Today’s auto customers are more educated than ever before. More often than not, they do most, if not all, of their research before they ever step foot on your dealership. And they are ready to leverage that knowledge when they’re in the process of making their purchase decisions. The question becomes, what role does your dealership play in that research? How are you making buyers feel confident about their purchase decision and increasing the likelihood of them coming to your business versus your competitors?
As it turns out, your dealership’s website is the first line of influence online…
5 Questions Your Website Should Answer
When deciding what car to buy and which dealership to buy it from, your potential customers are going to head to your website… you know that. But no matter how great the user experience or how updated your content is for buyers, if you’re not answering some of their top questions right away you might be losing them. Here are the top five questions that your customers will likely want answered at this stage of their buyers journey:
1. Where Are You Located?
This is the first most basic amount of information that customers will look for and while it might seem obvious, it’s a bit more complex than that. Owning a vehicle is a very physical experience, and while some customers are willing to buy their vehicle through a brand or dealership’s site, that’s often after they’ve experienced some version of the car in person. And, as ever, sales is a people business — customers will want to see you face-to-face to know they’re doing business with the right brand.
Understanding the importance takes a simple thought experiment. Imagine a customer that is swayed by your marketing and impressed by the other content your website offers (e.g., testimonial videos). They’d love to do business with you, but they’ve never actually driven past your dealership, or they’re not sure which dealership is yours. They head to your website to find out, since that’s the obvious source to use, but come up with nothing. What does that imply about your dealership? Would it be easier for them to head to a different dealership instead?
2. How Can I Find and Contact You?
The first, most basic, question that any consumer may have is how they can find and contact you. This might seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many websites make it difficult for someone to look up a business on their GPS or make a phone call with a click of a button. Some of the key things you want to ensure are possible on your site include:
- Your physical address that can be plugged into their phone’s GPS with a click of a button
- Additional information on how to find your dealership (i.e. “Turn right after the McDonalds on SR 50 and we’re up on your left.”)
- Click to call phone number in the header and footer, as well as anywhere else that may make sense for the user experience.
- A contact us form that is linked to throughout your website.
- A live chat option that allows people to ask questions in real time.
- Links to your social media brand pages where they might find more information including photos, updates, etc.
This is just the bare minimum of contact information that should be included on your site, but it’s a great place to start. Even some of the top dealerships in the country are losing potential business by lacking these easily achievable contact points throughout their online presence.
3. Do You Offer a History Report or Other Vehicle Data?
This is obviously applicable for used cars because used cars may offer savings, but for buyers, it also exposes them to risk. They are much more confident in the purchase if they understand the car’s full history, including an honest accounting of damage. They’ll feel they’re on equal footing when it comes to negotiating the price, and they’ll have a clear picture of what they can expect to have to invest in the car in the future.
But more auto consumers are also interested in reports on brand new cars as well. This increased amount of research has educated them on the process of a car’s arrival to the dealership. They want to know that there’s been no issues in shipping, or how often a car has been used for test drives and similar situations. They also might find value in data that you can provide around this particular make and model. Just think about what would be that little extra that would help you stand out from your competition and ultimately help your customers make the best decision for themselves.
4. How Much Is the Car Really, after Fees and Licensing?
Since the recession, people have become much more mindful of how they spend their money, especially on big investment expenditures like a new vehicle. They know that the cost of their monthly payments — or how a salesperson might make “small” additions to those payments — has a long term impact on their wallet. They want the big picture, and they want to know what they’re actually paying for.
That’s why many dealerships have chosen to use transparency as a positioning for their brand that truly sets them apart from the competition — and really the entire industry. Even if you can’t include the exact price for vehicles, for obvious reasons, you can still be transparent about your pricing, financing, and how you do business.
5. What Types of Warranties Do You Offer?
Warranties used to be a bit of a one-size-fits-all approach in the consumer’s mind but with increased education and an ever-increasing competitive market, consumers are looking to warranties as a part of their decision making process. By clearly communicating their warranty options and what they include, as well as building trust and credibility with an incredibly transparent approach to this topic, your dealership can stand out even more. Be sure you’re not copycatting what your competitors are providing as incentives around maintenance and service, but instead really taking the time to find out what your customers value and delivering on that. Are free oil changes or a free loaner car more valuable? Do you know? Have you asked your customers? That’s a great place to start.
6. What Is the Shopping Experience Like?
More and more dealerships are focusing on the actual shopping and buying experience in their marketing, and for good reason. Consumers care! They know they have a choice and they want to work with businesses that they value and respect and feel comfortable visiting. Your website is the first place that you can establish this rapport and showcase your dealership’s unique brand. Be clear and honest about what they can expect… and be 100% sure your sales team is following through on that.
As you know, the relationship established when buying a car can last for years, especially if the car is leased, and consumers want to know that they’ll be comfortable working with you and your staff through the buying experience and beyond. Testimonials and a behind the scenes look at your salespeople and staff can go a long way to humanizing you and giving potential customers a clear picture of what they can expect. It’s also a critical point for you to differentiate yourself from your competitors. What is it that you do differently, or which you do better than the dealership across town?
Bonus Tip: How to Communicate This Information on Your Website
While clearly writing out some of this information throughout your website copy will be adequate and appropriate, in many cases this can also be where your marketing comes into play. Do you have a company blog? Do you have video testimonials? Are you sharing this information through photos and other visual content?
There are of course many other questions that your website should address but this is just the tip of the iceberg and really allows you to create a foundation for what your customers expect when they first visit your site.