Advertising online helps you sell more than the cars currently in your store. Unlike traditional media, online advertising provides you with information specific to your market that you can use to transform your business. Here’s how.

The internet not only helps you sell more vehicles faster, it also empowers you to more effectively manage your inventory and pricing. Managers empowered with up-to-date information in tandem with their years of experience are able to combine science and art to have the right mix of vehicles, purchased at the right price and priced for quick sale at maximum gross.

As the internet has become an integral part of automotive marketing, critical shopping information has been collected that was never before available to you. At the same time, the internet is also collecting vital data on what is for sale. The combination proves awesome.

Fifteen years ago, I looked and listened to see what competing dealerships were doing on television, radio and print: What were they promoting, and how were they pricing it? But I couldn’t respond quickly. Television and radio spots take time to produce and get on air. Now, online advertising providers are giving you tools to know exactly how similar vehicles are being priced in your market and how many of them are available in the market. Adjustments in inventory and pricing can be made with greater speed and certainty.

It’s impossible to get real-time information on how prospects are reacting to television and radio ads. Spots have always been designed to make shoppers’ ears perk up at various product and price combinations, but we never knew what was working until we saw the ups and the sales. Today, we know what vehicles are being searched for, which product and price combinations are being selected for further investigation and which result in contacts to dealers like you. What’s more, we know what’s going on across the local market, not just with the limited inventory of the store itself.

The people who have the answers in Monday meetings are going to be the people who have the latest information and know how to apply it:

  • This car has not moved for 60 days, but it is in short supply relative to current demand. Let’s hold the price for another week.
  • These trucks are looking cheaper at auction than we have seen in months, but online shopping volume for everything but the crew cab is down this week. Let’s not overstock ourselves on the others.
  • This model is overstocked in our market, and the ones that have sold were priced online about $300 less than our comparably equipped vehicles. Let’s lower the online prices, highlight the value and plan to carry half as many of them as our previous plan called for.
  • We’re not offering as much information on our trucks as competitors are. That may be why we get action to our online ads but they don’t make the phone ring.

If you’re looking to increase your business and improve your ability to compete with the store down the street, I’d suggest getting to know the new tools available from your online service providers. Reporting tools offer far more than an overview of your advertising value. Used effectively, these reports open a window into the dynamics that affect your store and your ability to outsell the competition. Combined with your knowledge of the sales processes that work best with your target customer group, they provide you with the quantitative and qualitative data that minimize the uncertainty of how to stock, price and merchandise your inventory.

Additional Resources:

Online demonstration: To view a demo of Cars.com’s online ad reports, click here.