Best Practices

Taking inventory of your dealer advertising tracking phone numbers.

I’m sitting at my desk and the phone rings. The gentleman says he calling about a vehicle I have listed on eBay (local). While I’m wondering why the call didn’t go directory to my cell phone the customer informs me that the number I have listed on eBay was forwarding him to a Toyota dealer in Virginia. NICE!!!

In-case you’re not aware, when you sign up for eBay local, you are assigned a phone number. The eBay local qualified vendors have a script that overwrites your phone number even if you have your number listed in the copy of your description, changing every displayed phone number on your eBay local listing.

As soon as we got off the phone I called the number on our eBay local listings to confirm that the calls were indeed forwarding to a dealer in VA. The sales manager told me that he has been getting these calls for awhile now but couldn’t remember when it started. From what I could track, it had been for over a month at least. I was wondering why I was not getting any leads from our eBay local listings. How many sales did I loose?

With a few phone calls I was able to get this fixed. I’m not sure where the fault lays; was it eBay or ebizauto? Who cares at this point, but props to my eBay rep for helping me straighten this out within only an hour’s time. He even cut me a break on a few national listings!! Thanks Derin, awesome customer service.

After this mishap I figured it was time to take inventory of ALL of my online marketing phone numbers. When I completed the spreadsheet, I realized that I had quite a few phone numbers to manage and keep track of.

AutoTrader – 1
Cars.com – 1
Dealer Mercedes OEM site – 1
Dealer site (DriveMB.com) – 1
Other Online Marketing – 2
AutoMediaOne – 1 (sem landing pages)
eBay Local – 1
AutoBytel – 1

Giving me a total of 9 different phone numbers.

The part that sucks about this is; vendors like AutoTrader, Cars.com and even some OEM manufacturers use another vendor for their call tracking and most of the time these vendors won’t allow you to merge 2 admins together. So you find yourself having to log into several different sites and admins to view your reports and listen to the recorded phone conversations. It sure would be nice if there was a system that you could port all of your numbers into so you would only have to log into 1 system.

Needless to say, I now have all my numbers listed in a spreadsheet and all numbers are scheduled to be called once every 2 weeks for verification. If you’re not already doing this, I suggest you do.

Founder of DealerRefresh - 20+ Years of dealership Sales, Management, Training, Marketing and Leadership.
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I am surprised that no one has created a software system for dealers so they can login to all their “numbers”. I’m sure someone reading this could make it happen!
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<strong>What happens when your call tracking numbers don't work?</strong>

Your customers become very unhappy, and their business with you comes to a screeching halt.DealerRefresh has...
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Jeff, in your Digital Dealer interview (very next blog post), you said..

"I end every vehicle description with our phone number; these same descriptions carry over to my other online marketing ads."

Shouldn't this technique reduce the amount of different phone numbers listed on all the classifieds sites?

The other numbers that these sites keep aren't managed by your data feed. For example, the dealership name, phone number, and contact salesman's name at Autotrader.com need to be changed with your account rep and not the company that feeds your inventory data to Autotrader.

This is likely why there's no piece of software that can manage this number for you--third parties aren't supposed to meddle with your account information.

I'm interested now, though--if you have two different phone numbers on a classified ad, one near the dealership contact information and one at the end of the description, which one gets called more?
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    Jeff Kershner
  • June 6, 2007
Corey,

Thanks for commenting.

You asked - "Shouldn't this technique reduce the amount of different phone numbers listed on all the classifieds sites?"

I wish it would but since the vendors assign you phone numbers, you ultimately have several number to manage. For instance; AutoTrader gives you a phone number that displays under your dealer name in the vehicle details page. This is not the same number I use in the body of the description. I have been able to track for every 1 phone call I get with the AutoTrader displayed number, I get 3 phone calls from the number in the description.

I wish I had an automated way of replacing the phone number in my descriptions on AutoTrader with the actual assigned AutoTrader phone number. I'm surprised AutoTrader has not figured out a way of doing this.

With eBay, this is actually being done. No matter where I have a phone number listed, there is a script that replaces it with the ebay local assigned number. This allows total trackability for my ebay local listings.

Better yet..if your inventory management software could automatically replace the phone number in your description with the assigned phone number to the corresponding website (autotrader, cars.com), that would be best.

"This is likely why there's no piece of software that can manage this number for you--third parties aren't supposed to meddle with your account information."

I was actually referring to a program that would allow you to log into 1 system to view and track your Whoscalling, CallBight, CallSource numbers or any other vendor.
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Hmm... why not have all calls from AutoTrader, Cars.com, Ebay Local go to your number with Whoscalling and have whoscalling send it over to you... that would give you all stats under Whoscalling and then when you have to change the number you just make the change at whoscalling.

Or setup a [email protected] or Trixbox at your dealership and track it that way... lot of companies offer this PBX for under 1k.

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    Reis Hauser
  • June 6, 2007
Of all the 9 different lead providers you use. Which would you recommend and which would not?? I am new to internet managment and kind of got tossed in pretty green. Anyway if you would let me know that would be fantastic. Or anyone else

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Thanks, Jeff. Makes more sense now.

I agree with Umer--you need to get leads into the call tracking funnel as early as possible.
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I would say AutoTrader and Cars.com for sure... may be eBay Local... some do outstanding with eBay and some not that well.
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    Jeff Kershner
  • June 6, 2007
Reis, it's hard to say really. The buying behaviors of the consumer can very by demographics. It also depends on what you are selling. I do well with AutoTrader but their cost is getting obnoxious. One month I do well with ebay and ebay local and the next I do nothing. You should really have a combination of SEM and SEO for your dealer website and or landing pages. It's really having the right combination and working each to the max.

Umer, I never thought about forwarding all of my numbers (even if they are a callbight number) to 1 system/vendor like whoscalling. Will that work? Will you not loose customer information as it transfers from one line to another? Would the forwarding through so many numbers cause lag in the time the call actually gets to your phone? Something to think about!!

Thanks for the heads up on that idea.
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Umer said:

"Hmm... why not have all calls from AutoTrader, Cars.com, Ebay Local go to your number with Whoscalling and have whoscalling send it over to you... that would give you all stats under Whoscalling and then when you have to change the number you just make the change at whoscalling."

- Vendors like Autotrader and Cars.com currently do not allow you to replace their 800 number with yours, save for the vehicle comment area. Maybe they'll come up with a better system in the future, but right now they want to be able to track data on their end, and allowing dealers to use their own 800 number minimizes the amount of data they can collect. Also, if you're not aware, you can't forward an 800 to another 800, so you couldn't ask Autotrader to send their calls to your WhosCalling promo number.



Jeff said:
"For instance; AutoTrader gives you a phone number that displays under your dealer name in the vehicle details page. This is not the same number I use in the body of the description."

- Jeff, are you aware that the 800 numbers WhosCalling provides you are frequently not national numbers? They often work only for your immediate area codes. This means that if someone in Iowa sees your car on Autotrader and calls the Whoscalling# in your description instead of the assigned Autotrader#, they might not get through... or even worse, they'll get a dealer on their side of the country who's on board with WhosCalling. You should check your WhosCalling backend and call your rep to make sure the numbers you use are national... otherwise you may be losing a couple leads.
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Mitch the ideas is to not replace the 800 number... but just have that 800 number ring at another number... (simply call forwarding) which they allow. AT and Cars.com can still track it... and I think Cars.com uses Juniper Network for their toll free numbers so it is SIP/IAX based and it can defiantly be forwarded to any number.

http://www.destinationcrm.com/articles/default.asp?ArticleID=6776

Jeff, I think the issue you will run into is figuring out where the call originated from but that can be controlled by having multiple numbers under the middle tier service providers. The quality should not go down.
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I might be wrong on the cars.com juniper networks... it might be Shortel Inc. As there parent company (Classified Ventures, LLC) signed a deal with Shoretel.
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Jeff,

I've never trusted external vendors' numbers because I can't hold them to my own standards. When I'm not the one taking the calls I have to change tracking avenues around. Our ad agency provides us with a call tracking system, so I negotiate with new vendors to have our own phone numbers placed.

"I never thought about forwarding all of my numbers (even if they are a callbight number) to 1 system/vendor like whoscalling."

Just call your vendors and tell them you don't want to use their numbers anymore. Give them your own. I had to tell Autotrader that we would cancel if they wouldn't let us use our own. I also asked them what they were afraid of? If their call tracking was accurate, nothing should change - right? Their reluctance really inspired my confidence in them. I've had no issues with any other companies.
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ASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE...

1st, Here's the Job Summary:
-A Single Web Task
-Done on a Regular Basis
-From Multiple Sites

BEST CASE SOLUTION:
-Open 1 Browser
-Click a Button
-Browser automatically goes to your phone sites
-Keys in passwords to all sites
-Auto-Drills into your selected reports page
Multiple Sites... One Click... Done.

HOW?
FireFox browser and a plug-in.

Plug in:
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/3863

hope this helps,
Joe
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    Timm Cuzzo
  • October 27, 2007
Jeff,
I agree with Alex. I would recommend telling your vendors that you want to use your number and they will.

I worked for Who's Calling and as a Internet Director, You need to make sure you are using national numbers especially with Who's Calling, so you do not lose calls and then assign one to each vendor so you can track the call volume. They will use them if you request them to.

I feel that the vendors use their own tracking numbers simple to be able to say "look you have this many calls this month, we are doing our job!!"

Good Luck
Timm
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    Jeff Kershner
  • October 27, 2007
Thanks for your comments Timm and for bringing this posting back into light. I have since then found that you can indeed get your own numbers on most of these sites. You sometimes have you throw up a little ruckus to get it done, but they eventually give in. Ebay local was the only source I couldn't get to cooperate, they HAD to have their number on there.

Jeff
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