Dealer web sites are an exciting way to reach out to customers. But are automotive professionals taking the time to measure their effectiveness?

“Just because you have a nice web site doesn't mean it's doing the best it can to attract visitors and motivate them to buy,” says David Saxby, president of Measure-X. It's a Phoenix, AZ-based company that helps those in the automotive industry measure business factors affecting their car, parts and aftermarket sales.

“There are a number of things you can do to make your web site work at its peak for you and your customers,” he says.

Among them:

  1. Put contact information on each page of your web site. “Make it easy for customers to buy from you,” Mr. Saxby says. “If they print a page from your site to show others, having your contact information on the page could make the sale.”

  2. Make the purchase process simple and easy. Many Internet surfers find a product they like, but they cannot figure out how to buy it. Test your purchase process to see how easy it is to follow.

  3. Sell the product. Many sites forget to get inside the customer's head and sell the product. “Visitors do not want to know why you are great,” Mr. Saxby says. “They want to know why they should buy your product.”

  4. Offer something for free. “Giving away free information, free services or just about anything free is a great way to increase buzz about your site, even if it's just a free newsletter or free shipping,” Mr. Saxby says.

  5. Give customers a reason to return. Repeat business is essential. Give your clients free ongoing information, services or easy access to web sites that may interest them.

  6. Make access to customer service fast and easy. “I don't know about you, but when I find a company online that has great customer service, I tell everyone about it,” Mr. Saxby says. “Now wouldn't you like that kind of word-of-mouth advertising?”

  7. Have an objective third-party browse your site. You know your business; others do not. “Have someone navigate your site and make purchases so you can see it through their eyes” Mr. Saxby says. “If you can see your site the way your customer does, your site will be more effective.”