The internet is an unknown entity to many traders, yet it plays such an important part in selling cars these days. In its dramatic rise from geek chic to ultimate business tool in little over a decade, the information super-highway is a road every car dealer needs to travel. But what do you need to think about?
Well, the important thing to remember is pretty much every car buyer starts their buying process online. So, during this critical research phase, you need to put your products in front of those potential buyers.
There are countless web firms out there offering dealers the ability to do this – all of them promising they’re the best, but the reality is the results can be mixed. So how can dealers really get the best out of the web?
For a start, you need to take into account the popularity and relevance of the website carrying your advertising. It is very easy for car dealers to be distracted by the plethora of sites that seem to be launching every week, but if you remember you need to be where the largest groups of potential customers are, you’re in with a good shout. Highly-targeted portals and websites such as AutoTrader.co.uk, TheVanWebsite.co.uk, ContractHireAndLeasing.com, SaveMoneyOnCars.co.uk and search engines like Google make sense to use.
‘Focusing on other smaller automotive portals is generally a waste of time and effort,’ explained Really Good Domains chief Dave Timmis. ‘They simply don’t have the traffic and your potential customers won’t find your site or offers. This is equally as wasteful as advertising contract hire on a site targeted at retail customers or advertising vans on a site that attracts car buyers.’
Timmis believes dealers should look at the major automotive websites for each of their respective sectors and choose a selection of the ones that give you the most targeted traffic. Don’t make the mistake of only picking one portal as they all have different audiences.
‘Try ContractHireAndLeasing.com for car leasing offers, SaveMoneyOnCars.co.uk for new and nearly new cars, TheVanWebsite.co.uk for vans and AutoTrader.co.uk for used cars,’ explained Timmis.
But it’s not just the websites you use. The way you present your site is also very important and can dramatically affect the amount of visitors that make enquiries.
‘Think about where the link takes the visitor – deep-linking, where the visitor lands on the most relevant page of your website, is very effective,’ added Timmis. ‘Ideally, you need to link to the actual offer or vehicle being advertised.’
Also think about how easily a customer can get your contact details and whether you list directions to your showroom. And, as with all enquiries, internet-generated leads need to be handled promptly with ultimate professionalism and knowledge. Emails need to be answered quickly – ideally immediately, or within two hours.
Timmis’ stable of sites offers dealers the chance to advertise their stock to relevant customers. ‘Main dealers who advertise on our websites receive thousands of high-quality visitors per month to their websites, in addition to the same number of requests for contact details, telephone calls and emails,’ explained Timmis. ‘Many dealerships achieve more than 50 additional sales per month from advertising on our websites. Our most successful clients follow common sense advice by giving most exposure to their best deals.’
It’s also important to make sure all staff dealing with internet enquiries are aware of current special offers – it’s all too easy to delegate web responsibility to the resident ‘geek’, when a talented sales executive would be far better placed.
‘Successful dealers are those that educate and train every person in their business on how to use the web,’ concluded Timmis. ‘It’s everyone’s job to understand the different portals and how they can differentiate you from competitors, particularly for staff at the point of sale.’
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