The 10 Most Common Problems with Car Dealer Websites

When you specialise in one industry you find yourself encountering the same scenarios. Even with car dealers coming in all shapes and sizes, repeat issues, requests and opportunities pop up all over the place – and as a digital marketing agency we’re ideally positioned to share some of the most common missed opportunities with a dealer’s website presence.

Here are ten of the most common automotive website problems we encounter – but let’s think of them as opportunities in disguise!

1. Hidden contact options

A dealer website is where potential customers will go to get contact details – so they need to be obvious.

In an ideal world there is just one number to ring, but if not, dealer websites should make it easy to choose the best number.

Don’t over-focus on calls either – remember that different people prefer different enquiry styles. Some people hate calling so want to send an email, or are maybe hunting for their next car whilst in the office - cue a sneaky live chat conversation that the boss won’t pick up on. Being flexible and clear should help you to reach all these types.

2. Reliance on multi-step forms

A multi-step form seems like an amazing piece of tech at first glance – but it’s not often as good for your customer as it is for you.

The more steps a form has (no matter how fancy and “convenient” the options), the more opportunity a buyer has to drop out of the funnel.

We are working on a new, conversion-focused service booking form for exactly this purpose – balancing different customer profiles and giving multiple contact options to maximise the number of bookings.

3. No social proof

Car dealers don’t necessarily have the best reputation in the retail space – even if that reputation is now largely out of date!

That means that motor traders have more work than other comparable retailers to convince a customer to trust them. Sharing “social proof” and enabling customers to seek approval from the people they trust the most is a vital part of your digital presence.

How can you improve your website’s social proof?

Independent reviews providers like JudgeService, Feefo or Reevoo can help, or you can just add your own testimonials. Supplement that with social sharing capabilities and ideally the ability for people to send your cars to mobiles, and you’re well on your way.

4. Not mobile friendly

This list is in no way in any sort of order – and being fully-mobile friendly is nothing short of vital for any business with a website.

Responsive web design (that is, a website that rearranges and resizes to fit on any device and screen size) is Google’s recommended best practice, and it allows visitors to your website to have a consistent user experience no matter what screens they arrive on your website from.

Plus, you only have to upkeep one website and one set of offers – much simpler for everyone involved.

What makes a website mobile friendly?

Click-to-call phone numbers, simple layout, legible text, swiping functionality and buttons that have enough room around them for even the clumsiest fingers to click them. That’s a good list to start with!

5. Forgetting to showcase your brands

Dealers tend to focus on showcasing their manufacturer’s brands on their website – especially with a lot of manufacturers being very strict with their website brand guidelines. However, you need to remember to showcase your own brand too.

If a dealership has a brand name, history and local recognition, then that is what will make them stand out from a wide selection of other franchised dealers. As such, sharing content that sets your company apart from the rest is vital.

6. Not mentioning reasons and benefits

A motor trade website needs to make it obvious what the next action is for a visitor – and also, why they should take that action.

The reasons and benefits help convince customers, and can come in the format of icons, micro-copy (little pieces of text that help support your page content) and more. For instance, rather than just putting a phone number, why not add a little line of text that says why you’d want to ring, or that reassures the customer with open hours and response times.

In a form, you can consider putting micro-copy in the fields. For instance, in the email field, a little line of text saying “This is where we will send your confirmation” can make it less scary to hand over personal details. It’s all in the psychology.

7. Over-crowded banners

A banner should be clear and obvious at a glance – and should be relevant to a wide audience rather than a very limited collection of car buyers.

This is especially important with regards to banners on mobile – always consider the smallest size your banners will be – are they still legible?

Are banners useful on a dealer homepage?

It’s worth questioning whether banners are useful on a website homepage – they rely on a huge amount of luck to appeal to your visitors. Here’s a radical idea – are you better off focusing on getting people to the right section of the website on the homepage (new, used, aftersales), and then putting more relevant and focused banners on the next level down?

8. Poor used car listings

It’s not a secret – how well you present your car stock will have a direct impact on enquiry levels.

That means you need to feature the right information, in a format that is appealing and easy to read. You need to make the price obvious, and take lots of useful, high quality photos. That said, don’t take photos for photos sake – you want to make sure that each of your images and videos is showing something relevant to the customer.

It’s not rocket science – but good stock presentation is missing from a lot of dealer websites.

9. A confusing user journey

Car buyers or car owners should be able to come to your website and know exactly what they need to do to achieve their goals.

Dealer websites all too often put a lot of content and pages on the site to please certain departments, without thinking of how customers will find that information and what their next action would be.

How can I work out the best user journey?

Sit down with actual car buyers on your current website, and watch them try to achieve a range of objectives – finding the price of a car, making an enquiry, finding the dealership location, booking a service. You should easily be able to identify improvements where customers get stuck in a section of your website, can’t achieve their goals, or generally get confused.

10. Too much industry jargon

We are a very insular industry – which means we have a lot of phrases and jargon that we understand, but car buyers probably don’t.

In an ideal world, dealers need to think about their end user when writing copy and naming website sections. For instance, does a normal car buyer know what "pre-reg” means? Should it be called servicing, or aftersales? Is “transmission” the kind of lingo that people understand?

Do any of these common dealer website problems ring a bell with you? Have you identified any opportunities for your dealer website?

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