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How to “Win the Click”

In today’s automotive digital arena, “winning the click” is where the money’s at.

Let’s face it – if you want sell cars you have to get people to click through to look at what you have to offer.  We’ve all seen the studies that show 63-69% (depending what study you read) of customers’ first contact with a dealership is when they walk in the showroom.  The big question that most dealers are asking is: “What can I do to strengthen my odds that they are going to come see me?”

Unfortunately, there’s not one specific answer to that question; it’s a combination of many things.  If you look at the auto buying survey that Google did, it shows that consumers look at 18.2 sources of information before they buy a vehicle.

If consumers are looking at that many sources, it’s obvious that the answer to the big question is that you need to provide them with multiple pieces of information and influence them throughout their research.  The data must be independent data with no bias to draw them to your store. But that leads to another big question: “What information?”

In order to answer this question, you have to know what concerns buyers have when buying a vehicle.  If you were to ask most car guys these days they would answer, “PRICE!”   However, that is not the main concern of most customers.  On a scale of 1-10, studies show that consumers rate price between 6 and 8, depending on which survey you read.  In actuality, there are three top concerns consumers have when buying a used vehicle:


  1. Am I getting a good deal? Just because a customer asks this question doesn’t mean they’re necessarily price-focused.  Obviously price is a factor to any customer, but the key thing to remember is that people will pay more for something if they feel it is worth it.  So how do you let them know your car is worth more? Data!

Most of the data you push out to the web is canned, generic information.  Your data must be relevant.  Point out the top value highlights of the vehicle.  If you rely on the consumer to decipher a bullet-pointed list of 50-100 vehicle options on the VDP of your vehicle, you’ll never maximize your click-through rate.

The next piece of data is how your vehicle stacks up against the competition. Most car guys think, “in order to stack up I have to price my vehicle in the dirt.”  That’s only true if you don’t have a value-building strategy built into the merchandising of your vehicles. This is where the second top concern comes into play.


  1. Am I buying a reliable vehicle? How does a consumer know that the vehicle they are considering will be reliable?  Carfax is a great vehicle history report that consumers want to see, but consumers want even more. You may be confident that the vehicle is reliable, but what are you doing to get that point across online?  The reality is that your dealership is probably spending an average of $700 or more to recondition a vehicle.  Why spend that money in recon?  The typical answer is to make the vehicle reliable for the customer.  If that’s the reason for doing it, why not highlight the reconditioning so your customer can see what you did for them.  Not only would it answer one of the consumer’s top concerns, but a description and a VDP that highlights recon would also set you apart from the competition.  Right now, though, you’re probably relying on your sales staff to build value in the vehicle when the customers get there.  But how often do you really think they are doing that?  In order to win the click, it’s critical to educate a consumer on why they should pay more for your vehicle before they arrive at the dealership.

If two of the same cars are parked next to each other, price alone cannot answer which is the better value.  One may have a sunroof, alloy wheels, new tires, and new brakes while the other one doesn’t.  Or maybe one had a 60K service and the other didn’t.  In either case, in order to win the click the key is providing relevant information to the consumer before they get to the dealership.  Consumers will pay more for reliability.


  1. Am I buying from a reputable dealership? Are you a reputable dealership? How does the consumer know this? How transparent is the online information you provide? What does a customer see if they Google you? Will they see positive reviews? Do you show a market comparison highlighting how you stack up against the competition? Is the comparison accessible on your VDP page?  Your merchandising should be structured in such a way that emphasizes transparency.

In closing, remember that success leaves clues. These are the strategies progressive dealers are using to pick off your customers one by one.  The problem is that most won’t realize it until it’s too late.  In order to prevent the bleed, you have to look in the mirror and recognize that if you don’t get an effective digital strategy it’s just a matter of time before the digital world will eat your business away.  If you want to win the click and capture more customers, commit to these proven strategies for success.



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