Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Automation doesn’t beat the human touch

I’ve noticed a change is dealer listings lately. Part of my job is to look at listings day in day out, and here at AutoBase & Trade Me I think it’s safe to say we’re pretty versed in what makes a good listing. The proof is in the pudding – good listings get more views, and this information is available to us and all of our clients. Lately I’ve noticed a couple of trends on listings, and they seem to originate from listings being purely automated, with no human input.  
It’s not all about you
The first trend that dealers are cramming their listings full of information about their yard, with very little about the vehicle for sale. Some Vehicle Management Systems allow you to duplicate standard text about your dealership automatically to every listing. It is definitely great to include information about your yard, such as hours, deals, finance options etc – but it should be a balance so make sure you are also adding enough information about the vehicle for sale for potential buyers to search for, and find. People are looking for specific vehicles, and when you come across a listing for a vehicle you like the look off which has little or NO information about that vehicle – it puts you off and you move on to the next. It’s simply just annoying.  For example:
Private Sellers work the system
We know that listings with about half about the car and half about the yard work well. Last year we published an article about privates vs dealers. Privates Private sellers make up 70% of used automotive sales, dealers 30%.  As we see it, there are 3 main factors that distinguish private sellers from dealers that in reality, dealers should be up to play with. Time, Motivation and Emotion. Private sellers spend the time to put blood, sweat and tears into their listings with loads of information about the vehicle for sale. They only have 1 vehicle to sell so can put everything into it.  They will think of every single benefit and feature to mention in their listing to promote their vehicle. It sounds basic, but so many dealer listings lack much of the following information that privates do so well:
·         Selling points
·         Why are they selling
·         How does the car run
·         Prior maintenance
·         Mention modifications
·         Highlight good mileage
·         Highlight special features
Private sellers also tell a story about how great the vehicle has been, how well it runs, and how well they have looked after it. This is what potential buyers want and need to know. A listing with just “Black Ute, 4 wheel drive” in the comments is not going to motivate a potential buyer to contact that yard – there are plenty better listings available at the tip of their fingers to look at.
No info – no sale
People like to use classified sites such as Trade Me because it is easy to search for exactly what they want. My friends and I tend to plug in a keyword into one of the search bars, and go from there e.g. “economical automatic Toyota”, “black Suzuki Swift” or “X5 leather interior”.  Recently I watched a friend search online for a Mazda Atenza.  He was particularly interested in a leather interior. He did a search based on price, year, transmission and KMs. The first Atenza he found was from a local dealer, but only had only 2 images (both exterior), no features and hardly any information about the vehicle, let alone any information about the interior. He grunted and clicked onto the next listing. I asked him why he didn't just contact the dealer to ask for more information about that particular vehicle - he said he couldn't be bothered when there were so many other similar vehicles with more info in his list. That dealer lost a sale and he ended up buying from private seller, who had a listing for a slightly more expensive vehicle, but it showed him everything he wanted.
Keywords Keyword Keywords
If a listing has few keywords or information about the vehicle, it won’t be picked up in some search criteria. We can’t recommend enough that the more keywords you use, the better. Keywords are searched from the top to bottom of your listing on Trade Me Motors - therefore a key word in the features list OR comments 'free flow' section will be picked up in a browser's search. All the keywords below in yellow will be picked up in search results.
Here are some interesting facts:
·         80% of searches include 1 to 3 filters
·         Almost 50% of searches include a keyword
·         49% of viewers search for a car make  
·         Around 41% of searches include a price option. 
The most popular filters used when searching Trade Me Motors are:
1. Make
2. A keyword (e.g. manual, v8, 4x4, leather interior, economical etc)
3. Body style, Price or Year

Another trick to use
Here is a trick that we know encourages people to view tour listings. Instead of just having the Model Detail, this dealer has added *REDUCED* to draw attention to the listing.
You can see for yourself how effective it is at getting attention. You get 25 characters to play with, and they all show up within the search results headline for that vehicle, e.g: ** NZ NEW **, **SPECIAL** or ** Drive Away Price **. Use this information wisely - don't say anything in the headline unless it’s true and relevant to the vehicle being advertised. 
At the end of the day, Vehicle Managements Systems are a great way to get lots of stock loaded quickly but make sure you are reading your listings that are going out, and making sure that they have enough relevant information. Jump onto your classified website and search for your own listings – are they easy to find? There is a lot of competition on the Internet, so make sure you spend a little bit of time and effort to make the best of your listings to stand out from the crowd. You might just make more sales.

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