Matching Affordability with Timing in the Used Car Buying Cycle

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Car Shopping; is the time right and what can I afford?

Seasonality plays an important role for the used car shopper. Dealerships need to be on high alert this time of year –  every February, for instance, there is a spike in search interest for “cars for sale” possibly due to people anticipating a big tax return.  Summer is another important seasonal moment. When the temperatures rise, so does the interest in car shopping. Search interest for “lease deals” peaked last Summer, up 20% compared to 2014 according to Google Trends.

Path to Purchase

After a car shopper has decided a purchase path to a “new” or “used” vehicle. The next step is figuring out if they can afford owning it. Whether searching Craigslist online or mobile — list prices and interest for manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) (the amount of money for which the company that produces the product recommends that it be sold in dealerships) is researched. Another factor is the trade in value of the car shoppers current vehicle. All of these components come into play when deciding if the time is right. According to Google Trends search interest in trade in value was at record levels last Summer—up 17% in July. In fact, they saw more trade in interest than we during the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ major push in 2009.  As of August 2015, more than 50% of these searches were on mobile.

Auto Payment Calculators

Another tool that can be used by potential car shoppers to determine affordability are auto payment calculators. They can help calculate the estimated monthly payments, to stay on budget, when buying your next used vehicle. With auto payment calculators enter the vehicle price, down payment, trade-in value, sales tax, interest rate and term to determine your monthly payment. Once you have calculated, determine if you have the money for repairs, maintenance, gas, insurance, plates, taxes, registration, and all the other costs of owning a car. Purchasing a car is only one of the many expenses of owning it.

Do your Research Online

Before setting foot in the dealership there are many things you can research online. Once you have selected a vehicle you can research pricing, reviews, specs, fuel economy and lists of standard features. You can also locate used cars for sale in your area by zipcode, distance, mileage, price and features to find exactly the car you are looking for. You can also research other online classified ads such as Craigslist for used vehicles. Their services may vary but should include car inspections, warranties and return policies. Another important thing to research is the VIN or vehicle history reports. Carfax is a good resource for attaining these reports. These reports can reveal important information about the used car whether it has a salvage title, odometer readings, and any open recalls. These reports can be obtained prior to contacting the used car seller.

Know When the Time is Right

In summary, the path to purchase is roughly a 3 month cycle and can be powered by seasonal trends. Once a car shopper has determined the intent to purchase there are many online resources, including social media, to help make this process easier.

Evolution of Car Shopping

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Connectivity Enhances Car Shopping

The car shopper of 2016 takes about 3 months to buy a car — often with the research process starting online.  Car shoppers will visit an auto dealership an average of two times before making a purchase; unlike 10 years prior, where the average car shopper would make 4.6 visits. Today, car shoppers rely heavily on social media and review sites to get advice, research makes and models, and to see which auto dealership has the best deal. In addition, car shoppers are filling out credit apps, working with auto payment calculators and using YouTube to take virtual test drives before even setting foot on the lot!

Car Shoppers are Researching More than Ever

This longer close cycle has a slower build up with a quick finish and requires dealerships and manufacturers to be omnipresent and synchronized across multiple marketing platforms. A study, by Digital Air Strike, includes findings from 2,000 car buyers and 2,000 service customers who either purchased or serviced a vehicle within the previous six months. The study covers all major U.S. geographic regions and represents domestic and foreign automotive brands, with even distribution across age and gender groups. The study concluded that 75 percent of car buyers and 68 percent of service customers say internet research, including social media and review sites, was the most helpful medium when selecting a car dealership – surpassing all other mediums including dealership websites which ranked highest with only 16 percent of car buyers (down from 19 percent in 2014 and 24 percent in 2013).

Influential Car Shoppers

In addition to social media, car shoppers are reading blogs, forums  and review sites like Quora, Kelly Blue Book, and Car and Driver, and watch auto review videos on YouTube for advice. When it comes to car shopping, social media sites and online research are a clear major influence in the decision making process. Although, car shoppers are also likely to reach out to friends and family, who are knowledgeable or passionate about cars, influencing their decision making process.

Increasing Dealer Interaction with Car Shoppers

How is your auto dealership interacting with potential car buyers? TapCars Dealer Marketing Suite for auto dealers helps to move auto dealer inventory online. TapCars distributes used car  inventory across all the major classifieds and social sites, connecting with car buyers wherever they are — from Craigslist to Facebook and beyond. Want to know more about TapCars Dealer Marketing Suite? Contact us at 408-725-2957, marketing@tapcars.com, or set up a FREE demo here: www.tapcars.com/dealers. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter and follow TapCars on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Launching TapCars Acquire! Private Party Car Acquisition.

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Acquire is TapCars new service that alerts auto dealers when desirable private party cars are posted for sale — before the other guys do! Acquire technology uses market intelligence to find optimal inventory and pricing. Increase profits of your used car department by purchasing inventory from the private market at a fraction of the cost of purchasing at auction.

Acquire crawls popular marketplaces by searching for specific automotive makes, models, year and price range that you are interested in purchasing. TapCars Acquire goes to work by surveying popular marketplaces in your region and matches are delivered directly into your Inbox giving you a head start over other potential car buyers. TapCars innovative technology saves time and accelerates the acquisition of private party vehicles by doing the following:

  • TapCars Acquire works 24/7 alerting you as soon as a match hits the private marketplace.
  • Creates potential sales and service opportunities through increased showroom traffic.
  • Tees up quality used cars
  • Easy process to implement

Be the first to connect with private party sellers and secure great cars for your auto dealership! Want to know more about TapCars Acquire or our TapCars Dealer Marketing Suite? Contact us at 408-725-2957, getstarted@tapcars.com, or set up a FREE demo here: www.tapcars.com/dealers. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter and follow TapCars on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

About TapCars:

TapCars postings distributes auto dealer inventory across all the major classifieds and social sites, connecting with car buyers wherever they are — from Craigslist to Facebook and beyond.

TapCars differentiates itself by also providing dedicated landing pages for every car, mobile-friendly sites, QR codes, call tracking and photo galleries that measurably drives vehicle-specific car buyers to your reps and CRM. We also help you on the auto inventory side though TapCars Acquire: crawling popular marketplaces to acquire private party inventory at a fraction of the cost of auction. Furthermore, we help make results across your campaigns easy for you to view via your own TapCars dashboard — with automated reporting right to your Inbox.

TapCars Reports a Record Number of Leads to Auto Dealers for November 2015!

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TapCars is unparalleled in generating and communicating leads, and tracking sales engagement. In November, TapCars directed hundreds of additional inbound calls to auto dealers as a result of our postings.  And, very notably, TapCars saw a dramatic 44% increase in one of the most valued types of leads to dealers: Credit Applications. TapCars “Credit App” Leads typically fill out several pages of details, almost always indicating that they are on their final leg of the buyers journey. Furthermore, they present dealers with both an opportunity around the car sale as well as an additional revenue opportunity around a financing package.

Additionally, TapCars dealerships reported a whopping 23% increase in shopper interactions to their site.  Specifically, dealers are seeing car shoppers scanning QR codes for a mobile car-profile or landing page visits, or shared a vehicle with a friend via social networks such as Craigslist and beyond.

Other shopper interactions that were monitored on the dealerships custom dashboard include car details viewed, clicks to dealer site, additional photos, address and directions to dealerships. Moreover, CARFAX clicks — a nice service which TapCars provides directly on it’s landing pages for dealers – were also up. These dashboards provide digital reporting that can be easily accessed and allow dealerships to respond accordingly and sell more cars!

All of these services combined increase brand engagement and actual hard leads that TapCars delivers to dealers.

About TapCars:

TapCars postings distributes auto dealer inventory across all the major classifieds and social sites, connecting with car buyers wherever they are — from Craigslist to Facebook and beyond.

TapCars differentiates itself by also providing dedicated landing pages for every car, mobile-friendly sites, QR codes, call tracking and photo galleries that measurably drives vehicle-specific car buyers to your reps and CRM. We also help you on the auto inventory side though TapCars Acquire: crawling popular marketplaces to acquire private party inventory at a fraction of the cost of auction. Furthermore, we help make results across your campaigns easy for you to view via your own TapCars dashboard — with automated reporting right to your Inbox.

TapCars Introduces a New Auto Payment Calculator

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TapCars introduces a new auto payment calculator! Calculate your estimated monthly payments, to stay on budget, when buying your next used vehicle. With the TapCars calculator, you can calculate your monthly payment or financing based on purchase price. Our auto payment calculator is unique in that it has sliding scales to play out different scenarios – so you can get the best car in your purchasing power.

To calculate for either monthly payment or purchase price follow these easy steps:

  • Enter the total purchase price (before tax), or use the slide bars to the right, to enter the price of the car. The monthly payment or purchase price is automatically calculated based on the terms in months and interest rate you select.
  • The next step is to enter your down payment. Enter any rebates and cash down, trade allowance, and amount owed on trade vehicle.
  • Lastly, enter any taxes and fees. These include non-taxable and taxable fees as well as the sales tax rate. If there is a “no sales tax deduction” for your state check the box for “Check here if your state does not allow a sales tax deduction for trade-ins”.
  • Finally, click on “Request Quote” – you will be brought to a second page to fill in your personal information name, email, phone number and add a personal message – click “Request”. You will receive a thank you message saying that the car dealership will get back to you as soon as possible – which is usually within 24 hours.

Want to know more about our auto payment calculator or TapCars automotive posting service? Contact Zachary Jarvinen at 408-725-2957, getstarted@tapcars.com, or set up a FREE demo here: www.tapcars.com/dealers.

TapCars Generates Quality Leads From “Credit Apps”

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Purchasing a car can be one of the more significant investments for consumers. The majority of car shoppers take months to go from deciding on the right vehicle to actually purchasing it. One of the final steps in the buying process is filling out a credit application. TapCars generates quality leads from online credit applications; one of the most valued types of leads for automotive dealers. With TapCars “Credit App Leads” typically fill out several pages of details, almost always indicating that they are on their final leg of the buyers journey. Furthermore, they present dealers with both an opportunity around the car sale as well as an additional revenue opportunity around a financing package. Higher close rates and margins have also been attributed to credit app leads.

Walk through of our easy to use TapCars Credit App process:

Step 1 – Click on “Apply Now”. The car shopper fills out the basic information; name, address, phone number and email (The logo of our third-party security provider, SecureCredit, is prominent for ease of mind when filling out personal information) then click “Submit”.

Step 2 – The customer has the option to fill out the trade-in and housing information or click “Next”. Even if the shopper does not fill out the second page the important lead information has been captured for the dealer to follow up.

Within a matter of minutes TapCars has captured up to 20 consumer data points and provided the dealership with a highly motivated buyer. You can continually improve your used car sales performance by tracking the number of leads, calls and sales with TapCars Credit App process.

About TapCars:

TapCars postings distributes auto-dealer inventory across all the major classifieds and social sites, connecting with car buyers wherever they are — from Craigslist to Facebook and beyond.

TapCars differentiates itself by also providing dedicated landing pages for every car, mobile-friendly sites, QR codes, call tracking and photo galleries that measurably drives vehicle-specific car buyers to your reps and CRM. We also help you on the auto inventory side though TapCars Acquire: crawling popular marketplaces to acquire private party inventory at a fraction of the cost of auction. Furthermore, we help make results across your campaigns easy for you to view via your own TapCars dashboard — with automated reporting right to your Inbox.

Look to Vehicle Details Page Views to Increases Sales

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According to a Cobalt Business Study report,  automotive dealers with “higher VIN views” increased their sales. The buzz phrase in social media has been “More VDP (Vehicle Details Page) views, more sales”. Understanding the VIN process can help you be more efficient with your digital marketing efforts, by becoming more aware of the used car sales cycle, which will ultimately increase profitibility.

Based on an eight month study of 9 million Vehicle Details Page Views, 125 million website visits, and 250 million online actions, Cobalt’s automotive consumer research showed that Vehicle Details Page Views and time spent on VDP’s are 2 of the top 4 online sales predictors. Also, VDP’s with 20-30 page views spend 29% less time on the lot. And lastly, VDP’s with more than 30 page views spend 44% less time on the lot. Want to be a VIN factory? Look to TapCars to increase ROI.

TapCars differentiates itself by also providing dedicated landing pages for every car, mobile-friendly sites, QR codes, call tracking and photo galleries that measurably drives vehicle-specific car buyers to your reps and CRM.  Furthermore, TapCars metrics can help used car dealerships quickly assess the quality of their leads and the effectiveness of their digital marketing campaigns. For us, the best way to visualize this is through the TapCars Advanced Marketing Analytics Dashboard — which brings together all of your digital spend allowing you to maximize the power of each campaign.

Top 10 “shopping list” for buying a used vehicle on Craigslist

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Top 10 “shopping list” for buying a used vehicle on Craigslist

Top 10 shopping list

Before purchasing a used vehicle on Craigslist there are a number of questions to consider. Asking the right questions online or at a dealership will help you purchase a “bargain” instead of a “lemon”. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – get prepared with this Top 10 used vehicle shopping list.

Top 10 questions to ask when shopping for a used vehicle on Craigslist or at the auto dealership:

  1. Why was the car traded in? Inspect the vehicle; exterior body, interior, and verify mileage.
  2. Ask for a CARFAX to see if there have been any accidents. And any maintenance/service records on the vehicle.
  3. How did the dealership acquire the vehicle? Why is the car not selling? Sometimes it can be something simple like the color, that can be used to help negotiate the price.
  4. Ask if the car was traded in for a later model? If so, it shows that the previous owner had confidence in the car/dealership and possibly just wanted a newer vehicle.
  5. Make sure the Title of the car is “For Sale by Owner”, not a salvaged vehicle.
  6. Ask if it is a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle or if it has an extended warranty.
  7. Take a test drive. Some dealerships even let you keep the car overnight!
  8. Find out if there are any incentives if you pay cash vs. credit card/financing. Some dealerships offer a percentage off for “cash” sales.
  9. Ask if the dealership accepts trade ins? It is much easier if you can trade your vehicle vs. trying to sell it after.
  10. Any outstanding recalls on the vehicle?
  11. And a bonus question – was the previous owner a smoker or pet owner?

There are many important questions to ask before considering purchasing a used car, doing your research online and asking some of these questions during the process can help make you a smart shopper! According to the fifth annual Digital Air Strike Automotive Social Media Trends Study 75% of car shoppers look to social media, and Craigslist, for researching and purchasing decisions.

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About Us:

TapCars provides digital classifieds and merchandising solutions for local companies doing business online, delivering a unique ability to generate and track leads and other consumer interactions in unprecedented detail. Founded in 2009, TapCars operates out of offices in Silicon Valley, Canada, India and Mexico. Our team brings together deep expertise in technology, marketing, media, e-commerce, advertising, social media, digital merchandising, and mobile applications.

Certified Pre-Owned Used Vehicle Programs vs. Extended Warranties. And How to Find These Cars on Craiglist.

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The extended warranty your dealership offers is not considered a true automotive warranty. Extended warranties cover things like auto repairs and maintenance for a certain period of time. A Dealerships true warranty includes the cost of the vehicle and service contract – as they cost extra and are sold separately. With the right CPO program you can easily convert car shoppers that are considering an extended warranty on their current vehicle.

To shop for a used vehicle, below are the 2015 “Top 5 CPO” programs ranked in order, as the best brands to purchase. Knowing what to shop for can help narrow your search in Craigslist. Rankings were based on length of coverage, ability to transfer the warranty to other vehicle owners and the deductible for necessary repairs.

“Top 5 CPO” programs by brand:

  1. Porsche
  2. Lexus
  3. Volvo
  4. Hyundai
  5. Kia

Consumers want peace of mind and purchasing a certified pre-owned vehicle is the way to go. Purchasing an extended warranty for a current vehicle doesn’t provide the same coverage. CPO programs were introduced in the 90’s and have been gaining traction ever since. Not only do they include an extended warranty but also these cars are tuned up and ready to go by certified technicians.

Shopping for a used vehicle on Craigslist allows you to configure your search results to by zipcode; including dealers, private sellers, or both. Be sure to look for CARFAX and CPO certifications like this example below when purchasing a used vehicle.

TapCars is the only vehicle posting service that offers CARFAX with our online listings, which is a great benefit to car shoppers!

About us:

TapCars provides digital classifieds and merchandising solutions for local companies doing business online, delivering a unique ability to generate and track leads and other consumer interactions in unprecedented detail. Founded in 2009, TapCars operates out of offices in Silicon Valley, Canada, India and Mexico. Our team brings together deep expertise in technology, marketing, media, e-commerce, advertising, social media, digital merchandising, and mobile applications.

TapClassifieds Announces the Launch of TapCars

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TapClassifieds, a leader in digital marketing solutions, announced today the deployment of its first vertical extension into the automotive marketing space: TapCars. TapCars puts auto dealer inventory in front of car shoppers where they are shopping now.

“As our clients experience the power of inventory distribution marketing, where we make every car and truck ubiquitous across the digital landscape, they quickly realize they have missed a very large and highly engaged groups of car buyers,” said Babak Hedayati, TapClassifieds CEO. By distributing dealership inventory across key, non-traditional marketplaces including Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, CraigsList, BackPage and local classifieds sites our auto dealerships are encountering serious car buyers, particularly those searching for excellent used vehicles, he said.

In fact, market research has shown that leads generated across these digital marketplaces close on average in 22 days, far quicker than the 34-days-to-close from traditional leads through the dealership’s web site.“The legacy players like Cars.com and AutoTrader spend millions of dollars in direct marketing every year via SuperBowl ads! in an attempt to coax car shoppers into their walled garden of inventory stranded on their sites far out of view from the average consumer,” Hedayati said.

The TapCars inventory distribution model completely disrupts how used and new cars are marketed, generating fresh, exclusive leads for auto dealers at a fraction of the cost of legacy automotive sites. Incoming calls from buyers are recorded, emails and text messages are captured, and credit applications are securely delivered into the dealership’s CRM around the clock.

The TapCars platform has an extensive analytics suite that monitors leads and lead capture metrics as well as all other digital marketing efforts being applied by the dealership. The analytics focus on search marketing, display advertising, social engagement, and even offline media in a robust reporting system.

“We have been on TapClassifieds since May of 2014. We are pleased with the performance of the product and in July of this year 25% of the leads entered in our CRM were from TapCars,” said Melvin Cooper, dealer principal at Chevrolet of Watsonville. “They continue to give us a solid ROI.”

Recently analysis of a Chevrolet dealership in central California found that leads from Cars.com were averaging $2,200 in July while AutoTrader leads were $1,500. During the same time frame, TapCars leads were coming in at $9! The TapCars program is delivered to auto dealerships through its direct sales team (www.tapcars.com/dealers) as well as a network of resellers now actively delivering the program (www.tapcars.com/partners) across the country.

Reseller partners are now delivering the TapCars program to dealerships in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin with additional reseller markets coming online every month.

Today TapCars drives thousands of leads a month to dealerships representing major groups including AutoNation, CarMax, Fletcher Jones, Hendrick Automotive Group, Lithia Auto Stores, Penske Automotive, Piercey Automotive Group, Serra Automotive and Sonic Automotive among others.

TapCars is an automotive focused business unit of TapClassifieds, is based in San Jose, CA with offices in Canada, Mexico and India. The team brings together deep expertise in SAAS software development, marketing, media, e-commerce, advertising, social media, digital merchandising, and mobile applications. For more information about sales of the platform please contact us at (marketing(at)tapcars(dot)com) or (408)-725-2957.

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