Is a Website Personalization Strategy for You?
By Russ Chandler
In this day and age, your website is, arguably, the most important aspect of your dealership’s overall marketing — both online and offline. There’s a lot that goes into creating a pristine dealership website. Your ideal website should be highly functional (cleanly & properly coded), and all promotions/inventory should be completely up-to-date.
Of course, what’s particularly important about your dealership’s website is the overall experience it provides potential customers. The last thing you want to do is deter consumers away from your website because your site is just well…. ugly!
Thankfully, there aren’t very many dealerships out there whose sites look like they were build in a 1995 version of FrontPage Express — or in GeoCities, if you’re cool enough to remember that website hosting service!
Too Many Calls to Action Results in Little Action
Unfortunately, despite being beautifully crafted and coded, many dealership websites possess an often-overlooked design
As a dealer, you’re probably aware that meticulously placed banners allow consumers to learn about options that can ease them further down the car-purchasing funnel. You probably have a banner or two on your website that directs consumers to a trade appraisal or test drive forms.
The problem a lot of dealers in the U.S. have is that they have a ton of different offers or calls-to-action to leverage with consumers… and a banner to go with each one of those solutions, thus, leaving your site cluttered with banners that may or may not be relevant to certain consumers. Additionally, the overabundance of banners might cause car-buyers to completely miss banners that are indeed relevant to them.
Luckily for all of us, the 21st century has been extremely kind to dealers wanting to improve their online consumer experience. Programmers, engineers and developers have made great strides to ensure that dealers (really, businesses in general) have been able to fully cater to individual consumer needs. That said, has your dealership fully explored its options for complete website personalization?
You don’t need lots of banner ads!
What if I told you that your dealership didn’t need all of those different banner ads placed on its initial landing page? Did you know that you could set it up so your website only serves relevant ads to specific consumers based on their personalized website activity? Yep, it’s possible all right — and given the ever-increasing advances in technology and services, it’s become easier than ever.
With fewer banner ads cluttering your landing pages and confusing website visitors, your consumers won’t need to hunt for a solution, but rather, have one presented to them. Instead of providing a multitude of options (some relevant, some not), relevant banners ads will be served to the consumer that will take them to what it is they are seeking and want.
There’s no question that there are tons of tools and services out there to help you simplify your banner ad situation. And there’s certainly no shortage of engineers, programmers and developers out there to help you get your site in order. So, you might be asking yourself: Why aren’t more dealers doing this?
While many dealerships have adopted fewer banners on their landing pages, some have found the concept of creating different variations of these ads to be a huge challenge in and of itself. I mean, let’s face…. your consumer base is diverse.
The more diverse your consumer’s needs are, the more banner ad variations you should create. Do you need five ad variations or do you need 10? Do you need three different types of banners that say “Check Our Inventory” or just one? Better yet, why do you need three of these ad types?
Here are a few different plausible consumer archetypes to help you understand this type of logic:
Consumer A is at the very beginning of their car-shopping journey. He doesn’t know what he wants, and he hasn’t clicked on any of the initial ads on the front page of the dealership website. Still, he peruses the site quite often — making lots of stops in the “Pre-owned Trucks” section of your site. If the code is implemented correctly, the next time Consumer A visits (or as he continues to peruse the site), a banner ad that says “What’s Your Trade Worth?” might be served to him.
Consumer A’s previous actions on the website might indicate that he’s looking to upgrade to something a little newer, and that’s what caused that ad to automatically be served to him. Additionally, he hasn’t done much else besides look at vehicles, so it’s a good way to get a feel for the customer.
The ad served wasn’t one for financing. It wasn’t an ad for taking a test drive. It was an ad for something very relevant – especially since it was his first visit. These types of “retargeted ads” can help folks who already have an idea of what they want to solidify their decision. Additionally, dealers can look at this data on the backend to learn about consumer behavior. It’s almost as if they’re looking at them through a glass window. Now onto Consumer B…..
Consumer B doesn’t visit the site often, so she doesn’t have a ton of activity under her belt just yet. That said, the ads that she’s served as she browses through the website are relevant to the dealership, but not necessarily to her situation. However, on this last visit, Consumer B decided to fill out a trade appraisal form and see how much her current vehicle was worth. After getting her vehicle appraised, she left the site and didn’t come back for about two weeks.
About two weeks passed since Consumer B filled out her Trade Appraisal, and the first banner she notices on the front page of the website is something along the lines of “Ready to Schedule a Test Drive?” So, as you can see, the website was able to conclude that the seemingly most appropriate next step was to help her find a vehicle to try out, and eventually buy using her current trade-in.
So, the previous two examples were really cool, but really simple. How about a more complex consumer example… ?
So, let’s say a Consumer 3 is a new website visitor. They hit your website and their behavior indicates that they’re a very engaged used car shopper, who is likely to buy soon. Based on their behavior, your site is able to serve up a used car special offer based on their behavior and WHAM, you successfully capture the lead. Exciting news, right?
Well, not so exciting, actually…. Unfortunately, that lead never ended up responding to any of your guys, so they eventually went cold. A few days later, however, that same customer returns to your site. Because they were already captured as a lead, they’re now being identified as a “returning visitor.” Of course, the big difference NOW is that they’re being identified as a new car shopper as opposed to a used car shopper. Obviously, this new onsite behavior changes everything.
Thankfully, through the power of website personalization, this issue can be quickly rectified. In real time, your website can leverage this new online activity and serve a more aggressive “new car test drive” incentive banner on whatever pages they happen to be on at the time. If things go as planned, Consumer C will click on the banner and schedule their test drive for the very next day.
Personalize your Website
As mentioned, there are an abundance of programs and service providers out there that can help you to simplify your dealership’s website. And if you don’t find everything you’re looking for in a program or service provider, you can always go out on your own and hire a developer to do all the dirty work for you.
Regardless of how you go about incorporating these changes into your website, adding these personalized touches is important to your bottom line. Instead of trying to convince consumers of what steps they should absolutely, positively take, your website does a lot of the work for you.
Again, the activity information you receive (as a dealer) is a lot like looking through a window. Once a consumer has signed up for whatever the initial offer was, the dealer can take it from there and make educated conclusions based on their previous online behavior.
Think of this type of personalization as a means of being able to help consumers even more than you ever could. It’s not taking OVER the job of the dealer. It’s just making their jobs even easier… and for that matter, more lucrative.