Article

Writing Descriptions for Online Listings

September 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Rob Chesney - Also by this author

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but a few descriptive sentences are vital to your success in selling a vehicle online. While photos are a crucial part of your online listings, an essential compliment to the photographs in your listing is the written description of the vehicle.
In your listings, the words you choose and the features you select in describing a vehicle’s history and condition not only build trust, but help potential buyers to locate your vehicles through keyword searches on eBay Motors.
 
Using titles and subtitles
 
Considerably more than half of eBay Motors visitors use the site’s search function when they look for a vehicle, and in most cases they are searching by the make, model and/or year, the same information that eBay Motors automatically places in the title when you list a vehicle. So when you’re creating the subtitle, you don’t need to repeat information about the type of vehicle. Instead, use the subtitle to highlight specific selling points and attributes. In the subtitle, for example, you might include such terms as “Single owner,” “Smoke free,” “Warranty,” “Meticulously maintained,” or “New tires.” Whatever you decide, think about the words and phrases that would grab a customer’s attention and use those terms. For instance, while some dealers may write, “side-curtain supplementary restraint system,” the average consumer would search for “side air bags.”
Writing efficiently
 
When you’re preparing dozens or even hundreds of listings, describing each vehicle can become very time consuming unless you adopt some efficiencies. Foremost is to keep your descriptions and other information as concise as possible to reduce the amount of time spent on creating your listings. For example, you might write, “This 2003 Toyota Corolla is a vehicle that is in high demand because of its excellent gas mileage and Toyota’s reputation for high quality, which means fewer trips to the repair shop.” Since the reader already knows the make and model from the title, this sentence can be simplified to read, “Excellent mileage and low maintenance requirements make this car exceptional.” Keep your writing compact, straightforward and specific, without being long-winded in your sentences.
 
Using consistent language
 
Another consideration is to be as consistent as possible in the amount of information you provide about each vehicle in your listings. If you write two paragraphs describing the features of a Mustang but just one sentence about a Camaro, you may be positioning the Chevy as only a second-rate vehicle. Also be consistent in the terminology you use in your listings to make comparisons of features easier for the buyer. A “rear-seat video system” may sound like a much bigger deal than a “DVD player,” when in fact you’re describing exactly the same equipment in two different vehicles. By using the same terms for all of your listings, shoppers know that the vehicles are approximately equal in relation to that feature.
 
Following the checklist
 
The eBay Motors site provides a comprehensive Sell Your Vehicle Checklist for information that should be included in each vehicle description. In addition to basic information relating to model, make, year, mileage, warranties, equipment and the like, the checklist includes suggestions for areas of the vehicle to photograph. In writing the description, the checklist recommends that you answer the following questions:
  • Are you the original owner, or do you know the ownership history?
  • Have you modified the car with accessories, wheels, etc.?
  • Do you have the maintenance records?
  • What transferable coverage remains on any warranties?
  • Are any problem areas not shown in your photos (mechanical, cigarette odor, etc.)?
  • What unique customization or accessories do you want to showcase?
  • What recent major maintenance have you performed (new tires, etc.)?
  • Are any significant repairs or maintenance needed in the near future?
  • Do you have the title, or can you specify when it will be available?
  • What time frame do you require for sale or payment?
  • Will you accept escrow payments?
  • What other paperwork is required (emissions inspection, etc.)?
If you view your written description from your customer’s standpoint, you’ll advance the sales process considerably by making your listing clear, concise and easy to use for consideration and comparison, as well as by answering the buyer’s major questions. In addition, by highlighting features of interest to potential buyers, they will be able to easily locate your vehicle when searching on eBay Motors. Strong written descriptions that compliment a full collection of photographs will build buyer confidence in your listings and help to drive additional customer interest.
 
Vol. 3, Issue 1

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