Today, 61% of business (B2B) purchases start online and 68% of B2B purchasers prefer to continue researching independently online. We’ve seen these trends growing with our customers and it means they will delay reaching out to sales, even until their decision is mostly made. As our customers increasingly go online to research and buy, a strong website will be the difference between growth and stagnation for our dealerships.

Having just completed a major upgrade of our dealer website in January, I'm freshly reminded of the hundreds of mind-numbing details that require close attention, and I'm grateful for a team and a website partner that are committed to getting all the little things right.  But to really make our site pay, we've given top priority to these 5 Big Things that I hope will help you identify any key gaps you may have in serving your customers and growing your business:

"Big Dumb Buttons" (BDBs) make it easier to take action on every webpage.

Click to enlarge

  1. The Big Attraction: Your Inventory — Nearly 50% of visits to our dealer website are to research equipment, especially used inventory. Online parts will gain rapidly, but our priority now is the most accurate and complete equipment listings, as quickly as possible. This is the most basic and essential form of Content Marketing (CM) for our customers. If a real estate agent delayed even a day or two at getting photos and detailed attributes posted for a home listing, we might fire them.  Yet even higher priced equipment can remain invisible to the entire market for months!  As our listing quality and timeliness are improving, so are our lead generation and resulting sales.
  2. Big Words: Search Keywords — Your inventory pages, along with pages which highlight expertise and offers for industry, product, product support, precision, etc., must be formatted for search engine optimization (SEO). Basic keyword research will help you discover relevant queries customers are making in search engines, and these need to be prioritized by volume and opportunity and built into your webpage body copy, page headers, and meta data.  The more keyword-rich content is created, properly formatted and shared, the higher your search credibility and likelihood that Google and Bing will uprank your page. This same keyword foundation will support your pay-per-click (PPC, e.g., Google Adwords) strategy.
  3. Big Dumb Buttons: Calls to Action — With your full inventories, expertise and offers progressively on display on your webpages and increasingly visible and credible to Google, you'll be getting more of the right customers to your site even earlier in their decision process. Congratulations!  But it's all for nothing if they don't "convert," that is, take an action that brings them closer to a sale with your dealership. This might be downloading a product brochure, requesting more info or a follow-up call, or filling out a webform, etc. So, for every web page you must identify two things: The action(s) that will bring your customer closer to a sale, and how you will request they take it (a.k.a., the call to action, CTA). As a simple rule, we work to ensure that each webpage has “Big Dumb Buttons” (BDBs) that make CTAs easily visible and understandable to compel that next step forward.  At a glance your customers need to know what to do next.
  4. Big Numbers: Website Optimization — Customers that are treated to compelling content and buttons that are big and dumb (easy!) enough will often convert. But there are dozens of ways to improve the customer's experience and their willingness to take action on every page, for each call to action. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the set of analytics and tools used to measure and improve this conversion. It means gathering user-specific data (geographic, demographic, historical, account, behavioral, etc.) to measure engagement and conversion and to test, recommend and activate more effective pages. Every dealer should have the tools and expertise, either internally or through an expert partner, to conduct A/B and multivariate testing. These will also serve as the foundation for the next level of relationship building online with real-time site personalization.
  5. The Big Screen: Mobility —The big screen for capturing our customers' attention is now the mobile phone, whether they're on the move, in their shop, or up and down the rows with auto-steer. About half of the visits to our dealership website are via a mobile device and this percentage is growing steadily. Responsive web design (RWD) is imperative and most dealers have taken this step. RWD has a multiplier effect with local search and, conversely, its absence will undermine your best content and calls to action by obliterating your search credibility.  Sometimes, even if your site is mobile responsive, most of the testing has been done on desktop or laptop computers. Be sure to check how your content and calls to action are presented on both Apple and Android devices, especially smartphones. By now, if your website visits from phones and tablets represents less than half of your total, this may indicate that your customers are frustrated with your mobile experience and have given up. Mobile search surpassed desktop in 2016 and is now approaching 60% of total organic searches, so the time is now to go “mobile first” online.

Your dealership website may be the single most important investment you will make to organically grow your future business, with both new and existing customers. What it will take is your complete inventory content, optimized for search, with clear calls to action and improving conversion, all in your customers' hands. Stay focused on these 5 Big Things, and as your customers increasingly go online to research, purchase, and support their equipment, you will be ready to meet them at each step and guide them to the next.


The Ask the Expert: Marketing series allows dealers to regularly ask questions and get them answered in real time. It is brought to you courtesy of Western Equipment Dealers Assn. (WEDA).

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April/May 2019 Issue Contents