• Stop being a LURKER - join our dealer community and get involved. Sign up and start a conversation.

If You Dropped AutoTrader - Where would you put the Money

Eley Duke

Boss
Nov 30, 2009
473
254
Awards
1
First Name
Eley
I'm going to give it to you straight.

View attachment 4175

Any platform that gives people the "option" to supply their phone number clearly doesn't have a dealerships best interest in mind. From what I understand, people are ignoring emails more than they ever have, and marketers are transitioning into more suitable methods of reaching out to customers. SMS seems to be the place!

View attachment 4176

In my opinion, this could be why your campaign flopped with AutoTrader so heavily. That alongside little to no exclusivity to leads - people tend to submit their information multiple times, to multiple dealerships. It can be extremely hard to convert somebody when they're simultaneously sending their information to multiple dealers - starting an all out bid war if you ask me.

Let's not forget, using platforms like AutoTrader, Cars (dot) com, and CarGurus, those that have the most affordable price for a vehicle will almost ALWAYS win the customer. Turning marketplaces like these into one large contest to see which dealer can provide bottom dollar on a vehicle.

This is why I've fallen in love with media buying on social platforms, like Facebook for instance. You can target people through creative angles, without discussing price, or setting any objective. So your sales guys can do their selling, and you're affirmed you'll be getting top dollar for your vehicle.


I wrote a HUGE tutorial on running Facebook Advertisements for dealerships. I suggest you give it a read, and ask questions if you have any. Would love to point you in the right direction!

great info, maybe we need to connect!
 
  • 1
Reactions: Matt Holman

Baron Ringler

Full Sticker
Jul 6, 2010
69
42
First Name
Baron
I just came in to a store and launched Auto Trader out so far that Jesus couldn't find them with a telescope. The first thing I do is run the metrics on all sources, THEN I look at the costs.

Auto Trader's big thing is VDP's and such. Well, the referral traffic we got from them was garbage. The deals attributable solely to them as a source was abysmally low, and the real kicker was that they had been gouging this store for years to the tune of $7100 per month with a total of 10 spotlights. Our cost per sale on Auto Trader leads was $1800 per car, and the total gross didn't cover the monthly fee.

Our AT rep wouldn't return my calls, when I first started. When I finally got him in the door here to discuss costs and Spotlights, he told the owner in passing that he had no idea why I wanted him there. Complete arrogant ass, and HIS superior wasn't much better. They were completely convinced that I wouldn't be able to pull the plug.

But then I showed the owner the numbers.

I sent the cancellation and they came RUNNING in here to save it...and I mean RUNNING! They offered to cut the fee by 40% AND give an extra 60 Spotlights, and that's when the owner and GM got really ticked off, because it was a tacit admission that the store was being way over-charged.

Auto Trader is a group of arrogant bad actors who are losing their grip on the market, their dealers and their ethics. I will never work with them again.
 

jscole86

Boss
Mar 2, 2011
147
105
First Name
Josh
The deals attributable solely to them as a source was abysmally low, and the real kicker was that they had been gouging this store for years to the tune of $7100 per month with a total of 10 spotlights.
$7,100 a month - what was the average inventory size for used? what about for new?
 
Apr 30, 2019
1
1
First Name
Matt
I just came in to a store and launched Auto Trader out so far that Jesus couldn't find them with a telescope. The first thing I do is run the metrics on all sources, THEN I look at the costs.

Auto Trader's big thing is VDP's and such. Well, the referral traffic we got from them was garbage. The deals attributable solely to them as a source was abysmally low, and the real kicker was that they had been gouging this store for years to the tune of $7100 per month with a total of 10 spotlights. Our cost per sale on Auto Trader leads was $1800 per car, and the total gross didn't cover the monthly fee.

Our AT rep wouldn't return my calls, when I first started. When I finally got him in the door here to discuss costs and Spotlights, he told the owner in passing that he had no idea why I wanted him there. Complete arrogant ass, and HIS superior wasn't much better. They were completely convinced that I wouldn't be able to pull the plug.

But then I showed the owner the numbers.

I sent the cancellation and they came RUNNING in here to save it...and I mean RUNNING! They offered to cut the fee by 40% AND give an extra 60 Spotlights, and that's when the owner and GM got really ticked off, because it was a tacit admission that the store was being way over-charged.

Auto Trader is a group of arrogant bad actors who are losing their grip on the market, their dealers and their ethics. I will never work with them again.

Which 3rd party provider, has the best ROI for you? Are 3rd party listings still necessary?
 
  • 1
Reactions: Karen Ann
Jul 24, 2019
20
31
Awards
1
First Name
Zach
We're putting the money we were giving to AutoTrader (cancelling this month) into dynamic inventory ads, more traditional Google/Facebook Ads, and tools/products to better support our website. When we get potential customers to our actual dealer site, we have a much higher show/close rate than any other third party. Autotrader had the worst leads overall, and CarGurus seems to have the best for us.
 

georgenenni

3rd Base Coach
Apr 13, 2012
155
120
First Name
George
Great discussion, and remember to also look at assisted conversions for 3rd party referral traffic. TPC referral traffic good for initial introduction to dealership, not always last click conversion.

My benchmarks for TPC’s:

Cost per VDP < $1.00, ideally 50 cents

Cost per conversion (email, call, chat) < $50 (less than $100 for ATC)

Extra $$, are you running new/used Catalog Ads in Facebook?
 
Jul 28, 2019
7
0
First Name
Devin
Our team has done some deep CRM diving on AutoTrader and lead sources lately. The conclusion is we're canceling AutoTrader, which seems to be a growing trend among most dealers I speak with. In Q3 and Q4, plus Q1 of this year, we have sold a staggering............... 4 vehicles off AutoTrader. We get leads, phone calls etc, however they are the worst lead source we have by far, hard to appoint, and have a close rate even worse than GM 3rd Party Leads. We are paying $3,700mo. I have sent a cancellation to them last week.

So if you had an additional $3,700 to market your store and drive traffic, how would you use it?
Hi Eley!
I can definitely help you with this.
Would you be interested in meeting with me to go over my marketing strategy? It’s pretty simple and I think you’d find it really valuable. I am an automotive marketing specialist based in Southern California.
 

Dane Saville

Full Sticker
Jan 31, 2018
66
57
First Name
Dane
Our team has done some deep CRM diving on AutoTrader and lead sources lately. The conclusion is we're canceling AutoTrader, which seems to be a growing trend among most dealers I speak with. In Q3 and Q4, plus Q1 of this year, we have sold a staggering............... 4 vehicles off AutoTrader. We get leads, phone calls etc, however they are the worst lead source we have by far, hard to appoint, and have a close rate even worse than GM 3rd Party Leads. We are paying $3,700mo. I have sent a cancellation to them last week.

So if you had an additional $3,700 to market your store and drive traffic, how would you use it?

Wow! What to say that hasn't already been said?

I think people hit the nail on the head with reallocating that into Google Ads and paid social media. Before you determine how to do that, consider reviewing your internal goals, then see if where you're spending your budget on those platforms aligns with that.

Google Ads: Look at the Quality Score of your ads to make sure that you're getting the most out of every dollar spent. Look at the way the Ads account is structured: is it granular enough? Are you hitting on different intents? Are the audiences built out well? Are you implementing best practices for Responsive Search Ads and Expanded Text Ads? Do you have the proper extensions filled out, so Google can deliver them when relevant?

Social Media: Do you have audiences built out so you can couple Facebook's machine learning with data from sources like Oracle? You can have a social media strategy that mirrors political campaigns (and is granular like your paid search): unique ads with tailored creative based on the various audiences that you can create and speak to specifically.

Once you know that you have the right strategies in place, where does that money make the most sense? Maybe you want to bolster some bids for specific Ads, maybe apply it to an Ad group, maybe test out new social media ads -- this might be a great opportunity to do some tests.

Let me know if you'd like to chat more. I'd be happy to provide my email and/or phone number.

Cheers,

D.