There is no question that your online presence is of increasing importance. From social media engagement to the dealership website, your image online is essential.
The majority of dealerships have had websites for years. Too many, however, continue to be plagued with busy-ness and noise. There is an abundance of calls to action and other distractions irrelevant to why the visitor might be there. Dealership website design is important, but it is routinely overlooked.
Dealership Website Design: Don’t Discount the Details
Many dealerships are forced onto OEM-mandated platforms and programs, often times leading to complacency (or apathy) that results in mediocre website experiences. And nowadays with smartphones, auto retailers have multiple platforms AND audiences to appease.
The struggle is REAL!
It’s all too easy to judge and critique the bad and the ugly of dealership sites. So what about the good aspects? What are some clever ways to design and optimize your dealership website? What are some effective methods for creating a GREAT customer experience…virtually?
Dealership Website Design Critiques
To help figure this out, we brought on auto retail marketing veteran Frank J Lopes.
Lopes is a well-respected keynote speaker on auto retail marketing. He has built a reputation – and a successful company – on the back of his marketing passion and expertise. Lopes joined us recently to check out a few dealership sites, and remark on the positives and negatives he observes.
These days, it’s all about being actively engaged and that includes a website that’s well styled and intuitive to use.
Full Video Replay
About this Session
The podcast and video featured in this post were recorded in October 2018 during one of our Dealer Strategy Sessions in the Advanced Auto Retail Marketing Mastermind Series.
During this live streaming webcast, we inspected three different dealership websites. The sites were selected by me from submissions by some of our members. Frank had no prior knowledge as to which sites we would be inspecting.
While each website is different, there are basic, fundamental issues that come into play. We focused entirely on the homepages, with the anticipation of focusing on other areas in a future session.
Criteria we scrutinized included:
- Background process
- The amount of text vs white space
- Aesthetic homepage design
- Desktop vs Mobile design
- How (and where) to focus attention
- Working within specific platforms
- Finding Real World Solutions
Restrictive Website Platforms
One of the most challenging issues that comes up for dealership websites is the constraints. Many dealers are restricted to working with certain platforms as a condition of business with the franchise. While this does limit some of the creative options available to dealers, Frank drives home the importance of knowing how to customize wisely.
One platform, Frank points out, requires dealers to capitalize everything. “You need to make sure that you pick a typeface that looks good in all caps,” he says.
The same goes with font choices throughout the website as well as standardized photo sizes and other small tweaks. Understanding the limitations imposed by different platforms gives you the ability to maximize your overall efficacy.
“If you want to rest just on your inventory and take the transactional approach, that’s great. But you better have like a thousand cars in stock, and you’re going to lose more often than you’re going to win,” he says.
Lopes goes on to explain that in a sea of cars which can be bought from anywhere, dealerships need to stand out for beyond their inventory.
“Every single dealership needs to establish that Why Buy from Us? message and that added value message. It has to be about what is in it for the customer when they buy from that dealership.”
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