Dealership MarketingIndustry News & Trends

Eye Candy…How Stock Photos Can Kill a Vehicle’s Love Life


“Hey Chief – eyes on your own paper, okay?”

If you’ve laughed at the Sears Optical TV spot where the near-sighted husband mistakes a mannequin for a dude eyeing up his wife, we’re already on the same wavelength.

Now think about this: let’s say you’re perusing a dating website, one that’s replete with pictures of prospective love interests.

At some point, you happen across a page with four incredibly attractive women/men and one avatar. Now, the avatar may have an edgy hairstyle and really big doe eyes (if you like that sort of thing), among other articles of perfection.

Here’s the question: Aside from satisfying your curiosity (“Why the heck would someone use an avatar in place of a photo of him or herself ON A DATING WEBSITE?”), wouldn’t you be most likely to click on one of the profiles represented by an actual photo? Of course! Admittedly, you’d be running the risk of missing out on an actual living, breathing avatar-like human, but what are the chances of that? Seriously?!

Next, put yourself in your automotive customers’ shoes.

If you’re online looking for a new or pre-owned vehicle, would you rather see the actual vehicle in which you’re interested, or an approximate representation thereof?

If you said something like, “Well, duh, Jon – of course I’d rather see photos of the vehicle I’m considering and not a stock photo,” then you have to explain to me why so many dealerships still use stock photos for their new vehicle inventories. I hope you can see why stock photos NEVER fly with pre-owned vehicles – it’s akin to listing a $10,000 motorcycle on craigslist with no pictures! But is it as important to show actual vehicle photos for shoppers looking for new?

According to the 2014 Inventory Shopping Experience Study by James Fabin and Dave Hollander, participating consumers said that stock inventory photos left them with the impression that the vehicles were “all the same.” The study continues:

“Consequently (and not surprisingly), vehicles represented by stock photos on the vehicle search results page had a much lower clickthrough rate than those with actual photos of the vehicle.”

Stock Photos Lower Clickthrough Rates on Vehicle Search Results Pages In fact, in the study, 70% of the shoppers did not click through from a vehicle search results page to a vehicle details page on vehicle listings with a stock photo. Yes, it can be a little more expensive to take multiple photos of your entire new inventory…

It may be time-consuming and even require you to hire an outside company to help. Is it worth it? Of course it is! And, inasmuch as you’re probably not going to send an email to the sweaty, unshaven guy wearing a deep v neck tee in his profile picture, you’ll want to be sure all your vehicles, new and used alike, look their absolute best for the photo shoot. Some may need makeovers.

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The bottom line is this:
Don’t let your vehicle be a wallflower. You have to make it stand out in the crowd!

To be sure, customers seldom buy the exact vehicle that most attracts them. When they actually visit your physical store, they often want to ‘date’ more than one (for some it’s “Speed-dating!”). But, until you see them in person, you need to be prepared to show them what they think they’re looking for.

Now, go get ‘em, tiger!

This is just one example of information and data you’ll find when you download the  2014 Inventory Shopping Experience Study. Cobalt will be showcasing all of their findings in their upcoming webinar, 4 Sure-Fire Ways to Annoy Shoppers & Sabotage Your Inventory, on March 20th. Register today! – Kershner