If I asked you — what’s the purpose of your website? — could you answer that question in two words or less?
If you’re thinking “Sell Cars“, then you’re right about the end result, but the true purpose of your website and your entire digital platform for that matter is to ANSWER QUESTIONS. And the better your website becomes at answering the questions of online car shoppers, the more cars you’re going to sell.
At every step of the car shopping journey your potential customers have questions — and each of the answers they find online ultimately lead them to what car they want to buy, for how much, and most importantly, where. Your website is the foundation of your entire digital presence, and if it’s not providing answers, it’s not delivering customers.
Every single word and page on your website is potentially the answer to somebody’s question (inventory, price, hours, etc.), but the difference between general information and personalized answers can make all the difference — and that’s where you can really gain a competitive advantage by being more digitally helpful than anyone else out there.
Are you with me? I promise I’m not talking crazy (this time). Let’s break it down question by question, and answer by answer.
GOOGLE: THE ULTIMATE Q & A MACHINE
Before we get into the role that your website plays in answering the questions of car shoppers, let’s take it a step back and think about the way many people even find your website in the first place — Google Search.
Google is nothing more than a question and answer machine. It doesn’t matter what you type into that little white rectangle, you’re asking a question that can fit into one of these four search moments:
- I want to know
- I want to go
- I want to buy
- I want to do
Go ahead, try to search for something that doesn’t neatly fit into one of those search moments, I’ll wait….
Are you picking up what I’m putting down? Ok, now pay attention because here’s the critical point:
SHOPPERS NEED TO KNOW, BEFORE THEY GO
As much as some folks enjoy spontaneous road trips, like the daredevils who try new restaurant without checking Yelp reviews first (the humanity!), when it comes to shopping for and buying a car, 92% of shoppers1 are going to build their confidence by researching online before walking through your doors, i.e. they want to know before they go.
How do people build confidence in a subject where they have a knowledge gap? By researching all the details, and Google Search plays a key role in providing those answers.
Google takes it a step further by taking that “I want to know” search moment, and breaking it down into five micro-moments of the car shopping journey:
- Which car is best?
- Is it right for me?
- Can I afford it?
- Where should I buy it?
- Am I getting a good deal?
In order for a car shopper to become a car buyer, a customer needs to answer these five questions to build confidence in their final purchase decision.
The great news is that by understanding how your website, connected technologies, and digital marketing strategies can be positioned to ABA (Always Be Answering), you can be there to capture local in-market shoppers at every micro-moment along the way.
Let’s take a look at how you can ensure that your dealership’s digital ecosystem is set up to provide the A’s to shopper’s most pressing Q’s
BE THE ANSWER (SEO & SEM)
Of the 92% of consumers that begin their car shopping journey online, asking Google a question is the most common place for people to start, so it only makes sense to prepare your dealership’s website to have those answers when local in-market shoppers are on the hunt.
When we revisit our micro-moments listed above, you can tailor both your Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization efforts to align with those types of queries.
The “Which Car is Best?” and “Is it Right For Me?” micro-moments are high funnel queries typically performed by someone who just recently entered the market. Their intent is to create an initial consideration set, and then narrow the choices down to a few contenders. Because these types of searches are broad and ultra-competitive among OEMs, it usually doesn’t make sense for a single point dealership to dedicate a portion of their DigAd budget here. The cost-per-click is going to be high, along with the chance that you won’t be able to deliver a landing page that’s relevant to the user which can result in wasted spend.
That said, there is an opportunity here to answer these types of questions with relevant SEO content published to your website. Dealerships and automotive groups who have embraced blogging on behalf of brands can stake their claim in the SERP by creating editorial or list type content that directly answers the “Which Car is Best?” and “Is it Right For Me?” questions of local car shoppers.
The other three micro-moments are all low-funnel consideration questions, and both your SEM and SEO efforts work in tandem to position your dealership as “the answer” for these types of queries on the paid and organic search results.
ANSWER INSTANTLY (24/7 Messaging)
Think about some of the CTAs you have on your website. Does a Get E-Price button immediately answer a shoppers question about pricing? What about Check Availability…does tapping that CTA instantly provide an answer if a vehicle is s available or not?
Nope and nope. All those CTAs do is open up a form that a shopper is required to fill out, submit and then wait….and wait…and wait. Who has time for that?!
With Conversations™ — our advanced messaging platform — you can reprogram common CTAs on your website to open up automated chat workflows instead of forms to automatically answer questions from shoppers like “What’s my trade-in worth?” and “What’s the E-Price?” that take place right inside a chat providing instant answers to your shoppers.
Enabling messaging functionality on your website is nothing new, it’s literally there to give your users an outlet to ask their questions. That said, a modern messaging platform takes it a (giant) step further by truly integrating with your website’s main CTA’s instead of just sitting on top of your website. Oh yeah, and your website is only the beginning. You can now instantly and automatically answer customer questions wherever they are — Facebook, Google, SMS, Cars.com — by integrating Conversations™ with your marketing channels.
We call it Native Conversion, because it answers shoppers questions (and captures their lead) right where they are without having to take another step.
PROVIDE PERSONALIZED (PAYMENT) ANSWERS
With a digital retailing solution, you’re providing your visitors with the best tool to answer their “Can I Afford It?” question. This question is so critical because 75% of car shoppers won’t contact or visit your dealership if they can’t get an answer that’s personalized to their variable (credit, down payment, trade-in, etc.)2 Again, it all comes back to that one simple statement, shoppers need to know before they go.
With Online Shopper: Electric™ you’re upgrading the capabilities of your website to provide shoppers with real-time, personalized payment options on multiple vehicles of interest. The end result is that you’re providing answers to a car shopper’s most important question, while at the same time generating a lead for your team to follow up with. This in turn creates a bridge between the online to offline shopping experience that sets your dealership up to close more deals when the customer visits your dealership.
AND ANSWER THE “WHO” QUESTION
Being able to transparently (and instantly!) answer questions related to affordability and availability is huge, but you may not have realized that consumer behavior has shifted to the point now where shoppers want to know exactly who they’ll be working with at the dealership. As we become more accustomed to anxiety-free online shopping, customers want assurance that they’re going to have a good, easy experience when they go to the dealership — and connecting with a real, trusted salesperson before they make the trip makes all the difference.
97% of car shoppers say they’d prefer to choose their salesperson before they enter the dealership3.
On the Dealer Inspire web platform, you can use Salesperson Connect™ from DealerRater to enhance the user experience by highlighting your top salespeople on the most important pages on your website. The ratings, profiles, and reviews for each of your top salespeople are seamlessly incorporated into your VDPs and Staff Page to connect shoppers with your salespeople, effectively answering that “Who Should I Buy It From?” question.
THE CONNECTED (Q & A) PLATFORM
From appearing in search results as the answer for the “Where Should I Buy It?” question, to providing easy to access pricing information that answers to the “Can I Afford It?” question — the Dealer Inspire Platform works together to create a connected experience for car shoppers designed to answer all of their questions.
Want more information how our connected technologies can help future-proof your dealership? Just give us a shout and we’ll set something up!
1Think With Google: The Future of Car Buying – https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/feature/the-future-of-car-buying/
2Cars.com “Drivers Seat” Consumer Survey, October 2018.
3Survey of 17,981 car buyers on DealerRater.com, October 2018