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The Internet is a huge toolbox, and the tools within, if used correctly, can offer incredible opportunities for your dealership. One of the primary tools, essential for your dealership’s growth and success, is video. Videos are a must-have element within your Internet marketing arsenal; if you haven’t embraced it….now is the time!

I don’t know about you, but most of the population is visual learners who prefer to gather information by watching. Take advantage of these visual learners and make your dealership their educator. Compared to a ho-hum static ad, video is engaging; it brings your inventory to life and significantly enhances the entire car buying process. The natural ability of video to elicit an emotional response (hopefully a response to buy YOUR car as opposed to another dealers); will optimize your car selling opportunities.

Since Google integrated video into its universal search offering a few years ago, websites featuring video have gained a significant SEO advantage. Knowledgeable dealerships have recognized that video is an essential, competitive differentiator that drives SEO and increases lead conversion as well as brand identification. For search engines to find and index your vehicle videos, it is critical that you create proper titles and descriptions, select appropriate, choice keywords, and link to related material. Remember, search results are primarily based on relevance, in this video revolution in the mainstream of Internet searching, make sure your dealership is found.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than a video has got to be worth a million, right?

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In a previous post, I discussed some basics of choosing a camera for taking photos of your vehicles. As I mentioned before, we seem to constantly be hammering the need for proper photos for you online marketing efforts. While this is not the only important element, you won’t have much success without them. The first step to taking your own photos is getting a decent camera and that was the gist of my previous post. The next step is determining how you are going to take your photos.

There are two main factors in this – where to take the photos and what photos to take. Neither of these are terribly difficult to determine but overlooking either will sabotage your efforts quickly. As far as where to take your photos, try to find a nice clean area free of any distractions. Some common examples of distractions I have seen are people milling about, traffic going by, stains on the ground or walls, and even garbage in the background. If you have an area where you can get either the storefront, a sign, banner or other identifying element that does not detract from the car itself, this is a good idea. Even better would be a clear open area where the only point of interest is the vehicle you are promoting. Try to think like a customer – if you were looking at the photo, where are your eyes drawn?

Once you have a great location determined, you need to establish a process on what photos to take. If you follow the same process each time, you will establish consistency and will not need to over think each vehicle you photo. The first photo is the most important photo you take. This photo will be used for the main image and thumbnail on every site you market on. You should make this shot either a front ¾ view or a side view of the vehicle. Since most sites will place the photo to the left of the listing information, try making your first photo with the vehicle facing right. This will result in the vehicle facing the listing information.

After the first photo, begin taking photos in a logical order moving around the vehicle and make sure to capture any special features. Get photos of each tire including visible tread. Remember to also include any imperfections on the body of the vehicle. Your honesty in presenting these will go a long way to establish trust in the customer. Once you have a full walk around view of the exterior, move to the interior. Include shots of each seat so the customer can see there are no tears or wearing. Be sure to get a photo of the odometer and the VIN number. Remember customers want to see pictures so don’t be afraid to take as many as necessary to truly represent the vehicle.

When a local customer is searching Google for the products and/or services you offer, do you stand out from your competitors. I am going to make an assumption that all of you reading this blog have already created your FREE business listing with Google Places. Google Places is a powerful way to help customers find your dealership more easily. I don’t want to go into how to set up or optimizing your Google Places account but a few keys are too make sure you use all five of the business categories your allowed, expand your service area from the default 20 mile range and get great pictures and videos loaded in your account (you will needs these later). Now that you have your Google Places 100% complete how do you SUPERCHARGE it? I call it 1,2,3 BLAST OFF!!!! Not really but it sounded good LOL.

Reviews – If you do not have a process in place to get customer reviews from sales, service and parts DO IT. Each sales person or service writer should ask their customer for a video or online review and they should be incentivized for them. Google uses reviews and feedback to improve search results for your business not to mention how many customers actually read them!
Google Tags – Adding a tag to your Google Places listing will give you the ability to showcase exactly what you want your prospect to see.
Coupons
Video about your dealership
Photos of your business
Appointment page
Links
Google Boost – this is basically SEM or Google Search and Google Maps, simply set your budget and pay when customers click your ad

You decide what tag you want to use heck I would encourage you to experiment and see which tag drives the best traffic. Remember Google Tags is a $25 flat fee with no bidding or keywords and you can only use one tag at a time. In addition Google says this will not help your search engine ranking but it will provide better information when a customer finds your listing. They say it won’t help your ranking but it sure can’t hurt RIGHT?

A few things to remember, your Google Places account phone number needs to match your Website phone number, Business name and address should also match your website and be accurate. Google will use this and if it is not the same it will hurt your search results. Your goal is to become a Google Favorite Place. This is accomplished by how many Google users looked for additional information about your business and they will if you follow the SUPERCHARGED recommendations. When you become a popular local business and earn the Favorite place tag you will get a sticker from Google to display at your business.

Google Places

From Google:

“All Google search results are based primarily on relevance, and Google Maps listings are no different. Google Maps ranks business listings based on their relevance to the search terms entered, along with geographic distance (where indicated) and other factors. Sometimes our search technology decides that a business that’s farther away from your location is more likely to have what you’re looking for than a business that’s closer.”

MAYBE Google is trying to tell you that if you utilize all of these tools and optimize them you will be more likely to be prominently displayed regardless of distance. WAIT, SO does it help your search results or not? Are you following me, one area they say this will not help your results but then they leave “wiggle” room saying that they can and do place local businesses that are further away higher because of relevance. Having a great Google Places listing and tags inherently increases your relevance and just may increase your listing in search results.

Just remember Google Places/Maps can generate 10,000+ advertising impressions per month for FREE! This is like a huge billboard on the interstate for free. OH, did I mention you can get a free 30 day trial? Call Liquid Motors to find out how.

Please leave your comments and feedback and thank you for following all of the Liquid Motors blogs, tweets and Facebook posts over the years. Terry Holbrook

Recently we held a training on our new wholesale auction posting tool. In case you missed the training, I wanted to cover the high points and invite you to give us a call for a demo. Through the Liquid Motors portal, you now have the ability to post your vehicles to OVE, OpenLane and SmartAuction all in one spot and all at one time. It’s as simple as filling out a condition report and hitting the button to launch the car. Those days of logging into each auction, building your listing, and then launching the vehicle are over. Not only can you launch your vehicles easily, if a vehicle sells on one of the auctions, the listing will be ended on the others. Online auctions have really simplified the way dealers sell their wholesale vehicles, and we have taken it one step further. Again, if you are using OVE, OpenLane and/or SmartAuction, please let us know so we can show you how your job just got easier.

Call us at 877-573-6877 for your demo!

I came across an article the other day on Auto Remarketing that claimed that independent dealers have out performed franchise dealers in used vehicle sales for the month of February. According to the article this has not happened since last September. This of course got the wheels in my head spinning. While there are many factors that relate to this outcome one thing that I have noticed recently is that independent dealers are really stepping up their game when it comes to their online marketing efforts. This can be found in the quality of their photos, descriptions of their vehicles, and I am even starting to see more and more independent dealers begin to dominate the major search engines for certain searches. Now back to why my wheels started to spin…for years we have been preaching that the amount of business you receive from your online marketing directly relates to the quality of your photos, visibility of your website on the major search engines and as I have said in a previous blog posting “simply answering your phones” . It is because of these factors that I cannot help but wonder how much of February’s statistics directly relate to independent dealers “out-marketing” their competition.

Let us know what you think….

Have you ever noticed that you do not have much control over the titles of your vehicles on many sites where you market? That can be a problem when you would like to include common search terms for your vehicles in those titles to help with SEO. If you are a current Liquid Motors customer, I can show you how you can work around this issue. I can show you how to enhance your SEO and search results within each site you market by way of modifying your title in Liquid Motors. If you are currently on our website and are modifying your titles, let’s discuss how making one simple change on our backend preferences for your account (and you don’t have to do anything at all!) can give you an advantage.

This blog I write is coming from a place of frustration. And really, I kinda got my feelings hurt. I can’t believe I had a dealer laugh at me as I encouraged him to make sure he has photos and description notes as soon as possible on his vehicles on his website. He proceeded to tell me that he had sold a few vehicles that month that had neither on his website. Though I know it can happen, and you can sell vehicles without much information, it has been proven you will sell more if you do have the photos and notes. This same dealer also laughed at me as I encouraged him to put all his vehicles on Craigslist. He even told me that his manager approached him after a report I sent out stating he did not have any vehicles on the site, and asked him if he had ever sold a car off Craigslist. When he told the manager no, the manager just said, “I thought so” and dropped the subject. The funny thing is that he is right. He has not sold anything on Craigslist, because he does not have any cars on Craigslist. If there is anyone out there who still believes they cannot sell their vehicles on Craigslist, let me tell you today, they are wrong. That FREE site continues to be a great lead generator for our dealers. Dealers are selling all kinds of vehicles on the site. Even though you may feel that your demographic would not be shopping on Craigslist, you need to know that not only your demographic is shopping in your area. People in other areas search your area too. I can’t tell you how many leads I have seen from customers shopping in Illinois or Nebraska or Florida trying to get a vehicle that a dealer has on Craigslist in Dallas because it is exactly what they are looking for. If you sell one vehicle a month off of Craigslist, then it was well worth the 5 to 10 minutes a day you might spend putting up some vehicles. But from what I have seen, if you continually list all your vehicles on Craigslist, you can sell more than one. And something I know for sure….if you are not there, you won’t sell any off the site. Thanks for letting me vent and getting this off my chest. Now, I can continue my efforts to make another dealer better today than he was yesterday.

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