We spent some time with George Miene, CEO, and Angelique Lynch, Marketing Director, to learn more about AutoTrader's remarkable success.
Can you provide some insight into why your traffic stats are on the rise?
The digital world evolves at a rapid rate and it's important to continually innovate to meet customers' evolving needs. Recent success can be attributed to innovation and continued investments in marketing and product development.
We invest millions each year in product enhancements, and over the past few months, we've re-engineered and optimised key parts of our site. Our fully responsive mobile site has ensured a seamless user experience across all of our platforms. This has been a key driver in our total visits growing to almost 5 million.
We have also partnered with 24.com (Wheels24, TopGear, and TopCar) and Wesbank Car of the Year, which has increased our brand reach and exposure.
"We are delighted with these results, as it means we're continuing to drive trust and brand entrenchment with car shoppers, and sellers can showcase their vehicles to the biggest automotive audience in South Africa across our site and our quality partner sites," says AutoTrader CEO George Mienie.
What are AutoTrader's key market strategy goals, and how can they be achieved?
We focus on bringing the buyer and seller together with no barriers. To achieve this, we are fully transparent with all sellers' information so we don't act as the middle man, forcing the car buyer to fill out forms online. We put them directly in touch in any way they want. Buyers can choose how to contact the sellers, whether that be walking into the dealership using the address listed on our site, or by calling or emailing them.
Not only do sellers have access to the biggest automotive audience in South Africa, but also serious buyers, as recent independent research from TNS shows, as car dealers have said we deliver the best quality leads to them.
What is your attitude towards competition and content creation?
It's important to keep an eye on the competition, but as the market leader, our business ethos is to blaze our own trail, lead the charge through constant innovation, and deliver value to all of our target markets.
Having said that, as the market leader, we won't hesitate to react to any competitive threat.
From a content perspective, it's important to understand what types of content will be engaging and thought-provoking to consumers, and what information will help them through their car-buying journey. Content needs to be original, relevant, and easily accessible across all devices. Our content hub and YouTube channel gives consumers access to news, reviews, and videos all created by our expert content team.
Can you share some of your traffic retention strategies?
AutoTrader has been the trusted motoring marketplace for the past 24 years, so generations have used AutoTrader over the years to buy and sell their vehicles, from the magazine days to now, with the website and apps. When consumers have a positive brand experience, they become loyal, will return time and time again, and will share their experience with their friends and family. This is key to keep our brand promise at the core of everything we do.
It's also important to understand your customers, so we continually invest in research. We then apply these findings to our key retention strategies.
What would you like the SA Digital Industry to know about AutoTrader?
Our total audience has grown by 27% in the past quarter, and in August 2016 we achieved our record publisher traffic in Effective Measure, with over 1.9 million unique visitors and almost 5 million total visits. Consumers also viewed over 88 million pages across our platforms, reflecting further engagement. AutoTrader also drives over 300,000 leads to dealerships every month, estimated to be a massive height over competitors, closing the loop on audience conversion.
Although we are predominantly a digital business, we still distribute over 100,000 magazines a month to 5,700 outlets across the country, making AutoTrader a diverse business reaching all markets.
You recently received some TNS research insights. Can you share those results?
We continually invest in research to better understand consumer needs and perceptions. Recent independent automotive research conducted by TNS, commissioned by AutoTrader in August 2016, showed that AutoTrader is the market leader in both consumer and dealer brand awareness.
AutoTrader enjoys a comfortable first position in consumers' minds. Total brand awareness amongst a sample of vehicle owners was 92%, and 55% of respondents spontaneously mentioned AutoTrader.
The independent research conducted with dealers resonated with the research done with customers, and 93% of used car dealers spontaneously mentioned AutoTrader in terms of websites they used to advertise their vehicles. This represents a massive lead over competitors.
The research conducted by TNS also demonstrated that AutoTrader delivers the highest quality of leads - 46% of dealers said this - which is more than double that of competitors. Dealers also sell the most cars through AutoTrader.