Turning Online Car Browsers into Buyers

To help improve the used car shopping experience, 25-year-old structures engineer Arnold Kadiu and his colleague, 24-year-old autonomous vehicle engineer Leda Daehler, worked with Ford’s incubator Ford X to create Find Your Ford, a website for customers looking for their perfect used Ford vehicle

The online retailing process is rather new for most car dealers. What was a small niche just weeks ago has become the norm for American vehicle retailers. However, there is plenty of room to iron out the wrinkles.

Those responding to leads coming from online car shoppers are finding success in converting to a sale. The problem is that dealerships can see thousands – even tens of thousands – of unique site visitors every day with only a few making contact by email, text, chatbot, or phone.

How do dealers increase the number of inquiries online?

The Same Shoppers as Walk-Insonline

The shoppers who inquire about a vehicle online today are the shoppers you’d find browsing car lots on a Monday evening. They’ve done their research and are ready to move further into the sales funnel and know that a conversation with a salesperson will be their next step. And for those who shop online, they’re likely going to have dialog with a similar number of dealers as if they were a walk-in at the bricks-and-mortar store – approximately 1.4 dealerships, on average.

Buyer intent is not the issue, even in the subdued car market at the start of Q2 2020. If they’re asking, they’re serious about buying. How do you increase the number of leads coming in from the website?

Eliminate Website Frustrations

A study was performed by Nielsen Norman Group to identify ads that customers disliked most. Not surprisingly, it was popup ads on a website. While they can prove a mildly effective way of increasing a mailing list, that’s not usually the purpose for popups on a dealership website. Mostly, it contains a bit of information for a customer that they find more annoying than helpful. If you’re using popups, try to ensure it isn’t on every page – ideally, just once per session.

Unfortunately, it isn’t just popups that frustrate customers about dealership websites and cause them to click away. Many can be tough to navigate and aren’t intuitive. To identify items that frustrate customers about your website, have a few trusted people audit your site and provide feedback. 

Provide Value 

One of the best things you can do to increase the likelihood a browser will inquire from your store is to provide valuable content. That goes from blog posts to the ‘About Us’ section, but especially vehicle description pages (VDPs).

VDPs should be vehicle specific and have the specifications, unique features, trim level, and actual photos on the page. Anything generic takes away from the customer’s intention. To increase their confidence in your store, provide this real-life information. This is a highly valuable piece that will help them take the next step and contact your store. 

onlineSimplify the Process

The motto for any call to action is this: keep it simple. There’s a feeling that you need to mine as much data from the customer on the initial inquiry, but that’s not always the case. As long as you have a method of contact and a name you can reach out to, you’re in business. Having enough information for a pre-approval or credit app from the initial contact form is enough for many shoppers to click away – even if they’re a serious buyer. They’re apt to find another dealer where it feels safer and simpler to get the information they want.

If there are more than one or two steps for a customer to contact your store, it’s too much. That’s where only the most serious buyers will come through and the slightly less confident shoppers will abandon the process. Keep it simple.

The overriding theme for turning browsers into buyers is to start a dialog, even if that means less commitment than you’d like to see up front. Online retailing for major purchases is still new for most consumers and dealers will need to hone their websites to make them more conducive to success.

Did you enjoy this article from Jason Unrau? Read other articles from him here.

Car Biz Today, the official resource of the retail automotive industry.

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