Tess Karesky
| 12/14/2016

The Magic of Words

After weeks of researching which car they want to buy, a potential customer lands on your Vehicle Description Page (VDP). Don’t you wish there was a magic word to drive that customer to fill out the lead form on the side of the page? While there isn’t one word alone that will accomplish this, the right words paired with quality images and a good price certainly can. Recently, we’ve been studying the power of language in persuading customers. We’ve already covered some of this in our blog which examined how a three-star review with the right language can be more effective than a five-star review. But the language of reviews doesn’t stop with stars; what shoppers want to hear can vary by the type of vehicle they’re looking to buy. While all customers are looking for a new ride, the needs of an SUV shopper can vary greatly from those of a sedan shopper. Using a language analysis tool built by our lead Data Scientist, Jason Kessler, we identified what words were most and least likely to convert SUV, sedan, and mid-size sedan shoppers. Convert in this context means that a customer read a vehicle review and immediately moved on to a dealer site as a result. Read on to see which words on a VDP have a higher chance of converting a customer.

SUV Shoppers

Let’s start with SUVs. SUV shoppers are all about space and comfort for their family. Words like “front” and “row” were high converting because they explained the roominess of a car. Customers want to know that the space in the back won’t mean sacrificing leg room in the front, or that the third row can fit their teenager comfortably. Unsurprisingly, “wife” and “family” were also high converting terms. Since this is a vehicle the whole family will spend a lot of time in, it’s important that everyone, particularly both adults, like the vehicle. This focus on space and comfort means features like “turbo”, a low converting word, aren’t that important. Gas mileage may not register particularly high for SUV shoppers either. “Mileage”, referring to gas mileage, was another low converting word despite positive use in reviews. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t mention turbo or good gas mileage, just that the emphasis should rest on the space and comfort of the vehicle.

Mid-size Sedan Shoppers

Mid-size sedan shoppers want to be wowed without breaking the bank. “Impressed”, “luxury” and “premium” were all high converting words. High-converting reviews talked about how impressive they found luxury-like features like the plush interior or smooth ride quality. Part of that premium vehicle experience is a quiet ride. “Quiet” was also one of the highest converting words for mid-size sedan shoppers. It came up frequently with another high converting word, “freeway”. Mid-size sedan shoppers want their vehicle to remain quiet, even while passing at high speeds. If they want luxury features, they also want high-end language in their descriptions. “Expectations” and “blown” were both low converting words even though they were typically used positively. Being “blown away” by a car or having “surpassed expectations” just doesn’t have the same high-class feel as words like “impressive”. This taste extends to features like Bluetooth, which was a low converter, likely because mid-size sedan shoppers assume this once special feature is now a given.

Sedan Shoppers

In looking at the high converting words for sedan shoppers, we realized they trend toward basic features. “Passing” was the highest converting word for sedan shoppers and was usually used to describe a vehicle’s ability to pass on the freeway. This is a relatable way to describe a car’s power and acceleration. “Torque” also describes power, but was a low converting word, likely because many customers don’t understand what torque actually means for their driving experience. “Climate”, referring to both climate control and handling in a cold climate, and “comfort” were other standard features sedan shoppers focused on. Sedan shoppers also involve their friends in the process. Reviews that mentioned compliments from their friends or the comfort of their friends in the vehicle were high converting. Warranty and gas mileage are not the deciding factor for most sedan shoppers and were both low converting terms. Again, that isn’t to say they shouldn’t be mentioned; rather, you should avoid focusing on those words.

One of the key findings that has repeatedly surfaced in both our reviews study and our e-lead response study is the importance of avoiding jargon. Many words that are common to people in the auto industry aren’t as familiar to the average car shopper. Words like “torque” and “options” are low converting because most customers don’t know how to relate to these terms or how they’re used in this context. When writing your vehicle descriptions or ad copy, always make sure to keep your customer in mind.

When your customer is at the moment of truth on the VDP page, every detail counts. Adjusting your vehicle messaging to better appeal to that shopper base is a relatively easy task that can have a positive impact on leads and ultimately, sales.

Download our guide to writing vehicle reviews to help you choose the words to make a sale.

Tess Karesky
Tess Karesky

Tess Karesky is a Marketing Research Specialist at CDK Global providing insights and thought leadership to drive the industry forward. She has researched the behaviors and habits of Millennial, luxury, Hispanic and female shoppers, in addition to other consumer groups. Her findings include insights into optimizing web content, reputation, advertising, sales and service experience, and customer retention. Her research has been presented to automotive executives at Lexus, Audi, Nissan, Infiniti and GM, as well as industry events including the Driving Sales Most Valuable Insight award. She feels strongly in the value of quality, engaging research that provides actionable insights. She can be reached at