Pohanka Automotive Group is a Mid-Atlantic powerhouse, but last year they knew they could do even better. After a great deal of evaluation, the firm moved their websites to Dealer eProcess. The sites were live in less than 30 days. The change in results was both immediate and significant. Compared to the same period in 2013, lead production from their websites is up 57%.
Several variables make it difficult to compare website performance from one vendor to another with 100% accuracy. Data is not always available for all sources across all stores. Additionally, tracking methods are not always the same. In this case, four stores were identified with comparable metrics across both phone and email form leads. (Unfortunately, comparable chat data was not available). The increase was disproportionately high for phone leads, which are generally more valued than email leads. Production of phone leads from the website is up 73% and email lead production increased 15%. The mix of leads was about 73% phone and 27% email in the 2013 period. That increased to 81% phone leads after the website conversion.
There were another 10 websites with comparable email form lead production, but insufficient consistency across phone tracking. For the combined 14 sites with comparable email lead results, lead production in this single area increased 24% during the study period.
Some of the gain in leads was due to higher site visitation. All Dealer eProcess website packages for franchised dealers come with content generation and other optimization features. To be sure the sample size was sufficient for reliable results, we combined four complete months, May through August, and compared the 2014 results to the same period in 2013. Using the comparison tool built by Dealer eProcess (available to dealers free of charge), we could ensure the increase was not due to calendar differences. It turns out, 2014 site visitation should have been 0.17% lower in 2014 than in 2013, everything else being equal.
Generally, conversion rates decline when site visitation increases substantially. Organic traffic from shoppers with a store preference often converts at a very high rate. This is the base source of traffic for any store. Additional traffic tends to convert at a lower marginal rate, bringing down the average. As a rule, it takes an improvement in conversion performance to maintain conversion rates as site visitation increases. For the Pohanka stores, conversion rates generally remained high or even increased. The websites do not contain Dealer eProcess’ Advanced VDP package, but conversion did improve with just the base package. Core improvements included better VDP navigation, more content on VDPs, more calls to action, better matchmaking on SRPs, site search, and better overall site navigation.
Improvement results vary from store to store and group to group. The degree of change can be influenced by the store’s pricing policies, merchandising, and other content, as well as the package selected and the productivity of the previous site. That said, even a high-performing organization, like Pohanka Automotive Group, benefited from a superior website platform.
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