Strathcom’s Online Car Selling Checklist
Can a computer sell a car? While much of the online car selling process is automated these days, the answer is still no. To successfully sell a car online, there are a few essential points that auto dealers and individual sellers need to remember. Mere hours of work, invested by a few people, can dramatically improve your vehicle sales online.
Before you post your vehicles on the internet, double-check Strathcom’s Online Car Selling Checklist:
1. Do you have great descriptions to hook your reader?
When you’re selling online, you need to engage your reader the same way an author does, in the first paragraph. Do you have detailed, complete vehicle descriptions? If not, don’t expect to sell cars.
*Pictures and descriptions can lower a bounce rate by up to 60% (Bounce rate is the percentage of people that leave your site without clicking through to another page)
- Be descriptive — “soft, heated leather upholstery” sounds better than just “heated seats.”
- Use safe terminology — avoid words like “mint” or “new.” A car isn’t new if it’s three years old. Rather, use ambiguous or interpretive terminology like “very clean,” which won’t cause problems down the road.
- Use words people relate to — “well maintained,” “local,” and “accident–free” are examples.
- Paint a picture — help readers picture a car in their minds. A good description for a convertible: “This cabriolet turns heads cruising in the sun.”
- Tailor descriptions — is it summer? Then describe the efficient A/C system. Winter? Mention the vehicle has a car starter and heated seats.
- Instil confidence in the reader — use words like unique, rare find, great find, very successful, award winning, economical, powerful, safe, beautiful, stunning, eye catching, head turning, best-selling, etc. Customers want to know they’re making a great buy.
- “What’s in it for me?” — Highlight the benefits of each element you are describing to your customer. Don’t just say “has silicone wiper blades,” but rather add “Silicone wiper blades last three times longer and perform better than ordinary rubber blades. They offer resistance to fuels, oils, acid rain, washer fluid and road grime.”
The industry is changing. Things like “Tilt” and “ABS” are no longer selling features. People now want to know the MPG or L/100km they will get on a tank of gas. Honesty is important too; if a vehicle has high kilometers, admit it — but focus on its spotless service record.
Bottom line: writing good descriptions will increase the amount you get paid for your vehicles.
2. Have you posted pricing for all of your vehicles?
While some dealers feel that more people will call if there is no price, this is never the case. You should at the very minimum post a MSRP for new vehicles and make it easy for a consumer to submit a lead for more information. Pricing should always be posted for used vehicles — no exception.
3. Are your descriptions legible?
Ensure that your listings have proper spelling, grammar and easy-to-read fonts. Avoid wild colours, OVER-CAPITALIZATION (AKA “caps lock syndrome”), and fancy fonts as these elements will not give you more attention, but rather annoy the reader.
*Car buyers now physically visit only 1.3 dealerships before buying. Don’t give them a reason to go to the competition
4. Are you consistent across all postings?
Complete descriptions, detailed photos, proper prices — all of the elements that make a good vehicle posting need to be applied across the board on your listings to capitalize on return traffic. Consumers will research for 3-6 months before making a purchase, meaning they will return to your site multiple times; you should convey the correct brand message on each visit.
5. Do you have photos for all of your vehicles?
Having good vehicle photos should be common sense; customers want to see a car before they buy it. Do you have pictures for all of your vehicles? Do you have them online as soon as a car hits the lot? You should, or you could be losing sales to the competition.
*According to Kijiji, ads with pictures were twice as likely to get a reply than those without
- Highlight selling features — focus on what matters to your buyer. Selling a minivan? Focus on interior and safety.
- Timeliness is extremely important — get pictures online within 48 hours of the unit arriving.
- Include a variety of photos — give your customers an online walk-around of the vehicle.
- Take Interior & Exterior Photos — get every angle: under the hood, the dashboard, seats (front and rear) and the exterior.
Side-by-side, which looks more appealing: no-name pop, or Coke? Which would you pay more for? Having vehicle photos is like branding. It makes customers more confident in your product, and increases sales while allowing you to ask more for a vehicle.
The principles are the same online as they have always been offline. If someone came in to buy a Cadillac Escalade, you wouldn’t bring up gas mileage. The point is to tailor your photos and descriptions to each vehicle. This is the best way to build quality leads that will make you a lot more money.
– Michael Fisher with Stuart Bendall & Trish Rowsell