Category Archives: Classifieds

3 Keys to Converting Online Leads


carsales has successfully operated a business model centred around the value it delivers to its clients.

The billing mechanism is online leads delivered but the model is about the sale not the lead. This is applicable to all businesses using online as a sales mechanism, not just the auto industry.

It’s interesting in our business as some clients will convert 1 in 4 online leads to a sale and another client in the same city with a similar inventory mix will convert 1 in 8 leads. Why?
20161130_onlineleads
The answer comes back to the way each and every lead is treated where:

a) Those who sell 1 in 4 leads want more and more leads (because they know they are sales opportunities) to the point where they will call our support centre to see what is wrong when leads drop off because they know that it means their selling will drop off.

b) Those who sell 1 in 8 leads complain about the quality of leads.

Do the clients receive the same quality of leads? Yes, leads are not vetted to send the good ones to certain clients!

The keys to converting online leads are available to all businesses:

1 Treat each and every lead as a hot prospect – the person is sending a lead or calling because they want to buy from you or use your service. In our business, more often than not a sale is made on another car in the dealer’s inventory than the one enquired on.

2 Speed of response must be immediate and is paramount – first of all a template email response and then human follow up. Consumers regularly tell us they end up buying from the dealer who contacted them first or more to the point, some dealers just don’t respond or fail to follow point 1.

3 Track and measure all leads from all online sources in the one lead management system – this is especially so if you have sales people you are relying on to sell your products/services and look after your brand. Emails can be deleted and phone calls “didn’t come in” but not so in a lead management system where email leads are logged into the system and can’t be deleted. Calls are also logged and recorded.

When you think of it, it is kind of funny how some say the Internet (or carsales in the auto space) is making it hard to compete and making it too expensive.

We have far too many clients who follow these 3 steps and are successful online for it to be true.

Sometimes ROI attribution and accountability can be a scary proposition, especially in a changing world.

Maybe go back to the “good old days” and bring back the newspaper “rivers of gold”, that will fix it.


10 Things to Drive Chileautos Further


carsales launched the new Soloautos website in September (9 Things Moving Soloautos in Mexico) and today carsales is very happy to have released the new Chileautos.cl website.

Both sites will benefit from the same features but the Chileautos deploy signifies some significant economies of scale in the LatAm region, none the least was the speed in which the website was integrated following the successful deploy of Soloautos last month.
20161028_chileautos
Here’s 10 things we’ve implemented into Chileautos that we think will give the business a kick along:

1. New logo. Chileautos is our second international brand to adopt the carsales “swish” making it instantly recognizable as a carsales brand. We’ve kept the Chileautos red and blue in the logo and have added the lock up “El portal No 1 de vehiculos”.

2. New website. Now much cleaner, stronger action points throughout the site with larger vehicle photos. Along with the new logo, the new website signals to OEMs in particular that Chileautos is a destination point for not only used cars but for new cars as well.
20161028_chileautosdetail
3. Ryvuss search. carsales‘ proprietary search platform has been integrated into the new website giving Chileautos best in class search and search navigation capabilities.

4. New Cars. Chileautos is clearly Chile’s number 1 automotive vertical portal with a very strong reputation in used cars. Now Chileautos has information and photos available on every new car available for sale in Chile which is an exciting proposition for car buyers, dealers and OEMs.

5. New sell pages. Cleaner and clearer process to point sellers to the selling package that is right for them.
20161028_chileautoslisting
6. Autologia integration. Autologia is our editorial brand which we acquired some months ago and have now integrated tightly into Soloautos and now Chileautos, tailored to the Chilean market. This is a great result for all car buyers, researchers and enthusiasts visiting Chileautos.

7. Better SEO structures. This is a very important piece of the new website so that we do not lose any domain authority that Chileautos has built up over the years. SEO helps consumers find the right information in the Chileautos when searching for cars in Google Chile – remember Google is for searching, Chileautos is for finding.

8. Move into AWS. By moving Chileautos into the cloud we immediately get an uplift in scalability, reliability, disaster recovery options and response times, not to mention carsales management and support with the website now sitting next to all carsales other online assets.
20161028_chileautosautologia
9. New display advertising options. The new Chileautos website enables us to offer OEM’s, dealers, finance companies, insurance companies and the like more targeted, integrated advertising options that compliments the inventory and editorial focus of the site.

10. Back end integration. Not only does the new website integrate seamlessly with the existing Chileautos dealer control panel, it also integrates into the carsales Autogate system. This enables Chileautos to provide an increased level of service to existing dealers using existing tools and also gives Chileautos the opportunity to leverage from Autogate’s proven lead management features.

This is just the start of things to come and it is certainly an exciting time for Chileautos and Chileans looking to buy and sell cars!


9 Things Moving Soloautos in Mexico


carsales push into controlling positions in Mexico and Chile follows our successful deploy of IP and tech services into our minority, strategic positions in Brazil and South Korea.

Here’s 9 things we’ve implemented into Soloautos.mx in September that we think will give the business a kick along:

1. New logo. For the first we have introduced the carsales “swish” to one of our global partner’s logos making it instantly recognizable as a carsales brand. We’ve kept the Soloautos red and black in the logo but have made all the letters lower case to give it a more modern look.
20160906_Soloautos
2. New website. Now much cleaner, stronger action points throughout the site with larger vehicle photos. Along with the new logo, the new website signals to Mexico that Soloautos is on the move. Our first few weeks have already seen a significant increase in pages per visit and a lowering in bounce rate.

3. Ryvuss search. carsales’ proprietary search platform has been integrated into the new website giving Soloautos best in class search and search navigation capabilities.
20160919_soloautosserch
4. New sell pages. Cleaner and clearer process to point sellers to the selling package that is right for them. First day live with new sell pages was a record day in terms of ads placed and this positive trend continued in the first few weeks.
20160919_soloautossell
5. Deeper Autologia integration. Autologia is our editorial brand which we have now integrated tightly into the new website. This is a great result for all car buyers, researchers and enthusiasts visiting Soloautos.
20160919_soloautosautologia
6. Better SEO structures. This is a very important piece of the new website so the right information in the Soloautos website can be found by consumers searching for cars in Mexico – remember Google is for searching, Soloautos is for finding.

7. Move into AWS. By moving Soloatuos into the cloud we immediately get an uplift in scalability, reliability, disaster recovery options and response times, not to mention carsales management and support with the website now sitting next to all carsales other online assets.

8. New display advertising options. The new Soloautos website enables us to offer OEM’s, dealers, finance companies, insurance companies and the like more targeted, integrated advertising options that compliments the inventory and editorial focus of the site.

9. Back end integration. Not only does the new website integrate seamlessly with the existing Soloautos dealer control panel, it also integrates into the carsales Autogate system. This enables Soloautos to provide an increased level of service to existing dealers using existing tools and also gives Soloautos the opportunity to leverage from Autogate’s proven lead management features.

This is just the start of things to come and it is certainly an exciting time for Soloautos and Mexicans looking to buy and sell cars!


Premium Verticals Up Against The Freemiums


carsales.com runs a Premium marketplace in the online automotive vertical space.

As carsales takes investment positions in more global online auto businesses (auto vertical), we are more and more competing against some very large Freemium businesses like OLX and Mercado Libre across Latin America, with each of them being general classifieds sites (horizontals).

Horizontal’s have a role to play in getting rid of your old household items. A car is not one of these

Webmotors.com.br, Soloautos.mx, Chileautos.cl and Encar.com are all online Premium players in automotive competing against the horizontal Freemium players.
20160906_Soloautos
This is certainly not new to carsales as our largest competitor in Australia is also a horizontal. That’s not to say we don’t have serious competition from other Online auto vertical players in Australia; we’ve always faced this.

“The easiest way to get one million people paying is to get one billion people using.”

A Freemium website makes their money by charging for value added services once you have listed your item. I love Phil Libin’s (Evernote) quote “The easiest way to get one million people paying is to get one billion people using.” This is certainly what Freemiums focus on.

The Freemium general classified players of the world are following this by having a platform to advertise a car in the same way as your 8 year old couch; and it shouldn’t cut it for a car buyer or seller.

Remember this – a car is (almost) everyone’s second largest purchase in their life therefore deep information, CarFacts reports, inspection reports, reviews and above all else, trust and safety are all major factors and things only a Premium vertical online website is in a position to offer.
20160720_carfactsSEM
The role we play in each of our global markets is as the Premium and Premier online auto vertical player; this means we need to do cars better than anyone. From searching, finding, researching and buying to selling with everything you need to make a quick, safe and profitable sale.

Our goal is to help you sell as opposed to helping you advertise; this is a BIG difference. This goal is different to Freemium horizontal player who is more interested in getting towards the “billion people using” rather than making the experience of each and every user one that represents the investment each is making.

Horizontal’s have a role to play in getting rid of your old household items. A car is not one of these from a selling or buying perspective.
20160906_carsales
This is why we will continue to invest in our platform to provide the best information and tools to transact on the second largest single item in most people’s life’s in the safest way possible.

I think there’s a business there.


Pay to Advertise OR Pay to Sell Online?


Will consumers pay to Advertise their car online? It’s an interesting question.

Advertising versus selling are two different things. A typical online advertising model goes like this – pay me $50 to advertise your car for 30 days, if it doesn’t sell then pay me another $50 to advertise it for another 30 days. It is in the advertisers interest for you NOT to sell the car as they will make more money when you advertise again the next month and the next…..

Now let’s change the question slightly –

Will consumers pay to Sell their car online? Now you are talking; the answer has to be yes.

A typical online selling model goes like this – pay me $65 to sell your car regardless of how long it takes. It is in the online businesses interests for you to sell the car as quickly as possible as this then creates a good experience and word of mouth so they provide tools and tips (paid and unpaid) to get the car sold.
20160901_carsalesSell
Encar.com, our leading auto website in South Korea, wasn’t charging private sellers to advertise their cars online when we came into the business.

Our new business partners didn’t think South Korean consumers would pay to advertise their cars. They were probably right but would they pay to sell their car? This is a question they did not know the answer too.

We were confident that as the clear number 1 auto website in South Korea providing enormous value to car buyers and sellers, consumers would (and should) pay Encar to sell their car online.
20160901_WebmotorsSell
So the carsales team worked with the Encar team on structuring a private seller platform that would help the South Korean consumer sell their car quickly and easily for a reasonable price.

To say our business partners were nervous was an understatement. They were certain the number of private seller cars would drop right off a cliff.

In April last year we made the switch to be a paid model for private seller cars and in the first month saw a small drop off in private seller cars and was already a much better result than our partners envisaged.

Each month the “drop off dropped off” and in just 6 months we were back to the same level of private seller cars added each month in a paid model to that of a free model.
20160901_EncarSell
There are a lot of factors that went into the decision making process and planning for a change like this to go as well as it did. A lot of things need to be put in place to make it a success, none the least was the mindset of the Encar management.

Don’t get me wrong, the fact that Encar is the leading auto website in the country meant that we were extremely confident that our model of “pay once till sold” would work – that is, don’t pay to advertise, pay to sell.

I’ve seen lots of websites fail to make the change from “free to paid” as there is a lot to consider, none the least is the mindset that is your website geared around advertising or selling?


List Online To Sell, Not Advertise


carsales.com acquired a 49.9% stake in Encar.com from the SK Group in 2014 with the aim of using its number 1 market position to accelerate the growth of the business.

Encar is a clear leader in the online automotive space in South Korea by inventory and traffic with one massive difference from carsales – it had no lead attribution for its paying Dealers.

A Dealer would list their inventory on Encar with the Vehicle Detail page showing all the Dealer’s details (address, phone number, etc) and no email lead form. The phone number was the Dealer’s so there was no tracking or recording of the calls. Therefore Encar had no way of knowing how many people were making contact with a Dealer meaning there was absolutely no lead attribution to Encar from the Dealer. This makes it hard to charge for the true value the website is delivering.
20160825_Encar
This of course flies in the face of the carsales’ business model which, being a lead based model, relies on lead attribution to carsales from the Dealer.

Even if we were never going to introduce a lead model into the Encar business, lead attribution has to be an important facet to ensuring Encar can show the Dealer real value by way of selling cars.

So planning was put in place to insert a lead form into the Vehicle Detail page and setup Call Connect which would see Encar supply the Dealer’s with a phone number where the call details can be tracked, recorded and stored in a database.
20160825_Encar1
I think it was fair to say that the Koreans weren’t sure if Korean consumers would insert their details into a lead form or if Dealers would accept a phone number from Encar that would record the phone call.

We made the website enhancements towards mid 2015 and the first month saw tens of thousands email leads and phone calls logged as Encar leads. In the 12 months after the number of leads multiplied by a factor of 4-5 and still rising.

The next phase is to introduce the Dealer’s to Lead Management to ensure every lead is treated as a car buying prospect and for the Dealer to sell cars from Encar.com.

Introducing a lead model does not necessarily have to be the panacea to driving growth but the steps required to be in a position to be able to switch to a lead model are vital in ensuring a strong, viable online auto vertical leader.


Achieving Economies of Scale


carsales push into the Spanish speaking Latin America countries of Mexico and Chile enables it to get achieve economies of scale in technology and other areas of its business.

The push has been on to deliver our web site platform and dealer applications that are successful in Australia, through Latin America with the specific goal of being able to “Spanishise” (probably a stretch to give it a word) the platform and get multiple uses from it, thus achieving economies of scale.
20160822_carsalesWorld
We have learnt, however, that achieving economies of scale can sometimes be a false economy if not done with a complete appreciation of all the factors in the new geographical location you are entering. Just picking something up and dropping it in another country will not necessarily work.

carsales and Webmotors.com.br were keen to give Webmotors the “carsales feel” so in addition to adding the Ryvuss search engine, the three main pages being the Home page, Search Results page and Vehicle Details page were all redesigned using the carsales template.

When the development was complete we were all very excited to launch the new site but it didn’t take us long to realise that we had misjudged the Brazilian users. There were a few things they had on the old Webmotors site that they felt were super important in buying a car and were not backwards in coming forwards to tell us about it.
20160812_Webmotors
Quite a few subtle changes were required to meet the expectations of the local users. This was our first lesson that picking up exactly what works in one country will necessarily be the optimum solution in another country.

What about regions within a country? Webmotors made two acquisitions of leading regional automotive web sites shortly after we invested in the business. The first was Meurcarango.com.br which was the number 1 player in the North East of Brazil. The second was Compreauto.com.br which was the number 1 player in the Sao Paulo country side.
20160822_Meucarango
The plan was a simple one – let’s get some quick wins by using the Webmotors platform to drive each of the new websites. Each website would take on the same look and feel (with it’s own colours and logos) and same features. This would enable us to achieve economies of scale in maintaining one Brazilian wide platform down the track.

In both Meurcarango and Compreauto we quickly realized that the response from the user base within each region was similar to what we experienced with the Webmotors site.
20160822_Compreauto
So while we won’t get economies of scale by simply putting a Spanish version of what we have in Australia, we will get enormous benefits through economies of scale across the platform driving the websites and the dealer applications. An example of where we are already achieving this is with our Ryvuss search engine which is already in use by Webmotors and Encar.com in South Korea.

Our dealer applications like Autogate is where we will see great benefits through “Spanishisation” as they are not as open to user nuances by country or region as a consumer facing website is. This is where we expect to get even bigger benefits from working on the one global platform.

All in all carsales is in a great position of leveraging from proven IP and a technology base that can move the needle in these countries. I can’t wait to see Soloautos.mx and Chileautos.cl benefiting from this.


An Example of Easy E-commerce (the way it has to be)


carsales.com launched tyresales.com.au a few years back as a complimentary market for our consumers and dealers to benefit from.

It differs from our core businesses as it is pure e-commerce as opposed to the marketplaces we run that introduce buyers and sellers. We have learnt that e-commerce is somewhat different to an online marketplace but there is one thing that is the same – they both have to be easy.

carsales.com.au is easy because of its superior search technology, easy design, quality data, the largest, cleanest inventory in the market and most of all because “it works”. We are striving to make Tyresales.com.au “just work” too and here’s an example of it working.
20160808_Tyresales
Last month I had my car booked for a service at Ritter Land Rover on a Friday. From my previous service I knew that I was most likely going to need new tyres so I had a choice – get on the front foot to order them myself ensuring I get a good deal or I could just wait until Ritter called me to say I need new tyres which they would source, taking away my control and most likely costing me more.

So I decided to use Tyresales.com.au to find my tyres, buy them and have them delivered to Ritter in time for my service. This is an absolute plus in buying tyres on Tyresales for consumers and dealers.

One of the benefits of being a carsales dealer is that they have the opportunity of accepting tyre fittings from Tyresales which then provides the opportunity to up sell know a service. For a consumer, combining a service with tyre replacement just makes sense.

The process of finding the tyres I need was dead set easy, even for someone as car illiterate as I am. Not only did I find tyres easy, I found quality tyres that were 22% off retail price which for 4 tyres added up to a $600 saving. The real beauty of it though is that before I paid for the tyres online, I had the option of selecting the dealership I wanted the tyres delivered to.
20160808_Tyresales1
So in virtually 1 swoop I found the tyres I wanted, paid for them (with real savings) and had them ordered for delivery to Ritter in time for my service on the Friday.

Come Friday I took my car to Ritter for a service and when I picked it up, 4 new tyres were making their mark on my Land Rover.

The process couldn’t have been easier or more convenient, exactly the way e-commerce should be (and thank you Ritter for the same in service!).


2 Critical Factors in an Ecommerce Site


carsales.com has made its mark with online marketplaces. How hard can it be to take that into ecommerce?

Like anything, it’s not hard when you know what you don’t know. Simple right? Let’s look at it.

carsales.com.au is an online marketplace connecting buyers and sellers of cars. Tyresales.com.au is an ecommerce site where buyers purchase tyres through the online store and have them delivered to a Tyresales accredited dealer for fitting.
20160629_carsales
Put simply, an online marketplace connect buyers and sellers but doesn’t play a part of the actual transaction whereas an ecommerce site is all about facilitating the transaction and providing the goods purchased online.

We have found from a website perspective that changing wording, colors and layout on both sites can move the needle as far as generating leads or sales, vital metrics. Above all, they both have to be easy to find what you want and easy to action.

There are however, two factors in an ecommerce site that are material to success:

Price
Price on an ecommerce site is absolutely vital. Online buyers will shop around to find the best deal so it is ultra competitive. Remember, the price is the price on an ecommerce site, there is no haggling as you are paying without talking to anyone whereas the price on an online marketplace is generally “negotiable”; the marketplace connects buyers and sellers to then make the deal.

A competitive price on carsales.com.au is important to attract buyers but it is not the be all and end all. On Tyresales if the price isn’t the most competitive we will lose the sale to one of the many competitors out there.
20160801_Tyresales
Supply
Once a buyer has purchased something through an ecommerce site, it is imperative that the goods are supplied in the timeframe given. Not doing so ruins all goodwill which effects word of mouth recommendations, could create negative online reviews and most definitely cancels out a repeat purchase.

We have found on Tyresales that these two factors are critical in creating a trusted site that is top of mind when drivers need new tyres.

These are only two differences between the online marketplace and an ecommerce site (there are plenty more) and wow, they take some experience to get it right.


4 Auto Classified SEM Products


We all know that Google is an amazing business. One of the things that amazes me with Google is the fact that it is created two new business fields in their own right in SEO and SEM.

Companies, professionals, agencies, experts all specializing in these two Google created fields. These two fields are about being found in a search engine with SEO the science of ensuring you are at the top of “generic” listings and SEM in the paid listings. The search engine doesn’t have to mean Google (although it is the most common) and it doesn’t have to be a generic search engine like Google.

A classifieds site is also a search engine enabling a consumer to search through hundreds of thousands or millions of listings and SEO and SEM applies to them too.
20160720_SEM
I’ve talked about the SEO key components before (photos, comments & comments) so here’s 4 SEM products that are available on carsales and should be available on all good auto classified sites:

1. Top Spot – Not only will your car be at the top of the search results (the car must still meet the the search criteria), it will also have the biggest photo in the search results ensuring the consumer cannot miss it. Guaranteed to deliver more search result views than any other product.

2. Showcase – The next best thing after Top Spot. Showcase cars will appear on the first page (Google has taught us we must be on page 1!) and will have a larger photo in the search results than standard listings, ensuring it is seen.
20160720_carsalesSEM
3. CarFacts Getting a CarFacts report generated and displaying the report with the car for sale in the search results makes the car more attractive to view than a car that hasn’t got one. A CarFacts report gives the buyer piece of mind in knowing if the car has been written off, isn’t finance encumbered, stolen, etc.
20160720_carfactsSEM
4. Redbook Inspect Report – Similar to the CarFacts report, getting your car inspected by Redbook Inspect and having the report listed in the search results with the car yells out to a buyer to “view me” then the report detail says “buy me”.
20160721_RBInspectSEM
Just like SEM on Google works, SEM products in auto classified sites are selling tools; they help to sell and they work. Try them the next time you are selling a car. Not using them is a false economy.

NB All opinions are my own.