It's that time of year when everyone is preparing for the holiday season. Gift shopping is well underway, and in this year of a pandemic, more shopping is happening online.
The same trend is seen for auto dealerships, many of whom rely on the holiday season to boost their vehicle sales for the year. Car buyers are shopping and buying online, many even looking for at-home delivery options
According to Statistics.com, “Holiday shopping is expected to increase by six percent this year and since 2013, the months of November, December, and January have had the highest number of vehicle sales each year.”
Website traffic increases by an average of 25 percent during the holidays (between October and December) so people are looking at cars. Many customers believe that they can get better deals during the holidays. According to Consumer Insights, “Events like Black Friday, Early Bird Black Friday and End of the Year sales are touted as the best times for vehicle sales – encouraging shoppers to take advantage of this time of year and these sales!”
As Black Friday and Cyber Monday draw near, this is a great opportunity for car dealerships to capture their share of the online holiday traffic. You just need a good marketing plan, and to make sure your website is ready.
Website Readiness Checklist:
Santa isn’t the only one who should be making a list and checking it twice. I’ve created a holiday website checklist so you can make sure you auto dealership makes the most of the holiday season.
The time it takes your website to load is probably one of the most important design features of your website. A website that takes too long to load will chase your visitors away faster than the abominable snowman. Mobile web users are even more fickle than desktop users, and are quick to click away if a site won't load. The recommended load time is 3 second or less.
The links on your website might degrade over time. You should be testing your links and forms all year long. But it is particularly important during the busy holiday season to ensure your links are working properly: The button on your homepage to your hottest selling vehicle. Your instant chat. Links to your dealership's social media. The sign up form for your newsletter.
Make sure all your buttons, links, and forms are working properly by continually testing them.
I probably don't need to tell you that mobile web browsing and shopping are at an all-time high, and it continues to grow. More people now access the web from a mobile device than from a desktop. Last year, 53% of those who shopped online (40% of total shoppers) used a smartphone or tablet. Test how your website displays across different devices. Doing paid advertising? Make sure your ads and the page that the ad goes to, are mobile-friendly.
Referral Sites and Outside Links.
Do you get a lot of your traffic from referral sites? Social media, partner sites, guest posts, and directories are all important referrals sites that can increase your website traffic. Make sure any business listings or other outside links are still working properly and sending visitors to the correct web page. It is also a good time to check and make sure your information on outside sites is accurate and up-to-date.
Check to be sure new visitors to your website know they can trust your business. With so many options available for web users, trust is a key feature in convincing them to choose your business over others. The good news is that people are willing to buy from new brands, with 41% of last year's shopper's buying from a brand new business. The key is gaining consumer trust. Trust comes from testimonials and reviews, a good design, social media engagement, symbols of trust like national and state organization logos, and so on.
Shoppers trust other shoppers. 86% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and they read an average of 10 reviews before they feel like they can trust a business. Place real testimonials on your homepage to increase conversions and get more leads from your website. For an added boost, include the image of the person who gave the testimonial.
Has your dealership or staff won any awards? Display them on your homepage to let visitors know that your dealership is truly award-worthy. See how Reel’s Auto below includes their Quality Dealer of Year award on their website? That will go a long way in gaining trust of potential car buyers.
Use recognizable symbols
In the example above, Reel’s Auto not only includes their awards and links to Testimonials, they also use the logos of known and trusted dealer organizations like the NIADA. We trust things we are familiar with, so including these logos or other symbols (some have the BBB rating) will help to instill more trust in potential customers.
Sales staff are great at making personal connections with car shoppers that come into the lot. But how can you do that online? Include images of your staff, personalized biographies, and perhaps even a blog talking about what the dealership is doing in the community or just news and events locally.
Search Engine Optimization.
Now we're getting a little technical, but this part is important too. Meta data tells the search engines what they need to know about your website. Yes, we're talking about Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. Valuable content is one of the best ways to get relevant keywords into your website. Get those holiday search terms into your website by writing holiday-themed blogs, updating your meta data, or even getting a special homepage or web page designed for the holiday season. Keywords like "great holiday gifts", "holiday car promotions", or other pertinent terms will help holiday car buyers find your website.
Expert Tip: Longer key terms, or more specific terms, will bring you the most targeted traffic. For example, instead of just using "gifts for her", you might consider "most popular vehicles for Christmas gifts", or "best way to save on new vehicles during the holidays".
Search for your business.
One great way to check how your website is displaying in search results is to google your own website. Bing it. (Yeah, that just doesn't have the same cachet as 'googling it', but Bing matters too.) And don't forget about Safari, which is still the number one browser for mobile devices. The search display of your site in search listings is often pulled from your Title and Description tags on your site, so make sure they are optimized (your web software should let you edit these, or your web manger can help).