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Bring Them to YOUR Website!

Updated: Mar 21

Two of the most important elements of every single advertisement you run in any medium are:

  1. An easy-to-remember phone number

  2. An easy to remember URL that leads to your website

Thirty-five years ago our agency was one of the pioneers in developing toll-free-number advertising for our dealer clients that resulted in amazing response and sales.  Dealership staffs were trained to treat every incoming call with the respect and attention of a ‘walk-in up’.  Years later, several phone services developed programs that issued a number of 800 numbers for dealers to help identify incoming ad sourcing with a specific number used for each medium where advertising was placed.  Several companies created easy to remember 800 numbers and sold the rights regionally to dealerships.  Advertisements that featured easy recall phone numbers not only led to a greater immediate response but could be tracked qualitatively for demographics, the best time of day response, and other metrics.

As more and more dealers developed their own websites in the early 90s, the website address became as important as a phone number in the ads.  In several tests we ran, we found one of the best media combinations was the use of an easy to remember web URL on radio spots.  Giving customers a direct line to a well-designed website was like opening the door to a virtual showroom 24/7.  Many dealers started dropping the ball on phone call promotion and management thinking the Internet website was the only thing they had to promote.  In the past 5 years, many successful dealers have realized incorporating the promotion of both portals (phone and website) provide maximum opportunity and choice for customer incoming contact.

Today, more than ever, prominent use of both an easy-to-remember phone number and an easy to remember ‘landing page’ URL should be mandatory in every ad.  Even in ‘brand’ advertising, there should always be a call to action regardless of how subtle or dramatic that call may be.  Every good salesperson knows they have to lay out the path for a meeting.  A good salesperson would never say “Nice meeting you, how about if I call you sometime?”  Rather it would be “Thanks for sharing that interest, how about if I call you next Wednesday or Thursday and share a few ideas with you!”

When you make a vehicle offer with only your location, it’s pretty much the same as “Stop by some time.”   Whereas a phone number and website address say “Hey, what don’t you call us right now?”, or “Hey, why don’t you stop by our virtual showroom right now! We’re open this very moment!”.

While we won’t get too deep into website design in this article, there are a zillion good reasons for developing a great website that is as interactive and as up-to-date and timely as your showroom.  First appearances, first impressions, ease of navigation and information are critical to a successful sales path.

Here are a few elements of highly successful websites in play right now:

Fast load.

This is technical, but if your site doesn’t load superfast you are done. People click through sites quickly on desktops and mobile.  Your site needs to load quickly.

Basic information easy to find.

Believe it or not, a whole bunch of people searching your website are just looking for a phone number or directions.  Don’t make them scroll and click to find it.

MOBILE specific site design.

Mobile sites are not just smaller versions of desktop.  Folks are looking at tiny screens.  You need quick up-front menu navigation with easy-to-read print, click to call feature so the customer can just touch a button with their thumb and a GPS/direction/location feature that guides them to your door.  All other menus and graphics streamlined for fast loading over sometimes slower cell networks.

Daily updates… YES DAILY!

Or at least as often as you update things in the physical showroom/lot.  Keeping sites fresh also keeps you in higher relevancy.

A master landing home-page site that showcases buttons for makes you offer, used inventory, service, and parts.

If you sell multiple makes and used coop, coop approval may not let you mention those other makes and services in your co-oped ad and they may not approve coop if the URL directs to an ‘umbrella’ page, but a ‘master landing page’ showing your complete vehicle and service offerings may have higher relevancy and come up more often in searches. So if you have an Al Jones Hyundai or Al Jones Ford, you definitely want an Al Jones dealerships or Al Jones Automotive or whatever.

Why not have a bunch of URL’s that go to your master landing page or to specific pages? You can have sites like,,, etc. Virtually anything you can come up with that isn’t already taken.  And those addresses can point to any page on your website at a tiny cost.. around $15 to $30 for each address. Try and stay away from mixed domains like dot com, dot me, dot info, dot us, etc.  Gets too confusing.  Use only one domain.  You can also use different addresses to help you nail down responses from specific media where you can identify the initial clicked page in your metrics.

Several dealers I know change lead cars on home pages several times a week, coordinating the change with radio ads, TV ads or social media displays.  Example, “Check out the hottest new trades.  Click on right now.  Don’t wait!  They sell fast at bargain prices!  Or post pictures (with permission) of happy customers taking delivery this week!  Everyone loves 15 minutes of fame.  Well, not everyone, but you’ll be surprised at how many folks would love to grace the spotlight on your site taking delivery of their new ride.  It also gives you an opportunity to spotlight all the different towns and cities customers are coming from to buy from YOU.

Everyone loves to talk about the ‘sales funnel’ but most people don’t even know what they are talking about with this funnel business.  The one funnel concept that everyone can understand is ‘hooking’ the interest of a customer out there in ‘I’m gonna buy this week land’ with a call to action that gets them calling and clicking on YOUR website (as opposed to googling everyone else).  But once they click and/or call, your site has to be as ready as hopefully, your eager showroom staff is to make them happy.

No matter how many hours/days a week you are physically open, your virtual showroom, your website is open 24/7.  It’s the perfect place for people to stop by after hours.  Just make sure it’s ready to do business and represent your dealership in the best way possible.  Then incorporate an invite to your site in every advertisement you run!

Let me close with this interesting thought.  A fairly comprehensive study was just done on how people are turned off by lack of personalization.  How ‘personal’ and unique the follow up is to a customer’s questions and interest.   It’s huge.  When you answer a call or an email and begin the conversation, People want to know there is personal engagement and this isn’t a ‘form letter’.  Millennials are the craziest about this…almost 35% dumping brands when they are not ‘personal’.  But overall almost 25% of everyone doesn’t like it.  So, when you engage with a prospect via phone, web chat, email, make sure you take notes.. Don’t repeat and re-ask for critical info.


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