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There is a new Google feature out called +1 that is similar to the “like” feature on Facebook. If you have not seen it yet, you should definitely check it out. You can get the info you need at http://bit.ly/qUxNQo You place the code on your website so that someone who likes your content can recommend it on Google search. As Google crawls the pages on your website, the +1 information can be picked up. Then when someone is searching on Google and find your page, they will see how many recommendations you have. This can visually make you stand out and possibly lead to click through to your site. I would definitely recommend placing the +1 feature on the home page of your website as well as the vehicle details pages. Who knows where this will go, but if it will ultimately give your website more relevance in searches, then it’s time to jump on the bandwagon.

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Imagine one of your sales representatives at your store walking up to a prospective buyer on your lot to help answer their questions. The salesman asks the buyer how they can help, and the buyer responds by saying that they are looking for a black truck. With a smile the salesman tells the buyer to follow him and takes them to a row of black trucks. “Here you go” the sales person tells the buyer and walks away.

Now, imagine the same buyer walks onto your competitor’s lot and is approached by a salesman there. The sales person ask the buyer how they might be able to assist them and the buyer responds in the same way as before saying, that they are looking for a black truck. The salesman without hesitation, before ever making a move begins to ask the buyer a series of questions including:

How many doors are you looking for?
Are you looking for cloth or leather seating?
Manual or automatic transmission?
Are you interested in the XL, STX, XLT or FX2 model?

They buyer tells the sales person that they know that the XLT is in their price range, they prefer the truck has automatic transmission and dark cloth interior. Shaking his head the salesman asks the buyer to follow him because he actually has a truck that matches exactly what they are looking for.

Once at the truck the salesman walks the buyer around all sides of the truck pointing out specific features and upgraded packages the truck comes with. After walking around the truck the salesman opens the driver side door and lets the buyer sit inside the truck and look around while he goes and gets the keys to the truck so that they can take it on a test drive. The buyer after a short 10 minute ride decides they want to work up some numbers and see what it would take to drive home in the truck that day.

Now ask yourself which salesperson would you want working at your dealership? I would put my money on number two and would assume that most of you would as well. The same is true when it comes to how your inventory is presented online. Put simply, listings that do not have style specified, high quality images (interior and exterior), custom descriptions and any other level of detail that can possibly be added are no different than the salesman in the first scenario above.

While there are many dealers out there that are doing a great job, I think that the vast majority could be doing even better. The fact of the matter is that if you want to maximize your advertising dollars online you must start with the most critical components of online marketing. We call these at Liquid Motors the 7 steps to success and our dealers that use our system to ensure that all 7 of these steps are achieved across their entire inventory are the ones that are reaping the rewards when it comes to higher hit counts on their advertising sites, more qualified leads, higher conversion rates, and even more walk in traffic to their stores.

To learn more about how we can help your dealership maximize it’s online marketing efforts give us a call or visit http://www.liquidmotors.com/Liquid-Motors-Live-Demo.aspx to sign up for a demo today.

Where are your pictures? I hate stock photos! I read a blog recently about whether or not it is beneficial to have new car photos online. It wasn’t the article itself that really struck a cord with me, but it was some comments that were made to the blog.

We know it is very important to have photos for your used vehicles. You want to build value and piece of mind that the vehicle is nice and clean. The photos also show all the bells and whistles which is great for building value. But, the idea of having photos for new vehicles has not caught on quite as well. In this day and age, I am still surprised to see so many dealerships not buying into the “new car photos” hype. For some reason they must believe that their cars are new and therefore customers are not interested in seeing them. That can be the only reason I would think as to why they would not want to show them. Heck, new cars sell themselves, right?

Going back to the comments to the blog I mentioned a second ago, the point was brought up that you do not take photos trying to get someone to buy the car, but you want to take photos to get them to buy it from YOU. He mentioned too that having an actual photo shows the person looking at your vehicle that you do actually have that car in stock. Sometimes I tend to look at the big picture and do not take the time to focus in, but this guy was exactly right to his point about why you should have pictures. Have you looked at new vehicles on a website lately and the info you are given. I know that if you do not give those vehicles the “personal touch”, ie. add the actual options in notes that the vehicle has, there can be some confusion as the vin explosion info only gives all the features that the vehicle COULD have had when manufactured. But this in no way tells someone what yours really has. Having actual photos clears up the confusion and lets the shopper see the features.

I personally think my online shopping habits cannot be too far from the norm, and I know personally that if I cannot see it, I am not interested. Now, I am an impulse buyer so, as I shop online, I want what I want NOW in most cases. Or at least I am trying to make some kind of decision to purchase at that moment whether I pull the trigger or not. If I am not given enough info to make a decision, I’ve got to move on. If you have the luxury of having someone hit your listing (because you have spent a ton of money and effort working on your SEO), then why not give yourself every opportunity to make the sale.

I think everyone will agree that it is important to use 800 tracking #’s for any advertising you do. This will ensure that you know what efforts are working and which are not. This is handy information when trying to decide where to allocate your advertising dollars. In addition, having 800 #’s that can easily be forwarded to different #’s can help you in a situation where there is turnover and a # needs to be changed quickly. I cannot tell you how many times we see where a cell phone # is being used in advertising and the person who owns it leaves the dealership. Now, there are vehicles being marketed online with a contact # to someone no longer at the dealership! How convenient would it be to just flip the switch and transfer an 800 # to the new contact at the dealership?

If you are already using tracking #’s be sure to call and check them monthly to make sure they are working and ringing to the appropriate person. I think sometimes we take for granted that if there is no change in the forwarding of the #’s that they are simply working. You should consider having a list of all your 800 #’s in the hands of your receptionist, or someone at the dealership, and have him/her call them on a monthly basis to verify.

Google has, after a great deal of time, false-starts, and speculation, entered into the Social game with their latest offering – Google+. Google+ is Google’s long anticipated response to Facebook. It is still in its early infancy and currently an invitation-only format where you must be invited to join. This is similar to how they rolled out Gmail with ever-increasing numbers of people able to create accounts. You can visit https://plus.google.com to add your name to the list for future invites if you wish. Should businesses start salivating over another Social Media opportunity in Google+?
First of all, after initial reports of corporations like Ford jumping in with both feet, Google has announced that it does not want businesses to begin launching accounts on Google+ just yet. They have stated they want the program to be for individuals for now but will be launching business profiles by the end of the year. (http://www.clickz.com/clickz/news/2086707/google-brands-fast)
Google has provided an additional sign-up form directed at businesses however – here . The details around this portion of the program are vague at this point but Google does state there is no guarantee of acceptance and that “test profiles will be retired when we launch our business product”. So the benefits of participating as a business are unknown at this point.
Should you sign up for the business profile waiting list? While the potential benefits may not be concrete at this time, what would it hurt? Worst-case scenario would be that you get denied or never make the cut. Maybe you do make the cut but then have to create a new account once the trial period is over. I would guess Google would offer a way to carry over your trial account’s followers but that is just speculation on my part. Conversely, what could be the harm of not signing up? Again, speculation here, but there is a chance of the trial accounts getting preferential placement in line for the full-blown business accounts once they are available. Also, it might be nice to experiment and learn the new system while it is still in ‘trial mode’.
Will Google+ be a true competitor of Facebook and/or will it be another potential benefit to businesses? Only time will tell for certain but Google obviously has some strong factors on its side. Not the least of these benefits is Google’s large cash reserves of over $30 billion – that’s a lot of money to throw at any problems that might arise. Google is also the dominant player in Search Engines. Recently, I wrote a post regarding Microsoft’s Bing search engine and mentioned their partnership with Facebook to tie search and social media together. Google has a potential advantage in this area in that it would control both areas under one large umbrella and it already has a leg up in search.
There are some glaring negatives for Google+ however. Possibly the most difficult obstacle Google will face will be the firm entrenchment Facebook has in the Social arena. There are so many users already on Facebook with all of their friends already established that it may be hard to entice them onto a new platform. While many will jump on board just because it is the ‘new’ thing, there may be just as many if not more who are unwilling to start over or do double effort. There is also Google’s past attempts at entering the social game – Google Buzz and Google Wave. Heard of those? Probably not so much unless it was in regards to the class-action lawsuit about privacy rights. Not Google’s finest hour by any means.
So check out Google+ – http://www.google.com/intl/en-US/+/demo/ and http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/ . Temper your expectations and decide whether this is something you want to try out. At the very least, I would recommend adding yourself to the personal account waiting list just to see if you can get in and experience the application from a user’s perspective. Google+ may be another failure but it may also be the next big thing in Social Marketing.
Let us know what you and your dealership plan to do!

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