Dealerships around the country continue to struggle with difficult market conditions driven by high fuel costs and gloomy economic forecasts. Not only are more and more consumers rethinking their time frames for major vehicle purchases, but when they do buy, theyre spending less money. As a result, many dealers are experiencing a decline in new vehicle sales and profits. Without a doubt, its a challenging time in the auto industry.
To counteract the slump, many dealers have begun to focus their marketing and sales efforts on higher margin used vehicles. Not surprisingly, Internet marketing of pre-owned inventory is receiving a lot of attention these days as dealers seek out new, more effective methods of selling their used car inventory online.
In the past, dealers relied on third-party portal sites such as AutoTrader.com and Cars.com to showcase their vehicles online. Inventory distribution to multiple portals has helped many dealerships raise their profile on the Internet, but as dealers have come to realize, increased visibility doesnt always guarantee more leads. This is because portals contain listings from thousands of dealerships. When a consumer searches a portal for a particular vehicle, all listings that match the search criteria will show up on the same page. A single search can return hundreds of listings from dozens of different dealerships, which makes it easy to get lost in the crowd.
Dealers who have tried to get around this problem by driving consumers directly to their own Website have experienced mixed and oftentimes disappointing results. One of the biggest hurdles with marketing used vehicle inventory online is that most dealership Websites are not search engine friendly. In other words, the sites coding, presentation, and structure arent designed in a way that allows search engines to easily read and index the pre-owned vehicle content. As a result, when a consumer uses a search engine like Google or Yahoo! to locate a used auto, the dealerships Website will appear very low in the search results-or not show up at all. The buyer will instead be directed to large consumer automotive portals. These sites typically rank high in search results, because both their new and used vehicle content can be crawled (viewed and indexed).
The only way for a dealership to drive in-market used vehicle consumer traffic to its Website is through a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) program designed specifically for pre-owned vehicle content. Optimizing a site in this way will ensure that the dealership achieves a high ranking in search engine results.
Dealers who have implemented SEO programs targeted specifically towards the pre-owned market are seeing significant increases in leads and used vehicle sales. They no longer have to rely on portals to promote their pre-owned inventory, or pay costly lead fees. It is a sure-fire, cost-effective marketing strategy that can help any dealership increase sales and profits.
Todd Swickard is president and CEO of Auto Dealer Traffic. For more information, call 614-225-0580 or email [email protected]0
Latest posts by Todd Swickard
- SEO and Your Used Inventory - August 25, 2009
- Turn The Tide With Used Vehicle Inventory Marketing - May 30, 2008