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Should We Drop AutoTrader?

Discussion in '3rd Party Leads and Automotive Classifieds Website' started by Jason L. Laughlin, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. Jason L. Laughlin

    Jason L. Laughlin Noob

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    Hey everybody, we're considering dropping AutoTrader from our list of vendors. We've been a long time AutoTrader customer, but we have not seen the performance we'd like to for the type of money we're spending with them.

    Our Used Cars Manager strongly supports keeping them, but we're not all of the same opinion. His salespeople have done a terrible job of marking advertising sources, so according to our CRM, we're only selling about 5 vehicles a month off of it.

    Has anyone else dropped AutoTrader recently? If so, how has that affected your used car sales?
  2. ddavis

    ddavis Sr. Refresher

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    Jason, I have seen more people returning to AutoTrader, lately. There were some similar threads, to this one, about a year ago.

    I'm going to be on the side of your Used Car Manager. I've always done well with AutoTrader. I have had issues with salespeople properly sourcing their customers, also. I made a point of trying to meet people at delivery and did that myself. I found that much of my website traffic was coming from the display sites: AutoTrader and Cars.com.

    Dataium (Big Data) did a study on Cars.com (should apply equally to AutoTrader) that is a good read: click here.
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  3. yagoparamo

    yagoparamo Sr. Refresher

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    Jason,

    Try lowering the package before you totally cancel. Sometimes things need little fine tuning, find your ROI, not just cut a possible good revenue source.
  4. Jason L. Laughlin

    Jason L. Laughlin Noob

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    Doug, thanks for that information. I will check into those older posts on this matter. Personally, I understand the value of the third party marketplaces, but it's hard to sell my GM on the fact they're working when none of our numbers reflect that.

    We were thinking about having a "How Did You Hear About Us?" card for our customers to fill out. What do you think about that idea?
  5. jakewirth

    jakewirth Noob

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    Jason,

    Earlier this year Chip Perry from AutoTrader mentioned 60% of folks walk in without submitting a lead after finding a vehicle on AutoTrader. I remember countless customers showing up with print-outs of the vehicles they saw on AutoTrader who had not submitted an lead through the site.

    You may want to try a month where all of the salespeople buy-in to asking each customer how they heard about the vehicle or dealership. Let them know you will be canceling AutoTrader if enough traffic is being generated and hopefully this will motivate them to take the process seriously. Also try having the desk managers ask the salesperson for the advertising source that brought the customer in prior to giving out payment figures.

    How much are you spending per month and what is your average total net gross (after subtracting the AutoTrader cost)?

    Best of luck,

    Jake Wirth
  6. Robby Wilson

    Robby Wilson Noob

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    I am in agreement with ddavis on this one based upon that data I have been exposed to. When I look at the LSPR from our clients, the overwhelming majority do quite well with AutoTrader (and Cars.com).

    The problem could be the manner in which those leads are worked, and perhaps not the fault of the lead provider. I am not saying that it is a bad idea at all to trim some fat from your marketing budget, but you might want to weigh all possible factors before coming to a decision.
  7. Stefan

    Stefan Refresher

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    Personally, I think this decision should be made based of the size and type of market you are in and not on how many leads we get every month.
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  8. MikeHaeg

    MikeHaeg Getting Refreshed

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    Hey Jason,

    Personally, I'd start with trying to quickly clean up the lead sourcing. To me, your post reads "My guys don't accurately mark leads so we're not sure how well AutoTrader performs so we might as well cut."

    With that said, I would take into account Yago's mindset as well. If you're definitely going to do something, cut back and get really good at fine tuning / execution / reporting. Then reevaluate.
  9. jscole86

    jscole86 Getting Refreshed

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    I agree with Mike... Make sure your guys and gals are sourcing phone calls correctly too.. Autotrader provides call tracking/recording that you can access from the reporting section... Hop in there and check to make sure they are being handled well and being entered into your CRM... Phone calls and email leads and chat leads are the only 100% guaranteed trackable channels.

    Also, before you cancel, a couple things I just found out recently... You can Co-Op portions of your autotrader and cars.com invoices (which you may already know)... They both have co-op specialists working in support that can help get you on the right path with what you need to do... Might help you recoup some of the expenses to justify keeping it. Hope that helps... I do understand your frustrations with their costs though!
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  10. Jeff Kershner

    Jeff Kershner Founder Staff Member

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    Loaded question(s).

    Jason,

    When you say "we have not seen the performance we'd like to for the type of money we're spending with them"

    Can you elaborate?
    How are truly tracking and measuring the performance?

    Does your ATC rep review your market reports with you each month?
    • Like Like x 3
  11. Jason L. Laughlin

    Jason L. Laughlin Noob

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    Thanks for the input everybody! Any help is much appreciated.

    Jscole86, we are co-oping our AutoTrader and Cars.com accounts already, which made it a lot more affordable. I match the phone numbers in AutoTrader's back end tool to our CRM and typically see most of customers are not even entered into ProMax. I feel as though if the salespeople thought it was a half-way decent phone call, then they would at least put the customer into there so they don't get skated when the customer comes in.

    Jeff, based on the information in ProMax, on average we only sell 2-5 cars a month, on average, off of AutoTrader. That's not just e-mail leads, chats, and phone calls I get, but any where AutoTrader is marked as the advertising source. What do you feel is the most accurate way to measure the effectiveness of a lead source (besides sales, of course)? Also, I get an e-mail once a month with our figures from our rep, but I would only see him once every few months. That was a major gripe I had with them.
  12. dsayer76

    dsayer76 Noob

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    Request that they do a Market Sourcing study for your store. It is free and I had them conduct one for each of our markets last year. They basically contact 90 days of your sold customers and survey them. It's conducted by a third party and we found it to be extremely eye opening in what our customers used for shopping and research. Broke out all media used and justified our AutoTrader spend. I will add that you need to make sure you are not paying more than $1 per VDP. Are you tracking that?
  13. ddavis

    ddavis Sr. Refresher

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    Jason, There are a lot of different opinions, on this, but if it were me: I noticed that you are a premium new car dealership on AutoTrader. Looking at your listings, you are not competitive with Voss and White Allen. If you are not going to be competitive, I would go to standard listings. That would reduce the bill but AutoTrader works for new, just like used.

    If you are going to push your new vehicles, this is not a description: Power Door Locks,Power Windows,Satellite Radio,MP3 Player,OnStar Communication System,Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS),Traction Control System,Air Conditioning,Cruise Control,Rear Window Defroster.....
    That is a VIN explosion that lists the same information as what is bulleted right above.

    As a premium dealer, you have your new car specials at no charge. If you don't know how to do the dynamic ads, get your rep to show you. It is time consuming but they worked for me.

    Are your phone calls sourced to AutoTrader? Are you able to monitor them?

    On your website, I was looking at your new car specials. You list a price but no MSRP. The customer can't tell if this is a good deal. I would have some lease payments, also. One says "Purchase Bonus Cash" but it doesn't say how much: click here.
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  14. yagoparamo

    yagoparamo Sr. Refresher

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    Jason,

    I'm always very curious about numbers so I compile a lot of stuff and try to make sense of it so I'll share some data that may help you on this 3rd party site stuff.

    The data that we measured is from Craigslist but for the purpose of my analysis I think it works for any website generating leads.

    Recently we were able to track ad opens in CL (someone clicks open the ad) then click on the ad (so customer goes to website).

    V- views (an ad was clicked on and fully opened) C- Customer clicked on the ad and went to dealer's website L- lead (phone call or email. Only from the ad, we lose tracking once customer is on website or chats).

    [FONT=&quot]1. Dodge dealer large metro area[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-76,358 C-5,349 L-240[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 14 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 22 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]2. Honda dealer large metro area[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-70,719 C-3,172 L-119[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 22 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 27 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]3. Cadillac dealer outside metro[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-38,808 C-2,262 L-84[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 17 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 27 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]4. Independent outside metro[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-13,396 C-428 L-100[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 31 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 4 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]5. Independent in metro area[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-73,472 C-2,786 L-117[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 26 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 24 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]6. Independent in metro area[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-30,495 C-1,726 L-73[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 18 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 24 Views are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]7. Independent outside metro area[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-8,822 C-521 L-47[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 17 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 11 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]8. Audi dealer outside metro area[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-31,923 C-2,492 L-71[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 12 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 35 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]9. Toyota dealer in large metro area[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-36,470 C-2,817 L-95[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 13 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 30 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]10. Independet dealer in metro area[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-17,312 C-1,328 L-132[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 13 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 10 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]OVERALL AVERAGE[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]V-397,775 C-22,881 L-1,078[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 17 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 21 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]


    Autotrader, Cars.com, etc numbers are probably very similar to these numbers. So take dealer #7 for example. If their closing ratio is 8% they may say that this website sucks because they sold 2-3 cars last month from it out of the leads they were able to measure. What about the almost 10,000 people that saw their ad, name, URL, etc that drove to the dealer or Google them a day later?

    I'm not inferring that Autotrader works or doesn't based on my numbers but that what we can measure is a small piece of what online advertising provides.
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  15. Jerry Thibeau

    Jerry Thibeau Sr. Refresher

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    I've posted this before but here it is again.

    Here's what we are seeing or should I say hearing when salespeople take sales calls. We teach to ask for the lead source. As you can see, AutoTrader is number two on the list. Cars.com gets beat by Craigslist.

    2012-12-13_1759.jpg

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