Interview With The Car Shopper, Part I (Automotive SEO)
Last week I spoke with someone who is currently in the market for a new car. For anonymity’s sake, I’ll refer to her as “Daria.” I asked her a little bit about her car-shopping process and her experiences so far in her quest, and she was very informative. Unfortunately, I don’t have a recording of our conversation, so I can’t provide a complete transcript, but I’m hoping at least to relay two takeaways that dealers can use when thinking about their own websites.
Daria does know a little bit more about the internet than many other car shoppers (partial disclosure: she works in the SEO industry), and she has had lots of advice regarding the most consumer-friendly car-shopping tools. Nevertheless, there are things for which she could still use a little assistance. Her biggest problem right now seems to be deciding on a make and model, but aside from that, she still doesn’t know until she walks onto the lot whether or not the car she wants will actually be there or what her sales experience will be like.
Takeaway #1: Accuracy = Honesty
Providing accurate information up front to the shopper (especially online, on your website) brings a level of transparency to the sales rep that can help soothe the nerves of the customer that may feel a little bit in the dark.
If the car’s been sold, let them know. If anybody out there in the universe provides an actual real-time inventory feed listing service, I would advise any dealer to use it. Don’t make customers wait a day or more to see if a car they are interested in has been sold.
Until such a service is available, however, the best thing you can do for your customers is communicate the sale of a vehicle to your entire sales staff as quickly as possible. Customers have no tolerance these days for cars being “sold just a few minutes before you got here.” A majority of shoppers will view it as bait-and-switch tactics, even if the car really was sold literally a few minutes before they got there.
Furthermore, extend that urgency for accuracy to the rest of the website. If there is construction in the area and a detour is needed, make note of that on the maps & directions page. When the construction is finished, take it down. (Things like this also provide the benefit of updating the “freshness” of the page, which helps your SEO efforts! Win-win.)
Takeaway #2: A Good Person Review Trumps a Bad Store Review
If a positive review calls out a sales rep by name, Daria (and many other shoppers) may still visit that store, even if the store as a whole is infected with several negative reviews. Daria will simply ask for the sales rep who got the good review.
This is a very smart way to shop, and my advice to shoppers will always include this tidbit. My advice to sales reps, too, will be to ask for reviews mentioning them by name. They are much more powerful in attracting actual customers to your actual lot.
The last question I asked her was what she would do if she absolutely had to buy a car today. What she told me was quite illuminating: she said she’d reach out to an internet manager, bring printouts with her, and remind herself that she can always walk away. Even if she needs a car today, she can always go to more than one dealership in a day.
And since that is her attitude, luck will have nothing to do with it when Daria finally does decide to buy a car. Her expectations will have everything to do with it. Some sales rep somewhere is going to have to manage Daria’s expectations all the way to the dealership, and then meet those expectations to close the sale. The dealer will need an accurate, up-to-date website and good online reviews mentioning someone by name. That’s not luck, that’s just good online marketing.
In my next post, I want to get a little more into how these two good marketing practices will actually benefit your automotive SEO efforts, and what can be done to take these practices even further…
Primarily, I write these posts with auto dealers in mind, but if there’s anybody out there who’s NOT a dealer who is looking to buy a car soon, I will ask: what do you want to see more of when shopping online? More reviews? Better inventory accuracy? Better blog posts? Let me know; you can comment on this post below, or tweet me at @BilGaines.