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How to Take the Best Images of Your Vehicle Inventory

Even if you are not computer savvy, you to can create an informative vehicle listing that looks professional and provides all the relevant information car shoppers want to see!

Even if you are not computer savvy, you too can create an informative vehicle listing that looks professional and provides all the relevant information that car shoppers want to see!

Most car dealerships post images of their cars for sale on their website.

However…..some car dealerships post images of their inventory like a pro.  Let us show you how!

Let’s review why it can be so difficult to take the pictures that you need.  We will give you some solutions for busy car lot managers and also expert tips and tricks to feature only the very best images of your online vehicle inventory on your website.

Understanding the Hurdles Facing Car Lot Managers

Administration at AIM Experts includes guys that started out on the car lot themselves, including the President of AIM Experts, Rick Balkan. We understand being on the busy car lot that demands so much of your time that you can feel pulled in many directions at once. For this reason, we know that it may not always be possible to take the time to capture the best images.

That’s why we created the ultimate solution for busy car lot managers that simply DON’T have the time or resources to take pictures – our car image enhancements. We are able to take stock photos of the vehicle you have for sale, all the way down to matching exterior and interior colors, and place the image in front of your car dealership.

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This is the best option in a pinch and delivers high quality, realistic results. However, in today’s article, we are going to focus on car lot managers that have the time to take the best, highest quality images for their car listings.

The More the Better

On that note, it’s important to state that ANY image is better than no image at all. Even though car dealerships understand the importance of inventory photos, we understand how difficult the task can be at times. We’ve been there.

First rule of thumb to always bear in mind, you will never go wrong by posting more images of your vehicle. If an online car shopper is searching for a vehicle, they find it on your website and you only have one image of the car, chances are they will go straight to a competitor’s site that is selling the same vehicle with many images to give the shopper a better idea of the vehicle for sale.

While there is not an exact number that’s needed, we recommend aiming for at least seven photos at the very least. Take one of the front angle of the car, one of the rear angle, the side view, the interior featuring driver’s seat, the front console and controls, the back seat, and cargo area. Try to imagine your photo session as a virtual walk-around where you are trying to capture all the neccessary images to get the most comprehensive visual of the vehicle.

Show Off the Goods

At AIM Experts, we have spent countless hours analyzing what makes car shoppers tick. A key finding we’ve uncovered is the fact that buyers want to see the most popular options and features of a vehicle upfront.

What’s this mean? If a car has an enhanced stereo system, take pictures of it. Sunroof? Get a picture. Rims? I think you get the idea. But, it goes further than simply snapping pictures of these optional features.

Prioritize the Popular Features

It’s more than simply taking photos of all the most popular options for the vehicle listing. You also need to consider the order of your images and which ones will be most likely to grab the attention of a potential buyer.

Don’t fall into bad habits just because it’s how most car dealers list their inventory. Usually you see first a head on or front angle picture of the vehicle then followed by some walk-around style photos. Not that there is anything wrong with this strategy for placing the images, but why do things like everyone else when there is a better way to get things done?

Does the vehicle have an amazing upgraded interior? Post that image first. Is there an impressive sound system? Use that as the leading image. You don’t always have to start with a head on image of the car. Select the most important feature and use that to draw interest.

At AIM Experts, we have mastered the art of grabbing attention of car buyers with tools that display your vehicles’ most popular features first. Check out  of our tools designed to automatically plug the most important features into the beginning of the vehicle description and also in the title for the listing.

Need help with your car dealership online marketing? Ask us about our innovative tools designed to make online inventory management easy and deliver an abundance of information that buyers want to know automatically. You can also book a free consultation to get a full overview of our automotive marketing services.

How to Rock Your Dealership’s Car Marketing Online Reputation

car marketing online reputation

car marketing online reputation

If your car dealership wants to see more customers hit the lot, you better start by checking out what people are saying about you and proactively pursing positive reviews.

Virtually everybody these days relies on customer experiences and online reviews for nearly any product decision. Whether embarking on a night out to dinner, buying the latest electronics gizmo or even hiring a service company – most consumers now hit the web for online reviews before any purchase.

Buying a new car is not an exception. Bear in mind the fact that nearly all car buyers start the process online – what are they researching? Surely they will check reviews about the vehicle they hope to purchase. But, that’s not all. It’s a safe bet they are also searching for reviews about your car dealership.

Your car marketing online reputation has never been so important to your overall strategy as it is now.

What will potential customers see about your car dealership? Good? Bad? Anything at all? There are many things you can do and many steps that can be taken to rock the online reputation of your car dealership.

Power of Online Reputation for Car Dealerships

According to a 2013 study, 79% of consumers put just as much trust in online reviews as they would a personal recommendation before making a buying decision.

Many car dealership marketing managers are still struggling to keep up with basic practices such as social media inventory syndication and dealership social media management. Reaching out to customers and asking for reviews on popular review websites is not generally practiced by all car dealerships. But, it can pay off. This gives an edge to those dealerships that are paying attention to their reputation online.

According to an automotive social media and online reputation study:

“67 percent of consumers used a review site when selecting a dealer.”

Which Car Dealership Review Sites to Use

If your goal is to stay ahead in the auto dealer online marketing race, you need to know where to start. Online resources are always changing and there are now old review sites that no one is paying attention to and new online review sites worth pursuing. It’s up to you to discern which ones are valuable to your company. Don’t worry – we will help.

We are going to list the top online review websites car buyers reported using to search for dealerships from the Digital Air Strike research.

  • Cars.com – 55 percent of car buyers
  • Edmunds.com – 50 percent of car buyers
  • Google+ Local – 40 percent of car buyers
  • Yelp – 14 percent of car buyers
  • Yahoo Local – 11 percent of car buyers

By taking note of the fact that those percentages add up to more than 100 percent, we know that most consumers are researching more than just one website. What does this mean to you and your car dealership? Your reputation needs to be as consistent as possible on all the platforms posting about your company.

Use Online Reputation Management to Win the Race

You must implement online reputation management in order to pull ahead to the top positions.

Knowing that customers are comparing the results on multiple review sites – it’s imperative your reputation is consistent across the various review platforms. If one of those sites happens to give your dealership a perfect review and a different one of those sites scores your dealership poorly, unfortunately, people will assume you have paid for fake reviews on the site with perfect feedback.

In the event negative feedback has been posted online about your car dealership, it’s imperative to investigate the issue further and correct any shortcomings to prevent future negative feedback.

Fact:

“Car buyers are willing to drive farther to reach dealerships with positive online reviews – 24% said they would drive 30 miles to a dealer with positive reviews, 15% said they would drive as far as 40 miles, while nearly one-third (31%) said they would drive 50 miles or more.”

Think about those statistics for a moment. If 70% of car buyers online are willing to drive an additional 30 miles for a car dealership with positive online reviews – how much business could you stand to gain? Even worse, if you have a negative reputation online, think about all the business you are potentially losing.

Contact the experts at Automotive Inventory Management – ‘AIM’  if you want any further information on how we can help enhance your car marketing online strategy to help attract more visitors to your website.

New Feature Alert – Custom Image Badge!

AIM Experts has just come out with another groundbreaking tool to help auto dealerships display the most important information through their photos – a custom image badge. What exactly is a custom badge? Badges are watermarks that can be simply applied on top of an image that will show potential clients the key optional equipment and historical information on a specific vehicle without having to sift through the full listing. b_55bba934b4583_120776746_2011_Dodge_Ram_2500

Show Potential Buyers the Top Features!

So what’s the benefit to you?  Research has shown that buyers are primarily interested in the top priority options and willing to overlook missing low value options when shopping online for their next vehicle. Whether it’s heated front seats, a sunroof, or a navigation system – these features are what entices a customer to call your dealership and set up a test drive. The new badges feature by AIM Experts will grab the features listed in your DMS, rank them in a list of highest priority and automatically badge your first images. This ensures only the most popular features, such as heated seats or sunroof, will be displayed on your first images. By setting it up like this, our system prevents dull or less exciting features, such as daytime running lights, to be displayed on your images. The badges work as a watermark and will always be shown with your image no matter where it’s sent. This means no matter who shares it online – the hottest options will always appear.  These are the true options that customers are looking for! With badges, it makes it easier for customers to see these key features without having to read through a full vehicle description. There are many different types of buyers out there and they all research their next auto purchase in different ways. The one area of a listing that ALL online shoppers consistently review are the vehicle’s photos.  Not all of your clients will read through your comments or do additional research to find out what packages comes with specific options, but they all know what key options they are looking for on their next vehicle. By simply applying a badge, we can quickly attract them to your listing and get them to engage specifically on your vehicle instead of clicking on down the list. Your clients have access to pretty much any vehicle they want using listing sites like Kijiji, Autotrader and Cars.com, it’s a vital step to make your images stand out when marketing your inventory!

 

Customize Your Badge

With AIM Experts in your corner, you can decide how you want your vehicle badged. You can have this done automatically and let our system pick the top priority features about your vehicle and badge the top images on your site. Or, you can take control and easily select a specific badge for each image. With the second method, you have the ability to decide which features are the most important and which badge deserves to go on specific images. b_55bba93c71973_120776746_2011_Dodge_Ram_2500   With the AIM Capture loading app, you can simply badge the image while you are taking photos as well. Once you apply a badge, the newly enhanced image will be sent out to this listing automatically.  Iphone app Please note, your images have to have a 4:3 ratio in order for this feature to work and your optional features need to be uploaded through your DMS to our AIM Capture panel for automatic badging. Even if your vehicle information is not auto-uploaded, you have the option to manually add your top options to make your image badge overlay feature work.

Customize Badge Color ~ Free of Charge

We have a variety of badges you can choose from. Currently, we offer 31 different colors and 42 separate badges, but if there is anything you want that is not available, just tell us and we can customize your badge color at no additional charge. We are offering each dealer a free one month trial.  To continue this service after the trial,  it’s only $99 monthly add-on to your existing AIM contract.  Contact one of our experts today and learn more about this cutting-edge technology. Please reply to this blog post or email by responding “yes” and we will set it up on your account in minutes.    

Automotive Marketing Social Media – Tapping into the Power of Social Media

Automotive Inventory Social Media

automotive marketing social mediaEighty-four percent of all automotive customers have a Facebook account with 24 percent using it as a reference to buy their next vehicle.

Fifty-three percent of United States residents who follow brands in social media are more loyal to those brands.

Fifty-three percent of Twitter users recommend products in their Tweets.

Sound interesting? Social media has taken over from more traditional forms of marketing as a way to communicate with large numbers of customers. But, with so many sites which ones do you pick?

Facebook

As the largest social media site, having a Facebook account is a near necessity for any car dealership that hopes to grow their online automotive marketing campaign. Creating an engaging page on Facebook will undoubtedly drive valuable traffic to your website.

Google+

Often seen as the underdog of Social Media, Google+ is usually the social media platform that people don’t use. But – the statistics suggest you ignore it at your own risk.

Users on Google+ are considered to be passionate and committed. And as such, they spend more time on sites and visit more pages with more likelihood to convert than similar referrals by Facebook or Twitter. Hence, why there has been a 54 percent increase in use of the site amongst marketers in 2015.

YouTube

YouTube is the world’s largest and most popular video sharing website. In 2011 the site received over 1 trillion video views (that’s 140 views for every person on the planet). Car lot managers have the unique opportunity to capitalize on this medium by posting videos of their inventory on Youtube.

Twitter

A micro blogging site where content is shared by use of hash tags – Twitter offers a unique approach to sharing important business news and information. Studies have shown that, after seeing a brand on Twitter, 23 percent of users said they visited its webpage. Nineteen percent mentioned they would consider trying that brand.

7 Tips to Be Successful on Social Media

automotive marketing social media

Keep up with best techniques to excel in the automotive marketing social media race.

Social media is used to share users’ loves and passions. People see cars as part of their character – which creates the perfect marketing opportunity for anyone in the automotive industry.

But few people want car dealers as friends on social medial. Customers will only visit dealerships once every three years for a new vehicle. With all the variety provided by the internet, customer loyalty is at all time low. So how can you engage them?

1. Interaction – Make customers feel like they are part of your brand. Customers who felt engaged on Facebook were significantly more likely to buy then those that didn’t.

2. Listen to be listened to – Don’t just focus on your business. Get involved with debates that are interesting your customers; talk about other people’s content and share links that may be of interest to your customers, this will improve trust and in turn they may share your links. Always answer any questions people ask about your business on social media.

3. Monitor the competition – If they are using a method that works, do likewise. Just make it an improved version.

4. Create a blog – Tell people what is new in the business, recent media efforts, contests and events. Or even select a monthly topic.

5. Posts and content – Don’t post too often but be sure to post consistently. One to two posts a day is ideal. Make the content a mix of informative and fun. End posts with a question to increase engagement.

6. Videos – While all businesses want their videos to ‘go viral’ this is seldom the case. For the automotive industry, creating “walk-around” videos of your inventory has been shown profitable for many car dealerships.

7. Use Contests – But in moderation. Tag images of customers who attend to further your sphere of influence.

The world of online social media automotive marketing is vast and provides endless opportunities to engage potential customers. Depending on your approach, social media platforms can be a great way to promote your brand and create conversions. If your agenda is already too full and you don’t have the time to master the social media marketing side of your business, contact us today to learn about our social media syndication services.

New Feature – Title Enhancement

Comment Lede 2

Today we’re talking about the title of the vehicle on the vehicle search result (VSR) and on the vehicle detail page (VDP) . This is one of the most important pieces of real estate for your online vehicle ad. This area of your listing has space enough for only a couple of words, so we want to make sure that what we add counts.

The Perfect Vehicle Title Enhancement (commonly referred to as a “Tag Line”)

At a glance, shoppers should know key things about your vehicle without having to read the full description. At AIM, we have developed a way to automatically extract certain features about your vehicles and have them appear in the title area for your listing. This “real estate” is limited to approximately 50 characters or about 3 words, so we need to make them count.   We automatically know if the vehicle is “certified” or “inspected” from the feed or from the settings that you have set in AIM Control.  We also will say that a vehicle is considered to have “Low Miles” if it has less than 15,000kms per year on it, or automatically display the monthly payment. Without having to do anything, these descriptors will be sent in the title enhancement area to your website provider. For other attributes, if you enter in your DMS/CRM options or if you use the AIM Loading app or the desktop to manually enter VIN options, Aftermarket features or Description options, any of this data could be potentially used to enhance the title.

 

Vehicle Comment Lede

Eye Catching Features First

Buyers are typically on the hunt for certain options.  At AIM, we have taken over 20,000 options and prioritized them so that only the most important or “highest value” options will occupy this key space on your listing.

We are also able to add a payment into the title enhancement.  You may catch a buyer’s eye by listing this info on a vehicle they may not have thought affordable.

How to Activate Title Enhancements

Go into your Dealer Dashboard and click ”LOAD” from the main menu. On the “Load”page, click “Descriptions” and then go to “Title Enhancements” at the bottom of the page.  From this position, you can choose what you automatically can show in the title (if the data exists).
title enhancements

Limitations

We are at the mercy of the web provider when it comes to displaying the title enhancements.  The amount of space is one limitation.  Typically we have room for 3 words – or roughly 50 characters.  We look at each website’s capabilities prior to sending the title enhancements so that the words we are wanting to display aren’t cut off.  If there is a risk of them being cut off, we will reduce the enhancements to 2 words instead of 3.  Currently, enhancements are appearing on Kijji, dealer.com sites, e-dealer sites, Evolio sites, Autotrader sites.  Cobalt sites are the only known site at this point that cannot accommodate the title enhancement, but they have stated that this is something that they are working on.

At AIM Experts, we understand what car shoppers are looking for when they hit your vehicle description page (VDP). We are constantly looking for new ways to improve our online automotive marketing services and would love to hear from you. If you have questions about anything, always feel free to contact our help desk or contact us today to learn what we can do for your car dealership website.