Websites are essential components of a business strategy. In the late 1990’s they were “digital business cards,” primarily informing customers about the offerings of companies and contact information. Now, they allow consumers to purchase items, sign up for newsletters, and chat with live agents. They should be the go-to place for clients to gather any information they need.

Websites Are More Than Just “Digital Business Cards” – For auto dealers, websites introduce the staff, display what is in their fleet, inform customers of deals, and address financing services. These are all standard things that should be included, but what if dealers took it a step further? What if the majority of the car purchasing process happened online? In fact, what if all of it did? HelloCars, a used car dealer, claims to be Australia’s first online-only car dealer. They operate without a showroom and instead put all their energy into enhancing the online customer experience. Their model has brought success with over $9 million in revenue last year, much of that due to decreasing overhead cost that a brick and mortar operation brings.

While many would approach this type of setup with caution, there is something to be said for a business that depends solely on their online presence to attract car sales. With their increasing popularity, the owners of HelloCars must be doing something right to spur their “word-of-mouth” success. However, how would you rate your current website and its effectiveness in attracting new clients? Using HelloCars as an example, here are five best practices for user-friendly auto dealer websites that increase sales.

Simple Interface With Minimal Clutter – During the first few seconds of visiting the HelloCars website, visitors are met with a low amount of menu choices. The top toolbars are: “Sell,” “Buy,” and “How It Works.” Simple, concise, and to the point. It addresses the two primary actions people are looking to do concerning their cars, and it is not hard to find. With deals, incentives, and new vehicles entering the lot it is easy to add too much information on the landing page. HelloCars has managed to keep the first page that visitors see clutter-free.

Their Benefits Are Visible And Quantitative – Right below the main image, there are four benefits HelloCars offers: their money back guarantee, inspection promise, road assistance services, and their accreditation. They address two of the most critical topics a prospective buyer is interested in knowing about an auto dealer: services offered and credibility. HelloCars knows the average consumer has a short attention span, and they only have a few seconds to address what customers are seeking.

Testimonials! – People base their purchasing decisions on reviews and input from friends and family at higher rates than ever before. According to a survey by BrightLocal, nearly 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. HelloCars knows this and includes ratings and testimonials right on their website. This would be a great way for dealers to not only depend on Yelp or Google by providing those reviews customers are seeking without them having to leave the page.

Recent Blog Posts – Blogs are a great way to increase website SEO and search engine visibility, have content to share on social media to further engage clients, inform customers of any deals or new services, and address subjects that concern car buyers. A Hubspot survey said 60 percent of companies who had blogs acquired more customers. HelloCars blog posts address issues such as the best time to buy a car, government policies concerning car refunds, the hidden costs of selling a car, and more questions that a casual visitor might have. Blogs can also give dealers content for newsletters, which can encourage clients to sign up for direct mailings about incentives.

Video Is A Great Alternative To Text – Video can say what text can in a faster and often more engaging way. HelloCars includes a video from the owners that explains their services and their benefits to consumers. According to Hubspot, 43 percent of consumers wanted to see more video from companies so there is a market for this method of advertisement.

Closing shop and switching to an online-only dealership is not an option for most auto dealers, but it is insightful to see a company that depends only upon online presence to make sales and connections with consumers. The takeaways from their website are to embrace video, de-clutter landing pages, and consider including a blog to make deeper connections with clients. A robust site can increase purchases and turn a casual visual into a long-term customer.

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