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I am a little apprehensive about writing this because I actually like when my competitors are being lazy.  The majority of the time I look at other dealer websites I notice the links are broken or there is a message stating, "there are no current specials at this time", etc.?  When I check Omniture Analytics on my website my Specials Pages are always in the to 3 pages viewed by consumers.  

Why don't IMS's update their Specials Pages on their Dealer Website?

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I am Guilty of this sometimes, and I hate it. Why? Because I have a lot of my plate. I work 12-14 hours a day, don’t take lunch, and still don’t seem to have enough hours in the day. I receive 4000+ leads a month, so that, and the staff required to take care of these leads is a lot of work. I have to make sure pics are taken (190 used cars in Inv), Comments, Auto Trader Spot Lights,, AAX Pricing, Feeds, Craigslist, Training, interviews, and so much more.

So I wouldn't call it "lazy", maybe some of our internet departments have grown to the size we need more help, and sometimes its difficult right now to get the budget changed.

I do however have a suggestion.... Use your Print Ads, for specials. I spend so much time working on my Print Ads, that I put them to use on the web too. I take the proof, convert to .jpg, and add it to my specials. This helps me out a lot!
This post just reminded me to change my specials : )
@Mike - Yet another success story inspired by content posted on the ADM Professional Community!
wow... 4k leads? We need to meet up sometime soon, I've "been there done that" but never got a store up to 4k leads! impressive!
Absolutely agree that this is the only way to maximize success of E-Commerce Department at the dealership to have it as separate department.
Spot-on, Richard...

You can often tell how "on the ball" a dealer is online by when the last special was posted - some dealers leave the same expired special up for months... Another indicator is whether the staff page is the boiler plate that comes from the website provider.

I also like text - "We are currently working on our specials - check back later," but most times when you check back later on, it says the same thing...

@David - WOW! Talk about a full plate! How many people are handling the 4000+ leads? As busy as you are, I would check if your ad agency can convert the file for you and maybe even post the ad directly on the back end for you weekly to save you a little time. If you're posting cars on CL, can you also post that link with a headline into your specials right after you create the ad? Would that be logistically difficult? No matter what I truly commend you for being a "get it" guy...

Hi Richard, great topic! I periodically engage with my department director and ad manager in time-management dialogues. We meet and do this about every 2-3 months. If any of us were left alone, we would never get it all done! As our department has grown, we have learned that training and delegating are good skills to develop; and we try to help each other as much as any team should.

I love how Dr. Elam said "working under outdated conditions" -- it surely is a challenge, being so busy, to find time to think about our processes and then to implement new ones, which requires training everyone. My mentor once stated flatly that "leaders who can't keep up with the changing times do not deserve to be called leaders." On the surface that may sound harsh, but I keep it in mind when changes threaten to overwhelm me, and it does make me fight to keep up and keep moving forward.

Practically speaking, along David's suggestion of using Print Ads, if your website rep can help you, you can usually temporarily link your dropdown tab for Specials to any URL that you have set up. So you can easily link it to the Print Ad page while you construct your new specials for the month, then link it back. Our ad manager constructs the whole Print Ad page and loads it as one big jpg every week. Sometimes in the past she has broken up segments of it to use as smaller ads on the specials page. That doesn't work as well for SEO, so we stopped doing it that way, but it does make a quick fix rather than leaving the page blank.
After reading Dave's response I can see how specials pages don't get updated. This post makes a great point though in that the specials page is typically the most viewed page on a dealership website. And really, the consumer is shopping cars and sites to find the best deal out there. It only makes sense that the specials page is pretty darn important for a dealership and a consumer.

I would ask your web site provider if they have the ability to automate specials instead of having to do it manually on a per car basis. One of the features we offer dealers is to set parameters for creating automated specials. For example, a dealer could set a special where any vehicle that reaches 45 days in inventory gets reduced by $300. These parameters then apply to used, new, both, or make/model (what ever criteria is chosen) and the specials page is automatically updated and each vehicle displays as a special. I would check with your web provider to see if this is a possibility as it can always provide inventory and content on the specials pages.

In terms of parts and service specials, I think what Adam and Natalie said is right on. You can scan a print ad and upload it as a jpg file to display on your site. Or, just have the ad agency or your rep do it for you. This is something that should take only a few minutes and is very well worth it. The last thing a dealership should want and a consumer should see is a service special titled, "Get ready for Winter" when spring is arriving. Those little things go a long way.
Neil indicates the best way to update specials via an automatice process that acts on the business rules you set up in the system. Another simple solution, and it amazes me that web providers don't offer this, is to NOT have a Specials button or tab appear if there are no specials populated on the specials page.

Is this too simple a solution? It would save the dealership embarrassment. Do any of you know of a web provider offering this solution?
@Mark - I agree with you, if you are not going to populate the page with specials, then get rid of the Specials tab on the navigation menu. I know for sure that it is easy to simply "Hide" any of the Navigation tabs from appearing to site visitors with any ADP Dynamic or BZ Results dealership website. In fact, this post just inspired me with an idea for a new dealership website feature/function... A setting that makes the "Specials" Navigation button disappear when there are no specials currently posted for that dealership, and when the ISM or whoever creates specials in the admin CMS tool, the "Specials" Nav button reappears automatically... At the end of the month when all the specials expire, the "Specials" button disappears... This may even prompt people to bug the ISM to post new specials so the Specials Nav button reappears... What do you think?
Great idea! Make it happen, the dealers will love ya.
Mark - I think most vendors have the ability to remove any specials buttons or remove the specials tab on the navigation bar, I know we do. And yes, it probably would save the dealership some embarrassment, but remember that consumers are going to between 6 and 7 sites before they make a purchase and most likely at least one of those other sites is going to have an updated specials page. Ultimately, that's what the consumer is looking for - a great deal - and they assume they will find the best deals on the dealer's special page. Thus, the popularity of the specials pages.

Is it better to have no specials when a consumer clicks on the specials link or to have no specials link at all? It seems like a no win situation. In both cases the consumer isn't getting what they perceive is of the most value and the dealership is losing out on the value of what should be their most popular pages.

As for getting specials up consistently on the site, there's more than one way to do it. I suggested asking the dealership's web vendor if there is an automated process because it basically guarantees that the specials pages will be populated with inventory. Is it the 'best' way? No. I would think the best way is the way a dealership gets them on the site no matter the method. Just get them up there.


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