The goal of automotive Internet marketing is not to sell cars online; it’s to get potential customers to see your car, click on your car, come in to your store and ultimately purchase the vehicle. To get consumers to move through this process, your online presentation must create value in the minds of consumers. Essentially, you’re telling potential customers why they should choose you.

You don’t have to wait until customers come into your store to communicate these messages. Start on your dealership’s Web site or in your online car listings.

•    Use Testimonials – Let other customers tell your potential customers what a great experience they had at your dealership. Get quotes from your satisfied customers and ask if you can use them on your Web site and in your advertising.

•    Tout Your Experience – It’s as simple as saying, “Celebrating 30 Years!” in your copy. Also, if you’ve won special awards for community service, customer service, manufacturer awards, etc., then say so!

•    Talk About Your Customer Focus – For example, “Built on the principles of providing genuine, caring and personal service.”

Pictures, Pictures and More Pictures!
The top dealers already know that multiple, high-quality photos can differentiate their inventory and turn shoppers into actual customers. Keep in mind the following tips to improve your online presentation:

•    Pick a good digital camera that takes high-quality pictures. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good camera.

•    Choose a nice location and don’t take pictures of the car when it’s still in the inventory line. Find a showcase spot with minimal distractions, a neutral background and good lighting.

•    Include photos of the actual car you are selling. Never use a stock photo of the car.

•    Make sure your photos are up-to-date. For example, don’t show a car on a snowy lot when it’s the middle of the summer.

•    Use several photos from all angles, inside and out. Your photos should help potential buyers get to know the vehicle and give them a sense of ownership. Similar to the in-person walk-around, this is your virtual walk-around. You should even show details of the car, like the odometer reading and tires.

Writing Copy that Sells
Forget what you learned about writing newspaper listings. You’re not paying for each word anymore, so now you have the opportunity to tell each car’s story.

•    Call out important information and make it relevant to the concerns of car buyers. For example, “Room for eight people and back seat folds down for extra storage—makes a great family car!” or “Special Financing Available!”

•    Be descriptive. For example, don’t just say a car has A/C – say it has “ice-cold air conditioning.” Instead of “auto,” write “smooth-shifting automatic transmission.”

•    Have a strong call to action. Tell the shopper to do something. Don’t forget to include a name and a number. “Pick up the phone and call Howard today at 1-423-555-1234” or “Print this ad for an additional $200 off your purchase.”

•    Mention the extras that can attest to the car’s reliability, such as a free vehicle history report or an extended warranty. For example, “Comes with a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty!”

•    DON’T USE ALL CAPS. It makes your ad hard to read and the points you want to highlight will get lost in the copy.

Video Brings Your Vehicles to Life.
Video is one of the best ways to make a car stand out and let shoppers really see the vehicle they are interested in. With video, you can even start up the engine to bring the car to life. Your video doesn’t have to be fancy or studio-production quality; you can even do it yourself.

•    Show shoppers the actual car you are selling, even if it is a new vehicle.

•    Do a complete video walk-around of the car, including the undercarriage. Start the engine, turn on the radio, open the doors, etc. You want to give shoppers a real sense of what it would be like to drive and own the car.

•    Limit your videos to one to two minutes—just the highlights.

•    Use it as an opportunity to tell your story. Show customers you are a dealership they should do business with.

•    Highlight your service department, amenities, customer testimonials and more. A video tour and stories from other satisfied customers build a strong image in the mind of your prospective customer.

The online process is about taking control and moving customers from the click of a mouse to your showroom floor. Once you get them to your dealership, you know what to do from there.

Vol. 6, Issue 3