The Internet is a major part of the world we live in today.

It has become a necessity for everyday life – from travel and relationships to research and business.

It’s undeniable: We’re living in a digital world and, as technology continues to advance, more and more people rely on the Internet – even vehicle shoppers.

For many dealers, this notion is nerve wracking. It’s resulted in less showroom traffic and a more competitive market. The internet has disrupted traditionally successful marketing methods and changed the way people shop for cars.

The days of customers browsing multiple different showrooms to find their next vehicle are gone. On average, today’s customers visit fewer than two dealerships before purchasing a vehicle. If your dealership isn’t their first choice, then you may never see them! If they do visit, they already have their minds made up about what vehicle they want to buy and how much they are willing to pay for it.

Some dealers view this change as threat to their dealership; however, I would contest that it’s an opportunity.

1. Be Both Present and Active

The obvious solution? You have to be online. There’s no way around it. Your customers are online, so you have to be too – in fact, if you don’t already have an online presence, then you’re way behind. You’re hopefully already well aware of this!

But, just having an online presence isn’t enough.

If only it were that easy!

In order to sell cars today, your dealership has to be more than present online — it has to be active.

A massive divide between your dealership and online shoppers exists: information. Being active means more than just having a website and serving a few digital ads. You must continually monitor your online presence and provide  customers with the information they want and need to choose your dealership over the competition – whether that’s on your website, via digital advertising, or through a virtual marketing strategy.

2. Give the People What They Want

So, you might be asking yourself, “Isn’t the gap between online shoppers and my dealership a good thing if the goal is to get them into the dealership?”

An easy assumption to make is that shoppers who can’t find what they’re looking for online will come into the dealership to learn this critical information – like pricing, trade-in value, financing options, and more.

Unfortunately, this is just not accurate.

Withholding the information that customers want to know is detrimental to your dealership. Research shows that being active online and answering the customer’s questions during their initial auto searches directly results in dealership visits.

Don’t let your competition get a head start on your marketing by being more helpful during shoppers’ critical decision-making moments.

3. Realize Who (or What) You’re Competing Against

The dealership that’s right down the street from you is not you only opponent anymore. The competition has increased and now shoppers who would have visited your dealership just 10 years ago are finding all the information they need on third-party sites – bypassing you altogether and leaving you with razor-thin profit margins.

Ninety percent of auto shoppers are shopping for the vehicles online and of that 90 percent, 78 percent are using third-party sites to find the information they’re looking for.2

The shoppers that are using these sites have no intention of visiting your dealership unless they’re ready to buy, which means that you have a much slimmer chance of converting them into customers.

This is why you need to make it easy for shoppers to find your dealership online and discover the information they want to know – information that third-party sites can’t provide.

4. Think Like a Shopper

If that sounds like a tall order, don’t worry! It’s easy to provide the shoppers with the information they want – you just have to know what vehicle shoppers are searching for that they’re not finding on your website or in your marketing.

The truth is, shoppers don’t rely on dealers for information about incentives and offers because they can find that information elsewhere. What they need to know is what’s currently on the lot, the value of their trade-in, and what their financing options are. If you can supply online shoppers with all of this information on your website, or through another helpful source, you will lead them to your dealership.

By creating a bridge over the information gap, you’ll give shoppers what they’re seeking, gain more website and showroom traffic, and you’ll sell more cars!