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How To Optimize Your Online Inventory

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Hello MPN readers! It’s been a year since I’ve had the pleasure of writing for you, and I’ve got to say, I’ve missed you! About a year ago, I made the very difficult decision to leave my role as MPN editor to explore the opportunity to serve as the director of marketing at a Web solutions company in Wisconsin.
In that time, I’ve had the opportunity to immerse myself in the world of dealer websites and digital marketing, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share my new knowledge of online best practices that deliver real-world dealer success.

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This month, I want to talk to you about your major unit inventory. Is every piece of stock that’s on your showroom floor fully represented on your website and third-party sales channels? If not, you’re missing a major opportunity to drive the leads that drive your business.

70-percent Think about it: according to MIC figures, 69 percent of the average dealer’s sales can be attributed to new and used unit sales. Layer on the fact that according to a 2013 GE Capital Retail study, a whopping 81 percent of shoppers research major purchases including powersports vehicles online before they ever come in-store, and it becomes pretty clear why fully representing your inventory on your website is crucial.

Looks Matter
What information do you think is most important to shoppers? If you’re anything like 63 percent of automotive dealers recently surveyed by Cobalt, the word “price” immediately popped into your head. But as customers begin to browse your inventory, the final price tag isn’t the first thing shoppers are looking for. That same Cobalt study revealed that 100 percent of auto shoppers chose to sort vehicles by color before filtering by any other attribute.

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I know that car shoppers and powersports shoppers don’t necessarily fit the same mold, but I’d argue that powersports shoppers are even more aesthetically driven than the average mini-van shopper, wouldn’t you agree?

That’s where the final stat I’ll pull from that Cobalt research should drive you to immediately grab your smartphone and start snapping inventory photos of every bike on your showroom floor. Seventy percent of shoppers didn’t click through on vehicle listings that featured a stock photo instead of the actual model on the dealer floor.

While your OEM does a way better job photographing the 2015 model year lineup than you ever will, if you want customers to imagine themselves swinging a leg over the bike that’s on your floor, you need to show that exact unit to them, so they can see every detail for themselves and make that critical decision to fill out a form requesting a quote, a test ride and the ultimate opportunity to buy from your dealership.

Details Count
Now that you’ve made the right first impression with unique imagery, it’s time to win shoppers over with complete product details. Here are some specifications you won’t want to miss:
• Model Year
• Manufacturer
• Model
• New/Used
• Condition
• Title Info
• Speedometer Reading
• Color
• Engine Type
• Engine Displacement
• Fuel System Type
• Suspension Type
• Transmission Type
• Wheelbase
• Seat Height
• Brake Type
• Tire Type
• Dry Weight

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Not only will accurately listing each and every unit on your showroom floor help you convert shoppers who are familiar with your dealership, but all of this regularly updated, highly keyword rich content will help deliver new prospects to your virtual showroom directly from search engines.

Add Video to Boost SEO Value

If you want to supercharge your SEO power, embed YouTube videos on your product landing pages. While the idea of shooting product videos for each and every unit may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be. A product video can be as simple as a slideshow of the pictures that you’ve already taken of the unit. What you do to optimize your YouTube video for search is actually just as important as the video content itself.

Title your videos with the model name and year. Take full advantage of the 5,000 character-description by copying and pasting the product details from your website as well as your dealership’s contact information. Don’t forget the tags! Tags are the keywords and phrases people will use to search for your videos, so fill up the tag box with relevant keywords including the model name, your location and more general terms like “new motorcycle” or “used ATV sale.”

100-percent

Take Advantage of Third-Party Sales Channels and Social Media
Now that you’ve got your inventory listings optimized on your website, it’s time to round out your inventory exposure by posting listings on popular third-party sales channels and sharing your inventory listings via social media.

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The manual process of posting each individual piece of inventory to CycleTrader, Craigslist, eBay and any other third-party sales channels can be incredibly daunting, but if you’re working with an industry website provider, you’ll want to talk to your account rep about what content syndication options are available to you. By taking advantage of feeds, posting your website inventory to third-party sales channels could be as simple as clicking a check box.

Finally, don’t forget to share your new inventory on social media. Don’t be afraid to include some self-promotion on your social media channels, just be sure that you balance your inventory promotions with other content of value including links to blog posts, dealership event photos and entertaining content you’ve shared from around the Web.

Got questions on how you can optimize your online inventory or other online marketing challenges? Send me an email at [email protected], I’d love to hear from you!

Colleen Brousil is the director of marketing at ARI Network Services. Prior to joining ARI in November of 2013, Brousil served as the editor of Motorcycle & Powersports News.

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