Shoppers are motivated to purchase the right car at the right dealership, so it is more important than ever for dealerships to maximize online listings to attract consumers to their lots.
New-car shoppers plan to spend an average of 27 hours researching and shopping online before purchasing or leasing a vehicle.1 This reliance on the Internet continues to serve as the primary method consumers use to search for their next vehicle. In this environment, dealers must focus on maximizing the effectiveness of their online listings to stay competitive.
According to a study conducted by Polk and AutoTrader.com, more buyers establish contact with salespeople by walking into the dealership than by any other method.2 In fact, in this study, 69% of survey respondents said they visited a dealership without contacting them by phone or email first, while only 20% called and 11% e-mailed the dealer.3 These figures suggest that the Internet is enabling consumers to be more educated about their car purchase before stepping on the dealership lot, and more customers are heading directly to the lot prior to contacting the dealer.
How can dealers make the best first impression to customers without meeting them in person? How can dealers influence shoppers to come visit their stores without two-way communication?
Online listings are a sure fire way to make an effective impression on customers. Consumers want a “virtual dealership” experience, and dealers should commit the time to add all the “bells and whistles” to their listings to stand out against competitors. The search results page has commonly been thought of as a “virtual drive by” for shoppers. With vehicle photos stacked one-by-one on the search results page, dealers need to guide the consumer to the next step by enticing them to click to their dealer listing page. By presenting the vehicle well, there is a higher probability an interested consumer will head to the vehicle detail page, which is seen as a “virtual walk-around” of the car. An easy tip to make an online listing grab consumer attention is to include actual photos of the vehicle, as opposed to stock photos. Custom photos improve dealer click-throughs from the search results page to the vehicle detail page by 521 percent versus not including a photo. 4
It is important for dealerships to maximize their investment in online listings on third-party sites and commit to making their classifieds stand out. By doing so, dealers will increase the online visibility of their dealership, increasing leads and ultimately sales.
1 Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence Online Shopper Study, Q1 2012
2 Polk/AutoTrader.com Automotive Buyer Influence Study, 2011
3 Polk/AutoTrader.com Automotive Buyer Influence Study, 2011
4 AutoTrader.com Site Data – All Cars, June 2012