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Throughout the history of our automotive industry – and even more so as we increasingly progress into the digital era – dealers have been focused on gaining more leads. Just about every widget and message on dealer websites has one single goal – conversion.
Does your website have 100 annoying pop-ups and 20 different ways to communicate with your dealership? Many dealer websites require that the customer give up their personal details in exchange for pricing or product information which they came to the website hoping to find... and less and less customers are willing to share those details.
According to a recent article on CMSWire, the desire most retail companies have to gather customer information is precisely why these conversion frictions exist. Many dealerships aren’t willing to give out information; and the same goes for many customers. This exchange of information is a thing of the past. Why? Because consumers aren’t invested in any dealership until THEY decide that they want to be.
Your dealership can’t force consumers to pay for information with their personal details. They’ll simply go elsewhere to find it. It’s not as if there’s any lack of places they can go. In fact, if you don’t add pricing, or create easily navigable websites providing the information consumers desire (pricing, etc.), they can easily find it on third-party listing sites.
Dealerships spend upwards of $25-$30 per lead from third-party sources including listing sites, as well as lead providers (and their own manufacturer). And, if a dealership gets 100 leads from these sources at an average cost of $25 per lead, they are spending $2,500 per month.
The question is, which leads in fact convert at a higher rate and are of higher quality? There is no doubt – and any industry expert will agree – dealer website leads convert at a higher percentage than any lead from an outside source.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not bashing these third-party listing services and lead providers, they provide a valuable benefit to dealers and can significantly increase exposure, visibility and traffic to the dealer’s inventory. The point I’m trying to make isn’t that vendor-partners aren’t valuable. Rather, that a lack of information, and the amount of friction a consumer experiences when trying to obtain that information directly from a dealer website, drives them away from the dealer and over to sites that make it an easy and friction-free experience.
Widgets and various other technologies on websites are great -- as long as they provide value to the car shopper and don’t present obstacles. Communication tools, trade-in valuation tools (that offer accurate information), VDPs and pricing information are the main things consumers are looking for.
Failing to provide tools that are easy to use and accurate, and which make gathering information seamless for the consumer, will only hurt your conversion rates and force consumers to seek that information elsewhere. In the end, you may very well end up paying someone else for that customer’s information – unless, of course, the customer decides to go to a competitor who provides the information and less friction.
We’re in the age of transparency and information. Don’t be afraid to lose sales by being fully transparent online. Chances are that consumers can find it anyways -- without your help. By providing it in the first place, you build trust with that prospective customer and they are more likely to start a conversation with you and buy or service their vehicle at your dealership, versus the competition. And -- bottom line -- that means increased revenue for your dealership.