AutoFi MasterClass

21st century showrooms are designed with customer comfort in mind. State-of-the-art service centers and waiting areas often feel more like high-end coffee shops than dealerships. The staff is trained and eager to provide customers with a great experience at every turn.

Yet our websites provide a vastly inferior ordeal, littered with pop-up casino-like ads, cheap interstitials, slow-loading forms, buttons that lead to dead-ends, unhelpful chat widgets, and misleading CTAs. All of these issues create a website user experience sub-optimizing sales.

As an industry we have allowed these lousy online user experiences to persist because “they convert.” But convert to what? A showroom visit? Today, the showroom is far from the only game in town.

We’ve lived in a world where sales and marketing teams are addicted to leads. We’ve treated all leads the same, essentially just repeating “When can you come in?” Traditional thinking posits the way to convert shoppers into buyers is to nudge them into our showroom, by any means possible.

If we’re living by this mantra in a post pandemic world we’re ignoring a large subset of our potential customer base who simply cannot or does not want to come in. If the goal of conversion is rooted in actually selling vehicles that means we must allow for full online purchase in the most seamless way possible. It means simplicity. It means a radical shift in mindset. Website conversion means transacting deals on your site, not just nudging someone  into the showroom.

Holding onto the lead gen model means withholding information, and will ultimately mean failing to gain trust with 21st century consumers. It’s about reciprocity: when shoppers come to your site or your showroom, they already have a lot of information. They expect you to meet them with a modernized, transparent approach, so they can buy the car.

As an industry, we need to commit to delighting customers online. Instead of offering 5 buttons that each only collect contact information, our websites should have a single button that asks folks to engage in the buying process allowing them to calculate payments, then offers real financing options, before facilitating the actual transaction right then and there. This is how to build trust with auto buyers today.

3 takeaways to share with your dealership colleagues:

  • Dealerships spending lavishly on the showrooms would be better served investing in their websites.
  • You don’t need 5 lead gen buttons on your site any more. The only 2 CTAs you need are Shop now, and Learn more.
  • Your website isn’t an extension of your showroom. Your showroom is an extension of your website.

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