Archive for March, 2007

How can I maximize my Internet Exposure?

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

In the last issue we covered how the focus for many independent dealers has shifted from location to exposure. Many dealers are finding they can compete with the mega dealer on the main road by increasing their Internet exposure. Now the question becomes, “How can I get the maximum exposure for the best money?”

The first step is to develop and maintain a professional, effective website dedicated to only your business. Having a www.YourDomain.com gives you a ‘spot’ on the web to direct all your advertising towards. You see, a website is nothing like any other form of advertising used up to now. We all advertise in the Yellow Pages, but you probably rarely tell anyone to look for your ad in the Yellow Pages. If you did, your client would not only see your ad but also those of your local competitors. You might have a T.V. or radio ad but you do not tell your clients look for it because you are hoping those advertising dollars bring you new clients. Having a website will not only help you with new clients but will also reach out to your existing clients. Furthermore, those clients will tell their friends and family about your website. It is easier for some to remember a web address these days than it is a phone number.

Once you have a website for your business, the next step is to build up traffic to the site. Just because you built the best website in the world does not mean traffic instantly appears. Like all other advertising, you will get out of the Internet what you put into it. The first step you need to take is to incorporate your website address into all your other forms of advertising. Put it in your yellow page ad, your roadside sign, and every other form of advertising you use. Your current and future clients will visit your site the next time they are in the market to buy a car IF they know about it. This is unique from all your other advertising approaches. Again, you would not put in your newspaper ad something like “Look for us in the Yellow Pages” because it makes more sense just to give them the phone number. But, directing all your clients to your website allows you to gain your client’s complete attention and enables you to focus it on you and your dealership only, leaving all of your competitors behind. Your website should do things other forms of advertising can not such as give maps and directions, take credit applications, set appointments, etc. so it only seems logical to point other advertising to your website so your client can get your “whole picture”.

The only other free source of Internet exposure is from search engines. It is important to optimize your site for and register it with search engines on a regular basis. If you or your webmaster can not do this then hire an outside company to help. You pay nothing to list your site with others like Google.com and they will send people to your site when asked for used car dealers in your area. Google can not send you free traffic if they do not know your website exists or what it is advertising.

After that, in order to get even more exposure you have to pay. Many dealers have heard of sites like Trader and Cars.com. There are dozens of similar sites and all of them work about the same. Dealers will pay these companies for the ability to list their inventory and photos on these 3rd party link exchange sites. These sites, in turn, advertise for and attract potential used car buyers to their site and allow them to search through all listings for the car or truck of their choice. When the car buyer is interested in one of your listings they may click on it to gain more information about the vehicle and the selling dealer.

Some of these 3rd party link sites are better for some dealers than others. Meaning, a highline dealer may have more success with one site than a BHPH dealer might have with the same site, and visa versa. It is important to do your research before taking on this type of Internet advertising as some of these sites get rather expensive. It is important to find the best plan for your dealership as you never want to over spend OR under spend with your advertising dollars.

It used to be a dealer would pick one of these companies and that was it. Now days, it is pretty common for dealerships to be advertising with a number of similar companies all at the same time. The bigger your net, the more fish you catch! They justify paying two or more companies for the same type of advertising because they realize each site will expose them to a different market segment and each of them will generate their own leads. Not only do you have to justify the expense, though, you also have to weigh the amount of work each one will require. When you have a website, you have to add and edit the vehicles on your site. When you add a site like Autobytel.com, for instance, now you have to add and edit listings on that site as well as on your site. The more 3rd party link exchange sites you advertise with the more work involved in managing it all. Some dealerships contract with companies like Dealer Specialties to take all of this off their hands. DS will come out to you every week, take the photos and upload them to your website and all other sites with which you advertise. They have a per car expense and again, some dealers rationalize this expense because it frees them up to do what they do best, SELL MORE CARS!

JTZ Enterprise and VIADA have teamed up to offer their members additional Internet Exposure and easier Internet Inventory management tools through www.VAUsedCarDealers.com. First, for as little as $35 a month you can have all your vehicles listed on VIADA’s website along with complete descriptions and multiple listings. You can list them with a retail and/or wholesale price. You may also shop through hundreds of wholesale listings being offered for sale from other VIADA members only. In turn, this website is attracting potential car buyers only in the Virginia area. It is a smaller scale site than many others but our target audience is much more concentrated providing you with a more desirable client. You would agree you have a better chance of selling an Internet customer a car if that customer were from Virginia rather than Utah.

Not only will your vehicles get additional exposure on the Internet, they will also get sent to any other 3rd party site you advertise with and a few others that will take your listings for free. We want to help you manage your Internet inventory all in one step and every day we send your data to dozens of other companies. We can send your data anywhere you want it. We get requests for new data feeds to go to other Internet advertisers every day. Local newspaper, radio and TV companies are getting into this type of advertising and there are many national companies. A mix of both regional and broad exposure will only increase your total return of new sales.

Another thing to look for when considering a third party link exchange site is whether or not a car shopper will be able to link from that website to yours. When we designed VUCD we wanted to make it as easy as possible for a car buyer to get to you, the advertiser rather than trap that car buyer in our site. Some big players in this industry would rather keep a car buyer shopping so they run up click counts and page views. But, we never know what it is going to take to turn a car shopper into a car buyer but when it happens the client will only stay that way for so long. A direct path for the car buyer to the car dealer is a must. Pulling a client out of VUCD, for instance, and into your site is like plucking that minnow out of a shark tank! Now that client has access to your credit application or map and directions and has the opportunity to do their homework on what type of dealer you are! All of this is not available to the car buyer until they get to your site. If your third party link advertiser does not have a link from all of your listings to your website, ask them what it takes to make it possible. It will increase your Internet conversion ratio.

If you have questions regarding this type of Internet advertising and how you can better integrate this with your website call today for a free consultation.