What Customers are looking for in their Online Vehicle Descriptions

Anyone who knows me knows how passionate I am about writing vehicle descriptions.  For some reason the majority of dealerships could care less about this art.

Most dealers are being brain washed that they need 40 photos on their ads to get more conversions.  Don’t forget the painful stitched together slideshow video – equipped with robot voice over (is that going die soon??).

Online-Vehicle-Descriptions

Does your ad have the right stuff?

You know the one I’m talking about.  Nothing like looking at a 7 series BMW and having to be reminded it has power locks, power windows, and traction control!!!  What accent does that woman have anyway??

Dealers who are moving metal these days on 3rd party sites are all on the market value pricing train.  One price shopping is becoming the norm for used car departments across Canada and the U.S.A.  The Internet changed the rules a long time ago; however some dealers haven’t got the memo.  If you need an education on the topic I would start with reading Dale Pollak’s blog.

Price will get you eyeballs on your vehicle display pages.. that my friend is a fact.  The next hurdle is the conversion.  Writing effective vehicle descriptions will increase the chance of a phone call, email lead, or an automotive live chat.

Yes you need great photos, do not get me wrong.  But in my opinion, the secret sauce are in those text vehicle descriptions along with a killer headline.

DrivingSales TV featured a really cool interview with Jacob Solotaroff from Max Systems.  He came up with a really cool acronym for what a dealer needs to include in their vehicle descriptions.  It is called M.A.R.K. This video will give dealers a very good blueprint on what online shoppers are looking for when shopping for a used car.

  • Mission: What is your customer looking to accomplish?? Do they want a safe family car?? Look cool driving down the strip?? Tow their new boat???
  • Affordability: Is that new car or truck in their current budget?
  • Risk: Does this car have good consumer reports reviews? Is it a lemon? Is it a piece of shit?
  • Key Differentiators: This is my favorite!! What makes the car on your lot special? It could be the hands free bluetooth, heated leather seats, Spray in Bedliner?…. you know where I’m going with this.  It may also be your dealerships reputation an on-line reviews vs the competition.

I think Jacob did a great job of making a checklist that dealers can reference.  If your vehicle description simply says “pw,pl,auto” you are still in 1992.

Please use the comments below, and let me know if descriptions are as important as I think they are.

Working both in the dealership and on the vendor side, I have spent the last 10 years of my life studying the car business. I love car dealers. I love blogs. I am The Dealer Geek.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I can’t say that I know what customers are looking for in used car comments, but I can tell you what has worked for me through the years. I stuck to basic marketing fundamentals. Comments should read well and be somewhat conversational. Please avoid the “CAPLOCK ATTACK!!!!!!!” If you want something to “Pop” off the page try **One Owner** **Low Miles**. I always included my dealers unique selling propositions in my comments, ex. **Lifetime Warranty**. I would avoid including you phone number because it will skew the call tracking results from the source. You should include your stores address and maybe a cross road. I always kept a large notepad file of model specific comments that could be easily edited. There really is no excuse for not having custom comments on every used car and in some cases, especially highline, new cars as well.

  • @Rob – Ha Ha!! I love the CAPLOCK ATTACK!! I’m going to steal that one from you.

    I would suggest reading this dealers website for some inspiration:http://www.moheganlakeaudi.com/index.htm – Check out their used inventory and some of the awesome content. I’d love that comment writer to show up on The Dealer Geek some time.

    I’ve wrote about this dealer in the past, and even used them at my presentation during the PCG Pitstop in Toronto.

    I like using the Star Strategy in the title. Eg” 2007 Yukon Denali w/NAV ** 4 Brand New Tires”

    Something about brand new tires that eases a used car buyers concern. Dealers often time overlook things like new tires, non smoker, Rustproofed from time of purchase (Canadian Thing 🙂

  • Ben

    Good article, Ryan.

    I’ve found also that dealers who choose to create differentiated vehicle listings by using creative descriptions and photos tend to be more enthusiastic about spreading that content via social media as well.

    In other words, a dealer who puts more effort into “merchandising” their online inventory will typically be able to leverage that time spent to attract visits from social media in addition to the traditional websites that a listing might appear on.

  • Ryan Thompson

    @Ben – I think if your not pumped about merchandising your inventory you should find a different career path. If you are in the used car business then you better learn the used car business.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • Ryan, Nothing more annoying than a really slow, stitched together slideshow with a painful monotone voice over the top.

    We have seen some research that shows real video see’s an 85% completion rate, 2-4 times more than those horrible slideshows!

  • Hi Ryan,

    Thanks for the wonderful post I am not a dealer but as a Customer what I look for in the online vehicle descriptions is almost covered in your article and when going through to the video of Jacob Solotaroff it further support your idea and cater all of the concerns what a person would prefer to look into before buying a car, specially when you are buying a used car you always ask yourself is this a good deal?

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  • Ryan What I think is needed is a strong description of the finer points of what this vehicle has to offer. Then follow up with a statement like this one (ONLY if it is true) This is one of the finest outstanding automobiles that I have seen in quite some time. Pictures can not describe just how nice this vehicle is . Come down now or call for appointment because this vehicle is not going to last long at that price. (Create urgency) Notice how the 3 major points were covered. 1st the description or picture of the vehicle that was painted into the consumers mind about the options and how the vehicle looked . 2nd you are reasuring the consumer that the vehicle is in top condition. 3rd you have given him or her a reason or created a call to action because the vehicle at that price may not last that long.

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  • Ryan as a consumer and this is my personal opinion only, that car dealers that do not give a full description of the vehicle /content about the vehicles description / pictures / milage & price are not going to be answered. Dealerships that place advertisements with no comment section relying on the consumer to call the dealerships phone number for more information about the vehicle are going to be skipped over to a dealership that has all 4 major concerns about condition / milage / financing / price stated. The dealer that supplies the most information about the vehicle (details of equipment /condition / milage /financing is going to receive the most internet enquiries. There are 4 laws that need to be in place if you are trying to sell anything on the internet in the automotive business / description or picture of vehicle / list of equipment / milage & price / this may seem not to important to the dealer or manager that is listing the vehicles for sale, but it is definitely the reason that any consumer would look at your dealerships website or inventory for online purchasing. With the internet, out of sight out of mind means a great deal to the operation of any manufacture or its network of franchise automotive dealers. What we have created is an automotive portal that any internet / printed material consumer can go to, for the viewing of over 1200 franchise automotive dealers websites for online purchasing. Type the Domain (www.findatruck.ca) into Google Canada / Yahoo Canada / Bing.com and find your favorite manufactures automotive product. All in less than .30 seconds any internet consumer can go from any of our 120 Domains to any franchise dealer listed in our automotive portal the Canadian Automotive Indexing Directory.ca