What Matters to Website Visitors (continued)
Let’s take a look at some of the charts and graphs which show the aggregated survey answers from over
5,000 dealer web site visitors… One of the more interesting results comes from when dealer web site visitors
were asked how soon they would be buying their next vehicle.  Their responses to the “how soon” question
is shown in chart #1 below:
    For Internet Sales Specialists and Managers who have been working with a mix of dealer
    web site generated leads and leads from other sources, this comes as no surprise.  The
    Survey data validates the experience of most dealerships in finding that Internet leads
    coming in from their own web sites result in vehicle sales at a far higher rate than Internet
    leads from 3rd party lead producers and aggregators.
If you are like me, when a
customer says they will be buying
a vehicle in the near future, one of
the first things you want to know if
there is a trade-in involved. In
trying not to be overly transparent
as to your concern over the
customer’s trade-in situation, you
might ask the question in this type
of format: “Will you be replacing a
vehicle, or adding another vehicle
to what you currently own?” The
dealer web site visitors who
answered the “how soon” question
responded to the replacement or
trade-in question as shown in the
next illustration, which is
chart #2:
SUPERIOR DEALER SOLUTIONSsm
Copyright © 2008 Automotive Dealers Network. All rights reserved.
Ralph Paglia
Director – Digital Marketing / ADP Dealer Services
email:
RPaglia@AutomotiveDealersNetwork.com



Co-Author
Rudy Martin
Vice President/ Intellimark Group
What the above chart goes to show is that visitors to dealership web sites who are in the market for a vehicle are
highly likely (67%) to be interested in the value of the vehicle they are replacing as a trade-in.  Although some of
these people may intend to sell or otherwise dispose of their current vehicle, there would still be a desire to see
an estimated value.  This helps to prove the value proposition of the industry’s two leading dealer web site trade-
in evaluation tools, Kelley Blue Book’s LeadDriver and Black Book Online.


So… What are these wonderful dealer web site sales prospects considering for their next vehicle
purchase?
  
Ralph has held positions such as OEM Partnership
Executive for Reynolds and Reynolds, CRM/eBusiness
Director, New Car Sales Manager, Used Car Manager,
F&I Director, General Sales Manager and General
Manager. He led the development and design of
nationally implemented CRM and eBusiness programs
for Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and other car
companies. He also designed Ford’s BDC program
Mercedes-Benz StarLeads CRM system and the
Mercedes-Benz BDC.
With over 35% of dealer web site visitors saying that they intend to buy a pre-owned vehicle as their next purchase,
and 51% stating right up front that they are not interested in a new vehicle for their next purchase, it makes sense
to consider putting an emphasis on used vehicle specials as featured content on dealership web sites.  With so
much emphasis and effort being made on competing in the hyper-competitive new vehicle sales arena, this data
suggests that an equal amount of effort in using dealer web sites to promote used vehicles may yield a higher
return.  With used vehicles being somewhat more unique, and less of a commodity than new vehicles, the argument
for featuring and promoting used vehicles on dealer web sites gets even stronger when reviewing the survey data.


Despite the software based tracking metrics that most digital marketing professionals use, it is interesting to see
what answers you get when simply asking dealer web site visitors how they found the dealer’s web site.  The
answers received on the surveys show a different makeup than what we usually see when looking at Omniture
SiteCatalyst or WebTrends reports for dealer web site visitors.
Take a look at chart #4 below and consider the
differences between what “stimulated” a consumer’s search for a dealer’s web site and the technology
they chose to get there:
Integrated Marketing campaigns are those that include both conventional media and online digital marketing.  
Despite the current situation of few dealers focusing on using advertising to specifically drive customers to their
web sites, 44% of the Intellimark Surveyed dealer web site visitors indicated they got there as a result of
dealership advertising in non-digital conventional media sources such as TV, Radio, Newspaper and direct mail.  
What is glaring to me is the low percentage (14%) of dealership web site visitors who got there using search
engines… These results indicate there are significant areas of opportunity for dealer web site traffic growth using
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Digital Advertising Campaigns.

When we break down the aggregated data from these Surveys within categories of those who say they intend to
get a new vehicle, versus those who intend to get a used vehicle, or are undecided (open minded), we get a
clearer picture of what is important to each type.  For example, among those that indicated they intend to buy a
used vehicle, or are open minded about their next vehicle purchase, we wanted to see what vehicle type they
were most likely to consider.  Understanding buyer intentions helps to guide us on what to feature in our online
specials and when we advertise on other web sites to attract more traffic.  Chart #5 is shown below:
The high interest in used passenger cars shown in chart #5 may have been influenced by the last 3 years of
sustained high gas prices.  Used vehicle demand may be a leading indicator of what will sell on the new car lot. This
survey result also shows why the domestic auto industry’s continued emphasis on trucks and SUV’s is not
generating the level of interest we experienced prior to 2005.

So, what is most important to these used car buyers visiting dealer web sites? The aggregated survey results from
over 5,000 visitors to dealership web sites shows that price and payment is still king with pre-owned buyers. With
fuel economy rising to third place in importance and overtaking the previous perennial favorite, vehicle safety.  In
chart #6, we see what the dealer web site visitor who is either undecided on new versus used, or wants a used
vehicle, says are the most important decision criteria used to determine the actual vehicle they will end up buying:
In Chart #6 we see that the most effective advertising may be that which features monthly payments,
followed by selling price… I know, very few of you are surprised.  So, why do we continue to place
advertisements intended to drive traffic to dealer web sites that do not feature payments, price or
even fuel economy?
 
Looking at the
results of these
Intellimark Surveys,
it is no longer a
mystery why this ad
seemed to drive so
many more web site
visitors and phone
calls than the
“Largest Inventory”
advertising
campaigns:
These considerations, what to advertise and which message will get the most attention are the questions best
answered by surveys such as what Intellimark Group has put together.  After all, if the message doesn’t hit the car
shopper’s hot spots, then it won’t get their attention amidst all the media clutter that is out there today.

Which brings me to another interesting insight from this survey research… What are the most significant factors in
deciding what type of vehicle to buy and when to pull the trigger?  Of course, this is based on what car shoppers
say is important… Anyone who has sold cars long enough will tell you that how buyers act is often different than
what they say.  Still, there is a lot of value in studying what car shoppers believe are the reasons they will decide on
a particular vehicle or deal.  With that said, there are a lot of differences in what motivates vehicle buyers
depending on the vehicle type they are considering.  So let’s take a look at chart #7 which shows the
considerations that dealer web site visitors reported when asked what factors would determine what, where and
when they would make their next vehicle purchase.  These responses were aggregated and then segmented by the
specific vehicle types the buyers said they were looking for.  
Chart #7 breaks down vehicle purchase
consideration factors by type of vehicle the dealer web site visitor reported as being their primary
vehicle of interest:
It is interesting to note that once again, monthly payments and vehicle selling price are the two most
important criteria.
 Fuel economy is more significant than at any time since the Arab Oil Embargoes of a
generation ago, especially for passenger car and commercial vehicle buyers.  Surprising to me, coming from a
vehicle sales background, is the low level of importance placed on vehicle styling.  Of course, once again I would
like to remind readers that these are what car shoppers “say” is most important and how they actually end up
buying may or may not correlate to what they said before they make their purchase… But, this still shows us what
these visitors to dealer web sites report as being most important and what will get their attention more effectively
than ads or specials focused on other criteria.

One of the many factors to consider when looking at these survey results is that these are shoppers who are very
deep into the sales process funnel.  As indicated in chart #1, these are people who will be buying a vehicle fairly
soon and may have already gone through the process of determining what type of vehicle they will be getting
next.  For these reasons, the degree of importance placed on price and payments may be far more significant than
people further away from their next vehicle purchase, who have not yet determined the type, make or model they
are most interested in.  After all, when interviewing people who have already found your dealership’s web site, how
likely would it be that they have already decided on a make and model and are now looking for the right deal,
salesperson, convenience and financing terms?  The results of this Intellimark Survey of dealership web site
visitors may not be too surprising to many people, but they do confirm that most dealerships are better served by
generating more visitors to their store’s web sites.  

When considering the ways we can most effectively drive traffic to dealership web sites, it is highly
logical to look at what consumers who have already visited dealer web sites find most important to
them…
Then we can use those most important criteria as a means of deciding what is most likely to work in trying
to get more of an already good thing; the car shoppers that visit our dealership’s web sites.  These aggregated
survey results are all the more significant because of the sheer size of the sample… 5,000 dealer web site visitors
is highly significant from a statistical perspective.  There are many ways to interpret and act upon these results,
but one plan of action should be strikingly clear.  The use of integrated marketing campaigns that use a mixed
blend of media such as TV, Radio, Outdoor, geotargeted search engine and display advertising on web sites…
This is what works in driving the most valuable leads we can generate.  The leads and phone calls coming from
visitors to our own dealership web sites.
The dealer web
site visitor
responses
aggregated into
chart #4 shows
there is a very
real opportunity
to drive more
traffic into
dealership web
sites using
integrated
marketing
campaigns.
In chart #5, we
see that almost
40% were
looking for
passenger
cars… And, over
40% were
looking for SUV
and Sport or
Specialty
vehicles. I was
surprised to see
that only 7.9% of
the used car
buyers were
looking for
pickup trucks.
I was guilty of thinking
availability was a key factor, as
in the outdoor advertisement
shown in the image below:
Aggregating the surveys
shows that almost half of
them say (before they buy)
that they are interested in a
new vehicle.  However, of
the 51% that did not indicate
an interest in a new vehicle,
16% of them are undecided,
or what I like to describe as
“open minded”.  Their actual
purchase will be based upon
situational opportunity
factors including price and
availability.
Chart #3 shows dealer
web site visitor
responses to the
question about what
type of vehicle they
plan to buy next