Your Website’s Role in Tomorrow’s Online Marketplace
Prepare your site now for seamless, real-time web inventory
If your website is not creating a highly productive online marketplace to showcase your inventory, increase your sales, service and parts traffic, and convert site visitors to buyers, it's time to think seriously about upgrading your site.
True, dealership websites should include 'About Us' content and snazzy dealership exterior photos and appropriate OEM branding visuals—and it should be easy to navigate—but ask yourself this question: What is my website’s primary objective?
If your website does not play an integral role in your online auto shopping process, you are missing a huge opportunity in today’s online marketplace. Sorry to break the news.
Rapidly emerging online technologies are making it possible to have the freshest and most current inventory feasable merchandised on your website as well as on third-party car-shopping sites like cars.com. Inventory changes will be made seamlessly, the updated data flowing from your DMS to your website to your online sites and even to your CRM where online leads will reside for ongoing pursuit and follow up.
This real-time online inventory updating, as exciting and competitively advantageously as it is to you, loses some luster if the website it drives visitors to delivers an experience short of thrilling. Thrilling means something conducive to their shopping experience. This caliber of web will feature several essential design elements:
· Visual design: Includes not only images and videos that are pleasing to the viewer’s eye, but a design structure that enable the dealer to customize the site’s look and feel so pages convey the desired brand impression and dealership personality.
· Content design: Includes compelling text that best defines what makes doing business with you an advantage customers won’t find elsewhere. Content design also means making use of every means to dominate search results, including search engine optimization. Content design should also include use of unique meta data for every page within the site, and the rewriting of every URL and attachment of alt tags to every image to further enhance search results. In 2011, content will still reign king; do not neglect it in your design.
· Navigation design: A site that is not only pleasant to the eye, so the eye can locate quickly the right content, but one where information the user wants is within one click. The design should also incorporate One-Click technology, which gets the user quickly to crucial content, like the department or service of interest to them, and lets them easily process a request, contact someone, or schedule a service appointment.
· Analytics design: Includes total site integration with Google analytics to provide you with the site visit and use data key to your marketing efforts. Solid visitor conversion analytics, for instance, help dealers write better ads, strengthen their overall marketing initiatives, help you better track your marketing spend, and create even higher-converting websites.
In short, the design of the website should enable the dealer to take real advantage of emerging integration and data updating technologies. So designed, the website should deliver superior search engine optimization, usability, consumer friendliness, and ease-of-user maintenance. When reviewing website providers, be sure you focus on their website development marketing strategy and deliverables, not just their ability to create sparkling website pages.
Website development company DealerFire has been creating, designing, building and maintaining cutting-edge automotive websites since 2000 and is poised to lead the evolution to full-time web inventory integration. Tools like DealerFire TV and highly sophisticated online inventory presentations and lead conversion tools deliver customers to your inventory and convert more visitors to buyers.
Finally, as digital marketing technologies continue to evolve, be sure to consider how you’ll integrate a mobile strategy into your web design. This strategy enables you to send web pages, text messages, emails and video emails to customers’ mobile phones, which are fast becoming the communication interface and web searching tools of choice.
About the author: Eric Hoopman is founder and owner of Deale Fire, www.dealerfire.com, an integrated web development and management company, headquartered in Oshkosh, WI. Reach him at email@example.com.