers, and send out a whole new batch of mailers to potential customers.
Today, through a quick tweak of an ad campaign, you can change your strategy within moments.
With this ability comes the chance to try something bold! Challenge yourself and your team to come up with one bold experiment for the month ahead. Then, try it out! Sometimes thinking outside the box allows you to expand the way you do business online.
9. Rally Your Sales Team
One of the fastest ways to boost your online presence is by rallying your sales team around your efforts. Your sales team interacts with customers on a daily basis, giving them the prime opportunity to promote online engagement.
Try out a few of the following programs over the next month:
- Give an incentive to the sales team member who gets the highest number of positive Google reviews with their name mentioned.
- Teach your sales team members to ask customers to follow you on social media channels.
- Showcase your sales team members through your social media channels. Have them create a quick bio to go with a post.
10. Consider Outside Help
At the end of the day, creating a holistic and quality online presence is not an easy task. The digital world progresses forward every day with new trends emerging and new requirements coming into play.
In many cases, the best action you can take for your dealership is to reach out to an agency for help. Digital marketing agencies specialize in creating the ideal online presence. They have experience in understanding what customers expect, and they know how to tackle the technical side of the work.
Whether you are running your digital strategy alone or your in-house team needs a little help, our team at J&L Marketing would be happy to provide you with a quick consultation. We can help you hone in on what would boost your online presence, allowing your dealership to outpace the local competition. With years of experience working specifically with dealerships, we know the best tactics to take to make your dealership stand out online. For more information, reach out today! A quick phone call or email to our team could be the best and easiest task you take today to improve your online presence.