Professional Community for Car Dealers, Marketing, Advertising and Sales Leaders
There are a million or more opinions on this topic and as my grandmother used to say: "Mathew, opinions are like bellybuttons. Everyone has them but they're not good for much." Ah, what a great woman my Grandma Isom was.
That said, I respectfully understand if you disagree with my opinion on this subject, but I recommend you read through anyway because you'll probably see that I'm totally right 100% of the time (cue drums and cymbal and studio audience fake laughs)
Thanks in advance for reading...
Anyway, when it comes to sharing information with my dealer friends, I do my best to think like a dealer because I believe there are a ton of us vendors asking for your money...but not all of us care about anything more than getting that money.
NOTE: I'm a HUGE self promoter so I won't pretend that I don't want your business - I want it bad. I want your money, I want your loyalty, I want your referrals and frankly I want it all for a very long time! I want it because I believe I deliver more value than 90% of the people you're already giving money to.
Whew...on to the main course: Conversion
As a former Sales Trainer for Cars.com and former Area Manager (the first one actually) for Edmunds.com, I spent a lot of time working with dealers to help them see the value of VDP (vehicle detail pageviews) and I genuinely believe that they're valuable to get an idea of the success that each vendor is delivering to your dealership.
Please don't be offended if this seems blunt but: I don't care if 1200 people looked at my VW Jetta last month if the car is still on my lot after 60 days. In that scenario....the VDP theory begins to fall apart to me as a dealer.
Before you get all defensive VDP fans...hear me out.
You can increase VDPs on just about any car you have in stock with a few minor tweaks.
1. Take better pictures
2. Use an overlay with a powerful call to action
3. Have a price point that is magically delicious to the consumer
Here's why you can't just focus on VDP and you really need to weigh in heavier on conversion (in my opinion).
Let's say I have a 2010 VW Jetta that is a hot item in the search for my market. The price is great, my photos rock, and my call to action is solid. A car like that will get plenty of page views right?
Now, let's say that in reality, the car isn't perfect but it's a nice used vehicle. Sometimes, that $20,000 photo booth and $500 camera make a vehicle look more amazing than it is don't they?
Sometimes...we don't take the photos that we SHOULD of the dings and dents to share those imperfections with the consumer. Afterall, we want them to look at the car and contact us right?
Sometimes we do take the photos that we should and when the consumer goes browsing through them...they realize why the price is so affordable and they lose interest in the vehicle.
Let's say that this situation happens 1200 times on my VW Jetta in a month. Now I have a 3rd party vendor telling me "Great news, you had 1200 people look at your Jetta and I see that it's sold now."
What my 3rd party rep doesn't realize is that it was sold at the auction because, regardless of VDPs, consumers didn't happen to fall in love with the Jetta.
This is just one silly example but it happens many times every month to dealers and puts us in a situation where we say: "I can't cut Advertiser X because I get 20,000 VDPs, and I can't cut Advertiser Z because I get 12,000 VDPs from them and UGH what do I do?"
Here is your solution:
DON'T MEASURE SUCCESS OF THOSE SITES BY VDPs:
It's an idea but NOT a guaranteed measure of success.
DON'T MEASURE YOUR CARS, AT, EDMUNDS SUCCESS ON VEHICLE SALES:
They're not in control of what your people do with the customer once they arrive on the lot.
DO MEASURE SUCCESS BASED ON CONVERSION
Conversion is KING! If a customer reads your ad, looks at your pictures and still contacts you, it means you now have an OPPORTUNITY to sell them a vehicle.
Effective advertising should always help you: Get new customers or Keep the customers you have
You can't get NEW customers if you don't have an opportunity to speak with them so you NEED THEM TO CONVERT.
Before you go off and blow up your third party folks please ask yourself the following:
1. Am I representing my vehicles properly (Accurate description of that 79000 mile civic that was owned by a college kid who thought he was in the fast & the furious movies)? Am I taking photos of the dings & scuffs and showing them on my VDPs?
2. Have I removed my direct number (and had my salesperson take out his phone number) from the online ad so I can truly measure call conversion from the 3rd party
3. Have I removed my web address, email and phone number from the overlays on my photos (Cars.com, Autotrader & all third party sites have forms and trackable toll free numbers along with a 'click to visit website' so putting those on your overlays are skewing your data and it puts you in a position of having inaccurate information).
Once you've checked those three items off the list, take an accurate conversion picture and see which sources are converting to opportunities.
You may find that your least favorite 3rd party is your new best friend.
Oh - here comes the self promotion (Now you don't have to get angry and say I didn't warn you).
Once you've maximized conversion with the tools that your third party sites offer - Add AutoCapture from KonigCo to your mix. It will give you a tool for converting those customers who don't want to call or fill out a form :)