If your vehicle detail pages (VDPs) aren’t performing as well as you’d like, check out these 10 tips to ramp up the action!  After 16 years in the automotive dealership world, I have tested out many different VDP layouts and ideas, and wanted to share some of my best practices I have learned and used over the years.

Understandably, many of you work with a templated design from a major automotive website provider.  Although it may not be possible to “re-invent the wheel” of your VDP design, basic changes are almost always possible.  Items such as photos, similar vehicle widget placement, custom comments, and Call To Action (CTA) placement, can almost always be changed relatively easily.  Usually, just a phone call to your website representative.

  1. Photos, photos, photos

Get lots of photos on each VDP page – custom photos of the actual car. An Autotrader report showed that there were 91% more VDP views when a vehicle had multiple custom photos compared to no photos at all, and 116% more compared to a stock photo. Multiple photos outperformed single photos by 61%.* Why the vast difference? Today’s car buyers want to see the actual car they are considering buying, from every possible angle.  Plus, photos of the actual vehicle verify to a potential buyer that the car IS on your lot and IS available for sale.


  2. Price is a necessity

Shoppers want to see prices when they are checking VDP pages. They don’t want to be told “see dealer for details” or “call for price.” That slows them down and adds an unwanted step to the process that can make them cross your car off their list and move on to the next.  Don’t worry that a price might be a turn-off – if a shopper is interested in your car, they will come and ask you, “Is this your best price?” You can then get down to doing what you do best – negotiating and selling vehicles.  Remember, buyers want transparency.

  3. Customize your comments

It may not be the easiest thing in the world to develop custom comments for every car on your lot, but it is worth the effort. You can use a comment generator tool  (such as vAuto’s tool or one within your feed provider or even your website) to give you a template to work from, but be sure to tweak it to make sure each car is shown to be unique. Listing three or four special features (such as Panoramic Sunroof, Touch-screen Navigation System, Back-Up Camera, tc) for each car upfront is a great way to customize comments, and show buyers the highlights of the vehicle right away.

   4. Accident-free is a plus

If a used car is free and clear of accidents, that is a feature to highlight! Link up with CARFAX or AutoCheck to let shoppers verify it for themselves if they like.  It’s added value and peace of mind.

The Accident Free and 1-Owner Info was also displayed on the Search Results Page (SRP), which entices shoppers to click into the VDP.

The Accident Free and 1-Owner Info was also displayed on the Search Results Page (SRP), which entices shoppers to click into the VDP.

   5. Used Car Inspection (UCI)

Did you replace belts? Tires? Brake pads? Any improvements you made during the UCI should be spotlighted in your comments so that shoppers will recognize the added value.

   6. Options are not an option

Standard specs are important to show on a VDP, but if a new car has optional packages, list them out! First, people may be searching for specific packages. Second, these optional packages play a big role in a car’s price. For instance, one Hyundai Sonata Limited might sticker for $28,500, and another for $33,500. You might know that the car is equipped with the Ultimat Package, but does a shopper?  Shoppers want to understand the reason behind the $5000 price difference without having to search all over the place to find it.  

  7. Click a few more tires …

Put a “similar vehicle” widget prominently on your VDP pages to let shoppers know you have multiple options that might fit their needs. Put yourself in the shopper’s shoes.  Wouldn’t you feel more comfortable knowing that the dealer has 3, 4, maybe even 5 vehicles or more that might be a good fit, as opposed to only one?  Showcase your inventory!



  8. Call for action … once

You don’t need seven different buttons to “Contact You”, 3 separate widgets to apply for financing, and two pop-ups on your VDP pages. One call to action for each is sufficient (one for trade-in, one for schedule test drive, one for financing, etc) – if a person wants to inquire further, they’ll click the link.

  9. Simplify, simplify

Keep your lead forms simple – just ask for the person’s name and one method of contacting them.  Ask for more, and you’re likely to get nothing.

  10. Keep up with the times

It’s 2016!  Some of your shoppers have never lived in a world without the internet and smartphones have been around for half of their lives or more … be sure you give people the option to text your dealership in addition to calling or emailing you.  Once again, put yourself in the shopper’s shoes……think about yourself, or maybe your kids – how often do you/they call, but how often do you/they text?


*2012-2014 New Car Dealer Sourcing Study, Autotrader