Over the last few months I have been testing the value of publishing car inventory listings to a group of free websites. The idea behind this test was to measure the effectiveness of the time needed to post cars based on the increase of:
1. Car Sales
2. Web Traffic
3. Inbound Links (for automotive SEO purposes)
This is "Part One" in a series that I plan to write tracking the value of free car listing services. This is the introductory article with some initial results from our testing. There is a clear front runner which confirms the feedback from other ADM forum members.
We were also interested in this project because it would give us some data on consumer interest and behavior on social networking websites and stand alone car marketing portals. To keep automotive marketing budgets as effective as possible, we want to know where to invest time and resources.
Dealer Owned Car Marketing Portals
As a side note, we see a growing trend for car dealer groups to create their own regional car sales portals, to compete with sites like Cars.com and Autotrader.com. Dealers are looking for ways to reduce monthly lead costs and to create their own lead generation portal.
Larger dealer groups that have multiple brands under their management, in any given state, can build very effective car marketing websites at a reasonable cost. There is a debate out there that questions why any dealer would create their own used car site even if they had multiple locations.
Each dealer project has to be evaluated on a case by case basis. Our experience has demonstrated that a strong domain name and a good web inventory platform can be an effective in-state lead generation tool for a larger dealer organization.
What are we testing?
Our testing has included a number of websites, listed below:
2. Google Base
5. AOL Autos
We have created a tool call "GB Feeder"
that can post automobiles from existing car dealer inventory feeds to these sites. To date we have some clear winners and some clear losers but testing will continue.
To see the impact of this added traffic on PageRank and permanent inbound links is not something that can be immediately measured. The initial data is somewhat vague so I will address the SEO component of free car listings in Part Two of this series.
Craigslist is the clear front runner for generating web referral traffic.
The effectiveness of Craigslist for generating inquires is undeniable but some of our clients feel that the quality of the leads is not great. I have also noticed that the bounce rate is higher for Craigslist that other web referrers.
Internet lead quality is often a reflection of the clarity of your ad and the information you provide. We suggest that your Craigslist ad be as specific as possible so as to minimize the chatter between consumers and your Internet sales staff for basic things that should be included in your free listing.
Second in traceable traffic is Google Base, but this is not consistent across the country. Traffic from Google Base comes into Google Analytics as a “Google.com referral”. This is not a clean measure since there are a few other referring sites that can come in under this category. We will be doing some better tracking on this matter.
The traffic from Backpage.com to date has been insignificant and disappointing. The VAST.COM network of listings is looking promising and may in fact be better than Google Base, but more testing is needed. There will be a second part to this article as more data is collected.
Craigslist.com is the clear winning for generating extra calls and traffic to your dealer website. If car dealers need help posting their cars to Craigslist send me a note firstname.lastname@example.org
and I'll be glad to help.