The Importance Of Having A Good Auto Dealership Website

Alex Melen
Alex Melen

Co-Founder

auto dealership website

Let’s start this article by discussing the problem we are trying to solve: According to Ward’s Auto, many new and used car buyers still want to visit a car dealership to purchase a car, in part so they can go for a test drive. They also expect the car they want to be ready and waiting on the lot (and even warmed up if it’s cold out)! At the same time, car buyers still want to get in and out of the dealership quickly – preferably within a couple of hours. 

So there is the conflict: Customers expect to get in and out of your dealership as quickly as possible, but they still want a refined, streamlined experience. 

Now, fret not. You can resolve the conflict by using your auto dealership website. For modern car buyers, a good car dealership website is critical to contributing to an efficient, “feel good” experience. Here are a few improvements you can make to your auto dealership website to better connect the car buying experience to the average customer’s car dealership visit.

Photos

Photos are essential to woo customers in the car buying process. More than 90% of car buyers agree that photos are among the first things that make them either consider or pass on a vehicle. 

Especially for a used car, photos are extremely important. While the number of photos does impact the price of most photo packages, it’s recommended you have at least one dozen photos of a vehicle. This can include at least four photos generally covering the exterior to show the paint with dents and scrapes. Many will want to see tire tread too. You’ll also want several well lit photos of the interior.

Generate More Leads with Photos

Here is a stat that tells you how important photos are to making a very good dealership website and a great dealership experience for the customer: A customer is 16% more likely to submit a lead on a vehicle detail page when photos are present. The difference is even bigger on used cars, with customers 40% more likely to submit a lead when real images are present.

Simply said: A photo that shows all the details is much more likely to get you some contact info to follow up with that potential car buyer.

Easy Navigation

The vast majority of your shoppers are now using their phones to navigate your website. Your website will definitely want what’s called “Responsive Design” that serves the same or similar content depending on the size of the screen. A 22” desktop screen needs a different design than a 6” screen for a phone. So make sure that you have a responsive design website for your auto dealership.

Big, But Concise

Use bigger buttons, but don’t crowd your content too much. Make your top navigation clear with as few words as possible. Ensure that it’s possible to get to the vehicle you want in just a few clicks. Some website providers don’t let you control everything that could make your website as easy as possible to use – make the changes you can.

Make Finance Easy

At a time when many of your customers already have an idea of what they want, the finance part of buying a car is actually the longest part of a dealership visit. Between waiting for banks and signing contracts, the process of financing a vehicle is the least customer-friendly part of buying a car.

According to Think With Google, new car buyers, especially in urban areas, are likely nervous about getting financed – much less getting financed with good rates. They have not borrowed much money outside of credit cards and student loans.

Your Finance App

Take the edge off by offering an easy-to-use financing app on your site. A mobile-friendly credit app is crucial here. When considering which company to use for your credit app, try their mobile version first to see how it works. Ask the company if you can make changes to the finance app if you want.

In-Dealership Process

Now we’ll get more technical in-dealership: While the process really depends on how you want it set up, we suggest you have a salesperson, sales manager, and finance manager receive notification of a new finance app. Everyone receiving notification cuts down on the amount of time the customer might end up waiting for approval when they do ask. 

Streamlining your finance is actually very helpful both for the customer and for the sales and finance department – everyone can save time!

Make Your Website Fast

The speed your page loads is important to your Google quality score, which impacts your rankings when you pay to display car ads, and how high your pages rank organically. The unique challenge in the car dealership world is to balance presenting enough data, like photos, text, and buttons, and making it load fast.

Compressing Images

The key is to see if your website provider lets you compress images. You might even ask your website provider to set the website up to load fewer vehicles at a time – or load images and text as the user scrolls. This will save initial time getting the page ready to go. 

How Customers Search

A website with an available search bar, especially one that accepts voice commands, is a nice option to have for people who don’t want to click through several buttons to find the right vehicle. 

More Efficient Ad Dollars

We at SmartSites know a thing or two about using your ad dollars efficiently, even though your whole advertising portfolio goes well beyond just Google Ads and search optimization

As a Marketing Specialist for a large auto dealership for 8 years, I also helped in newspaper ads, digital billboards, email marketing, and even advertising on bathroom posters (yes, that’s a thing) – all of which direct customers to the best 24/7 resource you have – your website. 

A website that is slow with hard to use navigation, or is otherwise cumbersome can drive people to other sites and options while wasting your money.

Ok, So How Can I Fix My Website?

There are a few things you can do to make sure your website is running for the best customer experience.

  • Ask your customers how they feel about your website and gather feedback. You’ll also indicate to your customers that you really care about their shopping experience.
  • Talk to your website provider about the best practices and let them implement any necessary changes
  • Try it yourself and see what positives and negatives you can see.

Conclusion

SmartSites excels at advertising efficiency and return on investment. Offering your customers a nice looking, fast website is one of the best tools to ensure your ad dollars have the best chance to impact your bottom line. A happy customer who enjoys your car website and the in-dealership process is more likely to come back.

SmartSites offers Pay Per Click (Google, Bing, Facebook, etc) advertising and search optimization services. We use Google, Bing, and Facebook’s intelligent data to best target people who want your services, and bring them to your website – and hopefully to your dealership’s doors. We also work with your website provider to make sure you know what’s happening and you get the best value we can offer.

Take a look at our case studies for auto dealerships and see what we can do for you to make your advertising more efficient and a better value.