Tuesday, April 17, 2007

CaseStudy: AutoBytel


Buying the right car has never been easier thanks to the Internet. Just choose the make and model and consumers can be connected with a dealer in their area committed to helping them purchase their dream car. Like most companies today, car dealers understand the extended customer reach the Internet provides. Back in 1995, Autobytel — the world’s premiere online automotive marketing and buying website — was the first to leverage the potential the Internet had for improving the automotive shopping and purchasing process for dealers and consumers alike. Today, with manufacturers and dealers adopting Internet marketing strategies at a rapid rate, Autobytel stands atop the industry it created, connecting thousands of dealers coast to coast — and every automotive manufacturer brand — with millions of consumers nationwide. Since inception, Autobytel has saved consumers millions of dollars while helping the nation’s dealers gain incremental business at a fraction of traditional marketing costs, providing a range of services — from best-in-class marketing and CRM tools, to innovative training programs. Through its innovative advertising programs and leading edge data and analytical tools, Autobytel is the place for manufacturers to connect with consumers at the golden moment when they are deciding which car or truck to buy. Autobytel owns and operates the automotive websites Autobytel.com, Autoweb.com, Carsmart.com and AutoSite.com, as well as AIC (Automotive Information Center), a leader in automotive marketing data and technology and AVV Inc. (Applied Virtual Vision), a leading provider of dealership CRM and data extraction services.

INDUSTRY: Automotive
AUTHOR: Caroline Kim, Website Project Manager, Autobytel
OVERVIEW: Autobytel’s rapidly growing advertising business needed to enhance their techniques of measuring and viewing different aspects of the site — page views by make and model or page views and vehicle categories. Site Catalyst provided this data for their advertising group and also empowered their online team to analyze how site changes affected conversion, how people research vehicles, and how different customer segments react to the site. For example, after a site redesign, a 19% conversion rate on the new versus old site revealed the new site was doing a better job.

“We ran the new site at 10% of our total traffic to see how the metrics differed...
The [SiteCatalyst] data clearly showed us that the redesigned web site had a significantly higher conversion rate (19%) and was doing a better job of getting people into the places on the site they
wanted to go.”

As a leading Internet automotive marketing services company, Autobytel puts a high value on understanding customers. Through its own proprietary tracking systems the company was already looking at where site visitors came from, what pages they visited on the website, and the types of vehicles they were browsing. However, Autobytel wanted to broaden the company’s view of visitors through a different set of metrics as well as measuring the number of page views the websites were generating from various marketing campaigns. The advertising group also wanted to forecast advertising impressions for highly targeted sections of the site. “Our advertising revenue is an important and rapidly growing aspect of our business,” said Caroline Kim, Website Project Manager. “We needed to enhance the way in which we measured and viewed different aspects of the site — page views by make and model or page views and vehicle categories — because that is how our advertisers target their campaigns.” What Autobytel needed was a Web analytics tool to help track the effectiveness of specific campaigns and provide a more detailed representation of online customer behavior. After researching the industry, Autobytel chose Omniture’s SiteCatalyst™ to augment the company’s proprietary tracking system because of its ability to easily track and report on Custom Insight variables. “Being able to implement Custom Insight™ provides us with more options on how we cut the data on our sites,” said Kim. “We have so many variables that are relevant to our business. Site Catalyst’s Custom Insight reporting helps us to track items across the website — things that are related and important for us to look at together.”

In addition to measuring page views generated by marketing campaigns and forecasting targeted advertising impressions Autobytel began to put SiteCatalyst to other uses; analyzing how site changes affected conversion, how people research vehicles, and how different customer segments react to the site. The Autobytel website underwent a significant redesign in July 2003. Data gleaned from the website through of the redesign. SiteCatalyst helped Kim’s team compare the old site to the new site through secondary tagging. “We ran the new site at 10% of our total traffic to see how the metrics differed,” explains Kim. “We looked at page views per visit, conversion rates, where consumers were going from the home page on the new layout versus the old one. The data clearly showed us that the redesigned website had a significantly higher conversion rate (19%) and was doing a better job of getting people into the places on the site they wanted to go.” SiteCatalyst is also used to track loyal, ongoing customers, those who come directly to the site by typing in the URL or using a bookmark rather than from a marketing campaign link. SiteCatalyst helps Autobytel separate those customers from the rest and run specific reports on their behavior as the site changes. “We use our loyal or direct customer segments to provide a more accurate gauge on whether or not our site changes are truly beneficial, “explains Kim. Finally, Omniture’s responsiveness to product innovation suggestions from Autobytel has contributed to the success of the relationship. “Over the last couple of years, we have made several suggestions regarding new features we would like to see in the Omniture product and quite a few have been implemented,” said Kim. “Autobytel received an average of over seven million unique visitors a month in 2003. As our online customer base continues to expand and evolve, we appreciate the fact that Omniture responds by adding new features and functionality to provide us with new ways to look at our website.”

SiteCatalyst is the industry’s most mature, remotely hosted web analytics solution. It empowers users throughout an organization with critical information surrounding the factors that influence the success of their online businesses. SiteCatalyst provides bottom-line and most importantly real-time information that quantifies and visually represents the effectiveness of website and marketing initiatives. Going beyond simple data points about historical site activity, SiteCatalyst provides actionable information that allows immediate action on factors that most affect success.

Omniture, Inc., headquartered in Orem, Utah, is the pioneer of next-generation web analytics technology and is the most experienced provider of adaptable solutions to large, complex websites. Omniture develops and markets SiteCatalyst, which has been designed specifically for the needs of enterprise companies to monitor visitor and commerce activity, identify specific points of change, and drive business decisions that increase ROI. Omniture’s unique commitment to responding to customer needs in developing advanced solutions and cutting-edge technology has resulted in the highest client retention in the industry and an impressive client list, which includes eBay, Time Warner, Gannett, Microsoft, Oracle, Intel, Overstock.com, GM, Hewlett-Packard and VeriSign.

Clairol "Mist Stick" in Germany "Manure Stick"

In September of 2006, Clairol (hair products company) introduced a curling iron called the "Mist Stick". Here in the US, the product went flying off the shelves; selling out in several places. Then the Clairol executives decided they wanted to introduce there new product to Germany. Well, the problem was that "Mist" in German slang means "manure" or "excrement." So, Clairol introduced Germany to the "Manure Stick". This product was a complete failure, because Clairol failed to translate the name of the product in German to make sure they weren't offending anyone or giving there product a bad name. This has been a problem for other companies in the past; there products mean something totally different in the US than it does in another country.

Some of the Worst Ad translations in history:

General Motors's Chevrolet Nova car in Spanish in Central and South America: "No va", "It Doesn't Go"

Dairy Association's huge success with the campaign "Got Milk?" in Mexico: "Are You Lactating?"

American Airlines
new leather first class seats ad campaign in Mexican market: "Fly In Leather" meant "Fly Naked" (vuela en cuero)

Gerber used same packaging in Africa as in the US: smiling baby on the label in Africa indicated what was inside (many people can't read)
Pepsi "Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation" slogan in Chinese: "Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors" Back From the Grave

Parker Pen's slogan "It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you" in Mexico: It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant."

McGruff - Crime Dog Commercial - 1981/ Print ad

McGruff is one of the most recognizable icons to adults and children. McGruff the Crime Dog known to everyone, has urged Americans to help "Take a Bite out of Crime" for 25 years. Today, more than 93% of children recognize the icon that provides safety tips for adults and kids. The Crime Prevention campaign over the years has helped teach kids, teens, and adults about violence and drugs, and the PSAs have inspired all citizens to get involved in building safer, more caring communities. This commercial and all the others are successfully aimed at all ages groups. I looked on the Crime Prevention Coalition official website and I didn't find any statistics to go along with this campaign.

Print ad for McGruff the Crime Dog

Save a Life Commercial/ Print ad (Texas Dept. of Transportation)

This has to be one of the most affective drunk driving commercials ever. I'm not exactly sure when it came out, but it caught my attention back then as it has today. This campaign seems to be aimed at young adults and adults. I think it sucessfully targeted the right audiences. While reading about the success of this campaign, I found out some frightening statistics from the Texas Department of Transportation. Every five hours in Texas, someone is killed in an alcohol-related traffic crash.

Texas is among the national leaders when it comes to traffic deaths that involve alcohol. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2004 in Texas, 1,642 motorists were killed in alcohol-related crashes—second to California by only a single death. Experts estimate that 70 Texans are injured or killed in alcohol-related crashes every day. The Department of Public Safety reports that of the 98,349 drunk driving arrests made in Texas in 2004, 303 young people between nine and sixteen years old were arrested for drinking and driving. An additional 9,285 minors between ages 17 and 20 were arrested for driving under the influence. That means more than 11 percent of all the people arrested for drinking and driving were under 21—the legal age for alcohol in Texas.

Save a Life Print Ad

Crash Test Dummies Commercial ("You can learn a lot from a dummy" 1980s)/ Print ad

I choose this commercial, because it was very important during its time. The commercials featured talking crash test dummies named Vince and Larry, who modeled seat belt safety practices through their slapstick antics. The campaign, along with the slogan "You can Learn a Lot from a Dummy," was very popular, and since then crash dummy characters remain a common sight in seat belt safety campaigns, especially those aimed at children. I believe this ad was successfully aimed at licensed drivers, but also the addition of humor makes it child friendly. The Crash Test Dummies Seat Belt Education campaign motivated a large majority of states to enact laws mandating the use of safety belts. In 1990, the campaign was recognized with a Gold Effie award from the New York chapter of the American Marketing Association. By 1994, seat belt usage had increased from 14% to 79%, saving an estimated 85,000 lives and preventing more than 1.5 million moderate to critical injuries. In 1999, Vince and Larry along with their campaign tagline, "You Could Learn A Lot From a Dummy" were retired when the U.S. Department of Transportation revised the campaign. The new slogan advised "Buckle Up. Always."

This is a Print ad from a magazine.

Nuveen Investment Commercial: Christopher Reeve/ Print ad 2000

When I first saw this commercial 7 years ago for a second I thought Christopher Reeve was actually walking, but her wasn't; it was computer generated. This TV ad was for Nuveen Investments and it was set in the future. The man speaking is discussing all the things that have been accomplished medically in the future dealing with AIDS, Cancer, and spinal cord injuries. I thought this commercial was really cool, because it digitally showed "Superman" being able to walk in the future. That shows that he still had hope that he would one day walk again. This campaign in my opinion was geared toward business people who are familiar with investments; but also those with spinal cord injuries, because by them showing Christopher Reeves walking, that gave hope to others in the same situation he was in. I don't think there revenue changed that much from this commercial, but it showcased the name of the company.

Print Ad from Nuveen Investments

California Raisins Commercial (1987)/ Print ads

The California Raisins were one of the most groundbreaking and successful commercials in the 80s. They were these four raisins that were first introduced in a 1987 TV commercial singing Marvin Gaye's "I heard it through the Grapevine." I love these commercials so much because they remind me of my childhood. I was a huge California Raisin fan! This commercial, along with the books, movies, CD's, and television specials were all successfully aimed at children, but a few adults jumped on the bandwagon. During the years the California Raisins were popular, I am positive that the company made a substantial amount of money; after the commercials aired the California Raisins were in demand. I couldn't find actual figures of how much money was actually made.

After the commercials the California Raisins took off in many directions.
Movies: Meet the Raisins received an Emmy nomination, and Raisins Sold Out
CD's: Christmas with the California Raisins and California Raisins Sing the Hit Songs
Television: 1989- 1991 That California Raisin Show

This is a copy of a California Raisin magazine:

This is a copy of the ad for the CD: