Online Auto Marketing: 9 Ways to Level the Playing Field



Online Auto Mar­ket­ing 101: Your suc­cess in adver­tis­ing your vehi­cles online isn’t based on the size of your oper­a­tion. Site sta­tis­tics on 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 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 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’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, 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.

Read the entire arti­cle by the experts at




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