Car dealerships may not seem like prime candidates for internet marketing. Not only is that wrong, but in fact, the opposite is true. Car dealerships, especially small used car dealerships, need to aggressively use their website to market their cars, talk to prospective buyers, and to seal the deal once the person arrives. From start to finish, websites and internet marketing play a pivotal role in the way people shop for cars in the 21st Century. Here are three reasons why car dealers should start updating their sites today.
More People Are Choosing To Car Shop Online
Car dealerships have been one of the last industries to get onboard with internet marketing for reasons that are understandable. Even with a website, most car sales (especially used car sales) are going to come down to a face-to-face meeting with a salesperson and one-on-one time with the car. While this is still the case, this doesn’t mean that the internet hasn’t changed the way that people shop for cars. More than 80 percent of shoppers start their car search with online research. Even if the person isn’t searching for dealerships yet, having cars listed online benefits a dealer. If a person is searching for generic car specs (fuel economy, customer reviews, crash ratings, etc.) on a Ford Mustang, they will also find the information on the Ford Mustang for sale at a local dealership in the search results. To take it one step farther, dealers can have their internet ads set to show specifically to people who search for certain kinds of cars. That way the person who searched for Mustangs, gets an ad on YouTube for their local Ford dealership. Even once the customer is at the dealership, they are still searching online for information. According to a study by Place (which to be fair was commissioned by Cars.com), “63% of auto shoppers researched and shopped online while at a dealership using their mobile device.”
Websites Allow Dealers To Spend More Time With Qualified Leads
Another benefit of using a website is that dealers are able to vett their prospects before they meet them. Most dealerships have a contact form with each car listed, which can be an excellent way to talk to customers who are deciding where they will shop in person and to get information about them. A contact form for requesting a quote can be designed to gauge the amount the customer is willing to pay, to determine their interest level or to find out what questions or needs the buyer has. Besides providing a good customer service experience, dealers can use the information to find the right car for buyers when possible and letting others know when there’s nothing in there inventory at the time that suits them. By talking to prospective buyers online, dealerships spend less time on the lot with people who aren’t truly interested in buying and are better able to meet the needs of that small sliver of shoppers who are ready to put their money on a car.
People Rely On Search Engines and Mobile Web to Locate Dealers They Visit
The internet has also significantly changed the way that people search for local dealerships to visit. In times past, dealers relied on prices on windshields and signage to get people to visit their lots. While these tactics still work, most people are looking for individual dealerships on Google Maps when deciding where they want to visit. Smaller car dealerships may get skipped over if there business doesn’t show up on local search results.
The Placed study mentioned above also found a way that internet marketing influences where buyers go to shop. When people are searching for information online while they are at a dealership, they often decided to visit other dealerships based on what they found. According to the study, of those who found information online, 57 percent went to a dealership with a better price; 42 percent went to another location with the vehicle they wanted; 33 percent went to a location they saw an ad for; 24 percent by better reviews for another dealership, and 22 percent found another location on a map app (people were allowed to choose more than one option to describe their experience).
Internet marketing is becoming the most important part of selling a car. The information consumers find online can bring them to the dealership and get them to sign the deal. However, if a dealership’s site doesn’t have everything the customer is looking for, people can be lured away by the websites of competitors. Car dealers should take time to review their site to make sure it accomplishes the things that customers want. Websites should be easy to use, have information available on all models for sale, contain customer reviews, and links to other information the user may find relevant (CarFax, Kelly Blue Book Value, etc.) Some of this is easy to do, but in other cases (like developing a quick an easy system for adding vehicles to the inventory) may take the help of someone with a little more expertise. Given the importance of a dealership’s website, this is a function that may need to be outsourced.