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Online Car Website Marketing

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Online Car Website Marketing

Rob Tendick
August 7, 2006

Car buyers today, whether looking for new or used vehicles, usually start their search on the Internet to get a feel for pricing, options, and styles that might be available. Many dealers are using car websites to display their stock of vehicles and to help consumers make informed decisions. An online showcase of cars and trucks available is an extremely powerful marketing tool.

Automobile websites broaden a car dealer’s potential geographic draw and customer reach. Anyone who has access to the Internet is a potential client as requesting additional pictures, information, or even shipping is not a big issue. Good car websites will provide an easily navigated site for potential customers. A search function is essential and if the inventory is large, some advanced features to screen down the results even further is very helpful. People visiting the site can shop for cars on the web site from anywhere. This is especially helpful for dealers who carry specialty cars or trucks. Many customers will come a long way to make a purchase if they are searching for something not widely available. They usually find available vehicles through Internet searches and then call or make a request for additional details.

A car web site also provides valuable information about the car dealer’s company, their specialty, and any other interesting facts such as how long they have been in business. The web site should include an “About Us” page to provide a little background information about the dealership. Many people are attracted to small businesses and personal relationships while others prefer large corporations and their potential selection. The " contact us" page should have phone, fax, and email contact information along with directions and a link to Yahoo or Google maps is always helpful. Pictures and direct lines to sales people also can be helpful. If the dealership has other departments such as service, direct phone numbers and operating hours are helpful.

Another valuable feature is a vehicle request sourcing form. The car web site can include a vehicle request page in which a customer can profile a certain year, make and model that they are interested in along with colors and extra features they are looking for. This feature is very appealing to many car or truck buyers who have something very specific in mind. The customer can shop without the hassle of going from dealer to dealer.

Just having a web site isn't enough though. The marketing and sales text on the site is no different than when presenting yourself in front of a customer. The web site must have a clear marketing message on what the consumer can expect, why your dealership is the right one for them, and a call to action to search for that special car or see the specials of the day. The quality of the graphics and look of the site can also influence trust along with listing local chamber of commerce or any other memberships that establish credibility plus testimonials are also helpful.

Most people use search engines to conduct their car or truck search on the Internet. Your car web site needs to be search engine friendly by making sure the links can be navigated easily by the search spiders. Try typing in "site:www.yourwebsitename.com" (replace the yourwebsitename with your own e.g. site:www.thatsnobull.com) into Google's search bar and it will tell you the pages that it knows about. Especially when customers are ready to buy, they type in specific makes and models. So having a search friendly site with makes, models, year, etc. on the listings will help those pages show up in the search results.

Having a well thought out website can be an invaluable resource for car dealers. More and more the sales process and relationship building starts through the Internet. A good car website can pay for itself very quickly.

Ron Tams does online marketing and sites NuStar motor's Sacramento used cars website as one that employs many of the best practices he recommends.

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