Best PracticesDealership Marketing Is Launching New-Car Features and Enhancements Updates with Nick Hummer

You may have seen some comments from me on the message boards, but for anyone interested in who I am (Nick Hummer) and why I wrote this (short answer: because Jeff asked).

I’m currently the Director of Advertising Solutions at, working on my 9th year in the company. Assuming Jeff invites me back, you can expect to hear from me on a regular basis about what we’re seeing in terms of car shopping activity on, how dealers can get more value out of their investments in our products, and the number one thing Jeff asked me to cover: ways you can help make better.

This week, is launching the new-car features we’ve been hinting at for a few months now. If you’re asking yourself why that is, I can provide all sorts of answers, ranging from the rebounding of new vehicle sales to growing new-car shopping activity online and addressing the opportunity that presents us as a third-party automotive shopping site, particularly given the opportunity to take advantage of high shopper perception of as a new-car site (we also desperately need a distraction from D-Rose’s injury here in Chicago).

screen shot of new New Car Page

Far more important is this: consumers who are considering purchasing a new vehicle want different tools than those available for used-car shopping. Yes, a car is a car is a car, but dealers know better than anyone that people shopping for a new vehicle have different needs and in many cases demonstrate different shopping behavior than people shopping pre-owned.

The great news for dealers is that one of the biggest needs is guidance in choosing not just the right vehicle, but also the right dealer. Put simply, used-car shoppers want a car that meets their ideal model-year/price/mileage/vehicle history criteria (making the list of where they can buy it fairly short). We’ve found that new-car shoppers also want a car offered at a competitive price, but they’re much more likely to want to buy it from a dealer they can trust to take care of them throughout the life of the vehicle – and beyond, if things go well.

Notice I said competitive price, not lowest. According to an awesome DriverSide/Kelton research study from April 2011, 91% of new-car shoppers want to read your service reviews prior to purchasing a vehicle, representing one of many insights challenging the notion that price is the only thing that matters.

Today, the majority of our franchise dealer customers have been transitioned over to BaseDrive, our new package designed to help them tell consumers why they should choose their store over their competitors’. I don’t want to get too deep into “selling” here – that’s not why Jeff asked me to be a contributor on DealerRefresh, but I would urge franchise dealers to get to know the new features, as there are some areas where input from the dealer can impact their performance (I get into some tips below).

Your sales rep will walk you through the new features, and you can also access more information here. The overall idea is that offering dealers the ability to better market their brand on our site makes for more educated consumers and, ultimately, more qualified traffic to your store – everyone wins. To this end, we’ll be rolling out a brand new Market Intelligence Report next month, providing market-specific insight into the new car space based on traffic data.

Now, onto the things you can do to impact the performance of your new ad package, as well as some tips for better online brand differentiation overall:

1. Reviews – Come on, you knew this had to be on here. With reviews, the only one metric I really stress is volume across the sites your shoppers frequent. With the changes we rolled out this week, your Dealer Reviews play a much more prominent role in differentiating your store with our audience, but I recommend building volume on all the reviews sites in your market that get traffic from people shopping for a car.

More is always better, but our research indicates you want at least 8 on each site. After volume, focus on conversion. There’s been some discussion in our industry about page views as an important metric, and my response to that is that reviews exist to build confidence and drive more business to the retailers whose previous customers have good things to say – tracking conversion is simply a better gauge of how reviews impact your bottom line.

2. Fill out your Dealer Profile Page – and while you’re at it, claim and fill out all the places your dealership information is listed online, from Yelp and Google Places to Most of you probably have Yelp and Google covered, but doing a quick check at can tip you off to the more obscure directory sites. When you input your hours of operation, don’t forget service – consumers want to know that taking their car in for service down the line will be convenient for them. On your profile page specifically, you can add a tagline and a short description of your dealership, and consider adding a video highlighting the reasons to shop at your store.

3. Let us hear about it – the good and the bad. We’ve spent the last 18 months talking to dozens of dealers: running prototypes in pilot markets, conducting focus groups and seeking out as much advice as we can get. We’ve got a lot more to come, both for consumers and dealers, and the more feedback we hear from you, the better our site and our opportunities for dealers to get in front of online new-car shoppers will be. Let us know what works, and maybe more importantly, what doesn’t work. Heck, let me know directly ([email protected]) or talk to Dave Gilmartin, our Director of New Car Strategy ([email protected]).

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing your feedback.

  • K
    Kyle Suss
  • May 7, 2012
Please explain to me why i should be excited about having another site where I have to worry about getting customers to leave reviews? Wouldn't it have been just as effective (and easier on the dealer, your customer) to pull reviews from another trusted source?
  • D
  • May 7, 2012
 @Kyle Suss you may want to reference to this article where I interview Nick around dealer reviews -
It's obvious that has a long term vision and strategy with dealer ratings and reviews and how they're incorporating them into the consumer shopping experience on not only their wired site but their mobile properties as well.
If I were, I would have taken the same approach. It's a huge benefit to and dealerships to house the actual live reviews. This allows the flexibility to display your dealer reviews as they like. Look what happened with Google Places and the mess that caused. When you're relying on another party for high value content such as consumer reviews, you really need to consider all possibilities. IMO, did just this and made the right decision for all.
While I do agree with you Kyle, it is added work for the dealership but it is what it is. I've added reviews to the process at my Mercedes dealership. They currently have 150 reviews - Their not a high volume dealership and we continue to receive reviews on DealerRater and Google Places and other review sites. 
I'm on-board with the new New Car offering. I appreciate the different stance they took and believe dealers that work all the best practices will yield some great results. I know my Mercedes dealer sure has.
Nick - as always, thanks for the post and your contributions here on DealerRefresh. Looking forward the article around the Market Intelligence Report next month :)
  • N
  • May 7, 2012
To Kyle's point though, I will add that we're aware there are some steps we can take to make the process easier (for both dealers and reviewers) and we're always keen to talk through new ideas.  This is especially true now - we believe very strongly that online reputation is a great way for any store to differentiate themselves in the new car space. 
Jeff - thanks for the hospitality.  I've got a good chunk of that next article in the can already, but I expect we'll make some additional improvements in the next month. :)
  • B
  • May 8, 2012
I commend upgrading the visibility and formatting of dealership reviews on their site.  The  high consumer traffic that and drawm each month makes integrated reviews a smart marketing choice for dealers.  
Many of the dealers that I work with have already been posting reviews on as part of their reputation marketing strategy.   You need to have reviews at all points of influence during the Zero Moment of Truth, and is one of the most well known influencers in the ZMOT experience. 
  • C
  • May 10, 2012
Thanks for posting such a informative article, it is very informative for car dealers to do dealership in car.
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  • C
  • May 10, 2012
Thanks for sharing suh a good article. This is really informative and useful for those dealers who wants to do dealerships in car.
the premier online resource for buying and selling new and used vehicles, announced today that it has introduced BaseDrive, an evolution of its online advertising package helping franchise dealers better promote their brand, reputation and new-car inventory on
“Dealers know better than anyone that people shopping for a new vehicle have different needs and in many cases demonstrate different shopping behavior than people shopping pre-owned.” – Very true line! A car dealer should be well aware of the differences and should be careful while dealing with the different behaviors and needs of the car buyers.
The content is very helpful and it shares facts on some of the rarely discussed topics.
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  • J
    Jim Bell
  • May 16, 2012
I like the new look and spent a lot of time with my rep today going over the changes and getting our section set up.  The only downfall I see with the enhancement is that you have to really dig to find that page.  It should be more prominent in the VDP with a separate tab instead of being towards the bottom of the VDP and you have to click on the dealership hyperlink to find that page.
Hi Jim, glad to hear you like the page and appreciate your comments regarding it's prominence on the site.Nick is on vacation this week so I thought I'd step in with a response. We are certainly planning on increasing the prominence of the page (currently on the VDP - logo and dealer name - dealer locator and our dealer grouping search) - the key for us is to make sure more dealers do what you did today - set up the page and  tell our shoppers your unique brand message via photos, video and text.  We're just over a week into the launch and we've had tremendous dealer participation on the page and most importantly we've exceeded expectations on consumer clicks to the page. .We'll be sharing more specifics on the plans to further integrate and promote the page in the coming months (we're testing a variety of placements options on the site as we speak). Nick will be back to provide additional updates in a few weeks. In the interim, I'd be happy to speak to you directly, you can reach me at [email protected]
I love much more than its competition, your search tools are amazing. My researches and posts about  the automotive market are always based on what I see in the inventory and I always mention and recommend you to my readers in my FB page.
This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing websites that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free.