Websites are pretty useless unless they are packed with relevant, engaging, quality content – including words, pictures and video. All of these things work together to help a site rank higher in search results, reduce visitor bounce rates and increase web page engagement – key metrics in terms of online ‘success’.
Broadly speaking, we understand the kinds of content available today (of which there are a lot!) and how this impacts on web performance. For instance, whilst SEO-friendly copy is still the foundation, video is essential. In the automotive industry, rich media content such as interactive 360-degree interiors and exteriors, consumer reviews and more – all of these are gaining importance in terms of being found, and retaining visitors.
In automotive retail, as in other sectors, content is known. Now, successfully using that content is the focus because conversion is king.
Conversion is the process of attracting someone to your website and having them make a positive action which, to the dealer, constitutes a lead. Having a highly converting website is a demonstration that it is doing its job effectively by offering up a greater proportion of sales opportunities against the number of people making visits. To do this, dealer websites have to be feature-rich, providing visitors with ample opportunity to become a lead. There are a variety of tools out there that help do this:
- Enquiry forms – simple, basic, but a point of contact nonetheless.
- Live Chat – interactive and engaging, it can significantly increase leads and in the right hands, convert at over 20% to sale.
- Trackable numbers – know whether the phone calls you receive originate online by using trackable numbers. This way, you can attribute an even greater proportion of your inbound enquiries to your website.
- Finance calculators – allow customers to work out the affordability of a car. Better still, enable them to gain a free credit check to help drive more enquiries.
- Aftersales tools – service booking is quick and convenient for customers, which is why fast-fits have majored on it. Franchised and independent garages can do likewise and drive revenue directly from their websites.
- Online valuations – we’ve seen dealer clients gaining a conversion from site visitor to CAP Valuations lead at around 4%. This doesn’t sound a lot, but if the site gains 10,000 visitors per month for example, that’s 400 leads in the bag.
There’s a lot more to conversion than simply employing the tools that make it possible, however. One of the goals with our new core platform, NetDirector Auto V10, was ensuring it would be the foundation for increasing conversion rates. The process of optimisation is ongoing too, with usability testing and the online user journey being assessed to help improve conversion performance.
When it comes to valuations, with clients on the V10 platform we are seeing a step-change in the importance of the tool. It has quickly become one of the top lead generators, in some instances delivering over 10% of the total leads that the site is producing. Uplifts in valuations vs. previous generation websites has been over 1,000% in some cases, simply because the sites have been optimised to convert using the valuations widget as a key tool to achieve this.
One example of this optimisation on a new-generation web platform included altering the text call to action, altering the on-page placement and making the tool available from new car listing pages. The rationale behind this was to make the tool available at all key points during the browsing process where the car buyer may have ascertained a finance quote and be looking for additional capital to fund their new purchase. These changes created a 195% uplift in the number of valuations made over the following month – rich pickings when you consider the typical conversion to sale from valuation to sale is around 15%.
Of course, dealers have to take into account their own business’s look and feel, products and customer base when designing a site, but for the vast majority of automotive retailers out there, form should follow function. Conversion hinges on packing a site full of engaging content, but more to the point, it should be packed full of engaging content that aids their journey – across devices – and that encourages them to make a positive action with your business.