Not All Automotive Websites Are Created Equal
Posted by Travis on Friday, October 21, 2011
A great website will deliver great results. When done correctly your website will act like an additional location staffed with expert advisors who never sleep and deliver new customers and increased sales. When done poorly, however, it can lose your company business. The four key areas to focus on in designing an effective website are appearance, usability, content and interactivity. Net Driven worked with Penn State University to study how people shop for tires and auto repair services online and came up with these four key areas that are important to creating an online presence that will help your business maintain existing customers and get new ones.
A site must be professional and appealing. It is a reflection of your business, products and services and may be the first, and only, impression a potential customer receives of your company. It should also reflect the unique character of your business and convey what is special about your company. Include meaningful text and graphics, easy to understand layout and good use of color. However, overly flashy websites can frustrate users (if they are forced to watch an intro before entering your site, for example) or reduce your ability to rank on search engines because the indexing services cannot read your entire site.
An important part of a successful website is its degree of usability. Your site must be easy to read, navigate, and understand. Some key usability elements include: clear consistent navigation, consistent layout and well written link text. At Net Driven, we’ve studied the most common website content and sections requested by shoppers, where they expect links or buttons to access this content to be located and what they expect these links or buttons to be called to make sure they can find what they want fast. We conduct 2 usability studies with Penn State every year to hone the content and navigation on each of our sites. Indeed, if a consumer can’t find what they want on your website within a few seconds they will often leave your website in frustration.
Along with style, your site must have substance. Consumers shopping for tires and auto service are seeking information to help them make a purchase decision, so your site should be informative and relevant. Remember consumers want to do research on your website. Without powerful and easy to navigate content, visitors will quickly leave the website. Increase visitor confidence in your company's knowledge and competence with well written, relevant content (and lots of it!). Some key areas here (especially for tire and auto repair dealers) include product details on tires and services you offer, a tire fitment guide (integrated into a tire catalog that shows each product with technical details and features and benefits), service catalog describing each service, a knowledge database for common service related questions, brand descriptions, and descriptions of special company specific features including services like nitrogen tire inflation, coupons and promotions, or in-store credit. Recent research suggests that websites with a tire fitment guide connected to a catalog of tires increases the likelihood that a customer will make a purchase with your business by 400%.
Not only should every component of your site work quickly and correctly, but across the site, everything should work as expected, including links, tire size lookup, site search, customer feedback forms, online quoting, shopping cart, etc. In the age of Social Media, interaction is a key component to a great website. Allowing consumers to easily communicate with you and your business through your website is a key to success whether it is to tell you what they thought about the service they received, get a quote, make an appointment or comment on a blog article you wrote. A growing minority of consumers are opting to communicate online as opposed to over the phone or in your store. For example, a recent Net Driven client reported receiving over 200 online quotes in the first week of adding online quoting to their website.
In conclusion, a great website should focus on converting web traffic into store traffic and this can be accomplished by focusing on appearance, usability, content and interactivity.
- Green Light Concepts
Focus on appearance, usability, content and interactivity. Having a fitment guide connected to a tire catalog is a must for success.
- Proceed With Caution
Limit links to third party websites – often when people click these they may never come back to your website. This includes banner advertising.
Avoid too many Flash components! They can inhibit your ability to rank high on search engines.