How long has it been since you thought about your website?
Did you have it built a few years ago and – apart from occasionally updating homepage banners and new vehicle pages – assume that it would do the job for a good five or more years without the need for review?
The issue with this ‘set and forget’ attitude to your website is that it risks causing your business to be left behind and could result in missed sales opportunities, due to continual industry changes and technological innovations..
Our recommendation to dealers is that that you thoroughly audit your website every two to three years. This gives you the opportunity to upgrade the technological features and design to ensure it is functioning well and meeting the most current consumer expectations and preferences around usability and aesthetics. It also gives you the opportunity to ensure your “digital face” is accurately reflecting your dealership’s current brand, vision and messaging.
So, what has changed over the last few years to warrant an upgrade to your existing website?
In 2014, mobile visitors made up 15-20 percent of website traffic, however by 2019, that had increased to 60-70 percent. This highlights the priority that needs to be placed on mobile-friendly design and layout. Modern websites are now built so they respond to the user’s device – be it a desktop, a tablet or a mobile – to ensure an optimal experience.
Automotive website design has changed significantly over the last five years, and along with that, so has consumer expectation. Elements such as sticky navigation bars that anchor to the top of the page as the customer scrolls, clean lines and attractive layouts with minimal text and quality imagery and videos are all now standards of industry-leading websites that promote and prolong customer browsing.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION
Over the last few years, SEO techniques have had to adapt as Google’s ranking algorithms have evolved and become more sophisticated. For example, websites built a few years ago may only rank based on the code written into their homepage, whereas modern sites are now built in such a way that search engines will rank them based on every page, hence the importance of upgrading any out-dated coding that may be in the backend of your site.
The more opportunities a customer is given to convert, the more likely it is that they will book a test drive or make an enquiry. Modern websites maximise conversion opportunities, through the inclusion of multiple enquiry forms, live chat, SMS messaging and click-to-call.
The rate at which a webpage loads has an impact both on user experience, as well as your site’s SEO. Newer sites are coded up to deliver faster load speeds, fostering better search engine ranking. This in turn drives more traffic to the site and increases the likelihood of conversion.
Older websites may not be hosted on the most secure servers nor have the most up-to-date firewalls to prevent a cyber-attack, so it is important to have your website provider run a security audit for you. Customer data supplied through website forms must also be protected. The addition of SSL Certificates on websites became the norm in the last few years, however many dealer websites still do not have them, meaning that site visitors’ personal details are not secure.
Modern coding techniques, along with the use of Google Tag Manager give website providers the ability to deliver more accurate and detailed data on customer behavior both while on your website and before landing there. Dealers with newer sites have access to this data that is invaluable for future marketing planning.
Stock locators have evolved significantly over the last few years, with the key aim of promoting engagement and conversion. Most recently has been the addition of ecommerce functionality that enables vehicles to be reserved with an online deposit. Over the last 12-18 months website providers have also been adding ‘Book a Test Drive’ and ‘Trade-in Valuation’ options, the ability to create campaigns on certain stock, and functionality to save and compare selected vehicles.
Digital agencies are at the mercy of the global giants Google and Facebook who continually update their algorithms and change their advertising models, requiring us to adapt and innovate accordingly with new features and technology. For this reason our advice to dealers is to remain nimble when it comes to your website (and all your digital marketing). The days of ‘set-and-forget’ are over. A modern website is an ever-evolving beast that needs regular review, reflection and upgrade to ensure it performs its core function – to drive leads into your dealership.