Dealers Shouldn’t Abandon Third-Party Sites Just Yet

Put your inventory in front of more people on or off your website and you’ll generate more leads for yourself. That’s the modern strategy. In this article written by Jim Jabaay our VP of Sales, he dives into the importance of third-party sites and why many consumers prefer to shop on those sites rather than on a dealership’s own website. At the end of the day, it’s  getting your inventory onto as many external websites as possible but not relying on your company website alone to drive consumers traffic. We all know that the best leads are the ones that come directly from your own website, but you can’t force people to go there.

Multiple Targets

Here is a link to the article: http://www.drivingsales.com/blogs/lotvantage/2014/10/24/dealers-shouldnt-abandon-thirdparty-sites-just-yet

What do you think about his article do you agree? Leave your comments below.

 

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The Middle Ground is No Man’s Land On Social Media

The evolution of automotive social media has been an amazing thing to behold over the years. We’ve all seen strategies come and go. Some worked. Some didn’t. Today, we have the luxury of having narrowed down the strategies that have proven to be effective today and that should continue to be effective in the near future.

Nobody knows what changes will happen in social media tomorrow, let alone next month or next year, but we do have an idea about the overarching strategies that are proving to be the most successful. Thankfully, it has been narrowed down to two different types that happen to be extremes. The area in between these extremes can be classified as “no man’s land”.

Some would call it an “all in” or “all out” partition in social media, but it’s really not that black and white. The better way to look at it is that you can either be exceptionally aggressive and consumed by social media or you can take a more strategically casual approach.

The Aggressive Style

This social media strategy involves time and money. Dealers who want to invest into a full-time content marketing or social media management person can do so and are able to find success. This strategy involves getting out to the community, taking lots of pictures and videos, and building a base of powerful content that can help to draw attention and traffic to the dealership.

It also requires advertising money. The demise of organic reach on social media sites like Facebook means that a dealer can put a ton of effort into social media without any real return if they don’t put substantial advertising dollars behind it.

The other side of the coin is also as bleak. Dealers can put money behind their posts, but if they aren’t filled with truly awesome content, the money will be wasted and the ROI will be minimal.

The Strategically Casual Style

For dealers who want to have a powerful social media presence but who are not willing to throw thousands of dollars and a full-time employee into the social media mix, the strategically casual strategy is ideal. It acknowledges that organic reach is minimal but still allows for the benefits to come through social media that derive from other sources.

People are going to your pages and profiles every day. They might click through from your website. They might find them on a search for your name. Regardless of how they got there, what they see can be an important differentiator between you and your competitors.

Rather than putting a lot of time and energy into social media, dealers that use this style still build on their social profiles and pages constantly and with powerful content, but they do so in a way that doesn’t cost take away from other activities. They use social media tool such as ours to post inventory, industry news, videos, and blog posts on Facebook and Twitter, giving their page the robust content that people want without the investment associated with an aggressive strategy.

No Man’s Land

The most common strategy that dealers are using falls right in the middle. They don’t go all out with time or budget, but they don’t simplify it, either. They try to do some of the aggressive strategy.

It doesn’t work.

The benefits are similar to what a dealer would get from using easy tools like ours, but require more effort and budget. If you’re going to get aggressive, that’s great and there are doors that can be unlocked with this strategy. If you’re not going to go “all in” with social media, it makes a whole lot of sense to use a service like ours to save time and money while still building a powerful social media presence.

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3 Reasons that Craigslist is a Car Dealer’s Best Friend

In a recent article written by Dealer Authority‘s own Subi Ghosh, Subi breaks down the 3 reasons that Craigslist is a Car Dealer’s Best Friend, and we couldn’t agree more. Also there is a nice mention of LotVantage in her article. Dealer Authority is considered a thought leader in the automotive arena and them mentioning us, is big for LotVantage as we continue to grow our brand awareness.

Below are the 3 reason’s dealers need to heavily consider Craigslist as a primary means of advertising their inventory to gain maximum exposure at a fraction of the cost, compared to the traditional methods they have grown accustomed to over the years.

  1. Incredible Reach
  2. Total Posting Control
  3. Raving Fans

Here is a link to her article http://dealerbar.com/blog/3-reasons-that-craigslist-is-a-car-dealer-s-best-friend

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Just A Reminder That Pictures Are The Key To Selling Cars

This week our VP of Sales got featured in the BHPH Report. In his article he talks about the importance of using Real vs. Stock photos when trying to sell vehicles.

-  See more at: http://www.autoremarketing.com/bhph/jabaay-just-reminder-pictures-are-key-selling-cars

By Jim Jabaay
LotVantage
TAMPA, Fla. -

Back when the Internet was still young and the automotive industry had not fully embraced it, those dealers who were utilizing it to expose their inventory online were still having trouble with images.

Some cars had them. Others did not. Some had 40 images. Others had one. The websites and classified listings that were getting the most action were the ones that had the most pictures, but it was hard to find this happening consistently.

Unfortunately, this isn’t just a picture of how things were when the Internet was young. Even today, there are still those who have not embraced the power of images to help generate leads and sell more cars.

Many of you have. You’ve seen the difference it can make on your website, eBay, Craigslist and other places where you post your inventory. If you’re already on board and harnessing the power of images, then this article is simply a reinforcement of what you already know.

If you have not been able to prioritize getting more and better pictures of your inventory, then here are some important points to think about and possibly bring to others at the dealership who may need to know about the power of pictures.

Quantity Is Important

People have exponentially more access to the Internet today than they did just a decade ago. Faster Internet connections. Better devices.More devices. More time spent online. These are some of the factors that contribute to the need to give them what they want.

We’re so used to seeing just about everything about a product without leaving our chair that presenting your potential customers with all of the angles is imperative. It’s not just about duplicating, either.

Two slightly different angles of the trunk will not help. They want to see the car inside and out.

As a minimum, we recommend 20 images per vehicle, though a best practice would be to double that number or more.

Quality Is Even More Important

There’s psychology that goes into how we view images. That doesn’t mean you have to be a psychologist to take good pictures. You just have to put in the right amount of effort.

One of the most discouraging things we see when dealers post pictures is when the image is incomplete. For example, a side view of the car should include the entire vehicle from front to back. When either is cut off, it seems careless and unnecessary.

Focus is important, especially for interior shots. More dealers are taking the care to post images of individual features such as navigation and heated seat buttons. This is great, and it has an effect on how people perceive a vehicle, but be sure you’re not posting images that are out of focus. You could have the opposite effect.

Scenery Makes an Impact

The surroundings in a picture can have nearly as much impact on its effectiveness as the vehicle itself. If your lot appears to be dirty with pictures of potholes or ancient buildings in the background, the effect is subtle but present.

Use your scenery to demonstrate the care that you take with your vehicles. Remember, buying a car from a dealership is somewhat akin to adopting a pet. It’s proven that clean animal shelters have an easier time getting rid of their animals than dirty ones. The same holds true for their perception of your dealership. Put you dealership in a good light by positioning your vehicles in a great way.

Don’t Skip New Cars

There can be a time- or cost-savings reason that dealerships are only taking images of their pre-owned inventory, but this is a big mistake. Today, images of the actual vehicle drastically outperform stock images when it comes to clicks from the various third-party websites.

Just because you have access to stock photos doesn’t mean that you should use them. Before people come in to buy a vehicle, they prefer to see the live version rather than a stock image.

Refresh When Necessary

Go through your inventory photos at least once a month to see what other people are seeing.Pick out the images that need replacing, and then take new pictures. This is important because people want to feel like the vehicle they’re buying has come in recently.

For example, if you have some exterior shots that have snow in the background, they’re not the right images to be showing on your inventory in August.

Make It a Priority

The sooner you can get pictures live on your website and third-party sites, the better. There are those who use monthly visits from a photographer to make this happen. While this might be acceptable for a low-volume store, anyone who is selling high-double-digits or triple-digit vehicles in a month should not let inventory sit for as much as 30 days without an image.

The good part about improving the way you position images on your website and third-party sites is that it’s really easy. Small changes are usually all that are needed to make your images stand out better to potential customers.

The bad part is that many dealers do not consider it a priority. They don’t know what they’re missing out on because it’s not a glaring hole in their marketing at initial glance.

Hopefully, this article will help those who need to be convinced (or who need to convince others) that more and better images on your website and across the Internet can improve your sales very quickly.

 

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A Social Media Presence is Important Even if You Don’t Believe in Social

Get Social

The rise of social media offered a new promise in the ever-evolving digital age. It was a way to broadcast messages to potential customers in a way that allowed for dialogue. Rather than being another form of online advertising like PPC or 3rd-party inventory listings, it promised to become a venue of communication.

Unfortunately, it has not fulfilled that promise for everyone who tried it.

There are dealers and vendors who are completely sold on the concept that social media is a great way to increase business and sell more cars. There are even more dealers and vendors who have put effort or money into social media, only to find that they did not receive a return on their investment.

Those who fall into the second category may no longer believe that social media has a benefit. Whether you think it has legs or not, it’s important to understand that it can definitely be a detriment if you let it go completely.

People will find you on social media. Look at your website. There’s a good chance that you have buttons on there leading to your social media profiles. Do a search for the dealership on Google. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are probably popping up on the first page.

When potential customers find your social media profiles, what will they see? At LotVantage, we believe a dealership’s social media profile should be posting regularly, even if they are not completely “bought in” on the concept itself. That’s why we offer an extremely affordable solution to put your social media on autopilot.

Inventory, Videos, Automotive news, and Blog posts – These are just some of things that dealers and vendors will post on social media to maintain a strong presence. If it’s handled in-house, that could mean an hour or more per day preparing content and getting it posted. If it’s handled by a vendor, that likely means hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month.

We can take care of it all for you for under $5 per day with no effort on your part. When people visit your social media profiles, they’ll see a vibrant, active Facebook and Twitter page that represents the dealership well and allows them to go straight into inventory. It defends your turf against bad reviews or unhappy customers voicing their negativity on your page. Most importantly, it gives you the presence you need without taking up your time or a ton of money to make it happen.

Please contact us if you’d like to see how we can give you an incredible social media presence for the price of a daily Starbucks.

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Are You Still Missing Out On Selling More Cars?

It’s amazing to see the transformation and dealership mindset that has occurred over the past 6 months since Craigslist began charging $5 for the Cars + Trucks category.  Initially, many dealers pulled back on posting and didn’t want to spend the advertising money.  There were quite a few things with this thought process that made us scratch our heads.  First, dealers said that Craigslist helps them sell cars every month, but they couldn’t justify spending $5 per car.  Yet 90% of dealerships will spend thousands of dollars advertising on other automotive websites.  Secondly, this change did not affect the CONSUMER at all!

The Numbers Don’t Lie

This was quickly proven in the first few months when dealerships were experiencing 10 Times as many leads per ad as they did while spamming a marketplace.  Many dealers capitalized on this and spent their entire advertising budget on Craigslist.  According to Alexa rankings, Craigslist continues to remain number 10 in the United States.

Over the past six months, most dealers have come back and are posting their inventory back on Craigslist after noticing the amount of vehicles it helped sell every month.  With the average dealer holding 60 cars in used inventory and turning inventory every 60 days, a dealer can advertise every vehicle on Craigslist for well under $1000 per month.

Don’t Get Hustled

There have been a multitude of service offerings that have come along to advertise on Craigslist, with some advertising a “special rate” with Craigslist of only $3.  These don’t exist.  The key is partnering with a company that is dedicated or utilizes a company dedicated to Craigslist marketing.  When you are looking for a partner, make sure they make the process easy, utilize photo overlays, all vehicle information to your Craigslist ad, a link to a Landing Page, and lead tracking.

Want to learn more about how we can help you capitalize on Craigslist? Click Here

 

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Utilizing Social Media to Sell More Cars

Social Selling

 

Savvy dealers are turning to low cost alternatives like Facebook and Twitter and other social media outlets as their alternative. Not only is it free, but it can help you interact with your future and existing customers in real-time. It’s no secret that Dealers will do just about anything to gain new customers by any means necessary. Radio, Print and TV ads can all have tremendous results but at what cost? Those traditional marketing mediums and budgets are dying.

As we know, today’s consumer researches their next purchase online and wants to share their thoughts online to get their friends opinions before making the purchase. Why not help them by giving them all the information they are looking for and a way to communicate with you at the same time.

Social Media Grows Followers

This starts with your own staff.  Do they follow the dealership themselves?  Do they ask their friends to like their company?  Encourage the staff to talk about the company and tag the organization on Facebook and Twitter.  This is free advertising for the dealership.

Engage your Audience

This starts with posting relevant information to your Facebook fans and twitter followers.  Let them know about the upcoming specials or just reduced inventory.  What better way to do this then with photos and descriptions of the inventory?  Make the posts likeable, sharable, clickable and able to post comments.   When a consumer clicks on the inventory, bring them to your landing page inside the Facebook application.  Furthermore, utilizing the Inventory applet to display all dealership inventory on Facebook.

Convert

Once a consumer is interested in the vehicle, what are you doing to convert them into a lead?  Make sure your landing pages give multiple options to gather more information about the consumer including credit applications and appointment setting.  Connecting all of this back to your CRM gives you the ability to manage everything from start to finish.

If you would like to learn more about how to improve your social media presence online and post your inventory to the various social media outlets, send me a message or click here to learn more.

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Could stock photos be hurting your online marketing efforts?

2007 Cadillac Escalade - Stock photo

There has been a growing trend with Dealers showcasing their used inventory with stock photos and that needs to stop. Marketplaces are being flooded with pre-owned vehicles that have multiple stock photos, and consumers are growing tired of it when doing searches online.

What does that mean?

That means when you are looking at the dealers used car inventory, there are one or more stock photos for that vehicle. The photos aren’t really the vehicles that dealers are selling and it’s misleading for the consumer. This is becoming a real problem for service providers that are responsible for taking vehicles up to the cloud, whether that is Auto Trader, Cars.com, eBay, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Backpage, etc.

Any of these places where auto dealers want to sell, they are responsible for providing accurate pictures so you can do it on a scalable level.

Who is to blame?

Whoever is making the decision to help the dealer get multiple stock photos on these vehicles maybe hurting the rest of their marketing efforts. Is it the dealer, DMS provider, or if somebody else has convoluted their minds into thinking they need a bunch of stock photos? It’s negatively impacting them whether they realize it or not.

From the consumer’s point of view, it’s a deceptive practice since they clearly know that vehicle is used and are trying to make intelligent buying decisions based on such pictures. The only time stock photos might be acceptable, would be if the dealer is advertising new inventory and waiting on actual photos.

Consumers are becoming more and more comfortable buying vehicles on the internet sight unseen. Photos, price, and description combined is what is driving this movement. This has given the consumer their “used car factory” to get the exact car they want if they are willing to pay the price to ship the vehicle.

Stock photos don’t sell cars! Let’s work together to fix this growing problem.

 

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Dealerships sell more RVs and Trailers with YouTube videos

Showcasing your RV on YouTube

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  If that’s the case, what is a video worth?  46% of people say they’d be more likely to seek out information about a product or service after seeing it in an online video.  As an RV dealer, are you leveraging the use of video to help sell more vehicles each month and engage your customers?

Video marketing and YouTube in particular, can help bring your dealership to the next level in getting more customers and ultimately selling more inventory.   According to Alexa.com, YouTube is the #3 ranked website in the world.  The average user spends 18 minutes on the site.  It’s 20% easier to rank #1 with a video result as compared to a website. Video is a major influence on consumers making a purchase decision.

Drive More Traffic

If you want to drive more traffic to your dealership, utilize a software company that can take your dealership’s data, stitch together photos and descriptions while adding a Human Voice-over all in one video. Taking it to the next level and creating a YouTube channel with consistent brand imaging, a video library, and dealership information will give you even more exposure.

Capture the lead!

YouTube videos should engage the consumer to want more information.

Providing the consumer with an embedded phone number in the video and a link to a landing page with all the details about each RV will only increase the customer interaction. Each landing page should also contain additional calls-to-action ranging from financing options to trade in forms along with the dealership’s contact information.

Next Level

Taking it to the next level means ensuring everything you do is mobile.  40% of YouTube views are by mobile users.  Are you utilizing a mobile strategy to engage your customers or are you giving them a poor experience from their phone?

There are many ways to spend an advertising budget today and a multitude of websites to advertise your inventory.  Making an investment into a video product should be one of these discussions for your dealership to give yourself the opportunity to convert more ads into leads and sell more RVs.

If you would like more information on YouTube video marketing for dealerships, please feel free to contact me.

 

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Top 5 Best Practices Learned from Posting to eBay Classifieds

Top 5 Best Practices on eBay Classifieds

Since the roll out of our eBay Classifieds service, we have learned a lot of valuable lessons.  With any new product and marketplace there’s a learning curve and we’ve recently gained more knowledge about what it takes to manage the “art” of posting to eBay classifieds. We want to share the Top 5 Best Practices we’ve learned over the last few weeks with you:

1.)  New eBay accounts require some “Seasoning” similar to the historical Craigslist landscape.
a.)  It’s best to start posting with 5 ads a day and work up to 25 or you may risk
burning your account.

2.)  Dealers with similar inventory need to ensure there is a sufficient vehicle description with enough unique content to differentiate each ad from anther. We’ve found some issues with dealers who have very similar inventory and unfortunately, our system can’t always trick eBay into thinking the ads are unique so they may get flagged.

3.)  Make sure you are not posting any duplicate ads. eBay specifically states you cannot post the same vehicle twice. If you do not want to wait until the 60 day listing period is up, you can delete old ads and re-post. Alternatively, if you want to post to separate cities/markets, then create another eBay Classifieds account.

Separate city, separate market = separate eBay classifieds account

4.)  Using multiple URL’s will contribute to flagging. Dealers should not include a link to their website in the vehicle description feed. eBay does not want to be utilized as a traffic converter, so we advise pulling this domain from the description if you want to have your account maintain in good standing.

5.)  Categorization: eBay has organized categories to guide consumers when looking for specific inventory. It’s important when posting ads to double check that you’re correctly listing inventory under the preferred category, or your ads will be subject to flagging. For example, do not list a motorcycle under the Car category. You can review this before you hit submit on your queue. Also note: Cars is a separate category than Trucks, Vans & SUVs. Listing a 2002 Jeep Cherokee in the Car category will likely not be an issue, but if you want to be specific about where the consumer is looking for your inventory, it’s a good thing to keep in mind.

Finding the eBay Classified Categories
If you have other best practices you would like to share, post them in the comments section below. If you are interested in learning more about our eBay Classifieds module send me a message.

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