10 Ways to Keep Customers Engaged Online


When the dealership is analyzing data analytics for the past month’s online traffic, things aren’t looking good. Page views are down, and customers don’t seem to be staying on the site for long. In fact, they’re clicking in and quickly checking out.

The situation might be a head-scratcher. Content seems solid; it’s well-written and optimized. Yet, customers simply aren’t engaged. Ultimately, sales leads are lagging, and the dealership site is in need of a serious face-lift. When dealership sites are bleeding traffic, here are 10 ways to keep customers engaged online and help them take the next step in the buying process.

  • Simplify site navigation
  • Offer virtual customer service
  • Provide follow-ups for customers who begin online experiences (like building a new car)
  • Include immersive experiences like augmented reality
  • Offer easy search tools to uncover the best vehicle
  • Include a payment calculator for buyer’s to estimate monthly payments
  • Provide informative content on blogs to enhance the online experience
  • Include obvious links to social media to encourage social engagement
  • Provide an ‘about’ page that features the sales team and information on the dealership
  • Offer extensive photos of interior and exterior imagery for each model

Online shopping is beginning to dominate the consumer retail experience, and the pandemic accelerated the popularity of the online experience. Even the automotive industry was forced to pivot to online sales out of necessity.

Shopping for a car online is becoming the norm, and a dealership’s online hub needs to be easy for customers and site visitors to navigate. The site also might need to include features that simplify the buying process or that encourage shoppers to take the next step in this process.

Some customers might always prefer visiting the dealership for their buying experience. However, these consumers still might use the dealership site for research related to discovering inventory, finding prices on favorite models and maybe even for comparing any promotions or incentives to other local dealerships.

Engagement is crucial to ensure that customers don’t quickly surf onto the site and then leave. If the site is constructed in such a way that pricing, inventory or even customer service is hard to find, they likely won’t stay on the site to frustratingly find what they need. Instead, they might visit another dealership’s site.

Keep Customers Engaged Online

Simplify the Site Navigation

Clunky site navigation is a death knell for site traffic and engagement. Dealerships should review their site and explore it. Is the site easy to use?

Examine how it loads. Does the imagery appear as it should? Are there any broken links or missing pages? Audit the site and dive into the experience to try to see it from the customer’s perspective. If the dealership has the budget, consider hiring a pro to review the site’s construction and ease of use.

Offer Virtual Customer Service and Support

The internet never closes, and websites are live 24/7. This means that someone working a graveyard shift might be surfing onto the site after work at 6 a.m. Another buyer might be up late at night researching cars at midnight.

While it might be impossible to offer a virtual customer service rep 24/7 for active chats, dealerships can provide contact details that are easy for site visitors to find online. During regular hours, dealerships can offer online customer support chats.

Not every dealership has the same financial resources, but the takeaway is that the website should make finding a customer service contact simple. An FAQ page also could address common questions.

Don’t Forget to Follow-Up

Some dealerships offer online experiences that let buyers build a car online. These immersive options are becoming more popular as a means for helping buyers find the car they want and better understand the price, too.

Online visitors might begin one of these experiences but never complete their dream car. Is there a way for the dealership to follow up with this customer or to encourage them to continue the experience? Before entering one of these experiences, perhaps the visitor needs to provide an email. This could help the dealership with follow-ups.

Some dealerships could initiate a login feature; customers could sign in to explore different features. This feature might allow them to save cars that interest them or the cars they create via online experiences. Dealerships can explore how they could best reach out to customers and actively follow-up with them.

Keep Customers Engaged Online

Offer Immersive Experiences

Vehicle customization tools can let potential car buyers create their own car from scratch. They might select their model, and then add features, choose a color, etc. Manufacturers offer this tool, and, again, dealerships may offer them, too.

Augmented reality experiences also are increasing in popularity. These experiences let customers use the camera of their phone (or tablet) to capture their environment, and then they can drop an augmented reality model into their space.

Augmented reality lets the home or any space transform into a virtual auto showroom. Customers can preview models of vehicles at home or anywhere. They can even walk around the car using their camera.

These experiences can help increase engagement and invite customers to explore different models. Plus, they are a lot of fun!

Offer Easy Search Tools

Does the dealership offer an easy search query tool to let customers find the best car for their needs? This tool could enhance their experience.

A search query tool should enable customers to search for a vehicle using specific criteria like price, make/model, new/used, mileage and maybe even special features, too. The more options these tools provide to customers to customize their search, the more beneficial they may be.

Payment Calculators Help Customers Understand Monthly Payments

Offering a payment calculator might seem like a simple recommendation, but this tool can be extremely useful for customers using the site and shopping for a new car. A payment calculator can let potential buyers include a down payment amount, see payments for different interest rates and maybe even add in a trade-in value.

This tool helps buyers understand what they might expect to pay. The dealership should make it clear that it’s only for informational purposes.

Provide Informative Content on Blogs

Blog content can be fun, but it also can be a great way to provide informative content for potential buyers. Dealerships can include blogs with helpful tips like when car owners should rotate tires or maybe even how to check the oil.

Keep Customers Engaged Online

Include Obvious Links to Social Media

Encourage site visitors to engage with the dealership on social media by making the links to those pages obvious. Social media links are another way to interact with potential customers, and by visiting the dealership’s social pages, they might even become followers to stay connected.

If the dealership isn’t active on social media, Social Sells Cars recommends focusing on the most popular platforms: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

Provide an ‘About Us’ Page

Websites can offer a personal touch with an ‘About us’ page. This is the ideal space to include some background about the dealership and to even introduce site visitors to the sales team. Perhaps each sales team member has a bio, photo and email link, too.

Make it easy for customers to connect and engage!

Offer Great Photos and Imagery

Dealerships want to showcase their inventory in the best light. Use stock photos from EVOX Images to create extensive photo slideshows of each model.

EVOX Images captures all the interior features in detail, and dealerships also can add immersive photo experiences like 360 degree spin exterior images and 360 interior panorama images. These photos let the user explore cars from all angles using a fingertip or the mouse.

If the dealership site is lagging and is bleeding traffic, it might be time for a website revamp. An immersive, easy-to-navigate site not only encourages visitor interaction and engagement but it also might lead to the buyer exploring the next step in the buying process, too.

EVOX Images leads the industry in automotive imaging and offers the largest library of virtual reality and augmented reality assets available for commercial use. Contact our team or call us at 310-605-1400 to learn more about our innovative imaging solutions.