According to a study done by market research service Tire Intelligence and published April 20 by Tire Review, tire dealerships are making only slow progress toward providing a better online experience for consumers.
Tire Intelligence collected the data during the first quarter of 2015 through a survey of 150 U.S. tire sellers (most of which were independent dealerships with more than one location). Two main areas were targeted for the report: overall web visibility and web-to-store conversions.
The study ranked 73% of dealerships as being either “basic” or “below basic” in terms of online visibility, measured in search engine optimization and social media engagement. “Having a website is just the beginning,” the report states. “In order to attract consumers to your website, you will need to invest time and money to increase your visibility across search engines, social media platforms, etc.”
A majority of the tire sellers surveyed ranked highly in local Google searches for “tire dealers,” with a full 64% appearing in the coveted top three spots on search engine results pages.
But the stats on social media usage were far less encouraging. More than half (53%) of the survey participants either didn’t have a Facebook account or didn’t update it, and 70% either didn’t have or didn’t update Twitter accounts.
Online Customer Interactions
This limited web presence presents problems both when it comes to educating customers and when it comes to closing online leads.
Like much of the car maintenance industry, the tire industry relies on reminding consumers how often to get new car tires (when the tread depth is less than 2/32 of an inch), how often to rotate their tires (every 7,500 miles or so according to manufacturer recommendations), and which tires to buy.
And while some industry or consumer organizations have been successful in bringing attention to this information — especially during certain times of year, such as spring — a lack of engagement and online service options can seriously impact individual dealers.
“Very often, companies invest in the creation of a website, hundreds of dollars in Google AdWords and Facebook Ads, however, they do not spend enough time and investment in the actual mechanisms to closing sales,” the report reads.
Of the websites surveyed, 88% allowed consumers to check inventory based on vehicle or tire type, but only 20% showed prices online; less than half allowed customers to schedule appointments through an online platform, and only a small percentage — 6% — allowed customers to actually pay for their tires and installation on the web.