Cars.com & Customer Attribution

Goals

To identify information on how Cars.com drives marketing and customer attribution and what they look for in web/company partners to build the client's case for partnership with the company.

Early Findings

Cars.com & Customer Attribution

  • According to their site, Cars.com “has been at the forefront of tracking and analyzing car shopper behavior” for three decades – first analyzing walk-ins and calls from interested shoppers (in the 1990s and early 2000s), then moving into more advanced technologies for tracking and analysis as the years have progressed.
  • Starting in 2016, Cars.com began heavily tracking walk-in lot traffic and comparing it with mobile traffic; they found that when mobile is factored in, “the company is generating nearly seven million more physical leads per year that are not consistently recognized within the industry.” In 2017, they unveiled their Lot Insights Reports, which provides information on which cars potential buyers are looking at while mobile shopping (through specific Vehicle Detail Pages on each of the vehicles). Additionally, these reports allow dealers to see which cars potential buyers are looking at on competitors’ lots, and identify which cars are the hottest commodities (view-wise, buy-wise).
  • The site eschews the last-touch (or last-click) attribution method, seeing it as a “flawed approach.” In 2017, the company began using the Clarivoy Multi-Touch Attribution solution, which integrated into their Google Analytics software. This led to a 37% higher conversion rate for dealers who implemented the system, equating to a “20 percent decrease in cost per lead after two months on the trial.” This also led one dealer, for example, to identify 11,390 conversion events (for leads) over the simple 103 originally reported by Google Analytics alone.
  • In early 2020, Dealer Inspire, a Cars.com company, launched Prizm, a “new proprietary business intelligence platform for dealerships that connects product performance, marketing channel effectiveness and on-demand support in one dashboard.” This solution provides real-time tracking at the group level, offers comprehensive reporting for multiple sites, and provides insights into which channels and items are performing well and which are not. The system integrates with “Google AdWords, Google Analytics and Microsoft Ad Center, so ad campaigns and analysis can be monitored conveniently.”
  • Prizm is unique in that it “is the first engine of its kind to allow dealers to take action on reporting,” while traditional tools only provide metrics; the system also track support tickets and “captures customer satisfaction scores.” The software will have the “patented Roxanne™ event-tracking technology” built in, which “tracks every click a shopper makes across the entire CARS platform, monitoring more than 40 million events each day1, providing dealers with critical data-driven insights to better understand their customers.”
  • The software (Prizm) also integrates with all Dealer Inspire products – the website platform, Connected Marketing (maximizes cross-channel marketing for increased ROI), Online Shopper (a one-of-a-kind digital retailing solution used to customize buyers’ decision-making journeys), and Conversations (first-of-its-kind first-party messaging platform to “instantly convert shoppers 24/7 wherever they are.”
  • Additionally, Cars.com partners with Radar “to power attribution reporting for its partners and contextual experiences for its mobile app users.” Prior to this partnership, the company had difficulty collating the huge amounts of dealer data, so they “migrated its location data management and reporting processes from legacy systems to Radar to consolidate location initiatives into one comprehensive solution.” Radar provides “unlimited, polygon, and concentric geofences,” support for metadata, tags, and identifiers, and “programmatic geofence exports to customer data reporting pipelines.”

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