Lead Conversion

Automotive Mobile Searchers Convert…Fast

Earlier this year, Nielsen, xAd, and Telmetrics conducted a survey on the “mobile path to purchase” in three industries: restaurants, travel, and automotive.  The latest part of the study released pertains to the automotive category.

One of the most important things found in this study, in my opinion, is that roughly half of the mobile automotive searchers were “looking to make a purchase within the day.”  36% of this group converted “within the hour.”  This means that almost half of those searching for your dealership on their mobile devices want to purchase a vehicle on the same day. Over 1/3 of those will purchase a vehicle within an hour.

The study also found that there is a difference between the behavior of those using a smartphone and those using a tablet.  Tablet users spent more time doing price research and looking at reviews. They were also more likely to be influenced by positive reviews.  Smartphone users were more likely to search from their car (42%) and tended to convert more quickly than tablet users.

So what are these auto shoppers searching for? 44% are looking for your dealership location, 43% are comparing prices and 36% are looking for a phone number.

When was the last time you tested your mobile website?  Do you have your dealership’s location (with directions), prices on your inventory, and the phone number (click to call is HUGE here).  What does your mobile website look like?  Make sure you talk with your auto dealership website provider if you aren’t happy with what you find.

Revamp Your Contact Forms to Increase Dealership Website Conversion

Many of the dealers I talk to are extremely concerned about the conversion rate of their dealership website, and rightfully so.  Converting website traffic into leads should be a priority of everyone involved with your site, from your vendor to your Internet Manager to your GM.  One way to affect your conversion rate is by optimizing the contact forms you use to collect leads.

Reduce the Size: Keep the number of form fields to a minimum; only ask for what you absolutely need to follow up. Many people get overwhelmed when faced with providing a lot of personal information just to get some info about a car.

Design the Mobile Version First: Not only will this help ensure you have mobile-friendly forms on your mobile dealership website, but it helps you focus on keeping the form simple.

Reduce Friction: This could be as simple as making it clear which fields are required (even if it’s all), using in-line validation to correct errors as they are made, or using ghost text to help users know what format they should use.

Make it as easy as possible for your dealership website visitors to submit a lead by simplifying lead forms.  If you have long, complicated contact forms, talk to your auto dealer website provider to see how you can simplify your forms and raise your conversion rate.

Dealer Incentives Program – Cash For Clunkers

The Cash for Clunkers program seems to be a success, despite the criticism that the program continues to get.  Some would-be buyers complain that their older cars don’t qualify as “clunkers” and environmentalists have said that the program isn’t really lowering the United States’ dependence on oil or pollution.  Yet this doesn’t seem to be slowing the success of the program.

There are dealerships that have all but run out of the most popular new vehicles, and by some accounts, tens of thousands of customers have made their way into auto dealer showrooms.  The Transportation Department reports that over 80,000 vouchers have been processed under the Cash for Clunkers program, 47% of which were for domestic auto purchases.

Even though some consumers, politicians, and program critics are unhappy with the Cash for Clunkers incentive program, auto dealers are still reaping the benefits of this giant influx of dealership traffic.  So why, despite all the negative reaction it has received, is it still so successful?

Incentives.  Consumers (more so now than ever) are looking for an extra reason to buy.  This could be a coupon, a discount, or an additional item thrown in for free.  The success of Cash for Clunkers shows that your auto dealership needs to be using incentives in order to help get website traffic into your showroom.

Use an incentive based lead generation tool on the home page of your dealer site.  Increase the incentive after they submit their contact information if they schedule a test drive.  Using incentives on your auto dealer website has continually been shown to increase leads, dealer showroom traffic, and car sales.  Make sure your dealership doesn’t get left behind when the Cash for Clunkers incentive program ends.

Increasing Dealer Website Conversion

On Tuesday, I wrote about how website design, content, navigation, and technical problems can affect your auto dealership website conversion rate.  Your online marketing efforts can also affect the rate at which traffic on your car dealer website converts into leads.  Here’s how:

Keyword Selection (SEO & PPC): People who use search engines expect to find websites that are related to the keywords they used.  If your car dealership websites show in the search engine results for un-related terms, this will almost always result in a lower conversion rate.  This is true for keywords in both search engine optimization and in your pay-per-click ad words.  Make sure your dealership is only bidding on keywords that are related to your industry and website to help lower your bounce rate.

The more frequently your site shows up for longer tail search terms (like “Richmond Nissan Altima 2009,” as opposed to “Richmond Nissan dealer”), the higher your conversion rate should be.  Having content that brings in more long tail search traffic can both raise your traffic volumes AND increase the rate at which it converts to a lead, since the incremental traffic will convert at a higher rate than your general website traffic.

Title Tags and Meta Descriptions:  Your auto dealer website provider should be able to help you set these two SEO-related items.  If the description of your website that shows in the search engine results doesn’t truly reflect your website, the people that click through will quickly click off.  Also, you may be losing valuable traffic that would click on your website if the description were accurate.

Ad Copy: If your dealership is using pay-per-click marketing (PPC), the content of your ads is very important.  When you partner with a car dealer PPC management vendor, your ad content should be optimized to maximize your conversion rate.  If not, make sure the copy is relevant to the keywords being bid on, your dealership, and the auto industry.

Every piece of your website, including online marketing, can contribute to your site’s conversion rate.  Talk to your online marketing partner to make sure your SEO and PPC efforts are reducing, not adding to, your dealership website’s conversion rate.

Dealer Website Conversion Factors

The conversion rate of a dealership’s website is the most commonly used metric to measure the success of a website’s success at generating leads.  Conversion rates are usually expressed as the percentage of traffic that submits a lead to your website.  Obviously, the higher the conversion rate, the better it is for your auto dealership.

Most analytics tools calculate conversion rate information, but they don’t tell you how to work on increasing your conversion rate.  Here are a few things you should do to increase your conversion rates:

The Look:  This depends, mainly, on your website provider.  Sites that are too busy, too colorful, or just unappealing to viewer’s eyes will prompt a quick click off of the page.  Make sure that your website looks clean, nice, and un-offensive.

The Content: It’s important that your website contains valuable information.  For auto dealers, this typically means that your inventory descriptions are worthwhile and complete.  It could also mean that you have a blog that offers information that car buyers can actually use.  Don’t just stuff keywords into your dealership site; make sure the content is worth reading.

Ability to Navigate: This often goes hand in hand with website design.  If a visitor can’t easily determine how to find the information they are looking for, they’ll click to another dealer website.  Make sure your navigation bar is clear and that the most important sub-pages can be reached with just one click from your home page.

Technical Issues:  Your website should be built so that the majority of web users can view all components.  If someone has to download a program to view something, chances are they’ll click off.  The same goes for pages that don’t load quickly enough, or not at all.

Make sure that your dealership website has valuable content, looks appealing, loads properly and is easy to use.  Work with your auto dealer website provider to ensure that your site is properly set up to increase your conversion rates.

On Thursday, I’ll write about how to use your marketing efforts to increase your website conversion rate.