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See You Later Autotrader!

Sachin Raja

Getting Refreshed
Mar 13, 2012
50
19
0
First Name
Sachin
IMO, scoring Internet marketing or platforms by lead counts is so last century...

HIPPOs want to count leads, while shoppers avoid forms. Who do you want to optimize for?

Think about it.
I've been thinking about this a lot. Debating what is more important, getting visitors to our website or getting leads from our advertisements on autotrader/kijiji. For example, instead of spending lots of money on listing upgrades on Autotrader, am I better of putting that money into an adwords & display campaign?
 
Reactions: 1 person

csabatka1

Refresher
Jan 7, 2013
141
69
28
First Name
Chad
Feb. 28th will be our last day on Autotrader, but with the option to return if we fail with our replacement. After a few months of research we proposed to drop Autotrader and in turn use an inventory based SEM approach using Haystak. This approach will save us around $6k per location (3 locations) per month. Our website(s) are by far the highest convert to lead and lowest cost per sold we have digitally. So if we could direct a vehicle specific Google search to our site we have a better chance of converting them into a sold vs Autotrader. These vehicle specific searches were nearly impossible to capture with a manual SEM approach, Haystak provides around 70 sets of keywords per vehicle in inventory.

I'm highly analytical when it comes to digital advertising and our ROI on each source. Autotrader used the argument of "we direct people to your website" without any numbers backing up this argument. I could look at referring traffic to our site and Autotrader wasn't even in top 20 external sites. I could look at lead volume and cost per sold from Autotrader trackable sources and Autotrader was highest cost per lead and highest cost per sold by a few THOUSAND dollars. If I can't track or analyze the numbers a digital source provides, I don't trust them. They used the "over 45,000 VDP views during the month of December." Well, we received 4 leads and 3 trackable phone calls to Autotrader. Very poor trackable return.
 
Reactions: 2 people

Stefan

Jr. Refresher
Apr 15, 2009
209
93
28
First Name
Stefan
Feb. 28th will be our last day on Autotrader, but with the option to return if we fail with our replacement. After a few months of research we proposed to drop Autotrader and in turn use an inventory based SEM approach using Haystak. This approach will save us around $6k per location (3 locations) per month. Our website(s) are by far the highest convert to lead and lowest cost per sold we have digitally. So if we could direct a vehicle specific Google search to our site we have a better chance of converting them into a sold vs Autotrader. These vehicle specific searches were nearly impossible to capture with a manual SEM approach, Haystak provides around 70 sets of keywords per vehicle in inventory.

I'm highly analytical when it comes to digital advertising and our ROI on each source. Autotrader used the argument of "we direct people to your website" without any numbers backing up this argument. I could look at referring traffic to our site and Autotrader wasn't even in top 20 external sites. I could look at lead volume and cost per sold from Autotrader trackable sources and Autotrader was highest cost per lead and highest cost per sold by a few THOUSAND dollars. If I can't track or analyze the numbers a digital source provides, I don't trust them. They used the "over 45,000 VDP views during the month of December." Well, we received 4 leads and 3 trackable phone calls to Autotrader. Very poor trackable return.
Congratulations!

I would reallocate some of the money you save every month to training (Phone & CRM).

Here is something Uncle Joe posted a while back:

... here is a lesson that I learned after 2 years of hard work where I increased every markting performance metric* by over 200% yet sales were FLAT Y.O.Y..
"...Marketing makes the phone ring.
Sales managers make the register ring.

Fat and happy sales reps and who have fat and happy managers work only until they fill their belly, then they coast until they get hungry, then they get hustling again.

Result?

You can work your ass off, sales stay the same.

note for your desk...
CAR SALES IS A TEAM SPORT.

you may be an all star, but if your team mates are happy with playing in the minor leagues, your on the wrong team..."


*Site traffic up 35%, TOS up 40%, # of pages viewed up 30%, phone ups by 300%, leads by 500%
Yes, your move will generate more traffic, calls, leads... The question is: Will it sell you more cars?

Note: We have been off AT for over a year and not planning going back ... not yet :)
 
Reactions: 1 person

StrongLLC

Noob
Oct 3, 2012
6
1
1
First Name
John Paul
I've been thinking about this a lot. Debating what is more important, getting visitors to our website or getting leads from our advertisements on autotrader/kijiji. For example, instead of spending lots of money on listing upgrades on Autotrader, am I better of putting that money into an adwords & display campaign?
I'm really interested in Joe's answer, but here is my opinion...Unfortunately I don't think there is a hard and fast rule. If you are spending on AT, but not maximizing the benefits, then you probably need to put dollars else where. Services like AT can be very profitable for some dealers. If you are going to move the dollars, PPC is good choice. It can be an inexpensive way to add quality traffic to your website. But just being there isn't going to make all the difference in the world. You still have to maximize the benefits of PPC to get the best result. I would also suggest that if you are deciding between Text ads and Display that you should start with Text. You will typically get much higher click-thru-rates and more traffic.
 

joe.pistell

Uncle Joe
Apr 7, 2009
3,988
1,511
113
First Name
Joe
Uncle Joe Rule #14: "Dealers are like Snow Flakes, no 2 are the same"
Uncle Joe Rule #133: "There is no such thing as "one path" into your store"


Sachin & Gayle,

From a Google ThinkAuto survey 2011, prior to purchase, the avg shopper was at 25 different auto sites.

Let's imagine one shopper's path to your store (over a 8 week period)
  1. Shopper starts at google,
  2. goes to OEM,
  3. then to AT,
  4. then to KBB,
  5. back to google
  6. back to AT,
  7. then to YOUR SITE,
  8. then to KBB,
  9. then...

If you're not in AT, you may have lost out on step #7 (because you weren't in step 6). If your not in google, you've missed multiple opportunities.

THAT BEING SAID...

Know your inventory profile and your competition (and leave your ego at the door ;-). Shop yourself, know your competition, if your inventory is hard to find, or priced lower than your competitors, then you must be on AT or Cars.com. If you specialize in rentals then you better be the cheapest in town or you'll be lost on AT. If your profile looks favorable, you MUST give a good hard look at vAuto or AAX or similar inventory pricing tool.


If your entertaining PPC... again, your inventory profile is important. Heres a chart I made for DR about 3-4 years ago

PPC-ROI-table.jpg

  • phrase = # of words in the phrase that you're bidding on.
  • Traffic = How much traffic this phrase can bring
  • Web Skillz = How web savvy the shopper is
  • Time in Market = an assumption that the more complex the phrase the longer they've been shopping
  • Cost of PPC = the ad Cost Per Click
  • What are those arrows? = They indicate a direction of trend, from lowest to highest.


BIG DEALER:
This is a line by line look at how a big dealers inventory profile can influence PPC ROI. For Big Dealers, the width and depth of inventory can work with the short tail, high traffic phrases like "Used Cars".


Boutique Dealer:
Smaller inventory may not satisfy a shopper looking for "used Cars". Your best ROI will come from "long tail" key words (i.e. how much is a used vw passat with low miles) There are ad tools* that automatically build your PPC ads. These tools take a feed from your inventory, so your ads are created by the cars in your inventory. If you have a 2009 Chevy Tahoe tradein in stock, the ad is made and shown. When it sells, it dissapears.


*The 2 best vendors in this space (that I know of) are HayStak and DDC's Total Control Dominator.



Summary:
Small inventory profile means be very very selective on your keywords, your GEO circle and your spend.
Big Inventory profile means be VERY agressive and consider AT or Cars.com as your competition.

HTH
 
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Reactions: 1 person

lightnup

Noob
Nov 21, 2009
17
14
8
First Name
Stanley
For companies like autotrader.com however, their function is lead generation and anything else they provide is gravy...I guess I'm just wondering if they are trying to sell the gravy as the meal, is that a realization that they are not good lead providers and now want to be something else?
Contrary to StrongLLC's contention, AutoTrader.com's function is not lead generation. They don't charge by or for a lead, they don't sell leads, they don't require a visitor's name, number or email address to get vehicle info. They have no more ability to influence a visitor to call or email a dealer than a newspaper ad, TV ad or dealer-branded key fob does. The dealer can do that through desirable inventory, good merchandising practices, competitive pricing and good positioning.

The only difference is that the number of people who see an AutoTrader ad, decide to look at it more closely or decide to call or email the dealer (which clearly most shoppers don't; preferring to walk-in instead) can be quantified. Other than that, AutoTrader.com is merely advertising allowing a national audience of shoppers to see many dealers' cars in one place instead of inconveniently having to seek out individual dealer websites one-at-a-time, especially dealers they would never have heard of otherwise.
 
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Reactions: 1 person
Mar 8, 2013
6
5
0
First Name
Justin
After a few months of research we proposed to drop Autotrader and in turn use an inventory based SEM approach using Haystak.
Chad, any update on the SEM strategy? I am curious as to the success of the inventory specific PPC campaigns. Do you know the average bounce rate of these visitors? I also noticed the tradein CTA's on your custom VLP's. Do they perform well?
 

ddavis

Sr. Refresher
Jun 28, 2011
1,493
491
113
First Name
Doug
Contrary to StrongLLC's contention, AutoTrader.com's function is not lead generation. They don't charge by or for a lead, they don't sell leads, they don't require a visitor's name, number or email address to get vehicle info. They have no more ability to influence a visitor to call or email a dealer than a newspaper ad, TV ad or dealer-branded key fob does. The dealer can do that through desirable inventory, good merchandising practices, competitive pricing and good positioning.

The only difference is that the number of people who see an AutoTrader ad, decide to look at it more closely or decide to call or email the dealer (which clearly most shoppers don't; preferring to walk-in instead) can be quantified. Other than that, AutoTrader.com is merely advertising allowing a national audience of shoppers to see many dealers' cars in one place instead of inconveniently having to seek out individual dealer websites one-at-a-time, especially dealers they would never have heard of otherwise.
"No better to influence a visitor than a newspaper ad, TV Ad or dealer branded key fob"? Seriously? I'm in Dallas. Do you know that a one page ad in the Saturday paper cost more than you would spend on AutoTrader with all of the extras? I worked for a dealer that was spending four times my internet budget on TV and we still sold two thirds of all of the cars. Key fobs?

There were times where we had more new car AutoTrader VDPs than any other dealership in the market. Did many of them just show up on the lot without ever contacting us? Sure. I was very happy that we influenced people to visit the store.
 

wfins

Noob
Jul 5, 2013
1
0
1
First Name
William
When I threaten to pull out of Autotrader, they wacked a grand off the monthly fee for three months and performed a sold sourcing study. Which proved we weren't selling cars from autotrader traffic, including showroom traffic. Which should be included in the ROI. correctly sourcing showroom traffic is more important than tracking anything else. Second most important is tracking the radio station that was being listened to on the trade when do the appraisal.
 

ddavis

Sr. Refresher
Jun 28, 2011
1,493
491
113
First Name
Doug
William, Thanks for joining and contributing. I beat that dead horse for decades ...All traffic needs to be sourced. It doesn't happen because salespeople are lazy and their managers are even worse. I want a $5 every time a desk log said walk-in or drive by.