Why is it critical that your dealership’s website mirror your customers?

Web personalization is simply hi-tech mirroring, and critically important to your web conversion rates.

It’s well known that the best salespeople have a gift for mirroring their customers. They listen, comprehend the customer’s needs, and work with the customer toward finding an appropriate vehicle. Compare this with how most dealer websites work today. These websites display content based on a one-size-fits-all approach, which results in poor on-site conversion rates. In big retail, this problem has been addressed. Sites like Amazon know you so well that every page is perfectly optimized to incite you to buy.

Dealership websites should (and can) do the same thing.

A year ago I was speaking with a Kia dealer who was spending a great deal on pay-per-click campaigns. One of those campaigns targeted 22-24 year old recent college grads on Facebook. The click through rate was solid, but the conversion rate was absolutely abysmal. Why? The first message they saw on dealer’s website was a photo of a Kia Sedona minivan with special finance rates. A total disconnect, and a waste of the dealership’s precious marketing dollars. This happens all the time.

(Estimated number of Kia Sedonas sold to 22 year old recent college grads last year? Zero.)

Further, even after that click, the college grad continued to see exactly the same content and messaging on the dealer’s website that every other visitor was seeing.

That’s the problem. And that’s where personalization comes in.

Why does web personalization matter?

Web personalization platforms are customer data hubs that consider dozens of factors instantly to deliver a web experience that looks like the web visitor. Usually, they are simple to install into your existing website. In the case of the college grad, an optimized website would have automatically known that a specific Facebook campaign was the referring site, and shown that visitor more appropriate inventory and messaging. By showing more appropriate messaging, your likelihood of seeing a lead submission goes up dramatically. Personalization results in a website that speaks directly to that unique customer.

But it doesn’t stop there. Personalization engines continue to learn more about the customer with every visit to your website. These engines continue to examine things like:

  • Specific VDPs or VDP types visited by the customer both long and short term
  • Weather around the web visitor
  • Location / demographics of the web visitor
  • Generation of CTAs on vehicles the customer seems very interested in, but hasn’t submitted a lead on yet. (For example, a gift card is generated because a visitor has focused on a specific VDP obsessively for the last week.)
  • Referring site information and specific search terms on various search engines that got them to your site
  • Social graph data
  • Purchase history

Installing a personalization engine doesn’t need to be complex, and most are compatible with the automotive CMS you’re likely using right now. These installs typically take minutes and start gathering customer insights almost instantly.Companies like Optimizely, CloudEngage, Bounce Exchange, and various others are available today, and can make a massive difference in your conversion metrics. Generating more qualified leads from your existing website is an important priority, and one that can be surprisingly straightforward.