Community

Share your automotive expertise

2 Write a Blog Post

Filed in: Marketing

[Breaking] Cars.com's Linda Bartman Responds to the Dealer Community

Linda Barman, Cars.com CMO, responded to the dealer community with an open and direct account of what has transpired over the past month with regards to the test email campaign.

First off, Linda apologized to the community for their lack of upfront communication with the dealers. She stated their goal is to continuously improve and innovate to create more value for both consumers and dealers. This is part of their core values and admitted that it's often difficult to balance the efforts directed to both segments. 

Linda also said they learned a lot from this test - most importantly the need to be more proactive and work with dealers to get more feedback and to share the results as well. (There are more than enough dealers who are willing to help in this capacity, the feedback Cars.com would be extremely valuable) 

Lastly, Linda shared the results from their test email campaign from the previous month. She said it was wildly successful; open rates for the emails were double that of the industry averages (40% vs. 21%) The majority of the value from these test campaigns was provided to the initial dealership to which the customer sent their lead. 

Cars.com's ultimate goal is to provide more value for consumers and dealers. More importantly, they are in fact going to stop the email campaigns. 

This experiement created some valuable lessons for both Cars.com and the dealer community. Just as dealers need to understand the power and strength of a connected community and the speed of information exchange, vendors must also recognize this phenomenon. It doesn't necessarily mean the information shared will always be accurate, but within the natural dynamics of our dealer ecosystem the information will be passed along - quickly. 

There is also a huge opportunity for dealers to improve their own internal lead management process. Up to 23% of all leads aren't responded to AT ALL. Dealers should be concered about what's happening under their own rooftops - they're missing opportunities as well. 

Let's all be sure we're working together the get the best information, from the best sources and ultimately make the best decisions around issues such as these. 

Thanks for sharing the update Linda, we look forward to hearing from you regarding the product development process happening at Cars.com! 

Watch Linda's video reply on the DealerAdvantage Blog.

Comments

This is exactly the response the community needed and deserves. Being on one side of the fence it's easy to forget that Cars.com has dual responsibilities... Dealers are 'happy' to fork over money to get leads but forget there is still a whole lot Cars.com needs to do to attract customers to get the leads and provide shoppers value in the first place.

Often times dealers are spending money with Cars.com instead of performing these activities themselves, which really puts you at their a 3rd parties mercy. This is why dealers HAVE TO take their own marketing more seriously and earn a healthy share of their own leads...Otherwise you are always at the mercy of a 'middleman'.

Kudos to Linda for the honest and timely reply before everything got completely out of hand.

May 2, 2013

There are allegations now that cars.com is reselling dealer inventory to dealer hostile websites like CarGurus! Any truth to this Linda?

May 2, 2013

I'm sure that took a lot of courage to "join the video discussions." So glad she shared!!

May 2, 2013

I have been told by a Cars rep that they send over a "skinny feed" to cargurus.

May 2, 2013

@David - any word on what their definition of "skinny feed" is...?

May 2, 2013

@Tim Dealers can opt-in/opt-out of the feed to CarGurus.

May 2, 2013

@Eric - I had the same question and was told "we send some of your inventory over but not all of it"

May 2, 2013

Tim, I'm the founder and CEO of CarGurus. I'm going to let Cars.com comment on their relationship with CarGurus. What I would like to comment on is your characterization of CarGurus as "dealer hostile".

In my prior life I was co-founder/Chairman of TripAdvsor - the largest online travel site in the world. We built TripAdvisor around the concept of information transparency - user reviews. Through the years TripAdvisor has grown to be an indispensable tool for hoteliers to market their properties to consumers.

Similarly, here at CarGurus we strive to bring transparency to the auto shopping experience. You might not know this but CarGurus has now grown to be the 10th largest automotive shopping site in the United States. Last month we had over 5.5 Million consumers use our service.

In addition to helping consumers, we strive to help dealers market their inventory to our consumers. We take seriously our obligation not only to consumers but also to dealers. Our shopping service is unique in how we rank inventory based on how far below the market it is priced – inventory with the most customer savings gets the highest ranking and exposure in our search results.

Let's be clear however, inventory market price validation is not a new concept. Our math modeling that automates the market pricing and inventory ranking is, but KBB, NADA Guide and Edmunds have been doing this in a manual data input form for many years. So we are no more "hostile" than these industry standard sites.

We work with a number of the top 10 national dealer groups and many, many smaller dealers. Why do these dealers work with us? The answer is quite simple. We help them sell a lot of cars. What is unique about our platform from a dealer standpoint is that the leads we do send on to dealers close at the very highest rate (to a sold car) because over 95% of the leads we send to dealers are for inventory that the consumer thinks is a great deal. Leads from our site are from very serious buyers.

Be it TripAdvisor, Zillow in real estate or CarGurus in Autos, information transparency is good for consumers and merchants. Consumers love information transparency and merchants love "serious" shoppers.

And let's also be clear about the fact that dealers run their own businesses. They can and should price their inventory as they see fit. In fact a dealer may have a valid reason for pricing their inventory above the market. Just because KBB or CarGurus says a car is priced over the market, there is nothing that says a dealer has to sell the car at a lower price.
The only downside to pricing your inventory above the market is you might lose out on some shoppers who migrate elsewhere.

Hope this helps clear up why CarGurus is not "dealer hostile."

May 2, 2013

Every month, my paycheck is affected by the monthly expense my dealership pays Cars.com. For pre-owned advertising, Cars.com is our best 3rd party online used car referral source, and also one of the few vendors that are eligible for co-op credit with BMW.
While I agree that Cars.com could have communicated better to the dealer community and perhaps offered more transparency in the data collection process, I also believe their decision to stop this practice was unfortunate. While many raised valid concerns, nothing could be proved as being as "devastating" as many proposed. While much of the debate could be proven right, it was largely based on hearsay. This was the proverbial "witch hunt."

Hearsay has led to a major loss for those of us that work in dealerships. Many of us launched a major and unfair offensive against a company that has a track record of placing the dealer's interests at the very core of their products. While every business must inherently have some type of self-serving interest(we are all in business to make money after all), the draconian allegations made against Cars.com were downright egregious.

In the end, our community should not engage in activities that only cause a rift between dealers, advertisers, and OEMs. This will only result in vendors choosing to stifle innovation, or even worse, vendors will choose to engage in non-transparent activities and avoid the "hostile" feedback of the industry. While I've been an open critic of many companies, including Cars.com, I've always tried to maintain a fair and balanced perspective that was representative of all available information.

May 1, 2013, in my opinion, is a day that will live in automotive marketing infamy.

May 2, 2013

Well said Jeremy. Unfortunate but I agree.

May 2, 2013

Comments 1 - 10 of 17

You must be logged in to comment

Login Create an account

Add your comments:

   

DrivingSales News' Recent Posts

Related Posts

  • Vendor Partnerships and the Importance of Making Ego Begone

    The word "begone" is such a funny word. It has a powerful meaning but is so rarely used outside of board games and exocisms. We're going to use it today, mostly because it fits in nicely with the topic of discussion. As fate would have it, one of our team members was picked for jury duty. While he is fulfilling his civil responsibility as a citizen of this wonderful country, I'm filling in for him on the social side. It's good to roll your sleeves up and get to work sometimes (which is why I believe even general managers should take ups every now and then) just to get a feel for what's happening in the trenches. Facebook is all about momentum, which is why I normally do not like our posts to run over others. Conversely, I don't like other people's posts to run over ours. Collaboration is an important key to a strong social media strategy that takes some thigns from the dealership and some content that we create, so we like to time everything out to maximize things. Today, I had a ...Read post

  • Dealerships Must Reinvent the Car Showroom

    Spending more time engaging the customer helps build trust and pave the way for a better upsell process. If your dealership hasn’t integrated mobile tablets into your processes, now is the time. Read post

  • Phone Interview Questions: 6 Tips for Running the Show at Your Dealership

    Want to hear something crazy? 103 years ago the Titanic sank. Want to hear something even crazier and completely irrelevant to the first question? Most people do not know how to conduct a proper interview, yet alone a phone interview. Meeting someone face-to-face allows for natural interaction and initial conversation. On the other hand, meeting someone over the phone calls for a bit of effort from the caller (in this case, the hiring manager) to get the conversation going. Therefore, it’s essential to have a guideline or some format to follow when writing up phone interview questions; otherwise the interview is bound to fall apart and lose its purpose. 6 Tips for Phone Interview Questions 1.) MAKE A SCRIPT—Following the same script for every interview helps avoid bias and inconsistency. You want to make sure every candidate has the same opportunity to a fair interview process; this means asking everyone the same basic questions. Plus, this helps you stay on track and keep the interview flowing within your respective time limit. 2.) INTRODUCTION—This means more than just a simple, “Hey, how’s it going?” Introduce yourself, your background and your company first. Then give your candidates an overview of how the interview will flow so they know what to expect. Make sure they understand your interview process. This will help ensure a smooth transition to the next stage of the process, like a face-to-face interview or polite rejection. 3.) CAREER PLAN—Ask the candidates aRead post

  • Spring into Revenue with Sports Marketing

    With warmer weather in the air, many athletes, old and young, are starting their spring sports. From the professional level to little league, athletes, their families, and sports enthusiasts everywhere are excited about the upcoming sports season. For this reason, now is the perfect time to utilize sports marketing to build brand awareness, drive traffic, and spring into revenue. Here are two ideas to help you get started. Leverage Sports Theme Spring sports are gearing up, from soccer to softball, baseball to lacrosse, golf to tennis, track and field to swimming, and many more. Depending on your specific area of the country, you may be able to utilize excitement from local professional teams or little league teams. This time of year presents the perfect opportunity to leverage sports themed marketing, like Home Run Savings, Go for the Goal Deals, or even Hole-in-One Incentives to promote your dealership. Whatever sport you decide to highlight in this month’s marketing, you can leve...Read post

  • Your Director of Marketing Has Gone Rogue

    The Director of Marketing going rogue can be a blessing or a curse. Here's how to identify which it is for your dealership.Read post

  • New PostRequired Packaging Material for an Effective Shift

      Packers and Movers in Gurgaon Transferring in addition to changing will be dedicated to supplying. The actual useful you taking, the effective the go will be. Ones packing determines no matter whether you should use your own owed since it is at the modern location or perhaps definitely not. In addition to to the perfect packing you will need ideal the labels materials at the same time. Providing is an fine art, as well as the perfect swings from it make it a lavish success. The labels product is easily obtainable with market as well as if you're clever ample then you can definitely furthermore makes use of the one available at your home.   Although element the labels source will depend on the material that you are having, but still you can find several quite standard product packaging requirements, which might be necessary all over the place. In particular carton field, bubble wraps massive Polyethene luggage, cello tapes, scissor along with several sturdy threads to link issue...Read post

  • Mobile friendly websites and Google

    A constant mantra of digital marketing is “mobile-friendly".  The reason is quite simple - a majority of users access the web via a smartphone or tablet.  Because this includes shoppers, having a mobile-friendly site is key to creating an attractive shopping experience.   Google is acknowledging this trend with its most recent updates.  Sites that are deemed as not “mobile-friendly" by Google will theoretically be penalized in search engine rankings.  If your site is not mobile-friendly yet, it might suffer a hit in ranking on mobile devices.   Google’s recommended approach is responsive web design.  Besides that, some key factors Google looks at include font size, page width, whether or not flash is used (avoid it) and how close together links are.   If a business can't get their site up to Google's standards right away, they can still make changes down the line and rebuild their rankings.  How are you all coping with Google's algorithm change? ...Read post

  • DrivingSales is Heading Across the Border to Canada

    We are very excited to announce our first international conference in Canada. DrivingSales is will host the Canadian Dealer Forum in Calgary, Alberta on June 22 – 23, 2015. For the last two years, the Canadian Breakout Session at DrivingSales Executive Summit has sold out. We have heard from many dealers that they would like to see a conference in Canada. You spoke and we listened.Read post