It’s easy to get carried away with complex digital marketing strategies, but dealers need to get the basics right when displaying their used cars online.
Barry Cooper, Cooper Solutions’ director, said: “If the basics are not well monitored and managed they can dilute the effectiveness of any used car marketing.”
♦ Purchase price – if it’s too high and not written back from day one, it can lead to uncompetitive pricing or low potential margin or both.
♦ Speed of preparation should be measured per car and the average per month. Single figures is a reasonable average, five days is good.
♦ The number of unprepared cars and their age should be known and estimated preparation dates monitored.
♦ Appraisals should record expected preparation costs and compare them with actual values spent when the car is prepared; poor appraisals will lead to unforeseen costs that can reduce margin and increase prep time.
♦ Cars must be well photographed with an accurate specification and mileage.
♦ Comparison to CAP or guide values at appraisal, purchase and during stocking can help ensure appropriate SIV (stand in values) and allow provisions to be made as stock ages.
♦ Customers need to be able to access all this information on their smartphone and tablet. Is your website mobile compatible?
♦ Respond quickly to enquiries. What is your average response time? Some UK dealers are benchmarking a six-second response for live chat enquiries and 30 minutes for an email. Auto-replies do not count.
Monitoring return on investment
Online classifieds sites should all be able to offer dealers monitoring tools to track where their leads are coming from. Dealers should be able to use these reporting tools (often provided for free) to constantly review what’s working for them and to renegotiate deals.
Auto Trader offers a free tool, Response Tracker, through its dealer portal. Rival Motors.co.uk offers The Eye, also free, and accessed online.
Dealers should be monitoring live statistics, including the number of times their vehicles have been viewed on a network and which models are generating sales leads.
Other companies offer software packages, such as Manheim’s Lead Management (previously called e-GoodManners), which lets dealers identify where sales leads have come from. Benfield Motor Group uses a variety of classifieds websites and has developed its own methods for monitoring leads, rather than use a variety of different systems.
Adam Bullion, Auto Trader, head of B2B marketing, said: “Each marketing campaign should have set objectives, related to the investment for that campaign, by which success should be measured.
“Increases in the number of enquiries, hits on the website, test drives or live chat and social media interactions need to be compared with an objective or a benchmark to be relevant, as should increases in sales, improvement in stock turn and enhanced profit margins. The great benefit of digital is that measurements are immediately available.”
Dealers looking to use Google to target customers can create their own adverts and use keywords that will attract customers in their chosen area. Businesses can use Google’s AdWords tools to find keywords that customers enter into a search engine to find a used car in their area. There’s no minimum spending requirement and dealers are only charged if people click on an advert. It is also possible to set adverts to appear only to people that are searching in a particular region, e.g. within a 25-mile radius of the dealership.