There are two primary strategies when it comes to car dealer inventory marketing. The first has been around for a while. The wide approach says that dealers should be putting their inventory out there in multiple venues. The second is relatively new, where dealers are pulling away from third party sites and focusing on bringing people to their own websites.
Each strategy has legs, but it's in the tried-and-true strategy of putting your inventory on the websites that people visit rather than relying on people to visit your own site that we have seen the best results. There's a difference between buying leads from third-party vendors and putting your inventory on third-party websites that must be understood for dealers to make the right decision.
Much of the push back against third parties has been that the quality of the leads is lower while the cost is higher. In many instances, this is absolutely the case, which is why many dealers and even large dealer groups have abandoned that model. Having a strong presence on third-party sites, particularly those that have links to the dealer's website itself, gives the exposure necessary to be truly aggressive in the growth automotive market in which we find ourselves today.
Last month, we wrote about why dealers should not abandon third-party websites just yet. This is a point that cannot be reiterated enough, especially with so much buzz about building "first-party leads" and presence consolidation. In a world that would be ideal for the third-party naysayers, car shoppers would only be going to dealers' websites to find their next purchase. That's simply not the case.
It's for this reason, that it's imperative for dealers to be on sites like Craigslist, AutoTrader, and eBay Motors. The reason that people visit these third-party sites, is because they want a strong selection of vehicles. This is particularly true for people who are looking for a very specific vehicle. Rather than going from dealer website to dealer website, they can look at multiple inventories at once.
There are people out there looking for vehicles that are only available at your dealership today. You may have the ideal vehicle for them, but if they're searching in places where your inventory is absent, there's a good chance they'll buy from someone else. If you put your inventory out there in all of the important venues, then they won't miss your cars. If they aren't missing your cars, you're not going to be missing the sales.