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The Results Are In! How to Create a Virtual VIN-Match Made in Heaven



by Katy Scheck, Director, Interactive Marketing/Marcom 

Singles today have dozens of online dating sites and literally millions of eligible matches to choose from. If you’re playing the field these days, you’re playing a much bigger field. Car shoppers also have endless online options when it comes to finding their next true 4-wheel love. Whether they’re looking for the fast and luxurious sugar daddy of sedans or a safe and sensible minivan that mom would be proud of, finding the perfect match is easier than ever.



But most are looking for a long-term commitment, NOT just a quickride around the block. And the competition for your customer’s heart is hotter than ever. So as a dealership looking to make a VIN connection, you want be more “eHarmony” than “Craigslist”. How can you become the Chuck Woolery of online car match-making?




Determined to find out, we launched an intensive study of car-singles looking to mingle and were surprised at what turned them on (and off) when they hit your VSRs and VDPs.


We then surveyed dealers and found that their perception of what shoppers are looking for didn’t quite match up.


We compiled our findings inside the newly published 2014 Inventory Shopping Experience Study. Here are a few things car shoppers told us they’re looking for in a VIN profile and some ways you can turn that online nudge into a romantic ride into the sunset.


This Just In… Looks Matter

Your VDPs are the first meaningful interaction your potential customers have withthe vehicle of their dreams. And, it’s your job to make sure that first impression turns into a long-term relationship.


Your VIN’s profile photos can go a long way to making or breaking that connection. In our study, 70 percent of shoppers did NOT click through from a VSR into VDPs when a dealership used stock photos. No VDP view?More than likely you didn’t make a match and your potential buyer is now finding love from the guy down the street.



Stock vehicle photos are the online dating equivalent to horrible bathroom selfie pics (Don’t know what I mean? Check out these guys). Or even worse, a picture taken 10 years and 25 pounds ago. They are inaccurate portrayals of what your VIN actually has to offer its potential suitor.


How you can make a VIN connection: all vehicle photos should be actual photos (and flattering ones) of the beauty sitting on your lot.


Enough about Me, Let’s Talk about Me for Awhile 


While 38% of dealers surveyed believed that it’s important to include their “Why Buy” message in vehicle descriptions, it actually frustrated 100% of the potential car buyers in our study.


In fact, that same 100% of shoppers in our study wanted to read accurate and detailed trim level descriptions in the vehicle description field. When it comes to your VDP’s, it’s not about YOU… it’s about your VINs.



Just like a potential soul mate, every VIN is unique-- and your vehicle descriptions should reflect that. Tall, dark and handsome (especially when you’re 5’4”, haven’t seen the sun in months and don’t wash your hair) won’t even lead to an online ‘wink’. Don’t be generic or misleading if you’re really looking to seal the car buying deal.


How you can make a VIN connection: Use the vehicle description field as a vehicle

description field.


These are just a couple of examples of what we learned from our 2014 Inventory Shopping Experience Study. Want to find out the very surprising key feature shoppers FIRST look for when browsing inventory (hint: it’s not price!), and how they really identify with your vehicles? Access the full study.


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Are you unknowingly alienating shoppers and sabotaging your inventory? Do you know what it takes to design a shopping experience that sells cars?

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About the Author

Katy Scheck has over 12 years of marketing experience in the media, finance and automotive technology fields.As Cobalt’s Director, Interactive Marketing/Marcom, Katy leads Cobalt’s marketing and corporate communications team and efforts. Katy directed Cobalt’s recent website relaunch and manages the Cobalt brand, content marketing and integrated digital marketing programs. Her team is focused on bringing actionable insights to market that can help dealers drive digital marketing to sell cars. Katy owes her passion for automotive digital marketing innovation to her first car, a 1982 white Datsun that didn’t go in reverse--- a fact that she more-often-than-not forgot in parking lots. Consequently,Katy spent most of the 90’s pushing her Datsun out of parking spaces, mumbling incoherently about the need for a more customer friendly car shopping and servicing experience. Katy would love to hear from you. You can reach her at

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Comment by Ralph Paglia on December 23, 2013 at 1:53pm

Thank you for such a well written and informative article, Kelly...I have used the "Dating Analogy" to describe retail car sales process for years and it made me smile to see yours. In many ways, as an automotive sales professional, we do become matchmakers between a customer and the vehicle they buy... This analogy extends well to serve digital marketing strategies and tactics.

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