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.