8 min readImproving Online Engagement to Boost Auto Sales
Your website should engage auto buyers and keep them interested at every turn. It shouldn’t just be about page visits and site clicks. Before we can improve engagement, we first have to understand how to define it.
IMPROVING ONLINE ENGAGEMENT TO BOOST AUTO SALES
It’s no secret that your auto sales site is more effective when it encourages consumers to take action. Customers should be engaging with a site that shifts to meet them at each point in the purchasing funnel. That being said, how can your dealership create a more engaging environment online?
Defining Online Engagement
Boosting sales isn’t as simple as increasing web traffic. A consumer could visit your site once and never return. In this case, very little is learned about the consumer — if anything at all.
Brian Pasch, the founder of auto marketing titans PCG Companies explains, “If someone fills out a trade-in process or a finance process, these are very highly engaged people compared to someone who just visits a car page and does nothing. Engagement is not about time on site or page views; it’s about what specific actions somebody is doing on those pages.”
As opposed to mere interactions or page visits, engagement is a much more qualitative term. The word itself elicits an image of an inspired consumer that is captivated by your tools and company — someone who is spending quality time with your products. It’s an admirable goal.
In fact, a recent study showed that for B2C content creators, 73% said that creating engaging content was their top priority. That said, considering how to improve it is much a much more nuanced process than increasing your ad spend or visitors to your website. Your site needs to be creating quality interactions with customers so that they continue to return to and use your online tools.
“Every time a consumer comes back to the website, it is absolutely important for them to find the value in it,” says Pasch.
Measuring Online Engagement
Though its definition may be a bit more subjective than site visits, we can still view engagement as a metric that can increase or decrease by a specific amount. And though it may seem daunting to try and assign a numeric value, the advent of new analytic tools means that quality engagement can indeed be calculated. A study performed by Statisa found that digital publishers value both engaged time, comments, and shares more than views or page visits.
For an industry veteran like Pasch, measuring something as elusive as engagement is something at the forefront of his mind. “When I think of engagement, I think of measuring the specific clicks and activities and weighting certain activities higher,” he says. With this in mind, we can see that quantifying engagement means turning to new forms of analysis.
One way that PCG is achieving this lofty goal is with the use of multi-touch attribution. This much buzzed-about term is a new way of determining how a consumer’s many touches with a brand contribute to a lead generated or a sale closed. Pasch elaborates that, as opposed to multi-touch attribution, the auto world’s current form of measuring engagement is still stuck in the rut of last-click attribution.
“Most websites and CRM handoffs are assuming that any time a lead is completed, it’s an organic website lead,” he says. “It’s not saying it came from Facebook or that it came from AdWords or some other referral. We need to, as an industry, get better and move away from last-click attribution. Any platform that could keep track of the sources that a consumer came to and when a lead is submitted would be much more eye-opening for seeing what marketing channels are working.”
Pasch is also excited about multi-touch attribution potential for analysis of, not just online marketing, but all advertising materials. Even resources like radio, television, and print ads can be included in the multi-touch umbrella, thanks to groundbreaking platforms and tools designed to take in these all into account.
“There are ecosystems that are being built to track offsite activity as well, so that in the future, dealers can see not just the sources that touched a consumer, but what brought them back to the site to engage a second, third, even fourth time,” he says. “Maybe they saw a TV advertisement and it reminded them of your site, or they first discovered your dealership thanks to a newspaper advertisement. That kind of off-site attribution merging with onsite attribution is what we’ll see in 2018.”
With a clearer understanding of how to define and measure engagement, the focus can now turn to improving the dealer-consumer relationship. Multi-touch attribution is a fantastic way to understand what avenues of advertising and marketing work best. Of course, once consumers have arrived at your website, interactive tools are your best bet for initiating a deeper connection.
“Many dealership website pages treat consumers generally the same way every time,” Pasch says. “There is some minimal personalization available, but the calls-to-action and buttons are not customized.
If someone already did a trade-in and they come back to the site, they’re going to say, ‘What? I already did this?’ So, the dealers are inadvertently wasting space on call to action banners or buttons and missing an opportunity to engage them for the next step.”
Customization is generally a product of smart calls-to-action, in which the user’s information is saved for future visits. Once on your site, they can find quality engagement with intuitive, interactive tools that not only help your dealership learn about their needs, but help them understand what vehicle or payment options are right for them.
Examples of highly engaging interactive tools would be trade-in value assessments, payment calculators (customized to income/preference info), or market price comparison shopping. Any one of these might be just what you need to appeal to even the most finicky online shopper.
Online interactions and engagement are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are two, separate metrics. The better the interactions are between consumers and your website – whether it be their first or fifth visit – the more they’ll be encouraged to come back and, hopefully, come in to check out a vehicle.