If car shoppers express an interest in buying a new vehicle, a dealership salesman would be crazy to escort them to the used-car department.

“And if people go to a dealership to get their car serviced, you don’t immediately lead them out to the used-car lot either,” says Silia Hatzi, national account manager for Jazel, an online marketing solutions company based in Lake Forest, CA.

Yet, many dealership websites take Internet shoppers where they don’t necessarily want to go, forcing them to start clicking haphazardly in an effort to find what they are seeking.

When that happens, dealerships can lose prospects, Hatzi says, citing a study indicating that if customers must click too many times, they will bolt. “It is amazing how many clicks it takes to arrive at relevant information on many dealership websites.”

Jazel software is designed to keep the click count down and deliver relevant information right away. Here is an example of how it works:

If someone using the Google search engine enters a dealer’s name or location as well as “new Ford F-150 truck,” the shopper lands on the dealer’s homepage, but the homepage dynamically changes to feature the new F-150 pickups and their product information.

“You are landing on something showing exactly what you are looking for,” Hatzi says. “Someone buying a truck is not looking for minivans or compact cars, so why show those?”

Relevancy is king, says Kent Solomon, Jazel’s national sales director. “Search results should mirror what the customer is interested in. Our technology makes websites dynamic. They are no longer visual billboards. They are visual confirmations.”

The technology uses behavior-based targeting. “It means that if someone is coming from a search engine, they can land on a website that delivers relevant content and continually sells to them while they are viewing the information,” he says.

The same cut-to-the-chase philosophy applies to the dealership service department.

“People entering ‘Nissan service’ vs. those searching for ‘Nissan cars’ are interested in completely different things,” Hatzi says. “If they are interested in service, the dealer homepage dynamically changes to reflect relevant service specials and appointment scheduling.”

Jazel’s technology also detects a visitor’s past behavior so that he or she will receive the same service information on the homepage when returning to the dealer’s website.

“The whole idea of delivering relevant information is drawing a lot of dealer interest,” Solomon says.

One client, the Damson Auto Group with three locations in Alabama, credits behavior-based targeting with keeping customers on its websites longer.

“The average Damson Web user is staying on our network of sites for nearly five minutes, while only consuming three pages of content,” says Ben Bowles, director-digital media. “Why? The Behavior Based Targeting software is requiring less of an investment from the user. A click would be asking a user to do the work.”

Sales leads increase when a dealership website “focuses on user experience and presents customers exactly what they are looking for,” says Giancarlo Asong, e-commerce operations director for the California-based Metro Auto Group.

sfinlay@wardsauto.com