We have to start this post with some bad news. There’s no use beating around the bush: people don’t trust dealerships.
In fact, Hubspot research reveals that 99% of people don’t consider car salespeople to be trustworthy. That’s not great. But here’s the good news: it doesn’t have to be that way. You might not be able to change the global perception of salespeople as not very trustworthy, but you can see to it that shoppers see your dealership and its staff as the exception.
Below we’ve outlined some of the most important ways to build trust with shoppers before they ever set foot on your lot.
Perfect Your Website Design
Ever clicked a link, been taken to a page and closed it immediately because you just knew it was riddled with spam and viruses? (Of course you have, we all have. Even if it was just once back in the 90’s).
Bad design is rarely that bad on professional pages anymore, but bad design doesn’t need to be 90’s-pop-up-bad to erode trust.
To instill trust rather than erode it, dealership websites must be clean, sophisticated, and attractive. The better looking your site, the more likely it is to be seen as legitimate and professional – two things that are almost synonymous with trustworthy to online shoppers.
But professional doesn’t mean impersonal, which leads us to our next tip.
Humanize Your Site
The car business is still a face-to-face business, and that’s a good thing, because as little as people trust salespeople, a human element to your website is one of the best ways to build trust. In fact, both academic research and industry A/B tests have proven that webpages with pictures of people have significantly more conversions (some as high as 95% more) over pages without pictures of people.
Including your employees in an “About Us” page is a good way to start. Give their phone numbers, emails, and social media follow links. It’s nice to add bios about your salespeople too – how many years they’ve been at the dealership, their hobbies, etc.
A lot of reviews for dealerships mention specific, helpful salespeople. A good way to build trust is to feature these on your ‘About’ page to give your salespeople more credibility and trustworthiness. Even reviews that don’t mention specific salespeople can be put up as customer testimonials on your homepage.
Check Your Website Usability
To gain someone’s trust online, a website needs to be intuitive and easy to use. It has to be built for the customer – so that every button and page does and has exactly what is expected, without them even being aware of their expectations. Every time your website does what the user expects, that builds a little bit more trust, without the user even thinking about it.
When usability on a website is high, you don’t even think about it. It’s when usability falters that trust begins to break down rapidly. Every time you are forced to think about how to use a website you’re on, you’re being distracted from your reason for being there in the first place, and that confusion eats away at the user’s trust. If there are too many of those moments, the trust will be gone – along with any desire to visit the actual dealership. Additionally, there are elements often added to websites to boost conversion rates – things like pop-ups and fly-overs, and while these might generate a few additional leads, they ruin usability and erode trust. These tactics can weaken a website and undermine the dealership-customer relationship you’re trying to build.
Focus on Consistency and Transparency
These two key factors go hand in hand. Being consistent means watching your whole digital arena, not just your website. For example, if a price on an ad is $23,400, that landing page should show the same price.
Beyond ads, messaging should be consistent across all sources. Having one message on your website and another on Facebook and another on Yelp eats away at shopper’s confidence in the dealership.
Lastly, we’ve got transparency. On your website, transparency is clearly showing information that shoppers want. Exact price, mileage (if the car is used), and pictures of the actual car are must-haves. Are there incentives and discounts that apply to that car? If so, it’s a good idea to let shoppers know that they do, and break them out by type and amount.
Doubtlessly you’ve seen those clickbait headlines that read “Science Says This Is The Key To Lifetime Love!” and “The Shockingly Simple Reason Relationships End In Tears.” Well, as juicy as those titles are, the articles usually all say the same thing – trust is essential.
When someone visits your dealership website, that’s the beginning of a relationship. It might be only a few seconds, or it might be a lifelong partnership, but you can bet that trust will be what makes or breaks that relationship. If there is something in your website that is failing to build trust, or worse, eroding it, hopefully now you can find it, fix it, and build strong relationships again.