Experimentation and testing are nothing new for the digital dealership.
For example, sales managers often tweak e-mail templates and measure changes in response rates to work toward maximal impact. Digital directors for large groups fine tune their dealership’s inventory photo process and monitor the results to continuously improve performance. Internet Managers calibrate their digital advertising systems routinely in order to ensure optimal reach. Digital adjustment is commonplace throughout the modern dealership, and that same level of technical tweaking should be applied to the pages of your website.
But how do you know what kinds of adjustments to perform? The tests you conduct need to consider the inherent differences between each of your specific markets, target audiences, and on what devices people are shopping for cars. Keep in mind that successful tests will vary from dealership to dealership, and, more importantly, that digital experimentation is an ever-evolving process. A template that worked well for six months may not continue to perform going forward.
With that in mind, these six steps will help you get your webpage testing strategy started, and a more engaging digital shopping experience for your customers underway:
1. Identify your goals.
Of course you want to sell more cars. But what analytical improvements are you making to help you achieve that? Do you want to increase form conversions, time on site, page views per visit, or drive down bounce rate? Think of these measures as incremental improvements that collectively will help you sell more cars.
Review your Webstats detailed report to find your opportunity areas and choose a goal (Dealer.com customers have access to this report, as well as training on how to find it, in the Tutorials section of ControlCenter. Digital Advisors are also a great strategic sounding board for this decision).
2. Identify your change factor.
What features of your webpages can be changed to drive you closer to your goals? Some areas to consider include:
- Adding video to a key content page and identifying whether video has a positive impact.
- Adjusting the order of content to see if the placement of information drives your dealership in a positive direction.
- Adding text content explaining the value proposition of your dealership to the vehicle listings page.
- Streamlining your text on key mobile pages to quantify the impact of an enhanced mobile experience.
Remember, in order for your experiment to be valid, choose only one change at a time.
3. Sketch out your plan.
With goals established and a program for adjusting components of your webpages, you can now draw the blueprint for your testing plan. Here’s how:
- Clearly identify exactly what change you are going to make.
- Identify the page that you are going to change, and confirm that it gets traffic to support your experiment.
- If this change creates positive movement toward your goal, is it scalable, or have you just created an experiment that will only impact one spot on your website?
- Ensure that you have any approvals needed.
4. Initiate your experiment.
Make the adjustments you laid out in steps two and three to test your webpages’ optimal layout. (Again, Dealer.com customers have access to training tutorials in ControlCenter to show you how to do this).
5. Let your test run until you have significant results.
Your experiment will be running 24/7 serving two different versions of your page to the traffic that lands on it, tracking differences in behavior and alignment with your goals. Depending on the page, its quantity of views, and the experiment itself, it can take as long as a week to get clear results.
6. Always be improving
Test, test, test. Don’t assume that your site couldn’t be even better. Consider new ways to test the features of your webpages. Look at competitors’ sites and see what you think is working for them.
The business of automotive retail in the digital age is always changing. Which is why it is always necessary to have your eye on your website and potential changes you might consider making. Small tweaks in layout or the addition or subtraction of features can make big impacts on your site. Test to see which ones yield the biggest improvements.
Patrick Wyld is Learning Solutions Manager at Dealer.com