Dealer Best Practices: Tell a Story with Online Vehicle Listings

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Almost every dealer markets their cars online nowadays. But the online space is crowded with competition, all vying for the attention of that shopper who will ultimately visit a showroom and buy from the dealer that catches their eye. So, how do you get their attention? To answer that question, the Just the Fax podcast team brought Marcy Medinger, Chief Optimizer and Founder of MMDealer Advocates. Marcy and Co-Host Bob Grill took some time to chat about how dealers can stand apart from the competition.

Reaction Leads to Transaction

Most dealers will tell you they’re in the car business – but Bob and Marcy agreed that they’re actually in the reaction business. If you can get shoppers to react to your online vehicle listing, you’re more likely to get them in to buy from you.  Customers want to feel a reaction when they’re shopping for cars, and the description is the first chance dealers have to get that reaction.

Make the Description Unique

Many dealers tell us they’re seeing reduced online traffic or that online vehicle listings aren’t working as well as they used to. According to consumers, many of whom also talk to CARFAX, the number one complaint when shopping online is that they can’t tell the difference from one car to the next. Dealers who focus on what makes that car unique, and tell its unique story, have an advantage.

Consumers are using search engines like Google to find what they really want. There are thousands of search results for “non-smoking,” “affordable,” “one-owner,” “clean,” “well-maintained,” and many other terms that can make your car more visible to the right buyer. Include specific terms and tell a unique story: it’s great for a teenager, or has ten airbags, or is perfect for a growing family or outdoor adventures to help the customer find what they’re looking for.

Leave Features Off the Description

Most VDPs today already list every car’s features. Adding them to the vehicle description became popular as a search engine optimization (SEO) technique years ago. But, today, consumers find the practice frustrating. There’s not a car made today that doesn’t have power windows, so listing them in the description doesn’t help the consumer understand why they should buy this car over another one. If the vehicle has something truly unique, be sure to describe it, but otherwise, focus on the story.

Tell the Car’s Story

Just posting a price, list of features, and 30 images may fall short compared to a unique story. Let’s use the example of a Chevy Camaro. It could be listed with photos, features, and a price of $27,500. Or, it was a Chevy Camaro bought new by a guy who used to pamper it. He loved the car. It was his baby until he had a second kid and his wife said, “It’s got to go.” Not only does the story appeal to people who can identify with the owner, it gives the salesperson something to engage with that buyer on, other than price and features. 

Be Transparent and Tell the Whole Story

Your listing is an opportunity to share both the story and the complete vehicle history for shoppers. The days of just bringing in as much traffic as you can to the dealership and “sorting them out when they get here” are over. Instead, create your listing to attract the right buyer. It’s more efficient and more likely to draw customers into your dealership to buy a car they know is going to be right for them. And, because CARFAX is so highly trusted by consumers, sharing a CARFAX Vehicle History Report further helps establish that confidence.

Simplify Your VDP

The best practice is not to over-complicate the VDP. Presenting a customer with a VDP description, car story widget, window-sticker widget, and more can drive them away. Shoppers want the CARFAX vehicle history report and a detailed VDP description – but what they really connect with is a story. Tell a good story, and you can really help that car stand out to the right buyer.

Want the rest of the details on grabbing attention online in today’s market? Listen to the full conversation between Bob and Marcy on Just the Fax.

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