How an “All-Cars-All-the-Time” Online Strategy Can Nearly Double Your Sales
Friday April 10, 2015
- Car shoppers don’t distinguish much at all between new and used cars – they’re simply looking for what they believe is the best value. Knowing this, the most successful dealers have a strong inventory presence of new and used cars on their own websites as well as on third-party sites
- The Search Results Page (SRP) is your gateway to your Vehicle Details Page (VDP). The SRP should entice shoppers to click through to the VDP where you can REALLY tell your vehicle’s story and convince shoppers why they should buy from you. This article details 9 tips to put the Search Results Page to work for you.
Every day, millions of car shoppers visit dealership websites and third-party sites with the intent of finding the right car. The “right car” is a custom-built amalgamation of features, pricing and financing, among other things, that suit the shopper’s needs. Note that there’s no mention of “new” or “used” as a primary criterion and there’s a reason for that: Unlike car dealers who naturally tend to lump a shopper into a “new” or “used” category, many car shoppers don’t distinguish much at all between new and used cars – they’re simply looking for what they believe is the best value. And in their search for the right car, they want the convenience of being able to view both new and used cars together in the same search.
The most successful dealers have a strong inventory presence of new and used cars on their own websites as well as on third-party sites. The beauty of this “all-cars-all-the-time” approach is that you’re giving equal exposure to ALL of your cars — both new and used — which makes it more likely that you’ll be part of a shopper’s consideration set. (Notably, this comparison feature is not available on every third-party site, so it’s something you should confirm.)
Increase Your Odds of Selling a Car by Nearly 50%
On Autotrader, 44% of shoppers tell us they’re considering both new and used cars1. In fact, 43% of new car buyers on Autotrader were originally considering a used car.2
Furthermore, more than two-thirds of car buyers know very little about what car they want.3 Their path to purchase involves heavy cross-shopping and they compare all the way to the end, with just 20% starting with the brand they ultimately buy.4 But there’s an even more compelling reason to market your new car inventory on the same sites where you list your used car inventory: The information shoppers find on these sites helps determine which dealer they ultimately choose. So, leaving your new cars out in the cold automatically eliminates a huge prospective opportunity to sell more cars.
How You Can Power Up Your New Car Listings
The 2015 Polk Automotive Buyer Influence Study also found that of the 16.5 hours new car shoppers spend shopping for a car, they spent 70% of that time online, mostly looking at inventory on third-party sites. The study also found that 37% of new car buyers said the Internet was the predominant source that led them to the dealer where they bought their car — more than twenty times as influential as any other source. But there’s a trick to making new car listings work: They need to be treated exactly the same as your used car listings because car shoppers are cross-shoppers and want to see the same information across the board — custom photos, descriptive comments, payments and financing, and special offers and promotions. Plus, strong merchandising is a smart way to set yourself apart from your competition and give shoppers a compelling reason to contact you or walk into your dealership.
The Search Results Page (SRP) is your gateway to your Vehicle Details Page (VDP). The SRP should entice shoppers to click through to the VDP where you can REALLY tell your vehicle’s story and convince shoppers why they should buy from you. This is where powerful online merchandising comes in. Think about online real estate listings for a moment. Home listings that are well-merchandised with a lot of photos and compelling details about the house and neighborhood have a far higher response rate than listings with bland descriptions and just a few photos.
Here are 9 tips to put the Search Results Page to work for you:
- Use lots of actual photos of the car – not stock photos. Dealers who do both with their new car listings see a 116% increase in conversions from the SRP to the VDP per listing.5
- Create feature/benefit custom comments (avoid a word-for-word VIN list). Think “who is the likely customer for this car” and tell them how it will benefit them.
- Price below MSRP. Vehicles priced below MSRP with multiple custom photos garnered 108% more VDP views than vehicles priced at MSRP,5 and dealers who listed below MSRP sold 20% more new cars than dealers who listed at MSRP!6
- Promote by payment. Shoppers love to evaluate affordability as it relates to their monthly budget.
- Focus on specials, incentives, financing and price markdowns.
- Highlight premium features, safety records, warranty information and more.
- Link to view all of your new inventory for a model.
- Merchandise your dealership! Tell your story, tout your experience and describe the services you offer.
- Make it easy for shoppers to communicate with you. Today’s shoppers will contact you in a variety of ways, including phone, email, chat and text. Communicate them in the method of their choosing.
For more information on new car marketing, check out the handbook Tips for Successful Online New Car Marketing.
- 2014 Autotrader Vehicle Shopper Study
- 2014 Autotrader User Profile Study
- 2015 Polk Automotive Buyer Influence Study
- Google/Compete/Polk, Vehicle Purchase Path, 2012
- Autotrader site data, 4/1/2015 through 6/30/2015
- Autotrader Digital Audience Analysis, December 15, 2012 – August 15, 2013