Q4 Strategy: Expanding Used Vehicle Sales and Advertising Outside Your DMA

Oct 8, 2020
Kevin LeSage, Director of Digital Marketing

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

It’s been incredibly inspiring to see our industry adapt, improvise and overcome the myriad of challenges that 2020 has thrown at us, but as we enter Q4, it’s time to focus on ending the year as strong as possible.

car dealership lot with flags

With low supply and high prices, vehicle sales are causing slowing markets, some faster than others, and while that may seem like a roadblock for success, the dealers I’m working with are focused on maintaining the positive momentum they’ve created to maximize sales. And a lot of them have similar strategies.  

While this may sound oversimplified, the answer to increasing sales in a slowing market is simple: extend into new markets.

There is a classic saying I’ve heard my entire career: “protect your backyard”. And while I wholeheartedly agree, I would caveat that (especially now). It’s time not only to protect your backyard, but to make your backyard bigger.  Let’s talk about how to do both.

Protect your backyard by giving local car buyers the experience they want

For many dealers, the simple and most cost-effective way to protect your backyard right now is through local home delivery. As part of our Dealer Home Services offering, Autotrader dealers can now promote their home delivery services to local car shoppers at no extra cost.  

Did you know? From March to September, more than 13,000 Autotrader dealers activated Dealer Home Services and saw a 25% increase in average daily leads1 and a 25% increase in close rates2. We also saw a 56% lift in site links – shoppers clicking from Autotrader to their dealership websites.3

But, if you’re not with Autotrader, think about other ways your store can get the word out about home delivery.  

Train your staff to mention these offerings at every opportunity, whether that’s answering the phones or responding to incoming chats or texts. And look at all of your advertising channels for ways you can get the message out about home delivery.

What nearby markets could home delivery open up for you? Let’s look at your data. 

The way shoppers engage and search for vehicles online is always evolving, and this year has taught us to be ready for anything. For dealers looking to understand their virtual reach and find untapped sales opportunities, use the data at your fingertips.

Mobile phone with nVision traffic map showing shoppers searching for vehicles from outside the local market of the dealer
  • Check out your Google Analytics audience location data to see where shoppers on your dealership website are.
  • Analyze the zip codes of your recent sales to see if trends are changing.  
  • If you’re an Autotrader dealer, use Analyze Live within nVision reporting to see real-time data that could reveal market opportunities in seconds. The Traffic Activity Map will reveal where your Autotrader and KBB.com shoppers are located, and you’ll also get data on what those shoppers are doing right now on your site, e.g., the VDPs they’re viewing and the vehicles they’re saving.

More times than not, you’ll pick up on trends for your store that may have gone unnoticed in the fast pace of the last few months. Are you getting more traffic from outside your local area than you have in the past? Are you getting visitors from places you haven’t in the past? Has the share of traffic from your key markets changed?  Diving into your data is a great start, but not let’s act on it.

Now, let’s act on that data for a winning Q4 strategy.

If your data deep-dive reveals markets that you’d like to sell cars into but aren’t currently reaching, it’s time to think about how to surface your inventory in the areas where you’re willing and able to deliver. Many third-party vehicle listings sites, including Autotrader, have solutions to facilitate this type of merchandising. With the ability to set up virtual lots with Market Extension, widening your sales area has never been easier.

When you’ve chosen your methods for getting the word out, make sure that you’re optimizing your website VDPs, listings and anywhere you promote your vehicles to appeal to remote shoppers. In this recent post, you’ll find lots of tips for effectively merchandising and advertising your vehicles for home delivery sales.

Consumers are expanding their reach and leveraging new tools,. It’s time for dealerships to do the same. Today, home delivery sales offer a competitive advantage for dealers, but they’re quickly becoming a necessity.  Consumer data shows interest in virtual buying and home delivery continuing to increase.

I argue the longer a dealer waits to implement a home delivery service and other methods to effectively advertise and fulfill sales in extended areas, the steeper the hill will be to climb when they do. If you’re not already using virtual tools and home delivery to sell and advertise inside and outside your DMA, now’s the time to build a proactive strategy for getting started. 

I urge all dealers, Autotrader clients or not, to take some time as you map out your Q4 strategy to brainstorm a new or creative way to extend the reach of your inventory. If you’re already doing it, I’d love to hear your success stories. And if not, we’re here to help!

1 Netezza Reported Leads. Q1-Q3, 2020.

2 VinSolutions Close Rate Data, 2020

3 Autotrader Site data:: July 2020. Does not include Carvana, Vroom, Tesla​