I thought this was worthy of a separate posting. Peter over at Mercedes-Benz had a few questions and I was up for the challenge!!
Jeff, All this talk about Autotrader.com. I have been a big believer of “featured listings”. About 1/2 the cost of premium listings. If you actually put search criteria that an actual car shopper would use (example Mercedes-Benz C230 in a 25 mile radius), Your featured listing will still show on the first page of listings. You can use the $1,000 you save monthly on Dealix or another lead provider. Just some thoughts from an old-school ISM.
Peter, I’m in line with your thinking. I’ve been considering dropping back down to the Featured Listings.
From 2005, working the (lesser) Premium package, to 2006 working the Partner package, my accredited AutoTrader sales increased ONLY 1.4 vehicles a month. Was this due to being a Premium partner or due to having a larger selection of used car inventory in 2006?
Thinking about this, I dug a little deeper and compared JUST my Pre-Owned Mercedes vehicles sold from 2005 to 2006. I did this because we are a Partner with ONLY Mercedes-Benz, this means my non Mercedes vehicles are listed in the Premium displays and not the Partner (top) displays. I recorded a .3% increase (basically none) in Mercedes Pre-Owned sales on the 2006 Partner package over using the 2005 Premium package.
So what about my Non-Mercedes-Benz? From 2005 to 2006 my increase in AutoTrader accredited sales increased .45. I looked at this figure for the simple fact that maybe my Partner Mercedes listings helped filter customers into our Non-Mercedes inventory. This obviously was not the case.
I also tracked the average gross of our Pre-Owned Mercedes-Benz over Non Mercedes-Benz AutoTrader accredited sales. My Pre-Owned Mercedes sales gross averaged $200.00 over my Non Mercedes sales gross. An increase, but not a huge one.
So..according to my reports, spending another $1,000 or so more for the Partner Listings is not making much sense.
AutoTrader would be quick to argue this due to the fact that you get a Banner Ad with the Partner and not the Premium. How valuable is that banner ad, especially when dealers and consumer have to deal with
stuff like this? I track my banner ad CTR (click through rate) every month and if I were paying just 200.00 per month for my banner ad on AutoTrader, I would be averaging around $3.77 per click (Ouch!). I believe that the banner ad has some branding value to it, but I’m not sure what price tag you place on it and there really is no way of tacking it unless you are sending the customer to your dealer website from your banner ad and you are able to track the conversion from there.
If I’m not mistaken the Partner package also allows you more then 9 photos and this could be a benefit that gives you a slight advantage over other dealers (though I find most dealers paying for the Partner Listings still only display 9 photos or less). I would always use this as an excuse to get a customers email address. “Mr. Smith, share with me your email address, I have 15 more photos of this car I can send you.” Then send them a link to the photos on your website.
Now AutoTrader is offering their 2007 products and I’m sure they have all new pricing to go along. I know it
seems like I’m hard on AutoTrader but I guess when you’re one of the “Big Guys” everyone has their eyes on you. Overall my ROI makes total sense with AutoTrader and I’m not looking to drop them unless they price themselves so far out of the market, though that seems to be their trend, especially for smaller dealers like