We all know that just having a website, no matter how great, is not enough to make sales in the automotive industry. LEARN MORE
Maybe its just me, but the autotrader.com model is frustrating. In my little opinion it's antiquated for the segment and they could provide WAY more value to us dealers. I had a long talk with my rep the other day and on a side note he is a good guy, but his proposition frustrated
me. Essentially, he wants me to upgrade to their fancy "gee wiz" top of the line program and literally increase my spend over 400%! (we sell just shy of 100 used cars a month so while we are not huge... we aren't small either.) What would I get for tripling my spend? More exposure, nothing quantifiable just more exposure for our store. Now, I get that exposure can lead to car sales, but to me used car classified is about getting my phone to ring and email inbox to be flooded because consumers want "that particualr car." Their site isn't about branding "Ford" (at least not for me, that's the manufacturers job), their site isn't about touting my dealership or building my brand (I'm a one price store, I'd LOVE to have some solid online exposure to our one price philosophy). Their site is about advertising my specific cars to get the phone to ring. To me the autotrader argument is the same that the newspapers have been touting for decades... to that my response is the old saying, "half my advertising works brilliantly, half is worthless... now if I could only figure out which half was which." We are stuck in the old non trackable, guess on your ROI marketing programs. I dont understand why autotrader is so afraid of a pay for performance model?? UsedCars.com has a great model, the same one that Autobytel is now doing with thier used program. Essentially you can list your entire inventory for free, and you pay only if they send you a lead (via phone or email). To me there is so much risk in that... Of course Autotrader has the market cornered, for now. Eventually that will turn, they were just quick to capatilize on their incredibly strong name that they had branded very well through their paper publications. Hmm... The tides will turn one day for autotrader and I guess then it won't be so hard for me to say no to the bump in "exposure". Either I will be stoked to have a better model from them or their traffic will be slipping as they lose the share to others... I'll worry about that when we get there, until then, I think my budget is better spent elsewhere. Besides last summer when the bump was only 200% more (not the 400% that it is today) I was on the program and tracked everything: the result? Nothing except higher expenses.