Online Auto Marketing 101: Your success in advertising your vehicles online isn’t based on the size of your operation. Site statistics on AutoTrader.com show that dealers with small amounts of inventory see the same shopper activity on their listings as large dealers. So if you want to compete with big dealers, know that you don’t need a big budget. You just need to act like them.
To get an idea of what you need to do make your online presence more competitive with other dealers in your space, use these tactics culled from top-performing dealers who generate the most activity on their listings on AutoTrader.com. And remember, to compete you don’t have to be big — you just have to level the playing field.
1. Find out what your competitors are doing by performing weekly searches on AutoTrader.com and other sites so you can understand what your competitive landscape looks like.
2. Understand what kinds of cars are in demand in your local market and begin making any necessary adjustments to your inventory mix. If you’re heavy in pickups but your market wants minivans, do what you need to do to make your inventory work for your market. For example, if you’re in a group, call some of the other dealers to see if they want to take some pickup inventory. If you’re not in a group, think about what you can do to move those trucks as quickly as possible — wholesale or AutoTrader.com’s Trade-In Marketplace are a couple of ideas — the longer you hold on to inventory that’s not in demand, the more it will cost you.
3. Have an “all-car” strategy ─ Shoppers want to view used- and new cars together in the same search. On AutoTrader.com, for example, 53% of shoppers consider both new-and used vehicles in their search, so you can improve your odds of engaging them simply by treating both types of vehicles equally in terms of exposure and how you merchandise them (e.g., custom comments, plenty of custom photos, video, etc.).
4. Make sure your marketing message is consistent in all of your advertising. Consumers are bombarded with advertising messages everywhere they go. For you to make the biggest impact with your marketing, your messaging needs to be consistent across media — online and offline — on radio and TV, newspaper, direct mail, even signage on your lot.
5. Details, details, details ─ In addition to the year, make, model, trim level, mileage and body type you should always include in your listings, take another 15 minutes to write comments that a shopper can relate to in terms of their lifestyle and personality. For example, “You’ll love how little it costs to run this fuel-sipper, plus the trunk holds a week’s worth of luggage.”
6. Make sure the price is right ─ Listings with a price and photos increase your chances of converting shoppers from the Search Results Page (SRP) to the Vehicle Details Page (VDP) by 63% versus listings without a price.6 Effective pricing is one of the most important pieces of car merchandising. If it’s too high, you risk alienating the shopper altogether; too low, your profitability is at stake.