Dealer website visits rise 80% during COVID-19: exclusive data

OPE Business has turned to Shawn Puckett, director of Product Management at ARI, to provide insight on the critical role your OPE dealership’s website plays during COVID-19 shopping.

By Shawn Puckett

For the last several years consumers have adopted a ROBO (research online, buy offline) approach to making large purchases, browsing several websites before visiting the store. Following recent pandemic shutdowns, more consumers are using the internet to shop for units and services, often completing their purchase online without seeing the product in person. As e-commerce becomes a staple in consumer behavior, investing in virtual channels is critical to engaging with potential customers.

E-commerce has played a big role in the customer’s path to purchase for the last several years. Even before internet usage skyrocketed across the country as a result of stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic, 88% of consumers began the shopping process online. Online sales have been increasing at a rate of 1% a year, but the global pandemic has expedited the upward trend. By the end of 2020, e-commerce is predicted to increase by a decade’s worth of growth.

ARI dealers have seen a sharp increase in website visitors and leads as customers demonstrated a strong interest in purchasing inventory online. As buyers shifted their focus to online shopping, OPE dealer website visits shot up by 80%, while lead generation jumped 65%. We have found that incorporating the following digital marketing tactics into your sales strategy has helped dealers convert more online leads into buyers:

Optimize Your Website

Your website serves as your online dealership. A high-performing website strengthens your dealership’s online presence, which brings in more leads and yields even more opportunities to close sales. To boost your website’s performance, keep your content fresh and rich with inventory-relevant keywords. Once a month, conduct a website audit and remove any old or ineffective backlinks that may be slowing down your website or affecting its ranking on search engines.

Include Custom Images

More than half of online shoppers want to browse through product images, and custom photos receive 349% more page views than stock photos. Supplementing your inventory listings with custom images significantly increases customer engagement and builds your dealership’s credibility by proving these units are real and are on your lot.

Retarget Leads

Many consumers engage in comparison shopping as a key component of the buying process, browsing multiple dealer websites and unit listings before making their choice. To avoid losing new leads in the early stages of their search, re-engage online browsers through targeted ads that appear in prominent search engine and social media slots and encourage previous visitors to return to your platform.

Engage on Social Media

Because social media has become so accessible and mainstream, consumers regard posting frequency as a direct representation of your brand commitment. By maintaining regular activity on your social platforms, you are building credibility with your followers. Consumers are more likely to make a purchase from brands that they trust.

It’s important for dealers to maintain an online presence as much as possible in order to engage with potential leads who are shopping for units online. Dealers who don’t invest in optimizing their e-commerce strategy miss innumerable opportunities to engage potential buyers on the internet. As the customer’s path to purchase shifts toward virtual channels, we all must adapt our sales strategies to engage with potential buyers on the digital platforms they are currently browsing.

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