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Online Listings: How to Turn Shoppers into Buyers

It’s no secret that the action is online. According to Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence, 36% of new- and used-car shoppers spend more than a year researching vehicles online before making a purchase. With customers spending a significant amount of time surfing the Internet to help make an educated purchase decision, dealers need to develop an online strategy early to influence car shoppers.

The question is: What should be included in a dealership’s online strategy to effectively influence shoppers? The answer is simple. Dealers have the golden opportunity to motivate consumers toward their location by utilizing listing integration among independent websites.

Car shoppers have more expectations than ever before about a dealership’s online presence, and marketing inventory on trusted third-party sites is necessary and effective at skyrocketing visibility of available stock to increase sales, and ultimately increase revenue. In fact, according to Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence, consumers perceive independent automotive websites as being more influential, trustworthy, helpful and actionable than dealer or manufacturer sites.

Customers expect dealerships to have an online presence just like any other business, and dealers should leap on the chance to engage with potential buyers. In order for dealerships to stand out against competitors, they must have the upfront conversation with consumers by including pricing in their listings.

Although posting vehicle listings on independent sites is critical, dealers need to ensure they are including a link back to their website’s inventory within the ad, where shoppers expect to see the dealership’s up-to-date inventory. Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence found the most important feature in a dealer’s online advertisement is a link to their current inventory.3 By effectively promoting visitors toward the dealership’s inventory, it helps get the shopper into the front door to check out the vehicle in-person and also is a jump-start to close a sale.

Vehicle shoppers have spoken and the results are clear. In addition to including vehicle pricing and a link back to the dealership’s stock within listings, dealers also should add vehicle photos to visually attract consumers, increasing inventory awareness. Some other recommended classified efforts that dealers should put into play include selecting a third-party site that has an extended reach to millions of in-market shoppers and a site that provides tools to push their listings to the top. Lastly, dealers should choose a site with a chat option, offering two-way communication with consumers while they are researching vehicle choices.

If dealers open the gate to transparency with shoppers, it will more likely end in a sale. The Internet is no longer a luxury in the shopping world, as consumers quickly turn to their laptop or smartphone to research any purchase, including cars. Once dealerships push their online marketing efforts into top speed on third-party sites, they are likely to see an increase in foot traffic and profits.

Originally posted by Rob Lange on Dealer Communications, October 3rd, 2012

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