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In today’s challenging and ultra-competitive automotive landscape, it’s critical for your dealership to be at the top of your game in how you present yourself to customers online. Let’s not forget you also need to be providing as many functional tools as possible for consumers to conduct most of the – if not the entire – buying process without leaving the safety and comfort of their home.

Particularly as the world slowly emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and people begin to move around more on streets and highways, many consumers are now actively considering purchasing a new or replacement vehicle and their expectations are rising that dealers can provide them with a safe and satisfying online vehicle shopping experience.

The result of an enhanced effort in this area by dealers would be improved organic search engine rankings, more leads and sales volume and, ultimately, improved customer loyalty.

What are the latest tips and tricks for automotive websites to be successful this year?

    • Personalized online shopping: A trend no doubt accelerated by the pandemic, digital retailing solutions that allow consumers to begin or complete their vehicle buying process online is by far the most important area you should be focusing on to improve the car buying experience for your customers. One way to execute this is to seamlessly integrate your digital retail solution within your Vehicle Details Page (VDP), so online shoppers can be guided along the purchase path to your dealership when they’re in a buying mindset, all the while at a pace that works for them. Digital Retailing on is a tool that allows you to do just that. In order to promote that your dealership offers the option to purchase a vehicle online, you’ll get a ‘Buy Online’ badge on your Search Results Page (SRP) listings. The Buy Online badge, alone, has been shown to increase online lead generation for participating dealers by as much as 36%.


    • Improve website accessibility: Often overlooked as a marketing and sales priority, taking steps to comply with international Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities, can have a significant positive impact on dealership sales and customer loyalty. Many Canadians have physical limitations that can limit their ability to see and hear website content, but these don’t stand in the way of wanting to shop for a vehicle online like anyone else. Making some adjustments to your website content to adhere to WCAG standards can be an extremely cost-effective way to win new business and loyalty from a customers. And, besides, it’s the law. In Ontario, for instance, any company with more than 50 employees that doesn’t adhere to the WCAG guidelines could face fines of anywhere from $200 to $15,000!


    • Online video chat: Following the same principle as online text chat, in which an interested consumer can get immediate, live sales support while shopping for a vehicle, live video chat takes things to a new level. With live video chat, consumers can get a walkaround tour of any showroom vehicle they may be interested in, while having the opportunity to ask questions and be engaged with a trained sales professional. An extra bonus is that the entire chat can be recorded and shared with the consumer to help them finalize their buying decision, as well as potentially being used as a sales training and development tool by the dealership.


    • SEO: Leveraging Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to boost search engine rankings and increase online lead conversions continues to be a major trend in automotive website design. However, some of the latest SEO developments include having to develop strategies that take into account such innovations as Artificial Intelligence (AI), voice search, video, mobile optimization, Google predictive search and local search among just a handful. Certainly, the days of keyword ‘stuffing’ to boost search engine rankings are long gone!


    • User experience design: Optimized online User Experience or UX design can help ensure your website is easy to navigate and offers smooth transitions between the online and offline service you offer to your customers. As always, the goal is to do everything possible to nurture happy and loyal customers who keep coming back and who are most likely to refer your dealership to others in their social network. Some of the hot UX trends shaping up for 2021 include:
        • More virtual reality! VR is a powerful visual tool and, combined with some of the other design trends we’ve already discussed, such as live chat, can make a big difference to a dealership trying to move vehicles off the lot.
        • Advanced personalization. This design trend recognizes that people want to be recognized as individuals and provides the website tools to make that happen. For big ticket items like cars and trucks, this can be a true deal maker.
        • Keep things simple and streamlined! All the technological bells and whistles in the world will do your business no good if your website gets bogged down or creates confusing paths that simply frustrate customers and force them to take their business elsewhere.

Think your dealer website could use some upgrades to help boost sales and improve your customer service? Visit today to sign up for a free website assessment and a roadmap on how you can make improvements to increase your website traffic and customer engagement, drive more visitors to your lot and increase sales.

Performance based on year over year lift for Marketplace dealers with Digital Retail enabled vs. non-Digital Retail dealers, July – September 2020.