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Jim Bell

Jim Bell Performance Manager

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What's Going on With the Leads? Could it be ZMOT?

 

So how is your 2011 ending up for you?  Did you get to where you want to be in sales objectives?  Did you hit your goals for the different internet sales teams, sales departments, or the BDC?

Over the last several months, I have heard from several dealerships from around the country that their internet leads seem to be down.  Sales seem to be up, but not the leads.  I have heard some dealers being somewhere around 10, 20, and upwards of 30% down from where they are "normally" are with their leads.  Yes, leads may be down, but is your floor traffic down?

As you are looking at your 2012 advertising budgets, this is something to consider.  I was doing a little research within our back end tools that we have available to us from cars.com and Autotrader.  I came across a report that was intriguing to say the least.  It is the "Sold Inventory Report."  Some of this may connect the dots with your sales.  Here is what I found within our report.   Of the last 64 sales, only 7 had done a 'used car e-mail quote, 16 viewed a map to the dealership,   20 clicked through to the dealership website, and 5 printed details on our vehicles.  Can we credit all of these sales to cars.com?  Probably not, but it definitely connects some of the dots and may be a result of the 'walk-in traffic' that you may be seeing in your dealership.

 

So this will bring me to the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT).  Yes, there has been a lot of rumblings going on different forums in the last week, but I will say that without having full descriptions, multiple photos (minimum of 18 on every vehicle), and reviews, you may not be seeing these types of results.  If you are doing all of the right things with all of the above, hopefully you are seeing results similar to this.

When you put some of the third party sources, specifically classified listings, under the microscope, something that you may want to consider is the cost per VDP and not so much heavily on the cost per lead and sale.  Try and get that cost as low as possible.  I know that I am always shooting for less than a dollar per VDP.  These third parties are generating floor traffic whether you know it or not.  We all hear time and time again that Autotrader and Cars.com are your new newspaper ads and I really do think that they are.  My philosophy that leads are on the decline as dealers are having to be more transparent and get on the internet with their photos, descriptions, carfaxes/autochecks, and pricing policies.  If you aren't watching what the market is doing on a particular vehicle and shooting from the hip, you just may see that vehicle start to age on you.  If you aren't using a tool like vAuto or VIN's product, you may want to make sure that you are doing your research.  This will only help you in keeping your VDPs at the maximum viewing capability and getting the most out of your online marketing with those third party sources.

What are your thoughts on the lead volumes?

Rob Fontano
Jim, I would have to agree with your findings. I have seen the same uptick in internet related floor traffic as "leads" have declined over the past six to 8 months. In my opinion this has a lot to do with Google's move toward Places listings as it's dominant page one search results and the surge in mobile usage. Our Google places and mobile site tracking numbers have gone through the roof with activity, so I think we as dealers need to go back to taking a good hard look at how our phone calls are being handled.
Jim Bell
Our mobile traffic has gone through the roof as well. Goes to show that dealers have to have an effective mobiel platform or the customer will bounce off fast and find another mobilized website.
Dennis Galbraith
Great post Jim. What really matters is the total number of contacts (phone, email, chat, walk-in, and video chat), and you make that clear. Changes from one type of contact to another are nothing to be alarmed at, particularly if the move is to a more preferable type of contact. I don't know anyone who wouldn't rather have a phone call, chat, or walk-in as opposed to an email. I also think you are spot on with your focus on the number of VDPs and the cost per VDP. It is always going to be difficult to source walk-in traffic, and that messes up your cost per contact. On the other hand, you know exactly how many VDPs you are getting.
Jim Bell
Thanks Dennis. We spend so much money on full color brochures. The VDP is the same exact thing, but a heck of a lot cheaper. I would rather spend somewhere around a dollar for a VDP then $5 for a brochure that will probably just get thrown away.
Brian Pasch
On a related note, I was speaking with a dealer who started using Dataium and was shocked to see that over 50% of the consumers who STARTED filling out a lead form, stopped. Discussion is starting on testing what fields are required because it is clear that consumers are reluctant in giving ALL that this dealer was asking. Just another example of an educated consumer who is in control of the sales process. I also had a demo of the CarWoo marketplace yesterday and it was a very interesting model for increasing transparency in the marketplace for consumers ...

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