Advertising has always been limited in scope and always focused on availability of product. From print to radio to television, advertisers have always been limited in what they can pitch and therefore have always gotten straight to the point. Those limitations have always been space, time and or money. For instance, TV and radio commercials are usually limited to 30 second intervals. To go any longer would require more money. Newspaper ads are limited in space, unless you pay more money.
In the past, it was not uncommon for dealers to select a few of their finest vehicles and only advertise those cars. The idea was advertise the nice ones and their traffic will create sales with other vehicles on the lot that were not advertised. They got good exposure at a price they could afford and it worked for most dealerships.
When the Internet came around, all these limitations went away. Immediately we were able to list all the cars. Front row, back row, it didn’t matter. Once a dealership had a website they were instantly able to start advertising everything they had in stock. I started this company when I built a website for our family dealership. They had a wholesaler who would come from out of state and he never bought anything nice. He would come up on weekends and purchase the pieces we were wondering what to do with. To make it easier for him I put a page on the site that was labeled by his last name, “Kilby Cars”. An hour after I put it up with a list of two or three clunkers I had a retail customer call me on the phone wanting to know what a Kirby Car was! Turns out one of the vans listed on this page had a bad transmission and he wanted it for the motor. That van would have never gotten advertised in any other fashion!
The Internet allows dealers to provide more than just a grainy image like we relied on in the height of the classifieds magazine days. Now days the norm is to include twelve or more images of every listing. Some dealerships use these images to create a slideshow presentation. Other dealerships go an extra step and provide videos of each listing. Instead of three lines of text to give all the details like we did in the newspaper block ads, we have VIN decoding software that will provide all the equipment, safety features, powertain information and EPA fuel ratings. Yes, the Internet has really allowed us to give the consumer what they have wanted all along, information.
One thing that many have lost site of, though, is that this new found freedom opens many doors. Unfortunately, for some, they are still only focused on what is available on the lot. Others are turning Internet surfers into car buyers by providing more than a few nice pictures and a complete description. Every dealership has a story. That story is often told to each customer, in part or in whole, whether they buy something or not. Chances are someone down the street has the same kind of cars for sale that you have. If so, then you might spend as much time selling yourself as you would your car. You want to help the car buyer understand why you are the best dealership to purchase the car from and you do that by telling them all the good things you do that maybe others down the street do not. If price is your best selling point, you drive that fact home. If service or financing or selection is what sets you apart from your competition, you build value in these key points with each client you get.
When I review website statistics with our automotive website clients we go over the list of most visited pages of the site. In every instance the list is always:
1. Inventory Page
2. Vehicle Details Page
3. Home Page
The surfer gets to the site usually via the home page and immediately goes to the Inventory page to see what you have in stock. Then they click on a car to get the details about that vehicle. They will bounce back and forth between these two pages and that is why they get more traffic than the home page. After these pages, though, our stats will always show a second tier of traffic for some other key pages. We consider it a second teir because they usually only get about a third of the traffic that the first tier got. However, just because they get less traffic does not mean we can overlook them. In fact, I try to draw my clients’ attention to these pages. These links are often the difference between gaining a car buyer and losing a web surfer. These pages include ones like Company History, Map and Directions, and even the Credit Application.
Why are these pages getting less traffic than the others? Because not everyone who gets to see your inventory page finds the car they want. If they do not feel they can find what they want, they move on to the next page. Why are these second tier pages important? Because the third or so of the people who did see something that interests them are the ones who want to know how to contact you, how to get to you or maybe even apply for credit. Before they purchase anything from you they may visit your Meet the Staff page. If you get a surfer who makes it to these second tier pages you want to be sure the message on these pages does nothing but encourage them to contact you, visit your dealership and above all else, turn off their computer and stop searching.
Tell the whole story. Have a page that tells them what it takes to get financed. Have another that will lay out the warranty options. Tell everything. Doing so builds credibility in your dealership and value in your service. Today’s consumer wants to know about your credibility and value, especially once they know you have what they want.