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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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JD Rucker

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The Continued Shift Towards VDP Marketing

CustomerBuyingaCar.jpg?width=750

For the last couple of years, the act of driving more people to vehicle details pages has been a focus for many dealers and marketing companies. From PPC to SEO, social media to website plugins, technologies within the automotive vendor world has been in a constant shift towards driving more traffic directly to the inventory.

The concept has been pretty universal but the data has been more obscure. Many of us "feel" as if VDP views are driving more business for dealers but a lot of the facts surrounding this shift have been a bit hazy. Form submissions are dropping for many. Phone calls and chats are often relatively flat, growing for some, dropping for others, but definitely not increasing at the same levels as the traffic on most websites that we've analyzed. That's not a universal statement - there are plenty out there who are seeing more form submissions, phone calls, and chats - but in general dealerships are getting fewer tangible leads while seeing an increase in overall sales.

There has been a lot of buzz around the automotive industry about Lotlinx lately. A lot of industry people and vendor partners (including us) have been touting the service for a while and it's been getting traction. This is not a sales pitch for that or any other product, but it's a focus on the eye-opener that compelled us to focus our efforts on VDPs through them and other marketing efforts.

When more people look at cars in inventory, sales seem to increase. Leads aren't increasing at the same pace. Does this mean that the shift towards VDP marketing is coinciding with a shift by consumers to find vehicles online and just drive in and see them?

I'd love to hear from others on this. We are putting a large portion of our efforts for clients on getting more people to the inventory more quickly and it seems to be working, but there's a gap in tangible data. What have you heard or seem about this trend? Is it possible that the old sales pitch used by AutoTrader and Cars.com reps when dealers ask to see real results actually gaining credibility?

Are VDP views enough to drive more business while people bypass the lead process?

Grant Gooley
I've ALWAYS thought there would be a day that this may come up... My thoughts; Customers that have used chat, have submitted a lead or emailed a dealership to get a price, have realized they are not getting the answers they are looking for. Majority of chat providers/agents just get phone numbers or emails and don't give out answers. The majority of lead responses answer the customers question with another question. People aren't stupid... They begin to see a trend from the last 2 cars they bought and say to themselves "Why should I submit a lead? I won't get all my answers anyway, ill just walk into the dealership after I find the car I want online". All of this being said, if we get better at merchandising our vehicles online NEW AND USED (REAL PICTURES) and follow up with full transparent, engaged answers in our lead response, customers will continue to submit leads. If everyone keeps sending back emails like this; "When can you come in?" we might be in trouble....... (PS: This is not all dealers. Some are GREAT! However submit 10 leads to random dealers across North America and that might tell you why customers will one day not submit a chat or lead)

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