Improving lead quality

Michael Wu
Hi all, There's been a lot of discussion about using external lead providers and a lot of mixed experiences dealerships have had with these providers. But, putting all opinions aside, it seems that sites like KBB, Edmunds, and Autotrader are quite necessary since most dealerships (in my area at least) are all listed on them. I'd like to ask the community how important are external lead providers to your overall marketing plan? Are there any pains you experience from using these sites to find leads and if you had the power to fix it, what would you do? thanks, michael
Chad Sabatka
"it seems that sites like KBB, Edmunds, and Autotrader are quite necessary since most dealerships (in my area at least) are all listed on them." Those vendors have you by the ___________. They win. Just because your competition advertises on them, are your customers visiting? That's who you should be worried about, customers finding you, not where your competition is. I do a yearly internet shopping survey of the last 12 months of email, phone, and showroom customers. This year I received 1,212 respondents. 22% of internet shoppers used AT, 19% used Cars. Of those only 25% (8% overall) recalled seeing an Anderson Auto Group vehicle on AT/Cars.com (there were customer who used both). With this survey, our lead/phone call volume, spend, and ROI I pushed to drop AT in all stores, and finally in March we dropped our last store. Since then, we have had record lead/phone calls from our websites by putting more money to SEM and focus on website first.
Jason Stum
Hey Michael, when it comes to 3rd party lead providers, you can't paint with a broad brush. What works for one dealership may or may not work for another. In general here's how we prioritize our marketing dollars: Spend money to drive traffic to our website and VDPs. Spend money on tools that help that website traffic convert. And if there's money left, spend with 3rd party sources Also you might find this podcast worth listening to, as it contains some very useful information on how to identify and analyze which 3rd party sources are working best for you. http://marketpunch.com/012-do-car-dealers-need-3rd-party-leads-with-kevin-frye-podcast/
Michael Wu
Thanks for the responses and especially for the podcast, Jason.
Micah Lakics
@Michael - I second Chris and Chad, we see a decent return and decent leads from Cars.com and a few other 3rd party sites. Our reputation management company pushes our reviews to cars.com so it is a spiffy way to sell our cars and sell ourselves in one step.
Gary May
Michael, Great question asked by a great many people (and thousands more that haven't asked but lurk on the automotive blogs looking for assistance). First, let me add a couple items and opinion: 1. There is no such thing as lead quality, only response quality. While this is not a popular response, it's the truth. Yes, there are bogus (bad phone and bad email, etc.) as well as unintended (event, OEM 3rd party, etc.) leads, most low closing rates are due to the people working the leads, not the source. As someone who handled leads for over two years at 22-28% closing rate, it can be done. Focus on the reality, not the exception. 2. Lead providers, as responded to by the others here, can be more or less "effective" in different markets. You'll have to partner (minimum of 90 days for proper data), then change (up-package, down-package, change how the cars display, etc.) then make your decision. Also, don't go "al in" or "all out" unless you're ready to measure multiple data points. The short answer is may gain guidance from the awesome industry colleagues here, however blaze your own trail and then report back with what your results were. Another tip, make sure your ship is ship-shape, then you might discover what gets people to submit requests. Most dealerships "need" leads due to poor performance of their own site(s). Wishing you success, Gary May IM@CS

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