Descriptive Ads Perform Best on Craigslist and eBay Motors

News Journalist

In the past, we’ve discussed the importance of pictures in your online inventory listings. That hasn’t changed, but it’s important that we make sure we don’t take away from the other important component of your listings: the descriptions.

A picture might say a thousand words, but the details you can put into the descriptions of your vehicles have a big impact on your ability to move those units. Sites like Craigslist and eBay Motors offer plenty of room to be as descriptive as you want, so use that space to its fullest potential.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re putting together your inventory descriptions:

  • Remember the Keywords: Both sites tell you not to try to “optimize” your posts to be able to come up in more searches. This is a somewhat misleading notion. You should definitely include keywords in your descriptions. Just make sure that the keywords are relevant. If it’s a convertible, be sure to note that in the description. The search algorithms cannot determine it’s a convertible if you don’t tell it so and people will definitely be searching for that option if it’s important to them.
  • Use Paragraphs: The easiest way to prevent people from reading your descriptions is to make everything one long paragraph. Break it up. Group them together. Use bullet points. One long paragraph will turn people away very quickly.
  • Tell the Vehicle’s Story: It isn’t just about listing all of the features. You want to tell what you can about the vehicle. Our posting tool will allow you to pull in descriptions that you plug into other sources, so having the words that tell the vehicle’s story can help to make your car more compelling. You don’t have to be a Pulitzer Prize winner to put together a good description. Just say it like it is.
  • Avoid Annoying Elements: It must say in some book that gives bad advice about inventory listings that you should use ALL CAPS in your descriptions because we see it used very often. This annoys readers and makes it challenging to read. Also, avoid colloquialisms or other loose types of speech. It’s fine to put personality into your listings, but you shouldn’t post things like, “This car is the bomb” or other phrases that make you sound immature. People like to buy vehicles from professionals.

By plugging in the right descriptions and using these best practices, you’ll see that your vehicles become more visible on these sites and that they convert better as well!

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How to use eBay to sell more vehicles

Some eBay dealers report that 70% of their sales are to consumers who have not physically seen the vehicle. If dealerships take care to appoint an eBay employee, the process can be very quick and easy. Dealerships are also reporting good sales of new vehicles on eBay as well as used. In Sara Dean’s article, she does a great job of sharing why eBay is a valuable resource for dealerships. She also mentions LotVantage as a company to help streamline the process of posting inventory to eBay.

How to use eBay to sell more vehicles

Posted in Automotive by Sara Dean

 Love My Car

Almost everyone is familiar with eBay and how it operates. For those who don’t know, a seller lists an item on the auction website and lets consumers bid on the item for a predetermined amount of time. The person who bids the most wins the item and the seller then arranges to distribute the item to the winning bidder. The seller can also opt to feature a Buy It Now button where consumers can purchase the item at a set price. Traditionally, eBay featured products from small businesses and individual sellers and was a great way to build their businesses, but the automotive industry quickly realized eBay’s potential and eBay motors was formed.

Many dealerships are hesitant to use eBay as a sales tool for their vehicles for many reasons. They fear that consumers will not want to purchase a vehicle sight unseen, they fear it will take up too much of their time, or they fear that they can only sell used vehicles on the site. All of these fears can quickly be disputed. Some eBay dealers report that 70% of their sales are to consumers who have not physically seen the vehicle. If dealerships take care to appoint an eBay employee, the process can be very quick and easy. Dealerships are also reporting good sales of new vehicles on eBay as well as used with companies like LotVantage helping them. The great thing about eBay is that it has a global reach so you can get in front of a larger consumer audience.

Here are some of the reasons that dealerships fail when they attempt eBay: Lack of Understanding on how to use eBay, Lack of Process at the dealership, Lack of Accountability, and Lack of Execution. How can your dealership remedy these issues? Train their employees on how to properly use eBay Motors. There are several sales tools on eBay Motor’s site that can help your employees understand how it works and to build a process for your dealership to succeed. When an effective eBay selling process is in place the following should be identified: What selling activity will be done? When the selling activity should be done. Who will manage each selling activity? What are the performance standards for each selling activity? When your dealership has a clear eBay selling process, it is a very successful outlet to reach millions of customers.

What should your eBay listing include? Photos are probably one of the most important features of your listing. Although stock photos are a great start, it is even better to have multiple quality pictures of the actual vehicle. Include both interior and exterior photos. It is also recommended that along with the Year/Make/Model and VIN, that a full vehicle description is listed in your post so that the consumer has as much information as they need in one spot. Include mileage and all options that are the vehicle are equipped with.

If you are new to eBay Motors selling, it is recommended to start with 10-20 vehicle listings so that you can easily maintain the inventory as well as see what is working for your dealership. You can then tweak the listings if needed to make them more effective. When you have figured out what works, you can slowly increase the inventory. It is also recommended that 50% of your inventory be made up of your new vehicle franchises brand, and 50% competitive make or conquest brand. The recommended amount of days to list vehicles on eBay is 7 to 10, but they can be listed for longer.

When you follow eBay Motors very detailed steps on how to sell vehicles on their website, you can have great success. There are several training tools on their website, and they hold various trainings that your dealership can sign up for. There are online webinars as well as physical trainings that your dealership personnel can attend to get a better understanding of how to use eBay as an effective selling tool to increase your dealership’s bottom line.

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How Inventory Marketing is Evolving in 2015

The car business is in a constant state of change. This is due to four factors: technology, consumer expectations, economy, and dealership/OEM priorities. One thing that doesn’t change is the need for dealers to market their inventory with solid strategies.

Let’s take a look at the factors that influence how inventory is marketed, then we’ll discuss the ways that dealers can take advantages of the changes that follow.

Technology

It wasn’t very long ago that dealers, vendors, and even OEMs would laugh at the notion of people shopping for cars on their mobile devices. Sure, the old flip phones and Blackberries has the ability to surf the net, but it was normally driven by very slow connections and the small screen experience was abysmal on most sites.

We’re not talking about decades ago. This was the way that mobile browsing worked for most consumers less than 7 years ago. It’s the most obvious example of how technological changes have influenced how our industry operates. It won’t be the last.

Consumer Expectations

Within the changing paradigm of consumer expectations are two primary factors that influence them: age and sentiment. Millennials, for example, were not of much interest to dealers a few years ago for the simple reason that most of them were not of car-buying age. Today, a good chunk of them are and more of them are entering into the market for the first time every day.

The other aspect, sentiment, is driven by the changing geo-political structure. It is mercurial compared to just a couple of decades ago when brands were able to maintain strong positive sentiment for long periods of time. Today, the public opinion about a company can change as the result of a public relations blunder, a consumer group attack, or even a simple Tweet that goes viral.

Consumers today are less loyal to individual brands but more influenced by changes in the sentiment about particular cars, manufacturers, and dealers.

Economy

We’re in a growth market. More people bought cars in 2013 than 2012. More people bought cars in 2014 than 2013. it’s up for debate whether this trend will continue in 2015.

It isn’t just about the condition of the general economy. There are other economic factors that influence the way that dealers should be marketing their inventory. For example, at the time of this article, gas prices are lower than they’ve been in years. This has an effect on sales of nearly all types of vehicles. The compacts, hybrids, and electric vehicles are less appealing than they were when gas was a dollar or two higher, while trucks and SUVs are more viable. This can change quickly.

Dealership/OEM Priorities

Depending on what’s in stock, a dealership has the need to push a particular model at any given point. Then, once you add in the requirements and incentives that the OEMs put out, they can put a focus on a different set of new vehicles.

The ability to be nimble and push the right inventory out to the right people is an extremely important part of inventory marketing in 2015.

What it All Means

All of these changes as part of the evolution of the car business means that dealers need to follow the best practices that seem to always be changing. There are always going to be new ways for dealers to market their inventory, but one thing definitely won’t change: you have to be everywhere.

We can all look at the way that things are changing and make the decision that we have to constantly change the way we market, but that isn’t necessarily the solution. Applying the data we have in hand to the various marketing venues is the key to successful inventory marketing in 2015. It can all seem very complex and in many ways it is. However, there are some things that are much simpler than they seem.

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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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