With seven brands to sell, Tampa-based automotive retailer Reeves Import Motorcars had to appeal to a broad base of customers, while complying with a broad base of brands during a CMS overhaul.
See how the team drove a 300% increase in site visits with this redesign and exceeded the annual car sales goal by 22%.
Reeves Import Motor Cars offers Volkswagen, Subaru, Porsche, Audi, BMW, Land Rover and Maserati brands for customers.
“So our customer base is quite diverse because of the brands. So in new car terms, most of our customer base is local in the Bay Area here in the Tampa, Clearwater-St. Pete area,” said Kelly Rogers, General Manager, Reeves Import Motorcars.
The pre-owned business, he added, can spread out all over the country, “used cars are a little more unique in terms of the way they're optioned or a particular model that's hard to find and so on. So there's a little bit more regional or national shopping that occurs with pre-owned cars.”
Because of the diversity of products available, customers are really anyone with a driver’s license, Rogers said, as “we have cars on the lot that range from about $10,000 up to half a million dollars.”
Reeves’ existing website was running on a content management system (CMS)that provided limited functionality, and was not truly responsive. To help increase conversions, they needed a more robust site that could convert to any device.
They enlisted a design firm to rework the website a few years ago, but as customers evolve the way they shop, Reeves needs to evolve alongside them.
“Now you need for people to be on your website, and you need to provide as much information as possible because if they're there, then you're becoming the trusted expert,” Rogers said.
Reeves’ website needed a lot more functionality, he said, in order to be easier to use and also to be responsive across devices, with mobile becoming more and more important to car shoppers. While a “one size fits all” website was in place, it was clumsy, he said.
“We obviously wanted the website to have that [seamless] experience, whether it was smartphone, tablet, or desktop. We knew there was some opportunity in organic SEO. SEO continued to evolve, so there was some opportunity there that we weren't able to leverage based on the way the site was put together at the time,” Rogers said about what drove the CMS evolution.
Also, for Rogers and his team, having a CMS that they were able to engage with internally was extremely important.
“We had seven brands, and we had something changing every day. So we had to be able to make a lot of changes internally with our people as opposed to reaching out and having it done as an outsource because the pace of the change,” he said.
BMW, he gave as an example, could “change all their lease payments in the morning, and if they do, we've got to be able to react to that on our specials page.”
The process of developing a new CMS began in January 2014, and working with a partner, Reeves Import Motor Cars developed a new, responsive website.
The new website leverages structured data to maximize SEO and features user interface (UI) components to set the site apart aesthetically.
Step #1. Implement unique needs into redesign
“I need confidence where I don't have absolute knowledge,” Rogers said.
That’s why he decided to enlist a partner of several years, the company who had developed the previous website, to find the right technology to achieve the functionality Reeves’ wanted. Together, the teams selected a company to provide the user interface and began working on the creative and styling aspects of developing the site.
“It's a big decision for us to have our own site,” Rodgers said, explaining that, “a lot of these automotive websites are done through Dealer.com or some company that the manufacturer recommends.”
When Reeves’ silos brands on the website, they have to meet some very specific criteria, he said, that are set by the car brands. Those aspects have to be very clearly communicated and understood by all parties developing the site.
“[The website] is quite robust because there are enough templates to make it work and still be highly stylized,” he said.
Through this process, Rogers and his team were given the ability to have a page for each vehicle that was online, which could be filtered by criteria.
Because the website catered to how customers wanted to look for specific cars, “it brought traffic because we were just more searchable,” he said.
Step #2. Template changes
Because car dealer websites have unique criteria, and quick changes need to be made fairly often, templates were a big point of concern in this campaign.
“There were a lot of template changes,” Rogers said, adding that people spend at least 11 hours researching online before making a purchase decision.
“If more than 95% of the people start there, and they invest that kind of time … we need to be the place where you find the information that you're seeking. In the end, that's going to create that bond, online bond between us and the customer,” he said.
Reeves was founded in 1971, and is family owned. So although they had to participate and acquiesce to what Porsche or Audi wanted for brand pages, the team wanted the website to retain its own distinct look and feel as much as possible.
“We've got a little bit of a story to tell the way that you can't really tell in these other factory-run sites. So this site was much better brand definition than we had before,” Rogers said.
A couple of the brands, like Audi or Land Rover, retained factory pages that Reeves has to comply with and link to directly on the website when a customer clicks on that brand.
However, most of the other pages, like Subaru and Porsche, retain relatively the same cohesive design and template as the other brands.
An important aspect that remains across all of the car brand landing pages is the chat function. No matter what page a customer is on, they can quickly live chat with a Reeves representative to get questions answered.
It was very important that customers have a cohesive experience across all of the pages Reeves had control over. For instance, they could all search by model, schedule a test drive, request a quote and view inventory alongside video content and brand content.
Step #3. Make the site responsive across all devices
“One thing we've learned about this process is that it never stops. The pace of change continues to increase. So I don't always know what we're going to be doing different, but we know we're going to be doing something different and continuing to test,” Rogers said.
One of the most important aspects, he said, was to make the website responsive on any device.
“We knew we wanted a great looking website that was responsive and would bring more people to the table, more visits, more time on the website, more conversions,” he said. “At the end of the day, that's what it's all about. How many opportunities can we develop and of those opportunities, how many can we convert on?”
The previous website had such a high bounce rate, he said, that making this switch alone made a huge difference to customers’ experience. Reeves has to continue to evolve the experience to make it as easy as possible for customers, especially if they’re not incredibly tech-savvy.
“I think the search rates and investigation for our industry in particular, at least, are now higher on smartphones and tablets than they are on desktops,” he said. “That means you're going to have to continue to stay on top of how [the site] looks and feels and works, because more and more people are going be using smaller devices.”
The mobile page has a search bar at the top, and directly beneath that is a menu for customers that, once clicked, quickly provides everything the homepage does. Beneath that is the Welcome paragraph and the calls-to-action to read reviews, estimate a trade-in, schedule a test drive or view the calendar of events.
“Mobile visits increased by, as you can imagine … 2,000% because we weren't really responsive before. We exceeded our total sales goal by over 20%,” he said.
The best thing about the website, he added, is that across all devices it is, “nimble and easy enough to use, then you can make these changes quickly, and the cost of those changes is nominal, and you see what happens. If it works, it's great. If it doesn't, then you continue to make the change.”
“Willingness to change is required. We made all these changes. They worked fabulously. We got great results. Now we have to continue to work with our partners to make the changes that are going to get the next great results. This continues to evolve,” Rogers said.
The results Rogers and his team were able to drive with this campaign were:
The key, Rodgers said, is to, “make it easy.”
The more marketers can provide to people online, he added, “the longer our engagements are going to be with [customers] and the higher the likelihood that we'll get an opportunity to provide an automobile to them and/or service.”
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