On Social Media, the Middle Ground is No Man’s Land

Social Media at Hand

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.

Why Car Dealers Should Adopt a Modern Digital Merchandising Strategy

Car Dealer Inventory

Most people have mastered the skill of shopping. They have been on the internet for so long that they understand the power of choice that the internet gives them. In fact, there are people hitting the car market for the first time who never knew a world without the internet.

Many car dealers have shifted their attentions and advertising budgets to focus strictly on sending people to their own websites. It’s a revolution of sorts as they begin consolidating their digital presence so that everything is funneled directly to them. The concept has legs; generating “1st party leads” has proven to be the highest quality and yields the best chances per lead of turning it into a sale.

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Strong Focus is Imperative for Automotive Social Media

Focus

The evolution of social media over the years has been interesting to watch, particularly in the automotive industry. As a business tool, there have been more strategies that have come and gone than ones that have stood the test of time.

Believe it or not, social media is around a decade old in its current form. One can argue that earlier types of social media were around in the 90s, but the modern variation of social media really started with sites like MySpace that gained popularity in 2004 and started really making an impact in 2005 and 2006.

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Why Putting Your Social Media on AutoPilot is the Best Answer for Many Car Dealers

Automatic

The original purpose of social media was to allow people to share things in their life or that they find important with other people regardless of where they are. Over the years, there have been many questions posed about the validity of social media as a business-driving venue for car dealers, but one thing is certain: it’s here and isn’t going away any time soon, so dealers need to pay attention to it.

Unfortunately, that means that dealerships need to invest time, money, or both into keeping up with their social profiles and pages. The venues themselves might be free, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t come at a cost. Most dealerships do not have dedicated personnel to manage their social media, which means that either their social presence will suffer or other things that might be more business-crucial will suffer as a result.

LotVantage heard the needs of our clients and we’ve responded with a social media tool that allows you to put your presence on autopilot. Even if you’re not sold on the benefits of social media, you need to maintain your profiles and pages for the people that do visit them while researching the dealership. This is why we feel we have the right answer for you.

Our social media tool allows you to set up posting to Facebook and Twitter that operates automatically. It will pull from your inventory and post it in the most appropriate manner. It will then pull articles from industry publications, YouTube channels, and other websites of your choice to post at the frequency you want without having to manually locate and post the content. This gives your social media the personalized feel that you want without having to invest your own time or much money towards the tasks.

We know it’s not for everyone. There are dealers who are doing a fantastic job of managing their social media. There are vendors out there that are handling it all for their clients. While there’s nothing wrong with either option, our social media tool is much less time-consuming, much less expensive, and more efficient than the alternatives. If gives you every benefit you hope to receive from social media while keeping time commitments and costs to a minimum.

If your dealership is struggling to keep up with social media or if you’re spending hundreds, even thousands of dollars to have someone else manage it, you should contact us. We can deliver better results for a fraction of the time and money you’re investing today.

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.

The Cost of Free and Why Craigslist is Better Now

DonutsThere are plenty of things offered to car dealers that fall under the category of “free”. Co-op money from the OEM is normally considered free. The donuts that the Cars.com representative brings every month are seen as free. Even the materials that the OEM and other suppliers send you to market your cars and services can be viewed as free.

The reality is that none of them are truly free. You’re paying for them, not directly, but through other moneys or efforts that you have to put into these companies in order for them to offer you the freebies. Would the Cars.com rep still bring Panera Bread every month if you stopped paying for their service? Of course not.

There’s another angle to the question of freebies that should be considered. How much are those freebies hurting you? Is it better to use the best PPC provider or to use the OEM-approved one? That depends. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t take advantage of the freebies. You simply need to be careful with how you position your advertising and marketing around the concept of free or paid-for rather than hopping on it every time it’s available.

We witnessed this first-hand when the “free” postings on Craigslist were replaced by paid listings. Many dealers stopped posting to Craigslist for this reason and the decision was often justifiable. However, there’s a side-effect to the removal of the free ads that has helped dealers achieve a dramatically higher return on investment. The “thinning of the herd” on Craigslist has added real value to the paid listings to the point that dealers who were finding some success on Craigslist before are finding much more of it now.

The rise of paid listings on Craigslist gives a much higher exposure level to their inventory than ever before. Direct leads, clicks to the website, and searches for the dealerships have all increased substantially. As a result, sales have gone up as well.

When Craigslist switched to a paid model, they turned a really good service into an incredible one. It’s a must-have for aggressive dealers who want to get their inventory in front of more buyers at a low cost.

Some would say that it’s too expensive at $5 per car, but if you really think about it, this is far from the case. Let’s take pay-per-click advertising on Google, for example. In many cases, dealers are paying $5 or more for a single click to the vehicle. With Craigslist, you have a much higher potential to get people to view your inventory at a lower cost.

Everyone loves to get something for free. There’s a sense of accomplishment in knowing that we’re spending less as a result of our decisions, but there is also a conventional wisdom that says you get what you pay for. With the current Craigslist model, you get more than what you pay for, especially when you compare it to other advertising venues. This is why Craigslist is better now than ever before.

Just a Reminder: Pictures Sell Cars

Good Inventory ImagesBack 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 1. 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 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 a 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 3rd-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 site for as much as 30 days without an image.

The good part about improving on 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 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.

You’re Still Missing Out On Selling More Cars with Craigslist

Chasing MoneyIt’s amazing to see the transformation and dealership mindset that has occurred over the past 6months 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

 

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 us a message or click here to learn more.

Five Myths About Selling Vehicles on eBay Motors

Myth vs. Truth

We’ve all been skeptical at some point about eBay and its effectiveness to sell vehicles. Some dealers have been hesitant to fully commit to placing their inventory on one of the best-selling platforms around. We would like to share with you some of the most common Myths surrounding eBay Motors.

Myth 1 “Prospects on eBay Motors aren’t serious buyers”

Truth1

  • Vehicle shoppers are very serious about their intent to purchase a vehicle if they are willing to fork over personal info including their credit card and security codes.
  • Dealers can increase your closing ration 20% or more by taking the time to implement an eBay Motors sales process from the total quantity of prospective buyers.

Myth 2   “eBay Motors is only for specialty or rare/exotic vehicles”

Truth2

  • eBay Motors is a great secondary sales channel for the majority of dealer partners for every type of vehicle they sell.
  • Most dealer inventory is mixed 50/50, primary franchise model pre-owned and conquest model pre-owned.
  • Dealers are now discovering that eBay Motors is also an effective venue for selling new vehicle inventory as well.

Myth 3 – “The Consumer has to physically see the vehicle before buying”

Truth 3

  • Reports show that 70% of dealers sales through eBay are delivered to out of state customers based on photos.
  • Maintaining high feedback scores instill trust and confidence for the customer.
  • Providing ample quality photos, and make terms and conditions clear help shoppers make purchasing commitments.

Myth 4 – “We can’t hold gross with an eBay Motors buyer”

Truth 4

  • Surveys show the majority of dealer partners hold average to above average gross on pre-owned vehicle sales originating from eBay Motors.
  • Some shoppers will have an unrealistic expectation of your selling price. A good majority will appreciate a vehicle that is priced fairly in relation to their local markets. eBay gives consumers the sense of confidence that they haven’t over paid for their vehicle.

Myth 5 – “Maintaining a presence on eBay is too difficult”

Truth 5

  • Any dealer profit center would have to implement an effective sales operation just like any other marketing outlet.
  • eBay makes it easy to implement a sales strategy and achieve a significant ROI for committed dealerships with their wide range of resources.

Do you have a myth and truth you would like to share that others would benefit from? Post it below or on our Facebook fan page.