July 31, 2018
Does a new business need a website? This may seem like a silly question, but it does have some logic behind it. Building a great website requires time, effort, and money that a new business might not have. It may seem cheaper to establish a social media presence and try to do all of your online marketing from there. Or you might think that online marketing is only for national brands or those that sell information-based products.
There was a time long ago where a business website was almost a vanity project. That isn’t the case anymore. Here’s why your dealership needs a website even if it’s just getting off the ground.
Customers want websites
Thanks to smartphones, people turn to the internet first-thing when they want to know information about something. It’s estimated that 97% of people turn to the net first to learn information about a business, and 90% of those people start with a search engine.
Those searchers are expecting to see websites. A website is more than a place to give sales pitches. It’s an information clearinghouse about your dealership. People expect to get your business details through your website before any other marketing method.
Could Facebook do the same thing? It’s tempting to think so. You can put up a lot of basic business info on a Facebook profile, but part of that profile is a link back to your main website. Facebook’s culture isn’t one for making purchasing decisions. It’s also much easier to rank a website in a local search than a Facebook page.
Your brand starts with your website
Websites are the cornerstone of all online branding. Look at the traditional ads you see today in the car world. You’ll see website references everywhere. People aren’t picking up the phone to speak with a salesperson next. They’re going to the website to get more information and then picking up the phone.
Search engines are also far better than they used to be about finding local business information. Your dealership isn’t going to be lost in a sea of other dealerships. The search engines are smart enough now to show dealerships in the area where the searcher is. This has made it much easier to get noticed online by local customers.
This means that if you don’t have a website, you’re at a professional disadvantage. If your potential customers can find more information about your competitors than your own dealership, that puts your sales at risk. When we have more information about something, we tend to trust it more.
It’s cheaper than you think
If people can find your Facebook page in a search but not a website, it can show a lack of professionalism. A small restaurant trying to get off the ground might be able to get away with it, but a dealership usually starts with plenty of capital. It’s not that expensive to make a basic website with your business information to get started.
There is one caveat, however. Depending on your dealership, you may have to conform with certain style guidelines for your website to promote your products in line with your manufacturer’s requirements. Creating something quick-and-dirty until you can hire a professional might not be an option. Then again, quick-and-dirty is probably not the impression you want to give your customers anyway.
But once your website is made, the maintenance costs for hosting and domain registration are quite low compared to the ongoing costs of other advertising methods. Furthermore, it’s much cheaper to update your website with new product and sales information than to reprint all of your print collateral or create traditional radio or television ads.
Before you reject the costs of professional web development, compare it to the costs of updating all your other advertising when the year-end rolls around. It’s probably far cheaper to pay the up-front cost of the developer. Your customers are expecting to find a website when they hear about your dealership or do a search. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by avoiding it.