Owning Online Real Estate

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Statistically speaking, owning real estate on the heavily trafficked parts of main street USA has had a positive effect on the long-term ROI of automotive dealers; having your dealership on a main street in your particular market has been vital to be competitive. But, in terms of where prospective car buyers spend the majority of their time today, this has shifted.

The 2011 Polk Automotive Buyer Study found that today’s car buyers spend more time with their eyes glued to cars on a computer screen than to cars on an actual car lot. According to the study, prospective buyers now spend an average of 11 hours doing research before they set foot on a car lot; and they’re only averaging about seven hours at the dealerships. This 24/7 access to information via the internet has drastically tipped the scales in favor of “online real estate” (i.e. computer screens, smart phones, or tablets) over traditional main street USA real estate.

Google’s2011 Automotive Buyer Study found that today’s car buyer uses a tablet or smart phone to perform a search over 50 percent of the time. What does this mean in regard to search and your dealership? Well, tablet and smart phone screens average three to nine inches (which is smaller than a normal computer screen by roughly 50 percent), so being found on page one of search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing is increasingly critical; searching on a small screen can be hard on the eyes, especially when trying to scroll though pages and pages of results to find what you are seeking. Only two percent of car buyers actually go past page one of the search results now, so if your ads are not appearing on page one, you are probably getting no exposure to in-market buyers. Using video in search (VSEO) is a great way to be on page one of the search engines—using sight, sound, and motion to connect via prospective car buyers with the most engaging media format available. Just like in the game of Monopoly, he who owns the most property wins…and page one of search is the new “Boardwalk.”

One dealership actively using VSEO is Pacific Volkswagen, part of the LAcarGuy family of dealerships in greater Los Angeles. Brad Burlingham, vice president of marketing for the group says “We are using Video SEO to gain manyfirst page Google listings under thousands of keyword combinations for our brands and markets. This enables us to reduce other competing dealer andthird-party website listings, and helps us gain an edge to get exposure to prospective buyers.” The screenshot with this article for “2012 VW CC TORRANCE” shows that Pacific VW has five videos on the top of the search page, as well as their website listing. This effectively increases Pacific VW’s online market share while reducing exposure for their competitors. Also, there is a third-party website listing (outlined in red) that takes prospects to just one web page that has over 21 different dealers listings competing to sell this model. Start using Video SEO today to gain an edge and increase your online market share to in-market buyers.

AJ LeBlanc, is the cofounder of Car-mercial.com and Carbuyersengine.com. For more information, email aleblanc@dealermark.com or visit www.car-mercial.com and www.carbuyersengine.com.

Cody Larson


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