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Used cars: How the internet can transform your marketing

Internet, internet, internet. When it comes to the best way to market used cars, tell us something we don’t know.

If only it were that simple.

With a myriad of used car advertising websites, the complexities of Google ratings and the rise of social media all vying for a slice of dealers’ limited marketing spend, the choice can be overwhelming.

Refreshingly, the opinions of a range of players in the used car marketing sector were remarkably similar. In a nutshell, the internet rules, mobiles are taking over, content is king, Google calls the shots and Facebook has a role.

But what was interesting, was the view that the days of traditional media are not entirely over.

Dealers need to ensure their used cars are seen by as many people as possible and once a would-be buyer has been attracted, must work at keeping them engaged.


While understanding the necessity of a decent site engine optimisation (SEO) campaign to boost website rankings is well understood, the intricacies of Google can be another story with ‘penguins’ and ‘pandas’ as the protagonists.

Used car advertising website’s head of marketing and research Dermot Kelleher points out that as a dealer’s website is vital for business, changes to Google searches cannot be ignored.

In short, Google introduced a significant change to its algorithm last year – nicknamed Google Panda – which saw Google reward content-rich and often updated websites with higher rankings while punishing those which failed to deliver new and unique information.

Google’s ‘Penguin’ update in April of this year marked another significant way it ranks sites, weeding out those with links from websites with poor content (or with obviously ‘paid for’ links) in favour of those with strong, quality, naturally acquired links.

Falling into one of these traps can seriously impede appearing in used car searches.

Kelleher said: “Consistently ranking well in Google search results is incredibly important to sites like ours and should be a key consideration for any marketing director with responsibility for generating visits to their dealership website.

We would urge dealers to think very carefully about the volume and quality of inbound links to their own site, focus on creating unique editorial content, ensure this content is updated consistently and that content is not focused on just one area of the site.”

Keeping in touch

Marketing Delivery has seen the internet-savvy used car buyer evolve and the dealers who have kept pace are the ones reaping the rewards.

Managing director Jeremy Evans explained: “It’s imperative that dealers maintain communication with the people who come to them via the web and mobile web, but it is just as important to communicate in the same way the initial contact came about which invariably means via email or text.”

Evans is in the business of ensuring dealers keep communication channels open and has seen clients’ conversion rates increase from around 25% three years ago to 40% today reflecting a change in consumer behaviour: “Consumers are much further down the purchase route when they submit their enquiry.

"The dealers who continue to communicate with these enquirers are more than likely to win the sale.”

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