By: Russ Chandler
One of the things that I’ve consistently harped on in my articles for DrivingSales (including my most recent presentation at DSES), is that dealerships should ALWAYS focus their efforts on catering to “bottom of the funnel” consumers first and then work their way backward through the consumer journey.
Just to be clear, this is something I totally believe in because – after all – you need to “strike while the iron is hot.” If you engage with consumers who already have a clear idea of what it is they want, then your chances of converting that lead to a customer increase significantly.
Despite the need (and heavy suggestion) to focus on those “bottom of the funnel” buyers first, you mustn’t forget about those car buyers at the very beginning of their purchase journey. Although many consumers in this phase are aware that they want to purchase a car, they need to do as much research as humanly possible. Improving consumer engagement earlier in the shopping journey has a “trickle down” effect that increases conversions at the bottom of the funnel.
As you can rightfully guess, your dealership’s website is arguably the most important component of your dealership’s overall marketing and sales strategy. With it, you can capture a copious number of car sales leads. Outside of Google, your website is generally the initial touchpoint for a consumer who’s currently in the discovery or research phase.
With that most often being the case, it’s important for dealerships to immediately nab a car buyer’s attention before they can even think about going to another dealership to look around. The best way to capture and hold a consumer’s attention is to provide optimal resources that help them along their purchasing journey. What better place to do this than your dealership’s own website?
Are you providing a remarkable experience on your website? After visiting several local dealer sites, would the average consumer remember something unique about yours that draws them back when ready to buy? Are you winning over consumers through their digital experience?
Here are some great ways you can help prospective buyers look, browse & shop using your dealership’s website:
Develop Interactive Content that Answers Common Questions
The cool thing about interactive content is that it’s nearly limitless. The only thing that could possibly stop you is your creativity — and I firmly believe that most, if not all people are infinitely creative. We’re far more capable than we think, and that’s why coming up with incredible ideas isn’t out of the question whatsoever. I mean sure, you need crafty developers to make your dreams come true, but you’d be surprised by what even a smaller team can come up with.
During the discovery and research phases, buyers are trying to figure out some pretty basic stuff. They ask themselves questions like:
- What vehicle body type do I want?
- What brand do I want to go with?
- What financing options do I have available to me?
Obviously, there are far more questions that early-stage consumers can ask. They’re overwhelmed by these options and commonly stall out here and end up starting over.
So, if you’ve already determined that most consumers have these types of questions, Why wait for them to ask? Like I’ve said before, “always strike while the iron is hot.” If you already know the questions they’re going to ask, help them find the answers. Prevent them from stalling out or starting over.
One great way to do this is with an online evaluation that suggests a certain type of vehicle-based on a consumer’s lifestyle. Depending on the answers a consumer gives, a unique solution will be provided. As always, these evaluations can be highly configured.
Incorporate “Dynamic Pathing” or Smart Calls-to-Action’s in the Mix
I dunno about you, but it’s always exciting to hear about dealerships being able to provide their consumers with the resources and information they’re looking for. I’d be lying if I said it was an easy feat.
Now, being able to engage with your consumers in order to provide them with answers is pretty awesome. But What if you could take that engagement a step further by assisting them with their additional questions and pushing them further down the purchasing funnel?)
A great way to continue engaging with your consumers is by leveraging the power of smart calls-to-action.
In case you aren’t aware, “Smart CTA’s” are banners on your website that display offers based on the unique website activity and lead data of a consumer.
As a consumer continues to browse through brands, body styles and so on, your website will automatically collect that data, determine the next possible step and display a button that it feels would best suit their interest and that would best push them further down the purchasing funnel.
Depending on what a consumer is currently looking at (let’s say, for example, it’s financing options), a button or CTA will be displayed that’s relevant to their previous selections. If we use the example we just mentioned, we might assume that a trade appraisal button is displayed.
Something to Keep in Mind
Now just to be completely clear, I firmly believe that simply engaging with your consumers should be your tip-top priority. Period. Capturing a sales actionable lead should be completely secondary when you’re focusing on consumers in the discovery and research phase.
So, you might be wondering “why is he saying this? I thought capturing leads was a #1 priority.” Well yes, technically it is. It’s the ultimate goal. However, all those consumers that are now in the buying phase started off somewhere. Where did they start? Why they started in the discovery and research phases. Those “ready to buy” consumers were in the same position as the ones you’re focusing in on now. They were unsure of themselves and they had lots of questions that needed to be answered. Additionally, they needed some guidance.
When you think about all the steps it takes to get to the buying phase, you realize that there a number of opportunities to really gain a consumer’s trust. Those steps allow you to mold a generic consumer into a loyal paying customer.)
You might need to devote a little bit more time to focusing on these types of consumers, but let me tell you from experience that it’s totally worth the extra effort. By having an ongoing conversation with prospective customers and helping them make the right decisions along their journey, they’re going to be more inclined to purchase from you because you’re familiar and trustworthy.
If I had to sum it all, I’d basically say investing in more effort earlier in the consumer journey is an investment that will pay dividends once they’re at the end of their journey. Remember, the average consumer only visits 1.5 dealerships before making their purchase. Meaning the experience you need to lead your market in, is the experience you’re giving on your website.
Let us know? Has your dealership ever focused its efforts on helping uncertain consumers? Let us know in the comments below.
Russ is a dedicated professional generating results in the world of marketing and advertising. With over a decade of experience in the auto industry as a dealer, he has seen firsthand the problems dealerships face every day. Russ combines this expertise with powerful technology, providing his clients an increased response and conversion on their marketing.