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Should We Drop AutoTrader?
3rd Party Leads and Automotive Classifieds Websites Discuss Should We Drop AutoTrader? in the Websites, SEO, SEM, and Internet Marketing forums; Originally Posted by yagoparamo @ Joe and company, Besides the craziness of trying to measure what works and doesn't based on what customers say knowing that they visit 6-8 sources ...
      
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  1. #31
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    Default Re: Should We Drop AutoTrader?

    Quote Originally Posted by yagoparamo View Post
    @ Joe and company,

    Besides the craziness of trying to measure what works and doesn't based on what customers say knowing that they visit 6-8 sources during the process and they can't mention all of them, there is also the fact that customers will not tell the truth about the sources anyway because somehow they believe that holding that information gives them some advantage over you. Cobalt published a paper about that a few years ago. This behavior also transfers to other industries.

    There is also the fact that we keep trying to measure the success of the Internet by the number of phone calls and emails (direct contacts) when we are living in a society that dislikes direct contact. People want to communicate in their own terms. Cell phone numbers (to a lesser degree emails) are so personal that customers don't want to give them up.

    Some of this steams from 6-8 years ago when Autotrader promoted their "phone call and email leads reports". That time is over.

    The number of views we saw in the Craigs List reports Vs leads opened my eyes. I could not discount those as having an effect in the buying cycle of a lot of people that didn't contact the dealers directly.

    I'm encouraging dealers to pay attention in the Google analitycs to the pages viewed (total and average) as a way to measure website proficiency and not just at conversion rates. Conversions are hard to change in an uphill battle, but website engagement may be able to tell us better if we are driving the right traffic to a website that has the right content.

    So Autotrader's value is more than what you can see. But I can tell you you know that and that is not the problem. Flat out you know it works. The problem here is that Autotrader has a salesperson that gets paid a commission and gets pressure to sell more product (no blame here, we all do the same to a certain degree). The key is for you to figure out what package level you are comfortable with and works best for your organization, not to cancel it altogether.
    I haven't played in a while, but I will weigh in on this one. This type of question is the one that has plagued many of us for years and have tried desperately to quantify, validate and determine a true ROI. The reality is; we always are missing part of the formula, leaving some of it to "guesstimation". I will elaborate more on this below.

    Regarding how well Autotrader, Cars.com or CL does; each market and situation is different (as someone pointed out). By situation, I mean that I have found (in multiple markets) that under $10k pre-owned vehicles do really well on Craigslist. That said; I am not sure that a new $80k+ luxury vehicle would do as well on CL, especially in an affluent demographic. There are always exceptions, but the rule (in my humble opinion) is that there is NO RULE, only guides. So asking if Autotrader, CL or Cars.com works and if you should keep/cancel it is a loaded question.

    Back to guesstimation, as Jeff pointed out, IF you merchandise, price and promote all 3rd parties equally, you may be able to compare some things apples to apples. Even then, as someone else pointed out, many of the buyers who are educated, or who are getting educated know what they want and if it is within a reasonable distance of their home or work, will simply drive there. Even if you have a great CRM, it is ALWAYS garbage in and garbage out. Depending on the sales teams to track it accurately is risky at best, so where does that leave you? BTW, on a side note; you may want to consider moving the whole "where did you see us" questioning to finance or fulfillment coordinator (if personnel allows).

    EVEN then as another pointed out, trying to quantify which resource (because many customers go to more than one site) is responsible for the "last click" is another can of worms. And even if you could quantify that; can you assure me that the last click is really responsible for the lead?

    Stop the madness! This is always a lose-lose scenario and is difficult to understand ourselves let alone explain it to your employer.

    Keep it simple. According to Google (ZMOT), dealers spend over 80% of the advertising budget on stimulus type of advertising. Meaning, people who really aren't in the market, majority of which aren't ready to buy, but we have to have a commercial in front of them so they have to DVR their favorite shows NOT to see your dealer slapping the hood.

    Brand recognition and branding is important, but not at the expense of not being where the fish are.

    People go to 3rd party sites and your site because they are IN the market to buy or are doing research to buy. Whether we like it or not, they have better brand recognition as a non-biased resource for non-loyal and even some loyal customers. I tell all dealers that for one remote, one ad in the paper or a few spots in Judge Judy that they would be better served in investing in all of them (Autorader, Cars.com, CL etc.), to ENSURE that when they are ready to buy, regardless of which major platform they use, YOU are there.

    So to summarize my rant and highly opinionated post; we need to change the question. But the VDPs and SRPs and CTRs show this.... What doesn't it show? You can't manage what you can't measure, but you can reach the right audience at the right time.

  2. #32
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    Default Re: Should We Drop AutoTrader?

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Hawley View Post
    Regarding how well Autotrader, Cars.com or CL does; each market and situation is different (as someone pointed out). By situation, I mean that I have found (in multiple markets) that under $10k pre-owned vehicles do really well on Craigslist. That said; I am not sure that a new $80k+ luxury vehicle would do as well on CL, especially in an affluent demographic. There are always exceptions, but the rule (in my humble opinion) is that there is NO RULE, only guides. So asking if Autotrader, CL or Cars.com works and if you should keep/cancel it is a loaded question.

    Chris,

    $10K or under cars do well in any advertising venue. $80K Porsche Cayenne SUV are much harder to sell too in any market.

    It is harder to sell a 2012 Range rover in Cl than it is to sell a 2012 Toyota Corolla. But that is the same for any other website.

    I'm keying on that because the misconception that only cheap cars work on CL has kept lots of dealers out of using a fantastic advertisement source.
    Yago de Artaza Paramo
    CEO, PGI Digital

    yago@pgiauto.com

    www.pgiauto.com Data, window label, and video system
    www.dealerlab.com High performing custom websites
    www.contentmotive.com Unique content, micro content, and blogs
    www.autoclassifiedsolutions.com Technical and flexible CraigsList system
    www.autob.com Print and Hispanic radio (Radiulo) advertising
    www.integratedppc.com PPC, retargeting, and dynamic PPC

  3. #33
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    Default Re: Should We Drop AutoTrader?

    Jason

    I am completing a 7 month study with shared clients of PCG and Autotrader to answer the question that I am often asked, which is the same thought you are having: What is the true ROI of Autotrader? If I am doing good SEO/SEM campaigns, do I still need to use sites like Autotrader.com and Cars.com?

    I will be sharing the results of the study at the 2013 DMSC Conference in Orlando on February 6th. I will tell you without looking at your specific data, you are most likely kicking out one of the best digital investments in your marketing strategy.

    Studies have shown that the more Vehicle Detail Page (VDP) views a dealership receive from in-market shoppers, the more cars they will sell. I will be happy to walk you through measuring the effective cost of generating VDP views on your own website. When you do this exercise you will find that your own ability to generate what I call "In Market Shopper Activity" on your own website is significantly higher than what is produced by Cars.com and Autotrader.com

    My study placed enterprise analytics on dealership websites that was also on Autotrader.com and KBB.com so we can see just how many visitors, as a percentage of dealership traffic, were first on Autotrader and came to the dealership website afterwards. The key is that you CAN NOT use the Google Analytics "referring" websites data as a measure.

    I would also offer your store(s) the ability to participate in a second round of testing that I am doing with ATC so that you can see this audience overlap yourself. In any case, the data is very compelling and gives great insights in how consumers are using third party classified websites and how that usage is "masked" by the limited visibility that Google Analytics shows.

    So before you cancel, I would give me a call and let me show you and your dealership group the insights that I think you have not been able to see or understand before. 732.672.2356

  4. #34
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    Default Re: Should We Drop AutoTrader?

    [IN RESPONSE TO JEFF'S POST ABOUT CONDUCTING AN AUTOTRADER CHECKLIST B4 CUTTING THEM:]
    That was a thoughtful reply and it inspired me to check my own backyard. Thx.
    Last edited by sam99; 12-21-2012 at 07:58 AM.

  5. #35
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    Default Re: Should We Drop AutoTrader?

    Quote Originally Posted by yagoparamo View Post
    Chris,

    $10K or under cars do well in any advertising venue. $80K Porsche Cayenne SUV are much harder to sell too in any market.

    It is harder to sell a 2012 Range rover in Cl than it is to sell a 2012 Toyota Corolla. But that is the same for any other website.

    I'm keying on that because the misconception that only cheap cars work on CL has kept lots of dealers out of using a fantastic advertisement source.
    Yes, thank you for clarifying. I was using CL as an example and obviously based on some of your responses, you have had great luck with them. My point, albeit poorly made, is that everyone's experiences will vary. As a confirmation of that, look at this thread and others like it.

    Having worked and consulted in many different markets; I have learned the hard way to approach each situation with fresh eyes. I, like you, historically did really well with CL, in regards to raw lead volume. The market I am in currently, while not seemingly affluent, actually boasted more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the country (I think it was 5 or so years ago). I came to this market with fresh eyes, but also with the idea that CL is a low cost solution to get immediate traffic. People here don't use CL near as much as other markets and the only thing it out performed all other sources on was in fact; wholesale type vehicles and vehicles under $10k. For everything else, it was lower than even a "shopper" type website (newspaper).

    Your results may vary and will vary by market.

    Another example is how well the respective 3rd party reps do in your area. Meaning, if the AT rep has only one Ford store in the market on and Cars.com has five, or vice versa, then customers in that market are more likely to use that source over the other. Does that mean AT is superior or inferior in all markets? No, all that means is that in YOUR market, based on what you are selling, that product is superior. Your results will vary.

    All that said; I still believe in being where the buyers are. If possible, you should always try to be in all major third party sources as budget allows. I would never cut AT (I would decrease package levels though), Cars.com or CL over a "stimulus" or branding type advertisement, as marketing budget allows.

    Reports don't tell the whole story.

  6. #36
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    Default Re: Should We Drop AutoTrader?

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Hawley View Post
    Yes, thank you for clarifying. I was using CL as an example and obviously based on some of your responses, you have had great luck with them. My point, albeit poorly made, is that everyone's experiences will vary. As a confirmation of that, look at this thread and others like it.

    Having worked and consulted in many different markets; I have learned the hard way to approach each situation with fresh eyes. I, like you, historically did really well with CL, in regards to raw lead volume. The market I am in currently, while not seemingly affluent, actually boasted more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the country (I think it was 5 or so years ago). I came to this market with fresh eyes, but also with the idea that CL is a low cost solution to get immediate traffic. People here don't use CL near as much as other markets and the only thing it out performed all other sources on was in fact; wholesale type vehicles and vehicles under $10k. For everything else, it was lower than even a "shopper" type website (newspaper).

    Your results may vary and will vary by market.

    Another example is how well the respective 3rd party reps do in your area. Meaning, if the AT rep has only one Ford store in the market on and Cars.com has five, or vice versa, then customers in that market are more likely to use that source over the other. Does that mean AT is superior or inferior in all markets? No, all that means is that in YOUR market, based on what you are selling, that product is superior. Your results will vary.

    All that said; I still believe in being where the buyers are. If possible, you should always try to be in all major third party sources as budget allows. I would never cut AT (I would decrease package levels though), Cars.com or CL over a "stimulus" or branding type advertisement, as marketing budget allows.

    Reports don't tell the whole story.
    Chris,G

    Great comeback!

    You are absolutely correct and thank you for taking the time to write that. For good or bad, every market is different and there is only so much that you can do to test what works/doesn't other than sometimes just try it.

    One thing to remember is that Autotrader will price their packages accordingly to the market size. Even 3rd party lead companies like Autobytel for example will sell leads at different prices depending on how many they can get in a particular area. Is a simple supply and demand price structure.

    Craig's List works the same way in most cases. Markets that have low posting volume keep the cars 45 days, fast markets only 7. There are a few problems with the for dealers. One is that 45 day markets force you to be strict about your prices since they will hang in there long after the car is sold. Second is the expectation, some dealers get into CL because of the hype and when they don't get a trillion leads the want to cancel. Keep a sane expectation between what you pay and what you get.
    Yago de Artaza Paramo
    CEO, PGI Digital

    yago@pgiauto.com

    www.pgiauto.com Data, window label, and video system
    www.dealerlab.com High performing custom websites
    www.contentmotive.com Unique content, micro content, and blogs
    www.autoclassifiedsolutions.com Technical and flexible CraigsList system
    www.autob.com Print and Hispanic radio (Radiulo) advertising
    www.integratedppc.com PPC, retargeting, and dynamic PPC


 
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