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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Best Used Car Classified Site #9

Previous post on this topic
Which Classified Site Works Best to Sell Cars #8

Lead #10: It's been a while since I've updated this topic because the leads seem to have dropped off. The person in Lead #9 followed up with a couple of phone calls and set an appointment to come see the car but was a no-show. A lead came in today through the dealer's website from someone who found them in a Google search. No questions about the car, no phone calls, just submitted a credit app. Usually when customers submit an app and don't even ask about a vehicle, that tells me they're shopping around for someone who will approve them with bad credit. Seemed to be the case here, as the dealer told me they had a 380 beacon. Guess the car isn't getting sold today.

Autotrader.com - 1
CraigsList.org - 4
Cars.com - 2
AutoExtra.com - 0
Google Base - 0
A Dealership Website - 2
Kijiji - 1

Friday, November 09, 2007

One Thing a Dealership Can Do to Increase Web Leads

I wrote a post back in the summer comparing two similar dealers in the same market to illustrate the impact of web design on lead generation. One dealer was doing a lot better than the other in generating web leads despite similar traffic numbers. After listening to a year of complaints about how bad business is, I finally convinced the dealer with the "worse" website to take my advice and redesign it according to my recommendations. The site content was not changed much at all, only the page layouts, some graphics, etc. It's amazing how small changes can impact business so much. Here are the actual numbers from the three-week period immediately before the change compared to the three-week period immediately following the change:

Site Visitors: 1452
Pageviews: 10,212
Contact Forms Submitted: 7
Credit Apps Submitted: 9
Overall: 1 lead for every 91 visitors

Site Visitors: 1599
Pageviews: 10,716
Contact Forms Submitted: 24
Credit Apps Submitted: 41
Overall: 1 lead for every 25 visitors

The site statistics have not changed much at all, but by making some adjustments to the site layout, this dealer has increased his conversion rate to 4 times the amount it used to be. We run into these sort of problems on a daily basis. A dealer may want to do something on his/her site that they think is a good idea, but I wish more dealers would listen to those of us who have been in the online media industry and have seen how much business these type of "mistakes" can cost. Going off the last 3 weeks stats, let's assume this particular dealer had 27,716 visitors for the last 52 weeks. If they had the same conversion rates they see since the redesign, that would be 1108 leads. With the old conversion rates it would only be 304 leads, a difference of 804 for the year. As a dealer you know your closing ratios, so would it be worth it for you to make a small change and have a crack at an extra 804 car shoppers over the year?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Best Used Car Classified Site #8

Previous post on this topic
Which Classified Site Works Best to Sell Cars #7

Lead #9: Another lead from Craigs List came in yesterday. This shopper said they ready to buy immediately but had a few questions. They want to know the VIN, location, maintenance records, financing ability, and "more information". I supplied them with the info they requested so we'll see what happens.

Autotrader.com - 1
CraigsList.org - 4
Cars.com - 2
AutoExtra.com - 0
Google Base - 0
A Dealership Website - 1*
Kijiji - 1

* Denotes the lead originated from an affiliated site not listed above

Friday, November 02, 2007

Autotrader Producing Smaller Returns, Raising Rates

Once a year there is a post that comes up on Dealer Refresh about Autotrader.com raising rates again, and it always causes a lot of dealer discontent to surface. I've made it clear in the past that I'm not a dealer, and I also worked for Autotrader.com for about two years. There are always people who think dealers should stop complaining about the constant rate hikes, but I am not one of them. Some dealers say the ROI from Autotrader.com is flat at best. Nothing speaks louder than facts and figures, so I decided to take a look at three random dealerships and compare a five-month period from last year to the same five-month period this year, and the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

The three dealerships chosen at random are in different areas of Virginia between Virginia Beach and the Washington, DC area. Since each has a different number of vehicles on the lot and use different packages with Autotrader.com, I've tried to break everything down to a common denominator: leads per vehicle per month. Here's what I found for these dealerships:

June through October

Total Emails:
Total Calls:
Credit Apps:
Total Leads:
Total Vehicles:

Big difference? Not really, but over the course of the 5 months examined it does add up. For a dealer with 50 vehicles on the lot each month this translates into 12 less leads over the same period last year. A dealer with 100 vehicles on the lot would see 25 fewer leads over that period. Like I said, not huge numbers, but fewer nonetheless. The important thing to consider is that with fewer leads from the previous year, how is a rate increase justified by Autotrader.com? I submit to you that it is NOT justified, but as the 800-pound gorilla they're doing what they want until the 900-pound gorilla shows up. Is the 900-pounder a Googlerilla? A Cars.comorilla? Time will tell, but it will happen.