Automotive Digital Marketing

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By Ellen Jones, Senior Product Marketing Manager



Whether you’ve celebrated Valentine’s Day with a loved one, or celebrated “Singles Awareness Day” this past weekend, you've certainly noticed the grocery store aisles of chocolates in red heart-shaped boxes, cards with poems of endless dedication and flower sections bursting at the seams with red roses. 


Remember what it was like when you were single? We’ve all been there, you dread this day, and the thought of getting out there and finding that right someone is scary… kind of like buying a new car?! It’s a big deal.


By now, I’m sure you’ve read our recent study exploring the behaviors of online car shoppers when engaging with your inventory. What we found is that shoppers browsing your inventory have similarities to singletons; they’re looking for the right fit and it’s rough out there. You may think you’re the best matchmaker ever but are you really helping them make the right connection?


Here are five myths of vehicle engagement you need to know in order to be the ultimate matchmaker to the cars.



Uh okay, sure. How many times has someone stopped you in your tracks because of how they looked. Or someone’s online picture made you stop scrolling and click on their profile to find out more about them. Car shoppers are no different. Pictures matter. And our inventory study showed that color is one of the major features that ultimately inspire connections and clicks. So make sure your Vehicle Search Results (VSR) page has an easy color search, filter function, and pictures of the car are accurate. Don’t show a similar vehicle that’s white when the actual VIN is red. Not only are you going to confuse shoppers, they’ll start doubting the accuracy of your website’s content, or whether you’re even a trustworthy dealership.




Except for a few gold-diggers out there, it's about character, right? You want to end up with someone that you can enjoy the daily nuances of your life with. Some information about a potential partner is not a factor or may not influence your decision at all. Same with car shopping. A vehicle’s stock and VIN numbers may be important to the dealership but for a consumer, they 're irrelevant. That’s just not how they search. They say nothing about a vehicles character.



    The “Rescue Fantasy” is about the perfect someone swooping in and saving you from your current mundane life. Think ‘Officer and A Gentleman’ when Richard Gere in his Navy whites confidently struts down the factory floor and rescues Debra Winger from her woeful life. Awwwwe…not. Some dealers think that their VSRs need to be strutting factory floors dressed in Navy whites. And for those dealers who think consumers buy a car from the VSR page, you’re living a fantasy.




Ever heard of being mysterious to keep them guessing? Of course, you need to disclose pertinent personal information such as, oh your marital status, but you don’t need to post every detail about yourself and all your history. It’s no different with your dealership website. Post key information that matters to prospects. Don’t flood the top of your Vehicle Search or the Vehicle Details Page with “fluff” that only pushes what matters below the fold. When consumers don’t see the information they are looking for, they’ll think they are in the wrong place. Or worse,they assume you don’t have the inventory they want so they head for another dealership’s website. So make sure you engage consumers with your inventory by getting them to the information they are looking for without the distractions. Information about your dealership should be on your home page, About Us page or in your “Why Buy” message page. Yes, there is such a thing as “too much information”.




A wingman is there to help you out and entertain the “other” women. They’re not there to block or distract you from getting to know the right one better, getting their number and having a great time. But, problems occur when ‘your’ friend doesn’t get along with ‘her’ friend and it’s a bust.

All the extra ‘baggage’ now gets in the way of you closing the deal and potentially getting the girl. All those extra stickers, call to actions, trade-in value, credit score estimator and third party links on your VDP page are similar to ‘wingman baggage’.


They distract the consumer from engaging with your vehicles and getting to the information you want them to see. Put all this additional information where it belongs – the credit score estimator in the finance section, the trade-in value in the new and used car navigation, car service information in the service and parts section, etc.


Now that you’re in the know, make sure your Vehicle Search Results and Vehicle Detail Pages are setup with the latest best practices to drive more inventory searches, VIN views, leads and H&D look-ups, so you can facilitate the start of a beautiful new relationship. Happy match-making! Don’t forget the flowers.


Are you unknowingly alienating shoppers and sabotaging your inventory? Find out what it takes to design a shopping experience that sells cars. Watch our webinar on demand today, or access the 2014 Inventory Shopping Experience Study to find out how they’re browsing your inventory. 



About the Author

Ellen Jones is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Cobalt focusing on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Mobile, and ProCare. She is a highly motivated marketer with over 15 years of experience in brand and product marketing for various Fortune 500 companies including JP Morgan Chase, American Express, & Microsoft. Ellen earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of the Philippines and her MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management. She’d love to hear from you. You can reach Ellen at

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Comment by Alexander Lau on February 18, 2014 at 12:52pm

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 18, 2014 at 12:39pm

Exactly, most inventory system aren't up to today's search standards. How about a better way to display car inventory, based upon user preferences, answering search questions, which IS the way Google's Algorithm operates now...?

Comment by Ellen Jones on February 17, 2014 at 10:22am

Jason, thanks for reading. Glad to hear it was valuable info!

Comment by Jason Richmond (HondaPro Jason) on February 17, 2014 at 10:12am
This is great info. Thank You

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