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Less is More in Calls-to-Action on Dealer Websites

The past two years has seen a decrease in the number of website leads for many dealers. We're getting more visitors and fewer people filling out lead forms. The trend has caused what I've seen as an increase in the number of calls to action on pages, particularly on inventory pages. This is a mistake.

The truth is this: more is not more. It's less when it comes to calls-to-action. You don't need to have a dozen of different ways for people to contact you. You simply need to make the right ones the focus and to make others stand out.

It's something that I've wanted to discuss for a long time, but only now and I comfortable doing so because I have no horse in the race. I no longer work for a company that sells websites, so it's easy for me to go after the website providers without repercussion. Call me a chicken. I can handle it.

Here are some examples of great pages with their calls to action positioned appropriately:

Fewer Buttons... with Standouts

How many ways do people have to contact you on your vehicle details pages? You probably have several in the right sidebar alone.

In the example above, the dealer has one call to action inline (Request Sale Price) and a pair of calls to action that are "standouts" (Carfax and CarChat24). This is powerful in that it narrows the choices. Keep something very important in mind: your calls to action do not compel action. They give the option.

To understand this, think of it logically. If someone lands on a vehicle they don't really want, they're not going to make this statement: "This really isn't the car that I want, but would you look at those buttons! I need to contact them about this car regardless of whether I want to buy it or not!"

The opposite is true. If they land on a car that they want to buy, they will find a way to contact you even if you put the buttons on the bottom of the page and the phone number in 10-pt font.

Calls to Action Before the Action are Great

We are big fans of keeping it simple. However, there are times when appropriate calls to action on the "transition" pages make a lot of sense.

In the example above, the dealer has Automark Solutions buttons at the top that work to get their information before they have selected a vehicle. Some dealers would say, "but we want them to go to inventory because that's what all of the gurus say."

It's incorrect. With the understanding that my company specializes in driving traffic to inventory, I can tell you that it's not a goal. The goal is to sell more cars. It's easier to sell more cars to people who contact you. In the case above, the opportunity to grab their attention and generate a lead before they look through inventory is powerful. If you rely strictly on your VDPs to generate leads, you're letting your inventory do the talking for you. We want the lead, not the VDP views. While VDPs are often the most common way to generate leads, if you get the leads before they get to the VDP, you're even better off.

What if you don't have the exact vehicle they want? In that case, driving them to the VDP hurt. How many people know about dealer trades? More importantly, how many people buy the vehicle they intended to buy from the start?

Just get the lead.

Popups Suck. Most of Them.

We all hate popups. They get in the way. They're annoying. However, in most cases, proper popups work to get more leads.

Keep in mind that standard, true "popups" are ineffective. However, Java popups like the ones visible above are effective. DealerOn has built their brand around the idea of being able to guarantee more leads to dealers. Their secret - that awesome little popup. It works.

A better title for this article would have been "You Don't Need More Calls to Action. You Need Better Ones."

Oh well. Maybe next time.

Views: 704

Tags: calls to action, dealer websites, leads, websites


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Comment by Alexander Lau on October 6, 2014 at 1:37pm

The only problem with Link Assistant SEO Suite, it's not SaaS, it's a client app. So, there's a difficulty in having to run the same reports for multiple customers (clients). However, they allow you to save source files. Thanks!

Comment by Timothy Martell on October 6, 2014 at 1:31pm

Great post. Great comments Alex. Thats an awesome tool, but like you said, its about who's using them.

Comment by Alexander Lau on October 1, 2014 at 6:49am

Pretty much Manny and you can have all of the software you want, if you've no one to manage those tools properly and decipher the data, in order to make actionable recommendations, you're screwed.

Comment by Alexander Lau on September 30, 2014 at 12:44pm

BTW, there are side widgets / gadgets that ask users how the site could be better built, which could be useful for inventory listings. 

Comment by Alexander Lau on September 30, 2014 at 12:41pm

@Manny, even though this isn't a SaaS model, this is all you need. Which means you don't need:

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Comment by Tony Rehn on September 29, 2014 at 11:11am
Photos, description, price still the gold
You guys are right they have to want the car. But if they do, availability, schedule demo, trade allowance, any hope for gain or clarity still would lead to conversion and closer to "cars sold"
Comment by Alexander Lau on September 29, 2014 at 10:22am

You'd better have a testing tool, such as

Comment by Alexander Lau on September 29, 2014 at 9:58am

Yes, less is more, but you had better test your theory on your SPECIFIC audience / demographic. What works for one, doesn't always for another. Again, there are no magic elixirs or panaceas. 

I've been interested in 'Instructional Design:' for some time and before I left working for Carnegie Mellon University, I was taking classes on it, one of the first universities in the world to teach the concept. In other words, how do we create interfaces that lead to better user experiences in order to promote conversions. I can tell you, there are very few automotive website providers taking this into consideration:

Instructional Design (also called Instructional Systems Design (ISD)) is the practice of creating "instructional experiences which make the acquisition of knowledge and skill more efficient, effective, and appealing." The process consists broadly of determining the current state and needs of the learner, defining the end goal of instruction, and creating some "intervention" to assist in the transition. Ideally the process is informed by pedagogically (process of teaching) and andragogically (adult learning) tested theories of learning and may take place in student-only, teacher-led or community-based settings. The outcome of this instruction may be directly observable and scientifically measured or completely hidden and assumed. There are many instructional design models but many are based on the ADDIE model with the five phases: analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. As a field, instructional design is historically and traditionally rooted in cognitive and behavioral psychology, though recently Constructivism (learning theory) has influenced thinking in the field.

Comment by Carl Maeda on September 28, 2014 at 10:56pm

I love this post.  You also touch upon a subject that many people forget...  the user's intent.  If the intent is to buy a car on the VDP page, they will find a way to contact you.

This is precisely the reason why we build out custom landing pages for Pay Per Click campaigns, email blasts, etc.  In PPC, you know precisely how the user got to your landing page so why not AB test it and build it specifically for that intent?  If you do this, the page is simpler and you only need fewer calls to action.

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