Dealership Marketing

Have you tried AutoMart.com and if not, why?

Askanswergreen
I often get emails like the following from the different vendors. I thought I would post this one in its raw and allow everyone to share your feedback and opinions on AutoMart.com .

Hi Jeff,

I enjoy your website. As the General Manager of AutoMart.com, I was wondering if you have tried AutoMart.com and if not, why?

Have you seen any of the dealer online  satisfaction surveys conducted by a very popular research firm? I think it is reflective of our business model- committed to delivering a very high quality of car buyers to dealers.

AutoMart.com ranked in the top 3 in quantity of used car sales it was responsible for a close 3rd to AutoTrader.com and Cars.com.

AutoMart.com ranked in the top 5 for closing ratios- ahead of Autobytel, AutoExtra, CarsDirect, CarSoup, Dealix, Vehix and BeepBeep.com.

Who ranked in the top 5 in overall dealer satisfaction, business generation and dealer support/service in a very popular research firms dealer satisfaction study ?

  • Was it Ebay Motors?
  • NopeWas it CarSoup? No
  • Was it Vehix.com? Mas Non
  • Was it BeepBeep.com? Not quite
  • Was it AutoExtra.com? Try again
  • Was it AutoMart.com? Yes!!!

Melanie Kovach | General Manager | AutoMart.com
100 W. Plume Street | Norfolk, VA 23510
757-351-3144

Automart_homepage_2

Anyone using AutoMart and having good results?? Leave your feedback!

 

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    Jeff Kershner
  • October 28, 2007
Melanie, thanks for reading dealerrefresh. It's great to hear from you.

You asked "I was wondering if you have tried AutoMart.com and if not, why?"

A simple questions is, WHO IS AutoMart? Other then the flyer/magazine and a rare show in the search engines (paid or natural) then how does the consumer find AutoMart? I have never seen any advertising for AutoMart in my region and if I have it was not impressionable enough to stick in my head.

It really comes down to a dealers budget. If given a strict budget like most internet departments are, you want to maximize your money as best as possible. This means advertising with the top dogs like AutoTrader and Cars.com. If a dealers has their inventory on Cars.com and AutoTrader what percentage of consumers are visiting AutoMart and NOT the other sites?

Don't get me wrong, I think AutoMart is a great site for the consumer. The vehicle detail pages are a little busy and the dealers phone number is easily overlooked but overall the site does a decent job of merchandising the dealers inventory.

"AutoMart.com ranked 5th in close ratio" That's a great achievement but again at the end of the day and given a budget to work with why would I bank my money on 5th place?

Jeff
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We use Automart at one of our locations, and it measured almost dead last for overall ROI for year to date (for internet leads). Beep Beep beat it, Dealix beat it, AutoTrader beat it, etc. I can only share our experience, and we pay close attention to measuring our ROI for all sources and Automart has not been a good performer for us. Kevin Frye/eCommerce Director/Jeff Wyler Automotive Family
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    TJ
  • October 29, 2007
Touting Dealer Satisfaction figures seems to be the norm these days with classified dot coms. The size of the in market audience is where the rubber hits the road. How many eyeballs are being exposed to my vehicles and in turn how many phone calls are being generated from them. I personally don't even consider an email a serious part of measurable metrics anymore, the phone call is it in converting a web shopper to an up and in turn increasing our ROI with a classified advertising product. For us Autotrader.com & Cars.com have been in a consistant dead heat in phone call generation for at least the past year and a half. What I'm wondering is why Autotrader.com charges us twice the rate we pay Cars.com for virtually the same ROI? anyone else in the same box w/Autotrader.com?
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TJ - we have been asking that same question for over 6 months... Same amount of impressions, emails, and phone calls, but serious discrepancy in price... Since the significant majority of dealers never even measure their ROI, I don't think they (the vendors) know how to handle these types of questions.... Kevin Frye/eCommerce Director/Jeff Wyler Automotive Family
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Thank you for giving me the opportunity to weigh in...
We distribute 8 million photo guides of cars for sale from car dealers every month which are free for car buyers to pick up at major retail locations across the country. Those offline copies drive a ton of traffic to AutoMart.com of active car buyers who are looking for more information about the cars that dealers have for sale. We have a very aggressive search engine marketing campaign which contributes to the over 1.5 million car buying visitors to AutoMart.com each month.
What AutoMart.com does best is drive traffic from our website directly to dealer websites. Late stage car buyers want to visit a dealer website when they are making their buying decision- we facilitate that connection. So when measured against other vendors email leads- we won't win, but that's because that's not what we do. We let consumers and dealers connect in any way they choose- whether that be by instant message, phone, email or visiting the dealer's website.
Our best customers tell us that our traffic converts to sale better than any of our competitors. Sounds clique, but we focus on quality not quantity. I belive that is why we are privileged to call thousands of dealers, and top automotive players such as Toyota Certified, GM and AutoNation our customers.
Dealers who use both our targeted print and innovative online packages together enjoy the best results and the most attractive ROI. We believe that it is the two mediums working in tandem that creates the business efficiencies that dealers are looking for.
Melanie Kovach, General Manager AutoMart.com
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    Gary Butler
  • October 29, 2007
Automart.com is a waste of time and money. Don't let them fool you with BS metrics of how many eye balls they get to view your inventory. How many cars does it sell you? Zilch, nada, nunca!

Stay away from this one and spend money driving traffic to your dealer web sites or micro sites.
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    CS
  • October 29, 2007
Melanie pointed out the reason that AutoMart has an edge...

"What AutoMart.com does best is drive traffic from our website directly to dealer websites. Late stage car buyers want to visit a dealer website when they are making their buying decision- we facilitate that connection."

This is something that you won't get from AutoTrader or Cars.com--they will suppress and restrict your website address so every lead has to pass through their funnel.

This increases the effectiveness of the AutoTrader.com website, but not the effectiveness of your advertising dollar.

Also, the fact that they found your blog and used it to market their site tells me they aren't idiots.

Gary's comment is contradictory...

"Stay away from this one and spend money driving traffic to your dealer web sites or micro sites."

Then you don't want to stay away from this one...right?

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    Greg
  • October 29, 2007
I must ask then how do you rate lead providers?

What is most important for your dealership?
Quality of the leads...
Inventory specific
Qulified customers

or
Quantity...
Sheer numbers
Generic New leads
Build a car

or
ROI - but how do you measure it?
Sales vs Cost
Sales vs leads
Other?



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    John Rizzo
  • October 29, 2007
I disagree with the idea that Auto Mart is a waste of money. I've supported the print piece for a number of years and can't argue the number of calls it's producing. The fact that our consumers only find listings from dealerships makes it stand out from some of the others. The one thing they're lacking is mass media recognition. The product works.
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    TJ
  • October 29, 2007
Print is dead, click & print only exists to prop up the short lifespan of prints viability, don't believe me? ask one of the hundreds of thousands of convienience stores what percentage of their classified vehicle ad books are returned to the vendor every two weeks. I took an informal survey of stores around me last year and it averaged 80% returned and not even looked at. When will online classified vendors realize it's not about "Exposure" blah, blah, blah, it's about making my phone ring from customers. I know how to buy popular in market vehicles & advertise vehicles w/great commentary & 27 photos per car, I know how to price them competitively, we get it. What about delivering a bigger in market audience for my vehicles? How some online classified sites manage to get away w/their price points is beyond me, the whole "Exposure" mantra isn't figuring in the ROI equation, at least not in our books and trust me, we pay attention to this every month. AutoTrader.com and Cars.com have the largest in market audiences, that much is a given, paying anyone from the third fiddle level below is flushing money down the toilet from an ROI aspect based on our ad spends w/Autorader & Cars.com the past year and a half alone, how AutoTrader.com will manage to stay on our radar as a vendor should be very interesting to say the least because unless they re-invent the wheel itself we're slashing them in half if not totally based on ROI alone, let alone taking on a third online classified vendor.
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    Gary Butler
  • October 29, 2007
John, the question was on AutoMart DOT COM, not the print version.

You can try and justify the old school stuff as much as you want. You can't quantify the ROI with print. Don't say you can, because you can't, and I know.

AutoMart.com is a waste of dough just like, AutoTrader.com. They show you all these BS numbers and they do a snake dance for dealers who buy it hook line and sinker. Looks like they set the hook pretty good with you. Sorry buddy, you once were a great linebacker, but you missed the boat on this one.
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Thank you for the feedback- both positive and negative. We strive to provide products that satisfy the needs of dealers.

I'm advocating that you consider AutoMart in your advertising mix based on both the quantity and quality of car buyers looking for a car to buy in our products. Because more and more consumers are car shopping online, dealers should and are moving more and more of their advertising dollars online to reach them. I would contend that AutoMart.com is in the top 3 of the most effective online advertising resources currently available. Further, AutoMart Magazine is more like the internet than it is the newspaper- free information. Consumer demand is still high for targeted free distribution photo guides and therefore dealers get a high return on their investment with the magazine, as well.
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Thank you for the feedback- both positive and negative. We strive to provide products that satisfy the needs of dealers.

I'm advocating that you consider AutoMart in your advertising mix based on both the quantity and quality of car buyers looking for a car to buy in our products. Because more and more consumers are car shopping online, dealers should and are moving more and more of their advertising dollars online to reach them. I would contend that AutoMart.com is in the top 3 of the most effective online advertising resources currently available. Further, AutoMart Magazine is more like the internet than it is the newspaper- free information. Consumer demand is still high for targeted free distribution photo guides and therefore dealers get a high return on their investment with the magazine, as well.
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    Norm Hendricks
  • October 30, 2007
Auto mart magazine flat out gets the phone calls, 80-100 calls a month. For what 2 pages a week generates, I would have to spend 4 times as much on ads in the newspapers. Although NP liner ads do work and are a value. I love hearing dealers say print is dead, yeah bud, keep thinking that and I'll keep selling from it.

I tried Automart.com, but there were alot of problems - speed related, search related, and reporting problems. One month I suposedly had 80+ website clicks, but google analytics only showed 10. Never got a solid answer there, my guess was search spider traffic that they couldn't account for on their end. The way they drive traffic to the website is through buying search engine traffic with all the majors and some minors, and I can do that on my own and spend alot less than what they charge. The magazine does pull some traffic to the website I'm sure, but if you advertise in the magazine that inventory is posted on the website for free. Trust me customers will find your cars on there even if you don't have the top tier search placement. For online leads, I use autotrader and cars.com (not top tier packages though - waste of $), and numerous microsites, and my own SEM/SEO campaigns.
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    Gary Butler
  • October 30, 2007
Sorry, that ain't gonna fly. Using the "marketing mix" or "advertising mix" line for an advertising vender, to make you more "well rounded", is like a sales man using the, "If I could would ya?", close on the show room floor.

You guys go ahead and waste your dough on these guys. You would be better off doing SEM or SEO to your own sites than wishing on a star with AutoMart...AutoTrader....same thing, same company...as a matter of fact. You old school liner guys may think the print version makes your phone ring in your market, more power to ya.

There is a better way to spend your dough guys, much better.
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    Jeff Kershner
  • October 30, 2007
Sorry everyone but I was asked to remove the graphs.

Jeff
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  • October 30, 2007
Gary I have to agree with you being a former AutoTrader.com employee. Feel free to check out my comment on the most recent AutoTrader.com "pricing" post.

Besides all the dough they get from your monthly rates to advertise in the yankee stadiums, on TNT, and so on they use Google Sponsored links and tout how they show up in search results so you don't have to spend the money. Of course, because if you did spend the money on that you wouldn't need them anymore.
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    George G.
  • October 30, 2007
Its a numbers game. The next time a third party lead provider calls, ask them to send you the months traffic rankings from alexa or compete. Chances are they won't because they always provide traffic rankings that are a dated or skewed. We now have the tools to see if they are reputable. Check out the links below.

You can pit three sites vs each other
http://www.compete.com

The ranking site of record
http://www.alexa.com
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I'm not sure where most of you are from, but I can say that Automart.com is like any other medium - stronger in some markets and weaker in others. The fact of the matter is I can only speak on behalf of my group and region and I can honestly tell you that we, Montrose Auto Group (7 store group with 16 brands in NE Ohio & Western PA), have made a substantial investment in the internet game and have for several years. Quite frankly, it is the thrust of our marketing dollars. Automart.com has been and will continue to be a mainstay for us! It is proven to be our #1 Domain Referring Partner - they squash Autotrader.com & Cars.com in referring leads to our website. Secondly their IM feature is second to none. Thirdly, our closing ratio is slightly higher with Automart.com than the Big 2. I don't think they make the claim of being able to provide a large quantity of leads, but surely their leads are of quality. I have to agree with an earlier statement above (Gary Butler) that the real deal is SEM/SEO. Drive traffic to your website. Learn the game folks - it works! Those of us who are not closing at a much higher rate with leads from our own website are not "getting it". And this is where Automart.com really shines! In terms of Automart.com not being a player in the search game, I have to disagree totally. They are one of the top 4 on every used car search in our market along with a manufacturer, Cars & Autotrader. Moreso, Cars.com & Autotrader.com are spending a ton of jack right now marketing. Are we seriously wondering why their rates are out of control? Automart.com ROCKS! Now I am going back to Automart.com and asking for a discount next month for the props!
Vinny Maculaitis / Director of Marketing / Montrose Auto Group
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    Gary Butler
  • November 1, 2007
Big Al,

I am a little rough around the edges, but a lot of my compadres agree with me. The bottom line is: Don't tell me how great your are Mr. Vendor, show me!
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We get tons of phone calls from AutoMart. We supposedly get plenty of traffic driven to our website, but I don't have any way of tracking it exactly. I didn't even know we had AutoMart.com until a couple months ago.

So how well is it working? I dunno!???

... And I measure my ROI (so far this month eBay is leading).
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... And I measure my ROI (so far this month eBay is leading).
J
William,
See your web traffic! Sign up for a google webmaster accnt:

http://www.google.com/analytics/#utm_campaign=en&utm_source=en-webmaster_central&utm_medium=et

It's free. Have you tech people paste in the code on all of your pages, then stand back for about a week or 2 while it collects traffic.

Also, I hear good things about: http://haveamint.com/
$30 a year.

g'luck,
Joe
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    Rachel Reinhart
  • November 19, 2007
We spent $2,500 in SEM and had low quality and duplicate leads ...

I hit google.com/yahoo.com and typed in words like "used cars," "cheap trucks," etc. to see what type of websites were returning well ... Automart.com was one of these - for $800 a month, I can post my inventory, talk live via im, etc.

I understand each market is different, but instead of paying a company to do your SEM at $2,500 a month (which yeilds a low ROI) ...

...Why not pay automart.com (less than half this amount) to get their site/your inventory to return in searches (organic or paid) consumers are doing?
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    Jason
  • December 24, 2007
>What AutoMart.com does best is drive traffic from our website directly to dealer websites.

Our rep always says this, and so does their website when I log on... funny thing though - my weblogs AND google analytics say they don't drive any traffic to us. His excuse - "well, you just have standard listings" (ie - free from dealer specialties). Umm, yeah.. what does that have to do with you apparantly fudging the numbers?

Their print DOES work for us though. It generates just as many calls for for each dollar spent as does autotrader.com or cars.com. I made a display ad for our used car managaer to try it out one month, and the calls that came in to our tracking number was enough proof for me. I cancelled beepbeep and another lame vendor we had, and told my dealer to let the used car manager use the money for more display ads in automart. My family owns the dealership, so in the end I just want the money to go where it works the best - even on the VERY RARE occasion it isn't my department :)

>We spent $2,500 in SEM and had low quality and duplicate leads ...

My gut says blame the ads/website/keywords here - not the medium. I run our own SEM in house, and the vast majoirty of the time I just send the traffic straight to our home page. For $2,500 in ppc expenses, we'd sell at least 10-12 cars. And thats just handing the leads over to the sales floor
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    Billy
  • April 5, 2008
Having used and/or researched every imagineable resource for posting our inventory or driving traffic, the single best source for that is SEM.

You guys that are holding on to print take a good hard look at what those calls are leading to. Are they turning into appointment? showed? closed? We too tried Automart mag among others and the ROI was extremely low. To qualify, we used a total of 43 different tracking numbers, have someone listen to all calls and notes on those calls are distributed to management each day.

Simply put, you can funnel the money used in print into SEM and receive more high-quality calls.

To justify using AutoTrader.com, Cars.com and Automart.com among others depends on your business plan. If you're embracing ebusiness and putting the same focus on that as you have traditional media in the past then you have no choice. You have to be on there with your competitors. Be ready to price aggressively to be competitive.

As we have for the past 3 years, we are currently running no TV or radio and have just cancelled our last bit of newspaper and focusing on internet. These last 28-36 months have taught us valuable lessons.

We intend to use the knowledge gained to further seperate ourselves from the competition.

B
Right on Billy! I am a believer and for the record I would like to state the "Cheese" has officially moved. Times are good for us but it will get tougher in the years to come as more and more late adapters arrive on the scene. Hopefully we will be entrenched in better practices and processes that will help us outshine the competition.
Fast forward 20 years ME: "newbie, I remember a time when dealers spent thousands upon thousands on print advertising to drive traffic to the dealership."
Newbie: "really? why did they do that for?"
Me: "well, thats just how they did things back in the good ole days"
lol sorry but I couldn't resist

C
Tracking is key. If you are not tracking your website correctly, and incoming tracking correctly, how can you make a decision on advertising dollars?

My favorite post above is William who said it he didn't have a way to track his website traffic accurately, but somehow he measures ROI?

Get into analytics, whatever solution you choose.


R
I go back and forth on AutoMart.

I just left a Ford dealer where I was a one man team (right before I left they had added another guy to do Kia) so I wanted to use the money they spent on AutoMart on more leads. It DID generate a lot of calls but mostly they were "get-me-done's" (our average credit score was about 680) cherry picking the old units we advertised (in the paper media) some emails with a low response rate (to my emails back) on the web side.

I'm now at a Chevy dealer where we're using the free stuff we get from dealer specialties but I haven't had time to get to them on the list. I'm still bulking at paying about $4200 for 8 to 10 leads from AutoTrader.

My GM has the contract on his desk now to purchase some leads from Dealix. I had poor luck with them at the rural Ford Dealer but I'm willing to try them (for FREE) at a suburban Chevy dealer. They're running a special in our market for first month free (up to $1000). Hopefully he'll sign today so we get the free month. I'm going to at least try buying leads since combining Cars.Com and Autotrader last month got me about 30 leads (including printed maps, phone calls and everything).

Sorry about going off topic a bit...

Rob Ernst

Superior Chevrolet
Internet Sales Manager

Mobile: 513-200-5025
Direct: 513-354-3206
Showroom: 513-541-3300
eFax: 513-554-2942
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