Cars.com Podcast: How Do I Know If My Internet Program Needs a Tuneup?

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Q: How do I know if my internet program needs a tuneup?

A: When your internet program falters, resist the temptation to simply throw in the towel on your online marketing initiatives. By asking yourself four questions, you can determine if it’s time to overhaul your program and use the answers to lay out a clear course of action to make the needed repairs:

1. Is your online measurement measuring up? To determine the effectiveness of your program, you must be able to accurately gauge the traffic and sales it generates. If you can’t quantify the number of phone calls, emails and walk-in visits an advertising source delivers each month, then you’re working at a disadvantage. The majority of car buyers use the internet to research their next purchase, so it’s critical you select vendors on hard data and not a gut feeling. To compile this data, take advantage of reporting tools offered by your service providers and conduct post-sale surveys so you can properly source each deal.

2. Do your listings compete with your competitors? On the internet, your nearest competitor is a click away. To attract the attention of online shoppers, you must create compelling ads that fully merchandise the vehicle and sell the value of buying from you. Effective listings include:

  • Multiple pictures. Use several interior and exterior pictures to demonstrate the car’s condition and highlight its passenger and cargo capacity. To build trust, also show any problem areas. To further set your ads apart, use video.
  • Descriptive sell copy. Look beyond the VIN decoder to tell prospects about what makes this vehicle – and your store – special.
  • Competitive prices. While price isn’t the No. 1 priority for buyers, it is an important consideration. Competitively pricing your inventory helps you to maintain gross and assures buyers they’ll get a fair deal.

3. Do your internet sales processes help you sell? Just as you would promptly greet a car buyer who visits your store and work toward a sale, you should take similar steps in your virtual showroom. Online car buyers expect a quick response to their inquiries and direct answers to their questions. To increase your chances of landing the sale, stick with shoppers until they buy or ask you to stop contacting them. Continue to qualify them along the way and open your inventory until you find the right match. If you’re not responding to inquiries within the first hour or following up with prospects for more than a few days, you’re leaving money on the table.

4. Is your staff properly staffed? Last, but not least, look at the people executing your online strategy. If these individuals lack the phone, email and sales skills needed to set appointments and make sales, they’re costing you business. Monitor their emails and phone calls and track the number of vehicles they sell, as well as the appointments they set and keep. Knowing who are your top performers allows you to reward success and identify team members who require additional oversight and training.

If you answered “no” to any or all of these questions, don’t be discouraged. You now know what area of your program to address and what steps to take to correct it. Good luck!

Additional Resources

Looking for additional tips you can implement in your store today to drive more traffic with your online advertising and desk more deals with your internet sales processes? Check out Cars.com’s DealerCenter. Here, you can read previous editions of our DealerADvantage newsletter or listen to archived recordings of our DealerADvantage LIVE webinar series.

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