Tracking? or Advertising??



by Jamie Jump, Sr. Publisher, Southern California Apartment Finder

When was the last time you looked for a new car? – – – Recently, I wanted to purchase a new vehicle that got more than 12MPG and was definitely looking for a “green machine.” I went to a few dealerships, test drove a few cars, and found that I really liked a certain model but needed to do some online research and price shopping. I found half a dozen internet sites, or more, that showcased cars and did my comparisons. I narrowed my search down to a few models and sent inquiries to the dealerships. A couple of things happened right away, and when I say “right away” I mean within seconds.

First, in less than three minutes, the sales reps were on the phone with me. Of the three inquiries I made, there were three calls to my contact number. No waiting. Everyone called me right away.

Second, when I was asked what internet site I saw the listing on, I really had no idea. I had shopped for awhile and surfed various sites and really couldn’t remember.

This made me think of our industry and my position at Apartment Finder. I meet with clients every day who give me feedback on how they perceive our product is working. Their perception of success or failure is very reliant on two factors, that are quite frankly, in their hands – tracking and response.

In terms of the response, my experience with the really fast turnaround on response from the car dealerships was a real eye opener. They knew that they needed to engage me right away. I was actively shopping and actively buying. A delay meant that a competitor would have a much better chance of winning my business. I have worked with a lot of companies that dismiss e-mail generated leads. Some disregard them entirely or get around to them when they “have time.” I wonder if there would be a significant increase in conversion if they would have less than a minute turnaround time on a computer generated lead? If you engage the consumer when they are “in the moment,” would your conversion rate increase?

In terms of tracking, it’s not always an easy task. There is a belief that the first source the consumer uses gets credit for the lease. But, is this really the source? My personal car shopping experience had me on several sites looking for information. I sent an e-mail from one site and called from another. Did that make the first site I saw more or less credible than the site I used to populate my inquiry? Compare this to apartment shopping where the leasing agent has to track the source of the lead. Computer generated lead tracking systems indicate how the consumer contacted them, but does this really indicate how they found them? Do you think that the overall advertising campaigns the dealerships used increased the odds of the consumer seeking them out to buy a car? If I had driven to the dealership after looking at their newspaper ad, their website, and their inventory on an aggregate site, I probably would have been sourced as “Drive By,” when in reality, I had been heavily influenced to do so by their advertising.