Looking for a way to identify Internet shoppers as soon as they walk into your store? Make ’em an offer they can’t refuse.

As we discuss in this month’s article on media measurement, dealerships need to know the most effective place to advertise so they can best allocate their budget dollars. To determine how well your online ads drive walk-in traffic, include an incentive in the listing notes that requires shoppers to print the ad and present it to the Internet sales department.

Typical incentives include:

An Internet price
In states where special Internet pricing is permitted, dealers frequently use an Internet price to identify Internet shoppers. The price posted in your online listings doesn’t have to be significantly less than the lot price, but it should end in a nonstandard number. In other words, if your lot prices typically end in a “9” or a “5,” then make your Internet price end in an “8” or a “3.” When a walk-in wants to see your 1997 Buick Riviera advertised for $7,993 — not $7,999 — for example, you’ll know you have an Internet shopper.

Alternatively, many dealers offer a coupon good for $250 off the best negotiated price. Dealers tell us that this amount is the sweet spot for attracting buyers. They say $150 is too low to stir interest while $500 isn’t believed.

Fuel card
Even with the cost of fuel dropping in recent weeks, car buyers are certain to appreciate free fill-ups. Let your budget be your guide, but an incentive of a fuel card valued at $50 or more with a purchase will ensure buyers bring their business to the Internet department vs. a salesperson working the floor that they meet on their way in the door.

Dinner for two
Who said there was no such thing as a free meal? A gift certificate to a quality, popular restaurant in your town may be just the thing to seal the deal.

Internet parking
Let your Internet customers know that you’ve set aside for them a special parking place near the front of the store. You’ll be able to see them as they enter the door, and, while they shop, a member of your service department can wash their vehicle.

Regardless of the offer you choose, these incentives create a win-win scenario for you and the customer. Not only will you be able to track the reach of your Internet advertising, but you’ll have a better feel for where customers are in the shopping process. Chances are good that they have more than a passing interest in a car after they’ve spent time researching it online and made the effort to visit your store, with your special offer in hand.