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Dealer Websites – Finding the right product for your dealership

Tuesday, November 26, 2013   (0 Comments)
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A dealer website is your dealership’s online showroom and with the growing number of customers searching vehicles online before going in-person to a dealership, it’s critical to get that online visitor to your site and then to your dealership. So what are the must haves in a dealer website product? What is the right product for your dealership? Your dealer website needs to attract, engage, and connect with your online visitors and provide performance measurement.

Attract
Attractiveness of a website includes both getting customers to your website as well as attracting their attention upon arrival. For your dealer website to get customer traffic it needs to be optimized for search engines. This includes using appropriate search engine optimization (SEO) meta tag descriptions and keywords in the source code of the webpages as well as using relevant keywords in the page copy. Dealer website products that provide content management systems or tools that support adding metadata and copy and supporting ongoing updates to pages are a great choice.

Once the visitor has come to your site, it needs to create a great first impression. This includes eye-catching website template designs/colors and components like large-image slideshows and featured vehicles sections. Look for a dealer website product that gives you template and color options that you can "test drive” to see what works with your visitors and a product that supports high-visibility content areas on the homepage so you can catch your visitors’ attention and draw them into your vehicle inventory.

Engage
To keep visitors on your website, you need to make sure your website is engaging. Select a dealer website product that is easy to use and allows the customer to search vehicles by a variety of relevant parameters: make, model, price, and year and then click to inventory detail pages to learn more and see additional pictures. It is best to choose a dealer website that supports a large volume or unlimited vehicle pictures to maximize your showroom’s visual impact.

Connect
Now that you have an engaged visitor looking through your vehicles, you need to make sure your dealer website effectively connects them to you. The dealer website should have dealership contact information including phone, email and physical address on every page in the header section of the page, so it is always readily available.

Besides general contact information, a dealer website can provide connectivity through lead generation and interest capture, including online credit application, request for information, or schedule a test drive forms. All provide the opportunity for a customer to connect with you as well as a valuable and actionable lead. Make sure your website product supports the connectivity options you want.

Finally, don’t forget social media. Including social media channels on your dealer website can keep you connected to customers and provide potential viral and referral networking. Make sure your dealer website product supports the social media channels your dealership uses like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and You Tube and be sure to use them frequently so the information is always relevant and up to date.

Measure
In order to tell if your dealer website is performing, you need to be able to measure it. Statistics such as total and unique visitors and page views of different site sections like inventory, featured vehicles, and information request pages will tell you how many people are coming to your site and what they’re looking at while there. You can use this information to better understand your customers’ areas of interest.

Most dealer website products provide analytics. The most common forms are either a custom dashboard or integration with Google Analytics. With the dashboard option, high-level metrics relevant to your selected template are provided in table or graphic format. With the Google Analytics option, you’ll need to sign up for a free Google Analytics account and use a Google tracking code available in the account to tie into the website. With Google Analytics you’ll be able to see more detailed information like the users’ path through your site (entry and exit pages), time spent on site, and a variety of other demographic information. What type of analytics is best for you depends on your desired level of analytical detail.

There are many different dealer website products on the market. Do your research to make sure you identify products that will attract visitors with SEO and captivating, testable template designs, engage and connect them to you with easy-to-use functionality and contact methods and provide you with a comfortable level of measurement capability. Once you have a short list of products that meet your needs, you’ll be able to price shop and identify the best value for your money. The marketplace is very competitive, and you don’t have to pay a lot of money to get a great dealer website.

Monique Seifullin is VP Corporate Marketing & e-Commerce for Nowcom Corp. Nowcom’s DealerCenter DMS provides robust functionality, connectivity to over 1,000 finance sources, and Dealer Website, BHPH, and Online Ad Post add-ons. For more information, visit www.dealercenter.net or call 888-669-2669.