How strong is your online presence from the view of a prospect?

As we prepare for 2018, I challenge each of you to rethink the marketing techniques you do inside of your organization. The easiest way to do this, is to look at your business through the eyes of a consumer with their online buying process.

A few months’ back I wrote about my experience through the boat buying process and the frustrations I felt going through that journey.

To me, most of the buyer’s experience starts digitally; searching for a boat on a classified site (Boattrader, Craigslist, etc.), the manufacturer’s website, and your own dealership’s website. What does the customer learn about you and the boat with these digital avenues? Have you provided them all the product photos or a video walk around, along with a strong description and price?

The consumer of today is comfortable in completing 75 percent of their buying journey online. If you only have stock photos or no photos instead of photos of the actual boat in your inventory, it reduces the chances of the customer buying from you.

A way to solve this situation is to make sure your management staff is posting more than the bare minimum of photos for each piece of your inventory. The next step a consumer commonly does is a Google search of your dealership name. This is a search to learn more about you and determine if they feel comfortable and confident in buying from you.

On a Google search, four things pop up right away on the results page. The very first thing is your website then second is your Facebook page, and on the right-hand side is your listing information and reviews of your dealership. This is a digital snapshot of your business provided by Google.

If your customer doesn’t have a good experience with navigating your website and sees only a few reviews posted or the reviews that are posted show no follow up, they may never end up in your dealership.

Below are some key questions to ask yourself from the viewpoint of a buyer:

  • How does my website look?
  • Is my website mobile responsive?
  • What do I learn about our dealership and brands we carry on our Facebook page?
  • Is my listings information (hours, address, phone number, etc.) correct?
  • What is my review star rating?
  • Do I have enough reviews?
  • Are we responding to all reviews?

If you do not like what you see in your audit, perhaps neither will your customers. There are many ways you could resolve these issues such as refreshing your website design, having more targeted and relevant photos and content around your inventory on your Facebook page, encourage more reviews of your dealership, and making sure all reviews are followed up with in a timely manner with responses.

Rethinking your entire digital strategy from a customer focus may help grow your business in 2018 and beyond. Challenge yourself to think from the buyer’s point of view.

Jim Jabaay is the vice president of LotVantage, a digital marketing company for dealerships and original equipment manufacturers. LotVantage specializes in posting dealer inventory to Craigslist, eBay and driving engagement on social media on behalf of their customers. Visit or call 1-888-569-3865

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