CommentaryMar 8th, 2016

Take Your Website to the Next Level With Data Integration


Last year, Mobilegeddon rocked the automotive retail industry. Google’s Panda search algorithm — developed to improve users’ browsing experiences, generate better search results, and locate relevant, quality content — continues to punish websites that aren’t designed to respond to or display properly on mobile devices.

Panda drives these nonresponsive sites down in relevant search results, and heavily favors optimized sites in search rankings. Consequently, responsive websites capture more clicks and generate more leads. The most successful dealerships took notice quickly and overhauled their websites to survive in a market where exhaustive online customer research is the norm. But the dealerships that have procrastinated or resisted Google’s will — and those that haven’t dedicated the time and resources to befriending the great Panda — are being mauled by it. The digital world can be one of endless opportunity, but for dealerships that haven’t adapted to Google’s requirements, it’s cruel. It’s truly survival of the fittest. Cost-effective websites designed, developed, and optimized specifically for dealerships have allowed small operations to rise above much larger competitors, proving the time to invest in your digital footprint is now. You must position your websiteto become the far-reaching and fruitful lead source it’s capable of being.

Go further with data integration

After you’ve built a sound digital foundation, to gain and maintain a competitive advantage, you must create a positive, impactful customer experience when visitors arrive at your online doorstep. What happens when consumers get to your website, and how do you ensure that you optimize each visit to convert it into a sales opportunity? According to Google data, 95% percent of car buyers browse a dealership’s website, but only about 5% submit a request. In 2016, top-performing dealerships should invest in data integration to allow their sellers to more effectively identify customers and their behaviors, and to power relevant follow-up communications shaped to address the needs of each customer.

How it works

With a fully integrated automotive technology platform that includes an information-sharing solution, dealers can identify website visitors as previously known customers entered in their CRM platform. Once a match is confirmed, the information-sharing technology is enabled, and contact and device information is updated and available across all solutions within the technology platform. From there, dealers are better equipped to use customer and prospect data to:

  • Be aware of when a customer or prospect is active on the dealership’s website.
  • Track website visits to better understand customer interests, refine sales approaches, and follow up more effectively, as well as recover lost deals.
  • Use insights to constantly evaluate the effectiveness of their website and guide ongoing website updates to improve the user experience.

Each time the customer/prospect hits a dealership’s website, a record of the customer’s activity is added to the CRM platform. Dealers can then view a customer summary that displays data points such as:

  • Total number of website visits
  • Number of leads submitted
  • Source of visits
  • Pages viewed per visit and which pages were viewed
  • Date and time of last visit
  • Date and time of last lead submitted
  • Vehicle interests

In addition, sellers are able to see how many — and which — pages the customer viewed, how much time was spent on each page within the website, and how the customer arrived at the website. This is extremely powerful and compelling data that allows dealers to tailor follow-up communications to the unique interests and needs of each customer, and to respond with relevant, targeted content that will nurture customers through — and sometimes back into — the sales process.

Data acquired through an information-sharing platform can also be compiled into a list of customers who visited your website. For example, if you emailed customers who purchased vehicles two or more years ago about a year-end clearance sale and directed them to your website, your information-sharing platform should be able to show you which customers on your email list were identified as website visitors since the time you sent your e-blast.

Although some of these customers may be people who didn’t receive or respond to the email, the list will improve your ability to track response rates in comparison to campaigns distributed prior to the email distribution, and to optimize your email marketing initiatives.

Additionally, when a customer/prospect is identified, the website visit may be recorded and associated with an open, sold, or lost event for that entity.

These groupings provide sellers and their designated strategic services expert with an excellent opportunity to refine their follow-up processes for each. For example, if you’re following up with customers in the “sold” category, they are far less likely to be in the market for another vehicle. It may be beneficial to create a campaign that sends one email asking them to refer your business to friends or family, or to send a service coupon as an incentive to encourage them to return and spend money at your store.

While you evolve your dealership’s digital and analytics processes to allow it to rise above a seemingly endless field of competitors actively courting your customers’ business, lean on your technology partner to ensure you’re following industry best practices using the available technology to its full potential. Rather than focusing on individual products to help you improve processes in specific departments, dedicate your efforts to shaping a more holistic approach that drives processes and communication with better context. By ensuring all aspects of your dealership’s technology platform are working together, your messages and dealership’s unique value will resonate with your customers and prospects. In turn, you’ll drive sales and profitability across all aspects of your store in 2016 and beyond.

Aaron Schinke is DealerSocket’s director of product management and is one of the automotive retail industry’s go-to resources for strategic guidance pertaining to SEO and SEM, as well as digital analytics and dealership website design.

Authored by

Aaron Schinke

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