Auto dealerships most commonly optimize their websites for consumers who are ready to buy, and the sales teams approach all leads the same way. But what about the online shoppers who are still in the discovery or research phase? What about consumers who prefer text or email over a phone call?
By evaluating the auto sales data captured on the website, dealerships can begin to really understand their online audience and customize interactions with specific types of consumers. In our experience, this targeted approach boosts website engagement and helps convert leads into sales.
“One of the foundational pieces in how you optimize your website, from every angle — not just conversions — but also content, layout, messaging, it all starts with creating personas,” says Russ Chandler, PERQ product marketing manager. “It drives your priorities, and how you optimize your site and resources.”
With help from PERQ’s team, Krieger Ford in Ohio created several customer profiles based on its website data. “We drilled down customers’ needs based on what they’re doing on the site, where they say they’re at in the sales funnel, and figured out what offers are most likely to resonate with them,” says Chris Thomas, Krieger Ford’s internet sales manager. “Over the past year, we’ve essentially doubled the converted leads we’ve gotten from the website.”
Create Top 3 Customer Profiles Based on Auto Sales Data
Utilize consumer data captured through online leads to develop three or four buyer personas to target on the website. Create each consumer profile with as much detail as possible, mapping out the best way to serve each kind of customer along the buying journey. Decide which interactive tools and incentives best fit each persona.
“If the vast majority of your website visitors are in the research phase, you need to create processes that are optimized for those customers,” Chandler says. “Maybe, after looking at the data, you find out that only 10 percent of people on your site are actually ready to buy right now. That will drive what you do in terms of products, content and training.”
Use Auto Sales Data to Create New Processes
Dealer Fox CEO Dan Trinidad says auto dealerships need to understand clients in all phases of the sales funnel, and learn to communicate and respond accordingly.
“Dealerships are all zeroed in on that last step of buying,” Trinidad says. “Once you start to understand that client at the top of the funnel, you can find ways to direct them into your dealership.”
Armed with detailed consumer data, Thomas at Krieger Ford says his dealership has started to rethink how they follow up with leads. “Traditionally, the BDC is successful by having a standardized process to follow for all customers. It’s a numbers game: out of this many leads using the same approach, how many can we get to convert?”
Thomas says it no longer makes sense to put a shopper through the standard lead process. “If a customer prefers text, says they’re looking to buy in the next week, and the next important step is to schedule a test drive, then we shoot them a text right away to see when they want to come in and do it,” Thomas says. “We have flexibility with these particular customers because of the depth of the information and quality of the lead.”
Traditionally, auto dealers have handled all leads the same way. When you have more consumer profile data about a consumer who visited your website, however, it’s important to pay attention to the information they shared with you. “When a consumer tells you they prefer to be emailed, and your first interaction is a call, you’re doing your business a disservice,” Chandler says. “There may be a fear of changing up your processes, but in the end, making changes will only help your dealership progress.”