You’ve Got Options: Alternatives to Third-Party Leads
Why do we pay for third-party leads? For years, dealerships have complained about the high cost, low closing percentage, and negative profit of third-party leads. Dealers also see that leads from their own website close at a far higher percentage, for more money, and far less cost.
Why not pull the plug on these disappointing third-party leads that we compete with other dealerships to win?
The most common answer I hear is that dealers can’t get the same quantity of leads anywhere else. But, that isn’t true — besides, quality is more important than quantity anyway.
Search Engine Optimization
There are several proven and effective ways to drive in more leads without paying tens of thousands of dollars on third-party leads. The first is search engine optimization. Buyers start car searches online — not in the store. When they begin to look for local dealerships selling Hondas or BMWs, your website better be at the top of the search results. Customers always start their searches at the top. The further down your dealership is in the results, the less chance you have of winning their business, opting instead for a competitor. Make sure your website is SEO-rich, that you have blog posts driving up your rank, and that you are active on social media.
Social media is still one of the tools most underutilized by dealerships. It gives dealers a place to interact with both past and future customers. The best way to get a lead is through referral, and there is no better way to get referrals than social media. Encourage customers to post about their new car. Cultivate an online community their feedback is welcomed. Put on contests, post customer shout-outs, hold community events … you name it. The more you interact, the better off you will be.
Blogs are another great way to engage people. Customers often take their questions to the internet for answers. Whether they want info on local community events, where to get winter tires, great new vehicle accessories for Christmas, or the optimal amount of time between services, your blog can be the one with the answers. When you blog, you are seen as the expert, and customers want to do business with the experts.
A Unique Website
After engaging customers, you need to keep their attention and get them to submit leads. This is what makes a custom website so important. People are attracted to something that sticks out from the crowd, yet is easy to use with familiar layouts. They want pictures, pricing, and descriptions on each car. There are great inventory tools available with easy-to-use apps that give you access to as many pictures as you want seamlessly integration onto your website. They also allow you to upload descriptions and pricing in bulk. When you have a beautiful website that stands out from the competition with easy-to-use functionality and individual vehicle listings with pictures and descriptions, leads will follow.
Besides driving people to your website, there are other ways to garner leads. Equity mining has proven to bring in customers who don’t even realize they should be in the market. Equity-mining customers yield higher grosses and increased satisfaction because they are loyal and trust you. Smart technologies use equity information, bank programs, and incentives to find customers who are prime candidates to get into better payments or APR situations on newer models. These tools also help optimize another area where most dealerships fall short: lease and finance term ending campaigns. Pulling our own customers back into the market gives us more leads, more happy customers, less customers shopping our competitors, and more referrals.
Once we get leads, we need good people, good strategies, and good processes to get them into the store and buying a car. But, that is an entirely different topic for another time.
What success have you seen making the switch from third-party to first-party leads?