The process of buying cars in today’s internet connected society has changed the way customers research purchases.
A lot goes into the mind of a modern consumer, but one thing is for sure: if your website isn’t easy to use and optimized to drive customers to your physical location, you’re leaving all that rent money you pay for your physical location on the table.
According to a 2011 Automotive Buyer Influence Study by Polk and AutoTrader.com, car buying consumers stated that they spend between 18 and 20 hours online searching for vehicles before deciding to make a purchase. This number is massive in comparison to the amount of time they spend on your lot looking at cars, taking test drives, and haggling over price and financing options.
For purchases of new and used vehicles, the consumers participating in the Polk study indicated that approximately 60 percent of their car shopping time and effort was expended online. In fact, 58 percent of used car buyers and 50 percent of new car buyers confirmed that the most influential component of their vehicle search was the online research they performed, where they were directed to their chosen dealership by information available on the internet.
Because most of your potential customer base will use the internet to perform an initial, and quite possibly a much more detailed, search for their next vehicle, you need to ensure that your website is so much more than just your dealership’s name, phone number, and inventory.
Your car dealer website should be welcoming, informative, engaging, and optimized to place your dealership higher on the search engine rankings than your competitors. You should engage in social media to get information about your dealership on to sites that people use for sharing their real-world and online experiences. Lastly, your site should have enough new and relevant content that people not only find what they are looking for, but are compelled to link to and share your content with others.
In other words, if your website is so bland that no one mentions it and the content is so minimal that other sites don’t link to it, you are missing out on invaluable opportunities to join the conversation and grow your business by leaps and bounds.
According to J.D. Power, today’s shoppers only visit 1.4 dealerships before purchase, down from 4.5 in 2005. That, my friends, is not just a mild decrease; it’s a transformation of the business.
Take action today and start building your business around your virtual real estate, not just your brick-and-mortar location. Those who don’t will be playing catch-up for years to come.
David Regn cofounded Stream Companies in 1996 and has helped build it to what it is today. He wears several hats, understands his business in and out, and excels in keeping clients on track to successful results. He was recently recognized as a 40 Under 40- Philadelphia Business Journal 2011 and a Philadelphia 100 Hall of fame CEO.
Bill Parlaman is the vice president of digital marketing for Stream Companies, the leading full service integrated automotive advertising agency. Want even more information on SEO? Watch the Truth about SEO Webinar at: info.streamcompanies.com/dealer-seo.0