Have you heard of the Flesch Reading Ease Score? It is a scoring system from 1949 that measures which grade level can comprehend written text. Scoring is on a 100-point scale and the lower the score, the harder something is to read.
Traditional media has tried to keep readability around a fifth or sixth grade level to help keep their audience broad. According to the Readability Index Calculator (www.standards-schmandards.com/exhibits/rix/index.php) this article is geared for a 10th grade education.
We need one of these readability scales for the car business. I come across dealership websites (and emails) that are packed with car jargon the average person probably does not understand. I bring all this up not only to provide you with a new resource, but also to start a conversation about ease of use—How easy is your website to understand and use based on the content you are adding?
Before I move on, I want you to first find me the best HDTV on www.cnet.com. I don’t really care about the price right now; just find me the best one…I’ll wait.
I hate to tell you, but I do not care which TV you picked. Sorry. What I do care about is how you interacted with cnet.com.
· How much time did you spend on the homepage?
· When you landed on a product page what did you look at?
· Did you notice the editor’s full review is mostly hidden?
· Were you drawn to the user reviews and the video?
Do you think your customers interact with retail websites the same way? Granted, cnet.com is more like a third-party website, but it is never simple to compare across verticals and vastly different price ranges. I just want you to think about your website from your customers’ perspective.
We fixate on shiny objects quite often and forget that the customer ultimately rewards you for a good experience. SEO, PPC, and social media are all tools to point eyeballs to your website, but you have to deliver a good experience once that customer is looking at site.
Today, online readability has been trumped by video. In a recent survey conducted by Kelton Research for Dealer.com, actual dealership customers of varying demographics were asked, “if [he or she] were shopping for a new or used car on the internet and found a similar car listed on two different dealer sites, which of the following would be more helpful [in the] selection process?”
The results: 41 percent preferred only photos and text descriptions, while 59 percent wanted a video describing the vehicle.
This might not seem like a big enough difference to make the investment in video, but Dealer.com has also been looking at some of the differences between lead conversion on sites with and without video. I must admit that a lot of this has been a practice in checking gut instinct, but it is always nice to have facts that back the gut.
We looked at roughly 5,000 comparable dealership websites to see the trends and then averaged them out:
· When a customer spends four minutes or more on your website, the likelihood of a lead being submitted jumps significantly.
· When video is present we have seen the time a customer spends on that site go up, on average, by almost two minutes.
· Dealers with video get more referrals from search engines.
Let’s change gears. Is your goal to get more leads or more sales? I’m going to assume you’d rather have sales than internet leads. Would I be stretching to say that you have a preference as to how customers come to you with the best being a walk-in, followed by a phone-up, and then followed by an internet lead?
The bulk of your internet customers simply walk in to your store already. Most people prefer to purchase cars in person and do not use the internet as a negotiation tool. I recall the pre-internet days when the average consumer visited three dealerships before buying a car. I just heard this average is now less than two. Obviously the internet has become a dealership selection spot and your website is where a big portion of this is happening. Use video to give your dealership personality where text and pretty graphics cannot.
In case you’re wondering where video should be on your website, I’ll leave you with one last task. Look at your reports that show which pages get the most traffic (called “Page Views” for Dealer.com sites and “Top Content” in Google Analytics) and start by adding video to those pages. After adding a new video to a page, watch the “Time on Page” metrics for that page. If it goes up, you’re on the right track!
Alex Snyder is the director of product research at Dealer.com. He is a regular contributor at DealerRefresh, and previously was the director of ecommerce at Checkered Flag Automotive Group. Recently, Alex was awarded the 2010 AWA Lighthouse Award, for his contributions to the automotive industry.
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