By now, everyone knows that in order to effectively and efficiently reach today’s car shoppers a car dealership must have a website. However, while some feel that a website is the only necessity many successful dealerships have come to realize this is only the beginning. The Internet has revolutionized how people buy cars. Therefore, it has also revolutionized how car dealerships spend their advertising dollars.
One thing is still the same, though. Most car dealerships budget how much money they dedicate to advertising. Instead of spending it on newspapers or radio, today they spend it on the Internet. Internet advertising is said to be considered a more inexpensive means of advertising than other traditional media options, but I would contend that is no longer true. Today, there are so many websites for dealerships to advertise with that it has become impossible for any one dealership to use them all. Often times the only way you can figure out if a particular website is a good fit for your dealership is to try them out. If you see sales from your efforts, you continue advertising with that site. If not, you discontinue and chalk it up to a learning experience. Sometimes those learning expenses can add up.
Today, I want to help you get ahead of that trial and error method of finding the best advertisers by letting you know where all other dealerships are advertising. I will list the most used companies and then try to explain why certain advertisers may be good for one dealership and not such a good fit for another.
Below is a list of other online advertisers currently getting data from JTZ Enterprise. The percentage indicates how many of all dealerships utilizing our feed service are utilizing each particular advertiser.
VAUsedCarDealers.com – 100%
Carfax – 61%
Auto Trader – 53%
Cars.com – 37%
*Local – 27%
OVE – 16%
True Car – 11%
SmartAuction – 5%
CarGurus – *4%
OpenLane – 3%
Backpage – 3%
Trader BHPH – 3%
This list has a couple of interesting things to point out. First, VIADA’s site, VUCD is at the top. That is because all VIADA members enrolled in our feed services automatically get their listings included in the search results of this site. VUCD has a great following with over 126,000 car shoppers visiting in 2015. Most of those shoppers are in Virginia. I list this site at the top because with the dramatic increase in mobile users and Internet traffic in general, today it is more important than ever for a dealership to focus some of their advertising on sites like VUCD that are considered regional advertisers and are local to them. Even though www stands for World Wide Web, car shoppers still want to do business with dealers in their backyard. While some will fly across country to find that one vehicle, most would prefer working with a local dealership because they need help with financing, service and maintenance before and after the sale.
The next advertiser, Carfax, is a new comer to the top of the list. In the last few months Carfax has worked to produce many advertising packages specifically for the Independent dealers. As a result, we have seen a sharp increase in the number of dealerships requesting to have their listings added to the Carfax feed. Carfax may not be the best fit for a dealership who sells a lower quality, higher mileage car. However, if you are a dealership specializing in low mileage, one owner cars, this might be the best online advertiser for you.
The next two results, Auto Trader and Cars.com are really no surprise. They are considered more national than local and therefore probably top the list when it comes to the cost a dealership must pay to advertise with them. They spend large amounts of money advertising in other media outlets like television and radio. They are well known to car buyers across the country. Both sites are really Price conscious. This often rules these two advertisers out for BHPH dealerships who are often not considered competitively priced. Recently, Auto Trader tried to produce a site specifically for BHPH dealerships but so far that has not been picked up by many of our BHPH dealerships.
The next result is listed as Local. Print media makes up most of this category. We send data to dozens of classified magazine advertisers who also have a website. www.VADealer.com, www.VAAutoGuide.com and www.DealersLotInc.com are just a few advertisers representing local advertisers. These companies are often the ones BHPH and smaller independent dealerships utilize more than the national ones because they are often much cheaper and are more focused on availability than they are pricing.
CarGurus.com is actually both a free and a paid advertiser, meaning car dealerships do not have to pay to advertise with them, but if they enroll in an advertising plan, they get more high quality leads than those who don’t. While the percentage of paid advertisers is low, this is a good source of consistent online leads. Likewise, True Car’s numbers are not impressive, yet, but they just came on the scene in Virginia not long ago and continue to enroll new dealerships every day.
The next few results are actually auctions, not advertisers. More and more dealerships are moving everything to online, including their wholesale duties. OVE has been around the longest, but other venues include Smart Auction and OpenLane.
Backpage is waning in numbers, but it does bring up another important advertiser not listed, Craigslist. When Craigslist started charging $5 per post, they actually became a better advertiser for dealers. If that $5 ran you away from them, I strongly encourage you to consider going back. I have heard many dealerships say they get more calls from 4-5 Craigslist posts each week (about $100/month) than many of those other advertisers.
Once your website is up and running, you are just getting started. The next step will be to find out what is the best mix of other online advertisers for your dealership. If you want a free review of either your website or your other online advertisers, don’t hesitate to contact us, today.