By Kristopher Nielsen, eCommerce and Guest Experience Manager, Soave Automotive
It sounds counterintuitive, but heat-map testing confirms it: When it comes to your website, it’s not about merchandising; it’s about providing a route for car shoppers to sort and filter inventory. That makes design critical, because most consumers who reach your site are top-of-funnel shoppers looking for answers, and 63% of them are doing so on a mobile device.
The question is, are you creating friction in that process? Consider that 69% of site visitors abandon a mobile page entirely because of that pop-up promoting your dealership’s “Get Free Cash Now!” offer. By the way, that cool drone footage on your site’s homepage might look great on a desktop, but how does it look on a mobile device?
Is your website providing or blocking content? The following primer will ensure your site is optimized to increase conversions, customer satisfaction, and return.
Don’t Content Block
The simplicity factor is especially important when it comes to your site’s homepage. Yes, your OEM may require you to have a particular number of slides above the fold, but are your customers really flipping through every finance offer? The sweet spot, based on research, is two to three slides.
Truth is, homepage view rates range between just a few seconds and up to a minute. So, are those 15 slides rotating on your homepage that impactful? The only thing they’re impacting is your site’s load times. Hey, those massive image files need to load. Other UX issues to consider are third-party scripts, or that chat feature, credit application, trade-in widget, lead-gen tool, or digital retail plug-in. Not only do they weigh down your site, they take up critical space, block content, and mostly irritate site visitors.
Calls to Action (CTA) can also be problematic, especially when it comes to your vehicle details (VDP) and search results pages (SRP). As Hick’s Law states, as you increase the number of options you offer someone, the longer it takes to reach a decision. We call this “analysis paralysis,” and user testing tells us this happens when a customer is presented with more than three choices. Using multiple CTAs on a long, scrolling page is OK, but make sure site visitors are only seeing one at a time in each screen view.
Need for Speed
The ultimate goal when it comes to website design is to encourage engagement, and, based on research, creating a frictionless web experience is critical to building trust. Remember, Carvana and Shift have become models of the experience most consumers desire. On those sites, car shoppers believe they get what they want without being misled. And they get what they want fast. 58% of shoppers will abandon a mobile page if it takes longer than five seconds to load. Now consider that the average automotive site on 3G networks takes between nine to 10 seconds to load. But remember, most shoppers enter your site through a VDP, so make sure your VDPs load extremely fast — ideally around 1.5 seconds on a 4G network.
That need for speed also means limiting the number of third-party add-ons to the ones that provide the mobile value. Chat gets used a lot, but your site really starts to slow down when it’s weighed down by five to six add-ons.
Image compression is another must. Since most people are visual learners, photos and logos make a huge impact. An experienced developer can make the appropriate trade-offs between image size without sacrificing quality.
Keep It Simple
Mobile shoppers want simplicity. Remember that when considering how that cool feature on your site looks if you shrunk your 1,500-pixel desktop monitor by 75%. That’s why the responsiveness of your website is also critical. User testing shows that 94% of people who use a website will judge its responsiveness, while 57% will not recommend a business if they feel its mobile site is poorly designed.
Mobile-first sites boost SEO, as Google’s current algorithm uses a mobile-first prioritization. That means Google crawls the mobile version of your website first to draw ranking signals. So, websites offering a poor mobile experience typically decline in search position.
Navigation is another consideration, as 75% of users will abandon a task due to unclear navigation. The key is taking a less-is-more approach. You don’t want customers hunting for your navigation menu. Most websites position the main navigation menu horizontally at the top of each page. As for items to include, the best are “Buy,” “Sell,” “Service,” and “More/Research/About.” Keep in mind that heat mapping has shown that footer navigation menus get used more than header menus, particularly on mobile. Just remember to make navigation concise and consider testing different variations.
Testing CTAs is recommended, as sites with a single, clear CTA button typically experience a 62% increase in conversions. Just remember to keep CTAs to a minimum, and make sure they’re uniform in terms of color, style, and shape. Note that the average CTA button contains 2.68 words. As for CTAs that perform, “Get ePrice” converts at the highest rate, followed by “Confirm Availability.” Demand-based CTAs like “Request More Images,” “Request Video,” or “Call for Info” do particularly well on mobile.
Mobile is also a major consideration when it comes to your site’s lead forms. When a form asks for a number, mobile shoppers should see a numeric keypad. The actions customers are asked to take should also be familiar, such as swiping and tapping. The form itself should be as simple and as brief as possible, as conversions increase by 26% with the removal of a single former field.
Make It Engaging
How your website engages your customers is another critical consideration. Chat is great, but you do need someone to man the station. 42% of chat users prefer to interact with a live operator. Chat products like Facebook Messenger are great alternatives, and most dealer websites offer that integration. Chatbots are also popular, but make sure the provider you choose promotes conversion rate optimization. The reason is, you need more than just an answering service, as the key to those tools is their ability to sell the appointment.
Texting, with its 45% response rate, is another emerging media. It reduces phone fatigue and keeps salespeople off the phone. More importantly, texting is starting to hook into existing systems, like your CRM and dealership website. For instance, DealerSocket’s SocketTalk, which fully integrates with the company’s CRM, auto opts-in customers who request a text conversation from a DealerSocket website.
Texting is especially useful when confirming service appointments. However, did you know that 75% of calls your dealership receives are for fixed ops? That’s why your dealership’s phone number needs to be omnipresent on the website. You can also use dynamic tracking to determine from which campaign or web page the call originated.
When it comes to your website, first impressions matter. And it takes only five seconds for people to form an opinion. So, use the recommendations outlined here to design a site that increases conversions, customer satisfaction, and return.
About the Author
Kristopher Nielsen is eCommerce and Guest Experience Manager for Kansas City’s Aristocrat Motors, a DealerFire digital marketing partner since 2010.