Digital Dealer Overview – Avinash! Pt. 2
This is the second of many posts on the Day 2 keynote speech at Digital Dealer:
After introducing the inevitable shift from traditional advertising to digital advertising, Avinash Kaushik went into the need for a positive and unique customer experience. This was wildly entertaining as he specifically pointed to the incompetence of a number of the biggest website development companies in the auto industry (most of which were in attendance). Strictly from a consumer standpoint, I have to agree; and when I talk with people that know far more than I do about website design and search engine optimization, it sounds like dealership websites have a lot of room for improvement. He also emphasized that Customer Experience requires far less investment on your website than in your store and can provide similar levels of goodwill, a very valid point when looking at how much time, effort and capital dealerships use on their physical location.
In general, this part of the presentation consisted of Kaushik revealing things that drive him crazy when searching through dealer websites. The first point he made was how ridiculous it was that dealerships would offer $100 off a $40,000 purchase right when arriving at a site. Much like Jay Baer mentioned in his keynote, don’t rush to the close on the first date.
It’s funny that he brings this up since I see this so often on dealership websites. Is it really working? Are these coupons actually creating urgency and helping customers choose one store over another or would these sales have happened anyways? Regardless of its effectiveness, this practice screams of aggressive sales tactics and could certainly degrade the customer experience for those who are simply searching for information.
Kaushik also spent a fair amount of time looking at landing pages. For this discussion, he didn’t limit his criticism to dealership websites – everyone from Carmax to Auto Trader got the royal treatment here. His question: Why should it take so many clicks to get to the vehicle that I want? If I Google Honda Accord Bay Area, shouldn’t your website take me straight to the Honda Accords rather than making me search from your home page? In other words, you should be able to set up landing pages that are immediately relevant to your search, making for a more pleasing experience. His ultimate point on this topic was that it is essential that you are totally familiar with the user experience on your website. If you can’t go in with an open mind and look for functional improvements, have friends and family do it. Mystery shop yourself!
Sidenote: This reminds me of a lesson from grad school called, “everybody needs a Kramer”. The professor referenced the “ugly baby” episode of Seinfeld where no one is polite enough to tell a proud mother that the baby she is showing off is far from adorable. However, when Kramer sees the baby he recoils in fear and disgust. The professor’s point was that we have a hard time seeing our ideas as anything other than brilliant – if you have no one in your organization that is willing to tell you when your idea sucks, you will be unable to see it for what it really is. I imagine many dealership websites are ugly babies that could use a Kramer to get them on the right track….
Some other points worth noting from this part of the session:
• Why make the customer fill in their zip code? Evidently you can autofill with the computer’s IP address;
• Tablet and mobile experiences have to be different since customers are using these devices for different reasons and there are obvious limitations to what can be accomplished. Mystery shop them separately and put yourself in the right frame of mind (“couch surfing” from a tablet, quick contact or price search on a smartphone);
• Use Google Maps on your website to provide directions to the store from the customer’s location, don’t just simply give an address;
• Make vehicle selection easier – if you use drop down boxes make sure there are as few steps as possible. This is one of the more frustrating experiences involved with shopping on dealer websites….
Plenty more to pass on from this session, see you in a couple days!