Tracy Warner of Indianapolis shopped around for more than a year before buying a 2016 Volkswagen Passat at a local car dealership in May. She spent hours filling out contact forms on dealer websites, emailing salespeople to discuss vehicles and trying to find the right family car to buy in the right color at the right price.
“My biggest frustration is the amount of time it takes to buy a car,” Warner says. “I spent a lot of time on dealership websites, looking at inventory and emailing with online consultants about price, mileage, etc., before even going in for a test drive.” (tweet this quote)
Warner is among the 88 percent of consumers who use the internet for car shopping, according to The 2016 Car Buyer Journey study. With so much information available on the internet, online car buyers often experience information overload as they narrow down their choice of vehicle and dealership.
So how do you engage today’s distracted and overwhelmed online car buyer? Simplify the vehicle research process on your website and add value to their online experience by offering helpful, relevant information. It will boost your brand, help you stand out from competitors, and motivate online visitors to visit your dealership showroom.
Avoid Cluttered Websites that Overwhelm Online Car Buyers
Don’t further overwhelm car buyers with a cluttered dealership website that broadsides visitors with dozens of calls to action (tweet this tip). That’s sure to result in choice fatigue, and ultimately, website abandonment.
“Car dealer websites could definitely be more user-friendly,” says James Figy of Mankato, Minnesota. “They make you look through a bunch of cars that are not what you want, just to find out whether they have it or not.”
Figy looked online for a few weeks before buying a 2016 Toyota Corolla LE Eco in May at a Toyota dealership located north of St. Paul. When the dealership closest to Figy didn’t offer his preferred model and color, he searched online and found exactly what he wanted at the second dealer.
Use Interactive Calls to Action to Entice Online Car Buyers
Personalize the online experience for web visitors by giving them up-to-date information in real time. “Internet savvy consumers want quick answers and don’t want the runaround on email,” says car-buying expert Mike Rabkin, founder of From Car to Finish (tweet this quote).
Static online contact forms ask potential customers to give information without getting anything in return. Interactive calls to action — or smart CTAs — engage visitors and deliver customized information in exchange for their time. Good examples of a smart CTA include offering an estimated trade value from Kelley Blue Book data or giving car buyers the opportunity to schedule a test drive.
By only showing the top few CTAs on a page, you’ll avoid the information overload. Give visitors clickable, multiple-choice questions that encourage them to interact with your site. Our own research found that 92 percent of consumers who make it past the first step of an interactive experience complete the rest of the process.
Keep an Updated Car Inventory Online for Car Shoppers
Rabkin agrees most car dealership websites are way too cluttered to be effective, and all need to keep their inventory current and updated online.
Once Tracy Warner narrowed down her choices of preferred vehicles, she says she found a limited inventory when she visited the lot. The ability to see the exact car models and colors available on a specific dealer’s lot would have saved her a lot of time and frustration.
“I honestly would have purchased a Toyota Prius V at the dealership that day because I was so happy with the car, if they had it in any other color than silver,” Warner says. “The fact they had to have it delivered and it would take an additional week was too frustrating of an experience for me. I went down the street and fell in love with the VW Passat.”
Personalize Your Dealership Website
Thanks to popular sites like Amazon, Netflix and Google, consumers now expect a certain level of personalization when shopping online. These online giants succeed by turning visitors into buyers by remembering customers and their search preferences during every visit.
Dealerships can deliver a similarly personalized experience by providing interactive content that subtly captures the visitor’s information. Optimize your website with smart technology like FATWIN, which remembers visitors via cookies, IP addresses and contact information — so you never ask for the same information twice and can offer customized tools based on their previous browsing experience.
Car dealers spend countless hours personalizing their showrooms to make visitors more comfortable and want to stay longer. To drive website visitors to showroom sales, dealerships must also create a personalized experience online.