Your digital showroom is so much more than your online inventory alone – it’s everything you do online, and it’s where sales are being won and lost.
More than 97% of consumers start their car buying journey online and according to a recent American study; they spend over two hours on a Dealer’s website before they visit the physical showroom. More than two hours!
Keeping that in mind, how’s your digital showroom travelling?
The way your business looks, reads and interacts with shoppers online is now more important than ever. Everything from the quality of the content on your website, to the images you share on social media all contribute to your dealership’s online reputation. Even the most subtle online techniques can spell the difference between whether your brand is being loved, loathed or laughed at.
You wouldn’t put a notice up in your physical showroom with spelling mistakes and five exclamation marks, so why do it on your website?
Or say a customer was in the middle of your new car yard yelling complaints about your service; you wouldn’t leave them unattended, just as you shouldn’t ignore negative reviews on Google and other websites.
Properly managing and monitoring your digital showroom, and by extension, your brand, may seem like a daunting proposition – but it’s one that should be taken seriously.
Let’s take a look at some of the basics to getting it right:
The Dealer Website
We already know that most of your customers are likely checking out your website before they get in touch. The online world plays a significant role in almost all of today’s major purchases, not just automotive. In a landmark Forrester study it was found that more than $1.1 trillion in retail sales were linked to what they call ‘Web-influenced’ purchases, that is, offline retail sales influenced by online research.
At this point you may be saying ‘but my website is OEM-controlled, I can’t change anything!’
Chances are you can.
In fact, you probably have control over one of the most fundamental aspects of the ‘ideal’ user website experience, and that’s content.
Most OEM-designed websites still give you control over the words that describe your business on the home page, about section and other important areas of the website. Here, you have an exceptional opportunity to spell out your differences, convey your personality and entice people
When these sections of your website are generic (does your home page and about section read exactly like your competitors?), or poorly written, you risk losing customers and damaging your brand.
If your website has a ‘latest news’ facility, use it. Consistently create and upload helpful messages for your website visitors, whether it’s about your upcoming models, community involvement or landmark events and celebrations. Consider adding a frequently asked questions page to your website and include the questions that customers are actually asking in your physical showroom. Creating your own content, based on what’s happening in your dealership and within the brands you sell increases your chances of capturing online attention and converting it into physical leads.
Whatever you do, remember that websites which add value to the user experience are the most successful.
There are plenty of statistics out there which highlight the impact online reviews have on purchasing behaviour and as far as we’ve seen, they all point in one direction:
Online reviews do impact buying decisions – and often it’s by a significant margin.
One study into shopping behaviour by Dimensional Research showed that 90 per cent of respondents who recalled reading online reviews said positive online reviews influenced their purchase.
Good and bad, people are talking about your dealership every day; the difference now is that many of those discussions are taking place online. Dealership staff should take an active role in monitoring what’s being said about the business online – whether it’s positive or otherwise – and managing the feedback.
From obvious places like Dealer social media pages and Google reviews, to dedicated review sharing websites like womo.com.au and productreview.com.au, managing your reputation online is as important as in the physical realm.
The next question of course, is how to respond to negative feedback about your business. There are plenty of online tips on this topic, but the basics usually include acknowledging the complaint, staying positive, highlighting your good service track record and handling the remainder of the complaint privately.
Don’t be intimidated by bad reviews. Unless they are completely unreasonable or abusive (in which case you should work to have them removed), bad reviews give you the opportunity to show off your responsive and thoughtful customer service skills.
Social Media and Third Party Websites
Your website isn’t the only place prospective customers are finding you online.
The way your business is perceived on social media and third party websites, like carsales.com.au also impacts on your reputation.
You wouldn’t want staff members dressed in your logo doing embarrassing (or offensive) things in public and the same applies to how you conduct yourself on these websites.
Ensure that your message across these websites is consistent, well-written and not generic. Focus less on selling and more on information sharing. Always aim to direct traffic back to your (professionally-written and engaging) website, and above all else be consistent.
The Digital Showroom
Dealers with their heads in the sand about the online aspect of their business risk being left behind in our fast-moving world. Your digital showroom, that is, your website, social media presence and behaviour on third-party websites all influence whether car buyers choose you or not.
Relying purely on your physical premises alone is no longer enough. It’s time to get serious about your other front door.