August 28, 2018
Like any business website, an automotive dealership website is a complex beast. Where do you start to develop and optimize one? The answer first starts with careful planning and a strategy for what you want the site to accomplish. Here is one plan to start building the content of your automotive website, though this will be at a very high overview.
The fundamental reason people go to business websites is because they seek information about a brand, product, or service. If your visitors cannot find the information they’re looking for, they will go to a competitor who can help. At a minimum, a new automotive website needs to have the following:
Name, branding, location, and contact information for the dealership
Hours of operation (both sales and service)
Information on the makes of vehicles that the dealership offers
Information on at least some of the current stock, even if it’s only a static listing
Information about your parts and service operations and how to make an appointment for service
Information about your dealership philosophy/USP
This information answers the fundamentals of what a potential customer needs to go to your dealership. It doesn’t matter if you have a fancy modern design if a customer cannot find what they need to make a decision about your dealership.
In addition to content, there are three features your site needs:
It should be a secure site (https://)
It must be responsive, so it will look good on all devices, even if the overall design is weak right now.
All of the information above should be findable within 2 clicks of your home page.
Once the fundamentals are in place, then you can consider sharper design and user experience features. This involves things like:
Automated scheduling of service and sales appointments
Integrating photos and videos of all your stock into the site
Using your sales database to add and remove listings automatically from the website
Anything that you think would wow the customer once they arrive on the website goes in at this phase. So long as your changes don’t break your customer’s ability to find the information they want, you’re good. In fact, you can jump right to this phase if you plan on hiring a web designer. Write out what you need on the site in a document and sketch out an idea of what you want the site to look like. If you have this information beforehand, your site will be built faster and possibly cheaper as well.
Now that the structure of the site is in place, you can hook up your marketing platforms to the site to track visitors and conversions. This is also the time to consider doing an advertising push through PPC or content marketing. Marketing tactics shouldn’t be considered except at a basic level until the site is complete. There’s no sense driving traffic to a page that’s incomplete.
So, the plan is to first get all of your fundamental information your customer wants to find organized. Then make it look good and accessible on all devices and secure your website. You can start to add new features that your customers will enjoy without breaking what’s already there. Finally, market the site to start driving up traffic numbers.