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.

Dealership PPC Campaigns

Almost every auto dealer that tries running a search engine marketing campaign (PPC) on their own ends up making a mistake or two.  Heck, even the PPC veterans make a mistake from time to time.  While occasionally trying something that ends up not being as effective as thought is understandable, some errors happen far too often.

Here is a list of common search engine marketing mistakes:

Sending your car dealer PPC traffic to Homepage:  People use search engines to find something specific; sending them to a generic homepage won’t help them find what they searched for.  Instead, use landing pages specific to keywords to solve this.  There are even car dealer websites that use dynamic landing pages as part of their PPC efforts so that the landing page is always contextually relevant to the users search intent.

Bidding on Only One Keyword: Not all searchers are going to use the same keyword to find your dealership.  Research to find the most common forms and words searched.  Your car dealership’s website analytics may help with this.

Using the Same Ad Copy for All Keywords: Just like sending all traffic to the same homepage, you don’t want everyone who searches to see the same ad text.  Fit the ad copy to the keyword it is tied to.  Even better than that, use dynamic keyword replacement to ensure that as many keywords as possible are bolded in your ad—this is a basic PPC tip that has proven to dramatically increase click-through rates.

Optimizing Page For Conversion: Landing pages are great for this since their only purpose is to provide relevant content and convert visitors into leads.  Make sure you have plenty of contact forms and calls to action.  Again, having a dynamic landing page solution ensures that your page is relevant to a visitor—this is necessary to maximize your conversion rates.

Bidding on the wrong Keywords:  Do some keyword research before you begin bidding on keywords.  There is no use spending money on keywords that don’t convert.  If you don’t have a list of keywords that convert well, take ample time in a very controlled and measurable process to determine which ones work and which don’t, so you don’t end up wasting lots of money.

It may be worthwhile for your car dealership to have your PPC ad campaign managed by a search engine marketing vendor.  They shouldn’t be committing any of the above mistakes, which will give your auto dealer website a better chance of having a PPC campaign with a high ROI.

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.

Google Local Search

Google has done a great job making their search results better and more effective for the car buyers that use their search engine, especially when it comes to local search.  As it stands now, those who search Google for a term like “Ford dealership” or “used Nissan dealer” will see local results for these terms, even if a city isn’t included in the actual search term.

While this greatly helps searchers, and even your dealership, it isn’t helpful if you are attempting to research your competing dealership websites.  For example, if you want to see what PPC ads are appearing when you search for your competitor’s dealership name or where your dealership website ranks for those who search in the next town over, you may not be able to see what someone in that neighboring city would see.

That’s why the website SearchMuffin is great.  This site allows you to choose the city you’d like to see Google search results for, allowing your dealership to see what local searchers see when they search in Google.  You can use this information to see how well your dealership ranks in neighboring cities, as well as which PPC ads appear for those same searches.

Your dealership can use this data to tweak your website search engine optimization (SEO) to help your dealer website to rank higher in the search results of neighboring cities.  Don’t let your competing dealerships rule the search engine results without your dealership knowing about it–this could mean a loss in potential car sales.

Dealership Banner Advertising

Marketing, both online and traditional, is only effective if the intended audience actually pays attention to your message.  It’s also important that your marketing be effective at persuading consumers to purchase from your dealership.  If your marketing efforts aren’t seen by consumers and have an effect on them, you might as well be throwing that money away.

Internet banner advertising is ignored by 46% of the participants in a Harris Interactive study.  This means that almost half of web users that see your dealership’s Internet banner ads are blocking them out and not paying attention to your message.  That’s a pretty terrible penetration rate.

In case that wasn’t enough of a blow, the same study reported that only 1% of participants believed Internet banner ads to be the most helpful when making buying decisions.  Barely anyone turns to (or trusts) banner ads when looking for information related to purchasing.

According to this study, Internet banner ads are largely ignored and not effective in persuading consumers to buy from your auto dealership.

Instead of throwing this part of your marketing budget away, it makes much mores sense to reallocate it to marketing techniques that actually earn your dealership sales.  Search engine optimization (SEO) and even pay-per-click (PPC) advertising will be found helpful by your target audience and are much less likely to be ignored than banner ads.  Take a deeper look at the effectiveness and ROI of all of your marketing campaigns, and only fund those that are earning your dealership real sales.