It’s make-or-break time for automotive retailers. U.S. automakers reported that the average selling price of a new car is increasing based on August auto sales, but the demand for passenger cars is dropping, and as the industry approaches the fourth quarter, clouds are on the horizon in the form of expected higher interest rates and the threat of tariffs on auto imports.1 As auto manufacturers roll out their 2019 models in coming weeks, dealerships can end the year strong nevertheless by making your inventory shine. Here are a few ways:
Maximize the Value of Your Online Inventory
With digital being an integral part of the car shopper’s research, dealerships need to ensure that your digital vehicle detail pages (VDPs) on sites such as Cars.com tell the full story of your 2019 models. VDPs free dealerships from the constraints of a 30-second voiceover or column inches. Advertisers can ensure that their seller notes and feature listings paint the story of how each trim and style level differs, along with what aftermarket additions make the vehicle unique. The digital VDP is a competitive asset that drives customers to the lot. But like all assets, it requires care and feeding to bear fruit. In the age of Instagram and YouTube, your VDP needs to feature striking visuals (not boring stock photos) and video. Make sure the unique features of the car, whether they be a lift kit or chrome finish handles, appear early enough in the photo order to be featured in a stitch video. Impactful photos paired with well-written content that sells the vehicle — instead of listing features like a catalog — can really make the difference. Don’t count on your manufacturer alone to tell the story of the new model year: highlight key differences from the 2018s for the enthusiast buyer, while ensuring the best features stand out clearly for first-time new car shoppers.
Maximize the Power of Reviews
Our own research shows that about eight out of 10 shoppers rely on online reviews to purchase a car.2 Manage reviews of your vehicles carefully. Ask customers to review your inventory and use tools such as LotShot from DealerRater to make it easier for customers to post photos and reviews of their cars. Follow reviews from third-party sites such as Cars.com and share them on your site. (On Cars.com, we’re reviewing 2019 models via objective research.) You can leverage expert reviews to ensure the consumer feels comfortable on being an early adopter for the 2019 models, and dealer reviews to ensure the trust to buy from you and not visit a competitor.
Capture High-Quality Leads
Capitalize on every opportunity to attract high-quality leads. Of course, not all leads are the same. As we discussed in The Cars.com Guide to Converting Leads to Sales in the Digital Era, internet leads need to be treated differently than phone leads. With internet leads, dealers have access to tools that capture and direct online activity such as searches to qualified leads. For instance, the Cars.com NewLeadsPlus product connects you with ready-to-buy, new-car shoppers using top search engines and automotive destination websites on whatever device they choose — computer, tablet or smartphone. You can learn more about our NewLeadsPlus offering here.
In addition, it’s always a good practice to maximize the value of your digital brand to achieve maximum visibility, such as ensuring that you’re combining paid and organic media where shoppers are looking for you. I commented on these tactics in a recent post about Labor Day car sales – but they apply all-year round, too. (Go here for more.) Contact your Cars.com sales representative to learn more.