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Is Having Too Many Pictures A Bad Thing? Perhaps

by Brian Cox

It wasn’t too long ago that we saw most dealers’ VDP pages contain only a couple of pictures of a vehicle. As technology improved and made it easier and more efficient for dealers to take and upload more images, best practices quickly raised the standard for image quantity to 40 or more pictures. Now, however, a recent article in Automotive News cites a white paper that suggests that a VDP page that contains more than 9 photos causes “image fatigue” in a consumer. Apparently this results in a drop off in lead volume as consumers get tired of clicking through multiple images to find the information they are seeking – whether that be interior images, exterior images, or whatever aspect may be important to that particular buyer.

The thought process behind providing multiple images is that the consumer has the ability to inspect a vehicle online and gain more interest by having any questions about vehicle condition answered. The results of the white paper suggest that the optimal number of photos on any given VDP is nine. According to the report, used vehicles posted for sale with nine images generated 50 percent more leads than those without any images; 56 percent more leads than those with 20 images; and 71 percent more than those with 30 images.

Why does it seem like best practices have gone backwards?

My take on that it is this: It’s easy to see how today’s online car shoppers can get image fatigue by clicking 40 pictures, one by one. That being said, I don’t think it’s any less important for shoppers to be able to obtain the information they need without experiencing the “image fatigue” suggested by the white paper.

It’s actually a very easy solution… video.

At the time it became a best practice for dealerships to have 40+ pictures, video marketing was in its infancy. Many inventory videos were crude and looked unprofessional. As technology has improved tremendously, video has become the media type of choice, as stated by many research studies. And not just in the automotive industry, but in every sector.

So, perhaps consumers tend to lose interest after clicking on too many images. Or, perhaps the real reason they lose interest is that the dealer didn’t provide the type of content that would keep a consumer’s interest, the one that is preferred by most demographics, the one that converts and sells cars… video.

Car Shopping: The Dating Game

by Tim James

For many car owners, their vehicles become an extension of their lives, a partner, and something that they have a true emotional bond with. In most places, cars are necessary to life. We use them to get to work, visit friends and family and take our kids to football practice. According to an article on the Tempo blog, a study done by Harvard Health Watch found that, on average, a person spends 37,935 hours driving during a lifetime – over 4 years of their lives. It’s no wonder that consumers build an emotional connection with their vehicles.

A time will come for nearly every consumer when a new vehicle is necessary. Perhaps because of an expanding family, an accident, or the fact that the age and condition of a current vehicle necessitates it. These can be emotional times for people, and can be an important thing for us to consider in the buying process — the fact that some consumers have emotional attachments to their current vehicle and are looking for their next “partner,” if you will.

Brands lure consumers to their vehicles with original content designed to generate interest in their make. It is then your job to take that and transition it to interest in a specific vehicle. Think of it like speed dating. The car lots of the world are now represented online with every dealership of every make representing potential suitors. However, few do a good job of representing their potential “dates.” The consumer wades through countless profiles and descriptions trying to find their next “partner.” The process becomes frustrating as the consumer’s search narrow in, become more specific, yet they are met with numerous profiles that all virtually look the same. You have the same 35 to 50 photos as everyone else, the same list of features, and the same buttons with the same calls to action as everyone else. Why should the shopper choose you?

The point is that successful dealers make it as easy as possible for a car shopper to start the love connection with THEIR car by telling the vehicle’s story through images, narratives descriptions and, most importantly, a good unique video.

But that’s not all. Let’s take the dating analogy again — Perhaps match.com isn’t the ideal place for you to meet that next special someone. It’s certainly not the only dating site in existence. To position your dealership’s inventory to have the best chance of success, you need to make sure that you are on as many dating sites as possible. Ensuring that your car has the best chance of getting chosen involves developing a strategy that reaches the right shopper on the right touch-point at the right time in their buying cycle. With the right strategy, you will appeal to the fundamental emotional relationship that most shoppers are searching for (it’s not just a car to them) and successfully match more shoppers with their next “partner” than you will by simply trying to motivate the shopper with “price”.