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6 Questions to ask when optimizing your dealership’s online presence

Posted by Meg Bernazzani on February 2, 2021

A dealership’s online presence is pivotal to attracting and retaining potential customers but waiting for business to come to you through a static website doesn’t let you realize your full potential. There are many more digital tools at a dealer’s disposal, and learning which methods are most effective and underused in your local market can give you a leg up on the competition.

Here are some questions that might help you think differently about how you’re reaching your customers online and give you some ideas for how to cultivate this increasingly important aspect of your business.

#1 What sets your dealership apart?

You can’t sell a car without knowing its specs, and it’s just as important to know your dealership’s selling points before you try to communicate with potential buyers. Do your customers rave about the speed of your service department? Are your staff especially good at explaining things and answering complicated questions? Do you have employees who speak multiple languages? Don’t be afraid to lead with those differentiators and put them front and centre in your online marketing.

If you don’t have a clear answer on what sets your dealership apart, consider asking your customers, either individually or by conducting a survey. They’re the ones who already choose you, so they can likely offer some extremely valuable insights.

#2 Is your website the best it could be?

An effective, modern dealership website involves plenty of dynamic, rich media like video how-tos and vehicle walkarounds. Visitors should be able to access key information like current interest rates and added fees without having to provide contact information, which can turn away potential buyers who are wary of giving up their privacy. Consider also adding content that’s about more than hard-selling: mention those differentiators outlined above, include information about community initiatives, and don’t be afraid to let staff add a personal touch to their biographies to keep things relatable. Most importantly, make sure there’s a clear and simple way for potential clients to reach out for more information that’s visible from every page of the website.

#3 Are you using social media effectively?

Potential customers may choose not to follow you on social media if your feed is nothing but a steady stream of vehicle listings. A great social media feed is more of a connection tool that lets followers get to know your dealership better through things like staff profiles, posts about community initiatives, and exclusive offers. This may not result in a sale from every post, but as your dealership pops up repeatedly with potential customers, your name will increasingly come to mind for a customer when it’s time to make a purchase or book a service appointment.

#4 Is your lead management airtight?

Managing online leads requires a different set of skills than those that come from walk-ins or over the phone, and your dealership could be losing potential clients to poor lead management without even realizing it. Having at least one staff member dedicated to managing leads that come in through website contacts, social media messaging, and email is especially important, and it’s a good idea to establish benchmark expectations for response times. People in charge of digital lead management should be clear, fast, concise, responsive, and sensitive to the typical cadence of online interactions.

#5 How positive are your online reviews?

If your dealership has a rating of fewer than four stars on sites like Google, Facebook, or CarGurus, it could be costing you business. It’s very important to monitor your ratings on these platforms and respond to customers who leave comments, both positive and negative, to show people who are researching online that you’re paying attention and that public perception of your dealership matters to you. This demonstration of investment in the satisfaction of your customers will give them confidence that they can look forward to similar treatment.

#6 Are you making the most of third-party platforms?

If marketing budgets are tight, it can be tempting to dial back spending on third-party listing platforms and attempt to attract that same business on your own. It can take a significant investment to make up for that loss in visibility for your listings, so it’s important to take a serious look at how many leads come through these platforms and weigh that against what it would take to generate that same amount of business on your own. If your return on investment from these platforms is high, it’s wise to retain them as part of your online marketing strategy.

Your online presence can help set the tone for how your dealership is perceived by future customers—and it can be a crucial driver of new sales. Don’t overlook its importance.