Used-car shoppers spend bulk of buying process online

CARY, N.C. - 

Used-car buyers who shop online spend 62 percent of the car-buying process there: online.

That's according to Cox Automotive’s latest Car Buyer Journey Study, which examines consumers’ car-shopping behavior during the car buying process and how they use their time.

Cox Automotive found that during the chunk of time car buyers spend online, they research and shop across multiple devices, creating multiple marketing opportunities for dealers, according to the company.

A total of 53 percent of all respondents who shop online use multiple devices when shopping, such as both desktop and laptop computers, smartphones and tablets.

Eighteen percent strictly used mobile, according to the study.

Among those who go online, a breakdown on their usage on each device:

Desktop/Laptop: 79%

Smartphone: 56%

Tablet: 32%

Again, car shopping on multiple devices means multiple marketing opportunities for dealers, Cox Automotive said.

Dealers have an opportunity to create unique ways to communicate a consistent overall message with content specifically designed for each device that consumers use, according to the company.

Car shoppers are getting introduced to the dealership before they actually go to the dealership, Cox Automotive's Scott Hernalsteen said in a phone interview with Auto Remarketing.

“After they’ve done all their research online, they’ve made a pretty solid decision,” said Hernalsteen, who is Cox Automotive Media's senior director of research and market intelligence. “So even though they’ve entered the process undecided, by the time they get done with their online work they have a really strong idea of what they’re going to purchase — three-quarters of the time they do purchase from the dealership what they were intending to purchase.”

The study suggests that marketers maintain an integrated marketing strategy because third-party sites are the most-used site of any online resource.

Used-car shoppers spent 65 percent of their total amount of time online visiting third-party sites, while they spent only 12 percent on dealership sites.

“The third party sites are doing a good job delivering the information that they need,” Hernalsteen said. “While the numbers are lower for dealer and OEM sites, they’re still incredibly important to the process.”

Here is how used-car shoppers are spending their time online:

Third-party sites: 65%

Dealership sites: 12%

OEM sites: 6%

Search: 10%

Other: 7%

Cox Automotive commissioned the 2017 Car Buyer Journey Study through IHS Automotive and surveyed a total of 2,175 car buyers who purchased a vehicle within a year prior to August 2016.

Live video platform delivers walk-arounds at home

CARY, N.C. - 

An on-demand, live video platform developed by Los Angeles-based startup DropIn, gives dealership product specialists a tool that brings customers to car lots and showroom floors — without the shopper having to leave home.

“Nobody wants to come down to the dealership and be sitting in the chair and feel that high pressure anymore — those days are over,” DropIn chief executive officer Louis Ziskin said in a phone interview with Auto Remarketing.

This month, DropIn began onboarding new dealer clients following the closing of its product’s pilot program, which launched in December.

“Customers shop about 26 dealer websites before they engage with the tools that are on any of those websites, such as text, live chat help, lead forms, contact forms and phone calls,” Ziskin said. “They do their shopping, they’re pretty well-informed. But while they don’t want to talk to a salesman or engage with any of the tools there, they do on many occasions want to see if the car is actually there — they might want to see the car.”

Additionally, DropIn has added a CRM linking tool to its product. “For known customers where anonymity is not the case any longer, they can either send a text or an email with a link,” Ziskin said. “That video call can then can be initiated from an email, from Instagram, from Craigslist — from anywhere that product specialist wants to post it.”

If a call is missed, the CRM will notify the product specialist to reestablish contact with the customer.

Ziskin said an added benefit of adopting DropIn is dealers can also use the product within their service departments.

“Car dealers have always had the problem of ‘how do I give the customer a service walk-around, I’m not allowed to have them in the shop. My insurance doesn’t allow it, I just simply can’t have them there,’” Ziskin explained. “Now, the service specialist is able to put that link and attach it to the estimate and tell the person, ‘If you want a live service explanation, click here.’”

When the customer clicks the link, the video call is initiated and goes right back to that service specialist who can give the customer a walk-around in the shop that has no liability because the customer is not physically in the shop.

“You’re able to explain, ‘You need brakes and this is why, you need a new fan belt and this is why, you need new tires and this is why.’ The customer can now, in real-time, say, ‘Well, can my tires last another couple hundred miles, do I really need to really replace this now,’” he said.

When a customer receives just an estimate and maybe a picture, many of their questions don’t get answered. “So the estimate absorption rates are about 50 percent,” Ziskin said.

Dealers who have piloted DropIn within their service departments have self-reported a 25 percent higher estimate absorption, according to Ziskin.

“The closing rates are self-reported by the dealers themselves; the only thing we know is that there was a video call, and we know if they made an appointment during the call or if the lead form was filled out after the call, but we don’t know whether that converted to a sale,” Ziskin added.

“Our numbers are reported by the dealerships themselves as far as conversion to sale. They obviously have an incentive to downplay those numbers because they want our product cheaper and they’re still reporting anywhere from 20 to 30 percent closing,” he said.

AutoNation teams up with Indy 500 winner for TV ads


AutoNation has teamed up with Andretti Autosport's 2014 Indy 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay and Indy 500 rookie Jack Harvey for TV advertising campaigns that celebrate the company selling 11 million vehicles and raise cancer awareness.

This month, Hunter-Reay kicked off AutoNation's, "Race to 11 Million" major TV campaign along with the "#DRINKTHEMILK" challenge, which reinforces AutoNation's commitment to fighting cancer.

By supporting the company’s Drive Pink initiative, Harvey, who is scheduled to drive in his first Indy 500 on Sunday, will also join AutoNation in raising cancer awareness.

During the race, the rookie will drive the #50 AutoNation car, painted in bold pink and black colors, AutoNation said.

The company directed all charitable efforts towards cancer research, awareness and prevention after partnering with Hunter-Reay and Racing for Cancer four years ago, according to AutoNation.

“In conjunction with the company's Drive Pink Initiative, AutoNation has committed nearly $11 million towards cancer-related organizations in 18 markets coast to coast,” the retailer said in a news release.

Additionally, Harvey will also participate in the company's summer-long national TV advertising campaign and sales event, "PAYCATION!   Buy a new car or truck and make no payments for 90 days."

“AutoNation is committed to drive out cancer, create awareness and support critical research. AutoNation continues to be a proud supporter of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and other cancer-related charities," the company added. 

Former CDK exec joins izmocars as sales consultant

LONG BEACH, Calif. - 

izmocars recently announced that former CDK Global sales director Dan Crowley has joined the company as a senior field sales consultant. He will oversee all sales and the business development partnerships for FrogData, the company’s data analytics platform.

In his new role, Crowley will specifically focus on growing and launching new offerings for FrogData, according to izmocars. The analytics platform delivers advanced reporting, business insights and predictive analytics to dealers.

“Dan has a wealth of knowledge in the automotive space and has seen firsthand how data can significantly impact the success of a dealership through his decades of work with CDK,” izmocars chief executive officer Tej Soni said in a news release. “Analytics are becoming essential as we enter the world of individualized marketing and Dan will be instrumental in the rapid adoption of our data solution.”

Prior to joining izmocars, Crowley spent 15 years as director of sales Northeast at CDK.

“It’s exciting to be on board with FrogData at this point in auto history because there is a wealth of information out there to keep managers ahead of the curve on everything from sales profits to customer retention, but there has been no easy way to access it. Until now,” Crowley said.

Crowley began his automotive career at Sonic Automotive’s flagship store Town and Country Ford in Charlotte, N.C. where he earned Ford’s 500 Master Sales Club Award within his first two years at the dealership.

GWC Warranty offers video email marketing tool trial


GWC Warranty is now offering Elite Dealers a free 30-day trial to access video email marketing platform Covideo, which allows dealers to create and track video email marketing messages for customers.

Dealers can use the marketing service tool for internet inquiry responses, vehicle walk-arounds, sales follow-ups and service reminders.

“Use of Covideo in dealerships has been proven to increase internet lead conversion rates by 20 percent and produce 27 percent more dealership visits,” GWC Warranty said.

An additional one-user package designed for smaller independent used car dealers is available at an exclusive discounted rate, according to the company.

Through the end of the year, dealers who sign up for the Covideo trial offering will have the option to extend their one-user subscription.

GWC Warranty Elite Dealers can contact their dealer consultants to sign up for Covideo. appoints new editor

CHICAGO - recently announced that it has appointed Jennifer Newman to serve as the site's new editor-in-chief.

Newman, who has been with the site for nine years serving in various roles on the editorial team, transitions from her role as managing editor, according to the site.

"As an automotive industry veteran and long-time journalist, Jennifer is the perfect fit for this role,"'s chief marketing officer Brooke Skinner Ricketts said in a news release. "As we put more resources than ever behind one of's greatest assets, I can't think of a better leader to be heading up the next chapter in's editorial history."

In her new role, Newman will lead efforts to expand and grow content. The company said the editorial team under her leadership will be responsible for innovating how it will package and deliver content for consumers.

"I'm thrilled to be leading our talented and passionate team of over 20 writers, editors, reviewers and multimedia producers," Newman said. "The editorial content on is one of the key reasons consumers visit our site, and our esteemed team of unbiased and trusted automotive experts write every review and piece of content with the goal of helping shoppers feel more confident and informed in their car purchase. I am eager to continue to deliver high-quality meaningful content to consumers in new and exciting ways."

Before joining, Newman worked at the Chicago Sun-Times, Boston Herald and The Times of Northwest Indiana. She received a B.A. degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

LotLinx builds 2nd remarketing solution for Facebook product suite


LotLinx has expanded its Facebook product suite to include LotLinx VS - Lead Enabled Remarketing, a newly created VIN-specific tool for Facebook users that leverages LotLinx proprietary technology to target high-quality shoppers.

The company’s new product can allow dealers to both strategically target visitors to Vehicle Details Pages and remarket to shoppers interested in a specific VIN on Facebook or Instagram. 

“This is a powerful extension of our VIN-specific demand generation platform. Every dealer knows that a car needs to be shopped in order to sell, and now dealers can produce high-value leads on the inventory they need to move,” LotLinx chief executive officer, Len Short said in a news release.

The LotLinx VS- Facebook solution is designed specifically for new cars and it focuses on car shoppers who are nearing a purchase decision.

According to LotLinx, the new product has already had an impact on dealerships such as Nimnicht Chevrolet of Jacksonville, Fla.

“We used LotLinx to identify visitors to our site who indicated interest in the cars we needed to move. Then, when they saw those VINs later on Facebook or Instagram, they were presented a pre-populated lead form. With one click, that contact information went into our CRM,” Nimnicht Chevrolet corporate business development director Frank Reynolds said. “We’re very pleased with the results — our BDC reps are busy!”

Additionally, on Memorial Day weekend, LotLinx announced that it will be its offering dealers a money back guarantee in an effort to showcase the company’s retargeting technology. For more details click here.

7 features of DealersLink's revamped booking tool

Broomfield, Colo. - 

DealersLink has released FastBook Pro 5.0, the company's new booking tool that can allow dealers to scan vehicles’ VINs and book out NADA, KBB, MMR, Black Book, CARFAX and AutoCheck simultaneously.

“FastBook Pro 5.0 has the fastest VIN scanner on the market today,” DealersLink chief executive officer Mike Goicoechea said in a news release. “It will help take the risk out of live auction bidding. As dealers consider inventory and decide whether or not to bid, they can use the app to instantly compare multiple book values on the fly. It’s fast, accurate and ensures they have all the information they need before placing a bid.”

The booking tool’s new features include the following:

  • Swipe navigation
  • Faster multi-threaded book retrievals
  • Improved superfast VIN scanner
  • Matrix of all book conditions
  • Vehicle grades, competitive pricing and velocity charts
  • Improved user interface design
  • Previous book-out launch list

FastBook Pro 5.0 is now available from the Google Play store and iTunes. For more information or to request a live demo, click here.

Millennials have less connection to first car than boomers


A new survey from CarGurus reveals that the first car buying experience of millennials starkly differs from that of previous generations.

Compared to millennials, baby boomers were not only found to have been more involved when selecting their first car, but were also far more likely to have contributed to the purchase cost, the online automotive shopping platform said.

While only 37 percent of millennials surveyed said they contributed to the cost of their first car, 65 percent of baby boomers told CarGurus they paid for some or all of their first car, according to the survey. And 53 percent of Gen Xers contributed to the cost of their first car.

“Our data shows a clear generational shift in the dynamics of first car purchase,” said Sarah Welch, senior vice president of consumer marketing, said in a news release. “Given the rise of autonomous vehicles, ride sharing and sweeping urbanization, it will be interesting to see if future generations show the same trend in parents controlling the first car purchase or if we’ll see a drop-off in dependents needing a car at a younger age.”

Twenty-three percent of millennials’ first cars were hand-me-downs, while only 10 percent of baby boomers were, according to the survey.

The survey also found that millennials were more likely to receive their first car from a family member, and were just as likely to not have a choice. Thirty-four percent of the millennials surveyed said they were given their first car for either school, a job or extracurricular activity.

Thirty-three percent of millennials did not have a say in their first car, as opposed to 24 percent of baby boomers.

Although the survey shows clear differences in first car buying experiences between generations, it presents a few similarities, as well.

The survey found that 83 percent of all first cars were either bought or given used and 55 percent of drivers got their first car between the ages of 16 and 18.

Additionally, the survey also asked participants to name their favorite car brands. Chevrolet is the only brand to top each generation’s list of favorite brands. The overall most popular brands amongst all the drivers surveyed are Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Honda and Dodge, respectively.

The following are lists of the top five brands for each generation.

Baby boomers: Most popular first-car brands

  1. Ford
  2. Chevrolet
  3. Volkswagen
  4. Plymouth
  5. Toyota

Generation X: Most popular first-car brands

  1. Ford
  2. Chevrolet
  3. Toyota
  4. Dodge
  5. Pontiac

Millennials: Most popular-first car brands

  1. Chevrolet
  2. Honda
  3. Toyota
  4. Ford
  5. Nissan

CarGurus said it conducted the online survey of more than 1,800 randomly selected participants last month. Survey participants included drivers who have owned a car, ranging from 18 years of age to 70.

Millennial car shoppers seek personality fit over other factors

CARY, N.C. - 

While quality and affordability are regarded as key decision factors when purchasing a car, America’s growing group of millennial consumers are most likely to consider brands that fit with their personal image instead, according to Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics and behavioral communications provider 

“Finding brands which fit their personal image was the largest growing factor amongst millennials when compared to older respondents,” Cambridge Analytica Data Scientist Tom Richardson said via email when Auto Remarketing asked about the study’s findings.

Fitting personal image was found to be the largest differentiating factor between the youngest consumers and older car buyers, he said.

Cambridge Analytica found this and several other trends following its study which examined American car buying habits across key demographics.

About a third of millennials surveyed said fitting personal image was “extremely important,” while only a quarter of all respondents said the same, according to the study.

Last summer, Cambridge Analytica asked 3,018 respondents to consider the following set of factors: fits with personal image, affordability, high quality, driven by celebrities, brand reputation, made in the USA and environmentally friendly.

“When dealing with younger customers we might advise dealers to use a sales pitch based on matching an individual’s style and perhaps offer small personifications/bonus extras with the cars,” Richardson explained.

According to the study, Audi is the most desired brand amongst the millennials surveyed and Lexus and Honda ranked the lowest, which suggests the two brands don’t align with a millennial’s personal image.

Car owners vs. non-owners

The study also found that car ownership status rather than age is the best predictor when identifying shoppers who rate environment as important.

While environmental impact was found to be generally less important than both affordability and quality, 10 percent of respondents without a vehicle said they consider environmental factors extremely important.

Those without a car also consider affordability to be extremely important more often than quality. The group is 10 percent less likely to rate quality as extremely important and about 6.5 percent more likely to rate affordability as extremely important, according to the study.

Similarly, respondents who already own a car told Cambridge Analytica they are mostly interested in vehicles that offer higher quality than what they currently own.

Men vs. Women

High quality and affordability were the most important factors for both men and women.

But while a majority of both genders agree that the two factors are extremely important when choosing a new car, about 10 percent more women than men believe affordability, in particular, is extremely important.

Additionally, men are almost two times more likely than women to select BMW as their most desired brand, according to the study.

Other luxury brands such as Mercedes and Lexus were also found to be favorite brands for men.

Women were found to desire Japanese economy brands like Honda and Toyota most, while they significantly favor the Jeep brand more than men. Meanwhile, 7.6 percent of the women surveyed chose the American brand as their favorite compared to just 4.5 percent of men.

Interestingly, Audi was equally as popular with both genders: 7.8 percent of men chose the brand and so did 7.8 percent of women, according to the study.

Cambridge Analytica’s study was conducted online in June 2016, “when most people began talking about 2017 car models,” Richardson added.