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ActivEngage Deep Thoughts: CRO and Genetic Algorithms

Here at ActivEngage, we are constantly contemplating the future of business on the Internet.  As we strive to provide our clients with thebest live chat service available, we often find ourselves gazing toward the horizon of what is possible.  This is the first installment of a blog series in which we will consider what the Internet is and what the Internet should be, with a specific focus on web-improvementsfor Automotive Dealerships.

For the average car dealership website, only 10% of all sales leads result in the purchase of an automobile.  Why are 90% of these leads failing to take action?  Perhaps the answer is that the dealership’s website is not optimally designed to engage its customers.

So, why don’t self-optimizing websites exist?  As a casual web-surfer, I know that I want an easy and timely experience when searching for information on a website.  I am exceedingly frustrated when it takes and excruciatingly lengthy amount of time to find the simplest bit of info, like store hours, an address or whether or not an item is in stock.  This negative experience greatly affects my perception of the brand and usually prompts me to search elsewhere for what I need.

The primary goal of companies with web-presence is conversion rate optimization.  CRO is the art and science of persuading site visitors to take actions that benefit the company, by making a purchase, offering a donation, or committing to some positive future action (Andrew B. King, Website Optimization).

Many smart companies, specifically car dealerships, are already implementing CRO strategies.  Google’s website optimizer is the most basic CRO service available and allows website developers to study the effects of different content on their users. Vertster is a more advanced service that is gaining in popularity.  Enabling companies to leverage real-time data intelligence to understand how their websites are used, Vertster allows Internet Marketers to not just sell to website visitors, but to influence them.

Drawing more meaningful visitors deeper into a site and providing them with an engaging call to action, rather than simply shouting at the masses to buy your product, will translate into a significantly higher conversion rate.  It’s like using a fire hose to wash your car instead of the spigot to a rain barrel.

There is a clear and present need for websites to learn and understand how consumers are using the Internet and how visitors can best be served.  By achieving a constant state of optimal change, these “living” websites can dramatically increase user throughput.

Not quite artificial intelligence, this idea resembles a process known as a “Genetic Algorithm.”  According to Jason Striegel, contributor to the technology blog Make, simulating the process of evolution, random mutation, breeding and selective pressure, a program can evolve a solution to a problem.

In the not-so-distant future, dealership websites will be able to interpret shoppers’ search history and browsing preferences.  A car shopper arriving at a dealer’s site from a 3rd party site will be presented automatically with the vehicle that they’re seeking, with the features and color they want, complete with a personalized greeting and financing incentives.

In spite of the fact that this sounds a bit like science fiction, “the future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”

Members of the Automotive Community, how do you optimize your websites for maximum conversion rates?  What service do you use to provide real-time data and statistics so that you can understand how visitors are using your site?  How do you engage your leads with a call to action?  What is your vision of the future of ecommerce?

Please join the discussion.  Live long and prosper.

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