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How important are email lead conversions?

Discussion in 'Websites, SEO, SEM, Display, Social, Marketing' started by cmass1220, Feb 1, 2013.

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  1. cmass1220

    cmass1220
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    Forgive me, because this is going to sound like a stupid question, but I am primarily asking it to gather some qualified opinions for a client.

    I am a dealer consultant that assists with marketing and advertising, but also in refining and improving the web site experience to improve conversion, customer experience and brand reputation. I have an excellent track record of taking over a dealership's site, working with their site provider and advertising agency, and producing significant improvements in site usage statistics (visits, new visits, bounce rate, pages/visit, etc.). But I've encountered a roadblock with a particular site provider for one of my clients recently.

    This provider (who shall remain nameless) does excellent SEO work. It's a custom platform built on some very smart, very sound SEO principles. But, as often happens, when one area is great, other areas that were not given the same amount of focus and the bottom line is, the aesthetics, marketing characteristics and conversion tools of the site are unimpressive.

    I've been trying to work with this provider to improve these things, under what I considered to be the modern opinion that metrics and measurables matter in determining a web site's performance. This provider, whose site converts only about 0.4% of its traffic to form leads (quick quote, vehicle-specific quote, request a test drive, make an offer, car finder, etc.). In my experience, on sites that I have worked with, that number is at or above 2% per visit (many site providers play a little shell game by measuring that metric per unique visitor instead of per visit, making it easier to get to that golden "2%").

    Here's the problem: when in meetings with this provider and the client, the provider has scoffed at any intimation that their conversion rate is substandard. They point to the dealership's overall success, their in-store closing ratio and their increase number of walk-ins as indications that the site is performing its role successfully, even though they have had a substantial, steady decrease in traffic (~20% in 6 months) and phone traffic (-40% in the last year).

    The client trusts these guys, or has up until my partner and I came into the picture, and I don't want to undermine their relationship, but I want to guide my client in the right way; that's what they pay me for. My contention is that that form lead number is key, because, if properly executed (asking for the lead at the right place in the shopping process, but not harassing a customer throughout their visit), a good conversion rate is a bellwether for the rest of your conversion metrics. In other words, there's a pretty predictable, natural relationship between the number of form leads, phone calls, and walk-ins, and if you are doing things the right way, when you increase the easy to measure ones (form leads), you get a corresponding increase in phone calls and walk-ins.

    This provider keeps throwing up roadblocks to our site recommendations on the grounds that it will adversely affect SEO efforts. I feel that there has to be a better balance between SEO efforts and marketing/branding/customer experience efforts.

    So where do you stand? Are form lead conversions becoming obsolete? I appreciate any and all opinions.
     
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  3. cmjerry4531

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    Correlation isn't causation. You can't credit a website for a companies success without the numbers to back it up. I'd look at the dealers overall statistics on that website: calls, Leads, organic and overall traffic. That's the true indicator of how effective the website is.

    That being said, the dealership I previously worked at was right in the middle of cowboy country. Those guys would look at the website to make sure that we had the truck they wanted, and would just come in to write a check. So, conversions may depend on the region, but any decrease in sales/traffic/leads should be of concern to the dealer.
     
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  4. cmass1220

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    Let's say we're in a metro area that has an NFL franchise and that they're the #2 overall dealer in retail sales. Again, I'm giving these guys the benefit of the doubt, but their reasoning seems like covering.
     
  5. cmjerry4531

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    What are you trying to change? Is it on the VDP?
     
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  6. Alex Snyder

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    The average consumer is in the fifth round of buying a car since the Internet came along. In that time period she has learned that most dealers still try to shove her into a "buy now or die" process even when shopping from the comfort of her own living room.

    Most dealers have bought into the "I need more leads" game so much that they now average 400 leads per month to each Internet lead person. So the quality of what is going back to the non-cherry-picked leads is pretty low. And plenty of consumers have also experienced the "no response whatsoever" over their last 5 car shopping experiences.

    On top of all that consumers are being conditioned for instant gratification by all other eCommerce methods. What if you had to talk to a sales rep when you wanted to buy something from Amazon? Wouldn't you rather just buy it and move on with your day?

    Consumers don't fully appreciate the complexity of a car deal until after they've purchased the car. And they forget that until after they've purchased the next car. So, when they're looking online, they're remembering the bad experience they had from giving the dealership their info last time....all the email newsletters they've tried to unsubscribe from, all that junk mail that came to their physical mailbox, and all those voicemails left for them. It was annoying, irrelevant, and hounding.

    It is no wonder lead conversion is stagnant or sinking across all dealer websites while the actual visits are increasing. We did it to ourselves.

    And more leads = more problems. They do not = more money anymore.
     
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  7. yagoparamo

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    Alex,

    I think that 400 leads/month/person is a little bit high.

    But the process has good things; we don't control it the way we did before but now customers know more so if you are a good reputable dealer with good outreach and inventory, they will sell themselves to you.
     
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  8. mikeelmore

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    Ain't it the truth :iagree:
     
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  9. ddavis

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    Alex, all great information but I would like to focus on just this part. The prominent model is to have an internet department, a traditional sales force and a separate BDC with management focusing on the number of emails sent and phone calls completed.

    In my last two stores, in Dallas, we didn't have an adequate phone system to establish a BDC. At the time, I thought this was a hindrance. The internet departments were a third of the sales force doing 70% of the business. The talent of those stores became concentrated in the internet departments. Everyone wanted to be there, because that was where the money and sales were made. I'm convinced that we should have continued to add to the internet departments until the store was entirely internet. Having an internet savvy sales force, made up of all pros, is the superior model.
     
  10. ddavis

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    "Make an Offer"???? I wouldn't allow that crap on my website. That is a gimmick to improve website statistics. I doesn't sell cars and only frustrates the internet department.
     
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  11. joe.pistell

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    Chris,


    I like where your going, but I'd like to bring some light to the dangers of comparing your sites performance against other dealers. IMO, there are many important variables that have NOTHING to do with the dealers website that can significantly impact conversion rates (more on that later).


    IMO, Keep that knowledge of other dealers conversion rate in your pocket, your most accurate performance measurement will be against the website your working on. IMO, present your design challenge to the provider as a split test to sweeten the website's yield (aka ROI). This approach will set you up as a partner of the proud website vendor and avoid the possibly of setting too high expectations which can lead to some bad emotions.
     
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