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The Science of Attention on Dealership Websites








(And look at the image beside it instead).

I’ve been doing a lot of research on eye-tracking studies recently, and I would like to share with you some insights. The following tips can benefit how your dealership’s website grabs your online shopper’s attention. The results you can expect will drive more traffic into your showroom and service center.

The Left Side of Your Page is Prime Real Estate

Logo Placement

Since most shoppers read from left to right, it makes sense that the top left corner is where most people start looking when they are on a website. It also makes sense that this is the place that most companies put their logo - because it shows shoppers that they are in the right place and answers the question, “Where am I?”

The F Shape and How Your Shoppers Read

You should also know that shoppers often look at your content in an “F” pattern, reading across, scrolling down, reading across, and scrolling down and skimming toward the bottom. (See #4 on this Kissmetrics blog).

So when you are deciding on a layout, pay attention to where your shopper’s eyes will typically go to read and view your content, and…last, but not least:

Keep the Most Important Elements Above the Fold

Make sure the content you want to attract your shoppers to most is above the fold. For example, if searching your inventory is their most important action, make sure to place a “Search Inventory” box with drop downs or text boxes on the left-hand side of the page directly under the menu bar for easy access.

For a good example of this setup, check out Joyce Koons Honda's website here.

Shoppers Have Been Programmed to IGNORE Banners

Many dealerships love including banner ads on their website, however shoppers have been programmed to completely ignore their existence - especially when the images on those banners offer no value to the customer.

If you’re going to use banners (sometimes you don’t have a choice if your OEM requires it) - make sure to have “Why Buy” statements on each slide, and an outstanding call-to-action button that really persuades your shopper to click. Otherwise, create space for buttons that make it very simple for a shopper to answer their second question, “What can I do here?”

3 Important Things to Include in Any Scrolling Banner Ad:

  • “Why Buy” statement such as “Low Monthly Payments to Fit Every Budget”.

  • A call-to-action button such as “Get Details”, “Get Pre-Approved in Seconds”, “View Specials”, etc. DO NOT use submit or click here buttons.

  • Imagery that is effective, but not distracting.

Lastly, if you are including buttons on the left side of your banner, make sure those buttons aren’t covering up anything important on your banner like the image below!


Social Media Buttons Are NOT Your Friend

You may think that adding social buttons to your website is an awesome way to get more shoppers and customers to like your pages and engage with you on social, however the important reality is you are directing your shoppers off of your website. And since you probably spent thousands of dollars on advertising trying to get those shoppers to your site in the first place, it’s counterproductive to put buttons on your site that are pretty much a big EXIT sign.

Instead of using the social media buttons, ActivEngage recommends putting your social pages on a Social Media Toolbar that allows shoppers to browse your social pages while they are on your website, without being redirected off the site. You can also include your review pages like Yelp or DealerRater, directions to your store, your blog, a chat button (see below for statistics on click-through rates), and much more - which your shoppers can take a look at without leaving your website!

Check out how Don Ayres Honda uses the Social Media Toolbar on their website here!

The Location of Your Chat Buttons and Call-to-Action Buttons Affects Your Conversion Rates

Chat Buttons

ActivEngage has completed numerous studies on our chat graphics. We know that the static chat button and park-feature button alone get 10-20% of the clicks from your unique visitors to chat:

Static Chat Button, Car Dealership Websites, ActivEngage

Our behaviorally targeted chat invites receive 30-40% of clicks to chat:

Behavioral targeted chat invitation, activengage, car dealership websites

And the chat button on our Social Media Toolbar receives 40-50% of clicks to chat:

Social Media Toolbar Chat Button, ActivEngage, Car Dealership Websites

This data shows that depending on where you place your chat buttons and which ones you include on your site (we recommend a combination of all of them to be the most effective), you are likely to get more or less clicks-to-chat, and therefore more or less leads, and more or less sales from chat. This is also why we highly recommend having a Social Media Toolbar with chat! - it’s going to grab the most attention.

The best practices for the placement of chat buttons are as follows:

  • The static chat button should be placed in the header on every page of your website.

  • The chat invites should be behaviorally targeted based on the user experience. You want to ensure this button pops up on any page where your shopper would have the most questions, such as your homepage, VDP pages, specials pages, service page, and financing page.

  • The park-feature chat button is most effective on the left side of your page.

It’s also wise to use pictures of people on your chat buttons to encourage clicks (See #8 on this article by QuickSprout). However, according to ActivEngage research, it’s not just images of people, but actually images of attractive people that get the most clicks - and attractive female images often grab the most attention overall (regardless of the gender who is viewing the image). Also, the model’s appearance (hair color, skin color, etc) should directly correlate with your region’s demographics.

Call-to-Action Buttons

When you place call-to-action buttons on your website, you want them to stand out. However oftentimes when I look at dealership websites, I find that the button blends in too much with other elements of the page.

Make sure that the button is surrounded by enough white space to call attention to it. Also, the colors of your call-to-action buttons should be different than any other color on your website to make sure it stands out.

Here’s an example of a good call-to-action button:

For some more tips on call-to-action buttons, check out these 20 Do’s and Don’ts for Calls-to-Action from Hubspot.


Have you used A/B testing on your website lately? Let us know if there are any other insights you can bring to this discussion by sharing them in the comments below!

Do you want to get extra design recommendations, as well as an in-depth, custom analysis of your dealership’s website at no cost to you?


Request Your Complimentary ActivEyeMap HERE!


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