Why Are Conversion Rates on Your Website Dropping and What Can Your Dealership Do About It?
There is little to no argument that online conversion rates for auto dealers have been in jeopardy over the last several years. Specifically I am referring to online form conversions, but let’s keep the conversation open to all forms of conversion.
The reasons why could be due to various things, e.g. lack of interest and lack of trust, but I would argue that one of the reasons is due to lack of a preferred method.
Think about it. Auto dealer websites continue to improve in their ability to provide relevant information in a format shoppers require, as do the online tactics auto dealers utilize to create engagement. While there are always exceptions to the norms, this is an innovative industry that is constantly progressing.
When you consider your options to convert these days, a dealership website has four methods:
- Display Phone Number to Call
- Online Form Conversion
- Online Chat
- Text Message
But all too many dealerships today still only offer the first two methods, even though the third method, online chat, has gained acceptance. Offering a text option is only in its infancy.
Each website visitor has a preferred method where he or she will be comfortable interacting with your dealership. This method might not be the same method for that person with another retailer. For instance, an Amazon.com user might be perfectly comfortable providing an email address to a seller, but not a cell phone number, whereas that same person might be willing to share his or her cell phone number with your dealership, but not their email address.
That said, if your website is not providing ALL FOUR OPTIONS, then this could part of the reason why your conversion rates are dropping as opposed to increasing. Whatever the numbers are for your demographic, some percentage of your audience today will prefer one method over the other three. If that method is not available then BOOM! you could very well lose the opportunity to convert.
Since displaying a phone number is simple, and it goes without saying will work as a click-to-call via mobile when implemented properly, and since online form conversion, e.g. web lead, vehicle trade, financing, etc. are effectively native to auto dealer websites, text conversion and chat conversion are really the two tactics where the majority of dealers can still improve.
Online Chat Conversion
While many dealers look at online chat like they do a lot of things, that is, a box that can be checked off as “done” because they have an online chat box on their website, reality is, there’s much more to online chat than most people think. This isn’t the time and place for these ideas, but I will throw out a bone for you – think online site engagement.
With an online site engagement strategy, auto dealers can approach website visitors more holistically rather than merely as an online up, gathering not only information that website visitors share through the console, but also behavioral tracking and campaign source information that can be utilized to engage with customers over time.
Regardless of your strategy or how you look at it, some percentage of people visiting your website will engage with you via chat, and that percentage will keep increasing as the masses continue to embrace effective online chat/engagement techniques on dealer websites.
Online Text Conversion
For guys like me where I prefer text (or SMS) communication over email, the ability to interact via text is of growing importance for consumers. Partly because we receive fewer text messages than email, but also because text messaging is more convenient, and more personal.
Unlike with email where you have to a) locate an email message in your inbox and b) sort through the mass amount of information included in the email, with a text message all you have to do is reply or click on the link provided. Of course, the experience you encounter upon clicking the link is of uber importance, at least you clicked on the link.
There are multiple ways to implement the use of text messaging at your dealership. The most common is where you simply have the ability to let people opt-in to receive text messages from your dealership, permitting you to communicate with them via text, but this requires you asking for each person’s mobile number and sending them a text to confirm, a protocol that is intrusive and lacking utility to the consumer.
With a text messaging solution like TextUps, converting shoppers on your website into leads via text message has never been simpler because you are giving people the option to initiate text communications with you based on an actual urgent need such as viewing a vehicle on your website, and not forcing them to call or complete a lengthy online form requiring multiple points of their contact information, the entire reason we are seeing online conversion dropping over the years.
By entering their mobile number, the vehicle (or vehicles) they are currently viewing can be delivered directly to their mobile device with a link back to your responsive website. Because the customer initiated the exchange they are now “opted in” to receive text communications from you and their mobile phone number is now in your CRM.
Improving Online Conversion
So where can you go to begin working on improving your online conversion? Reality is, you have a lot of options. What I don’t recommend is going out and hiring a chat provider and installing a chat box on your website, nor do I recommend rushing in and introducing text messaging on your website.
Before you begin, you need a strategy that is designed around your unique needs as an auto retailer, a strategy designed to help overcome where you fall short and that has your end goals in mind. To do this, I have a process.
First we identify your strengths and weakness online with my online assessment process. This is where we research your virtual dealership online like any other customer would, creating a snapshot view of the customer experience.
Next, we formulate a strategy based on these findings, a strategy designed to help you focus your efforts where they will matter most, and that includes partners and providers that compliment your dealership. The implementation of things such as online site engagement and text messaging would be implemented as a means to end to reach your end goals, not merely to check a box.
Get started now by requesting your free online assessment. Within 30 days we will have the benchmarks we need and the metrics in place for you to succeed with increasing your online conversion.
Producer and Host of the AutoConverse Future Mobility & Connectivity Podcast, Ryan began working in the automotive industry in 2001, establishing his roots in online vehicle merchandising before expanding into digital marketing and now multi media for Automotive B2B. You can connect with Ryan on LinkedIn.