The Customer Experience: Website Analysis

David Sharma is the founder of Dealer InLine, a company that provides full service online development and management for automotive dealerships by creating and implementing innovative online approaches that align with dealerships brand, goals and targeted sales strategies. The company delivers the most current and effective methods to enhance all avenues in which a dealer engages consumers online and in-store.

There’s nothing wrong with “borrowing” ideas from the best.

In the last issue of AutoJournal, we looked at online reviews and how you can “Outrank Your Rivals.” This month, we’re focusing on analyzing the strength of your dealership’s web presence.

I would argue that your dealership’s website is the most complex of all websites on the Internet-even more complex than some of the mainstream e-commence websites. That’s because your dealership’s website is multi-departmental, and has been thoroughly analyzed by the vast majority of the potential customers who walk through your dealership’s doors. They expect the online experience they had on your website to translate into a similar experience in your store. If it doesn’t match up, you may lose them as a customer.

Analyze each department

How can you avoid this? Start at the top, with the manager of each department. During your next managers’ meeting, ask each manager to review the section of your website that pertains to their department. Have them jot down areas of improvement, and if possible, show you examples of the kind of improvements they would like to see. Perhaps they’ve seen something on a website that belongs to one of your competitors, or to a dealership elsewhere in North America. Ask them to send you a link to that site and page so you can see the kind of improvements they’re suggesting.

Next, you’ll want to meet with your marketing manager or website provider. Bring with you a list of the changes you’d like to see, along with the links to the sites you’re “borrowing” your ideas from.

With your department managers on board, and mindful of the fact that you are reviewing your online presence, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and do a bit of homework. The process begins with an analysis of your competitors and their digital approach.

Here’s what you should be looking at:

URL – What is the current address being used as their homepage?

Website Provider – This is usually found at the bottom/footer/sitemap of most automotive website providers’ websites.

Alexa Ranking – This tool ranks a rolling average for a given quarter, comparing it with the average of the previous quarter. It then grades it globally and Canada wide. If your website/SEO provider is doing their job right, this ranking should increase every quarter. It can also serve as a gauge that shows you how your competitors are doing and how engaged they are with their SEO practices.

Webchat – Do they incorporate Webchat services? If so, who is the provider?

Updaters – These are located on the homepage of the website and can be found when refreshing the screen. If anything changes, then it’s an updater.

A few examples are:

– Used inventory

– Specials/ promotions

– Blog feeds

– Social Media feeds

– Reviews/testimonials

– Carousel Images

Promotion – Are they utilizing that section of their website by posting current specials and documents? If so, which departments are taking part?

Blogs – Are they utilizing this SEO tool on their website, perhaps documenting how often they are posting?

Campaigns/Accessory – Pages Now that you have been on these websites for an extended period of time, identify the pages that differ from what you have on your site. Can you recognize pages that are unique to that store? Are they creating their own content?

Use a chart

All the information above should be placed into a chart, allowing you to quickly gauge which dealer is the most proactive, based on which one has a majority of the items above covered or improved on. I’d suggest reviewing your own presence first in order to set the bar, and for you to understand where you can improve.

I would also encourage taking screenshots that can be kept with this analysis, and can be looked back on when this report is updated in one year’s time. This will give you and your team enough time to analyze the competition, outline changes that need to be made, as well as follow through with the suggested changes.

Your website provider

In some cases, you will quickly see if your website provider is not working with you from either the perspective of customer support, the quality of the website platform they provide, or both. If this is the case, and you are not sure which provider will do a better job, ask around. Speak with your fellow dealers, make mention that you’re looking for another provider in a future performance meeting, and look at the top performing dealers/groups to see who they are using.

Remember that all websites are multi functioning, as they need to fit the dealership’s needs, as well as the needs of future online customers, while conforming to the requirements set out by search engines in order to help increase SEO. These items need to be addressed when speaking with potential vendors, right from the initial meeting. You’ll also want to know how each vendor approaches these areas of concern and what you can expect in terms of results.

Google Analytics

And don’t take their word for it make sure they provide you with proof that they know what they’re doing. The proof should always be in the form of examples from Google Analytics, and not from any other dashboard. My team and I have found inconsistencies with all the dashboards we have tested to date. And don’t be afraid to ask for referrals that you can contact personally. This ensures that they themselves are providing superior customer service and representing their service/product in a positive way.

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