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Derek West Discusses Data-Driven Marketing at Autobahn Auto Group

  • July 22, 2020
38 min read
Derek West Discusses Data-Driven Marketing at Autobahn Auto Group

Aharon Horwitz
CEO, Fullpath

Ilana Shabtay
VP of Marketing, Fullpath

Derek West
Advertising and Internet Director, Autobahn Motorcar Group

Derek West is the Advertising and Internet Director at Autobahn Motorcar Group, a well-known dealership that features leading brands like BMW, Land Rover, Jaguar, Porsche, Volvo, and Volkswagen. He started working in the car business while studying advertising and public relations and has since worked with Autobahn for 19 years. At Autobahn, Derek uses data-driven marketing to bring buyers from the marketplace into the dealership’s CRM—and ultimately into the showroom.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Aharon Horwitz and Ilana Shabtay introduce their guest, Derek West from Autobahn Motorcar Group
  • Derek talks about how he got started in the automotive industry 
  • The evolution of marketing in dealerships over the past 20 years
  • The online car buying experience versus the hands-on experience
  • Derek talks about the biggest change he’s seen in marketing during his career
  • The online platforms that help dealerships streamline the car buying process
  • The metrics that are important in paid advertising

In this episode…

Purchasing a car requires a lot of time, money, and research, which is why people want a trusted dealer to help them find the perfect vehicle. The in-person experience that solidified the relationship between dealers and customers for so long is rapidly changing as dealerships rely more and more on digital marketing. As car sales continue to move online—especially due to COVID-19—dealerships need to ensure that they preserve their brands and identities to replicate the personal approach to car buying that customers still want.

Join Aharon Horwitz and Ilana Shabtay in this episode of Inside Auto Podcast as they talk to Derek West, the Advertising and Internet Director at Autobahn Motorcar Group. Derek shares how he transitioned from selling cars during college to pioneering the digital marketing process at Autobahn. Derek also provides his insights into the ways that dealerships can adapt to meet their customers’ needs, his key digital marketing tools, and his unique method for connecting and understanding data.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by AutoLeadStar, a company that helps car dealerships engage quality customers on the web and convert them into car buyers.

Co-founded by Aharon Horwitz, Yishai Goldstein, and Eliav Moshe, AutoLeadStar’s state-of-the-art software automates a dealership’s entire marketing funnel and provides around-the-clock service for dealers.

AutoLeadStar’s innovative technology helps dealerships automate ads, connect with customers, and discover ROI and performance metrics

Visit their website at to learn more about their around-the-clock marketing service.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03


Welcome to Inside Auto Podcast where we feature everyone and anyone you’d want to talk to in and out of the automotive industry.

Ilana Shabtay  0:14


Ilana Shabtay and Aharon Horwitz here co host of the Inside Auto Podcast where we feature top leaders across the auto industry. Past guests and clients include pro basketball, football and baseball stars that own and operate fleets of car dealerships. Today’s episode is sponsored by AutoLeadStar. AutoLeadStar is pioneering smart marketing automation in the automotive industry. Built by top tier engineers and data scientists AutoLeadStar’s sophisticated machine learning future proof dealerships marketing operations and replaces traditional marketing methods. AutoLeadStar has been featured in over 10 Auto publications and works with more than 30 plus OEM brands. And before we introduce today’s guests, I want to give a big thank you to Marat Pashkevich from Shift Digital for making this introduction. Marat is a marketing consultant for Shift Digital and is a past guest of this podcast.

Aharon Horwitz  1:08


All right. Thank you Ilana. Guys, this is gonna be exciting. We have a guest today that I’m really excited about mainly because I have seen what he is capable of. He has shared with us kind of how he approaches data and insight is very different and unique from my kind of travels around the auto industry. And I’m just excited to talk to him. And so with no further ado, we’re going to have Derek West here today with us. Derek is sitting right now in Fort Worth over in Texas and Derek is the Advertising and Internet Director at the Autobahn Motorcar Group. And Autobahn is a well known dealership group. But it has some of the best brands in auto BMW Land Rover Jaguar, a Porsche Volvo Volkswagen has a Pre Owned store, and what Derek does at Autobahn Pretty much anything that has to do with that digital machine, that kind of unicorn that we’re all chasing in the dealership world of really tying together all the different pieces of what it takes to bring someone from the marketplace, which is, you know, Facebook or Google or wherever they happen to be coming, but probably Facebook or Google and into the CRM, and then really, at some point into either the showroom or virtual, or however the sales going to happen. Derek is exceptional from what we’ve seen and understanding and connecting data to that funnel. So Derek, welcome. We’re so excited to have you here

Derek West  2:35


to be here. And great to talk to you guys face to face and look forward to talking about all this stuff.

Aharon Horwitz  2:40


Awesome. So I see you. It looks like you’re in a dealership right now. Right?

Derek West  2:43


Yeah, this is my office.

Aharon Horwitz  2:45


Tell us about where you’re sitting which store you in right now.

Derek West  2:47


So I’m in the Jaguar showroom, actually, office right off the the main showroom floor.

Aharon Horwitz  2:53


Got it? Is that where you’ve been? So you’ve been with the group for quite a while for like 19 years? I understand. Right?

Derek West  2:58


Yes, correct. For the same office for 19 years, close. Now I’ve moved around I was in w Go figure. It was in BMW for a while, and then Porsche for a while office at home for six or seven years. And then came back here a few years ago, and the Jaguar showroom and the president’s office is here. So it makes it easy for us to talk about things in the conference room is gonna fix things.

Aharon Horwitz  3:21


So I’m very curious about you, because I know you studied at GCU you study advertising and public relations. When I look at your work and kind of from our interface with you, it seems to me that you are you’ve really built out kind of a culture of data driven decision making at the group. And if you could just tell me about your journey a bit. Ilana and I always like to know like, what brought you to automotive? What brought you to marketing in automotive and where did you pick up along the way that special superpower of your data-driven marketing using organic.

Derek West  4:03


So I started in the car business actually, when I was still in college. It was my later years and I was in my early 20s. And I sold cars for a few years and then decided to get back into school full time. And that’s actually around the time that the internet started coming on. This was like in the 90s, early 2000s. And so I went through school, studying advertising and then on my own, I was studying web design learned flash and Dreamweaver and that kind of stuff and create HTML, etc. and created started creating sites. So that was kind of a side thing while I was going through college, and then

Aharon Horwitz  4:38


when I graduated, Derek were you doing those for dealers or just just general?

Derek West  4:42


No, at that time, just myself? Well, just in general, just learning. I had gotten a couple. I

Aharon Horwitz  4:48


thought about Dreamweaver in a long time. That was like, I know. We were

Ilana Shabtay  4:53


like, No, I don’t even know what that is. It was

Derek West  4:58


november two semesters. Media products. You know, my Lord, they’ll be they’ll be bought them so. So

Aharon Horwitz  5:05


you were you’re basically self taught on like the Internet, and you were building websites, you’re just dabbling in that stuff for fun to kind of learn it. And then what happened?

Derek West  5:15


I, I graduated. And unfortunately, when I graduate, I had planned on going into the advertising industry, Fort Worth has some great agencies here. But unfortunately, at that time, it was a tough job market. And so I decided to apply to Autobahn to sell BMW. I knew how to sell cars, I knew I could do well at it. And after I got the job, I immediately started using what I knew about website, send marketing and other communications to to build my own site, in hopes that I could gain new customers and get referrals and do everything through what I know on advertising to sort of market myself.

Aharon Horwitz  5:57


I’m curious about this. So you were It’s really interesting point what you’re really talking about here.

Derek West  6:02


This was 2000. And in the very end to 2000. Okay, so

Aharon Horwitz  6:08


first of all, that’s right after bubble, or in the middle of bubble, essentially. And you basically were on this really interesting seam line between, you know, the, the analog world of, of automotive, and then the emerging early be one of digital right meaning, how many dealerships would you say,

Derek West  6:29


had a website? Not many, and the ones that the ones that they had, they were all, you know, I mean, you know, it’s new, so they were all, you know, pretty bad. I mean, they weren’t near what they are, you know, today. So what we’re

Aharon Horwitz  6:41


doing them like, what was the marketing? What was the marketing suite at the time for a dealer meaning what type of funnel Was there any digital activity at the time? Or was it all still, you know, the world of TV from phone books such as buses, newspaper, radio, it was Would you just yeah, just

Derek West  7:00


what you just mentioned. I mean, the internet was there. From what people could see at the time, you know, they knew that could work. It could have some advantages. But yes, it was still, you know, dealers were still doing classified ads and TV, radio, newspaper, that kind of stuff. So that was where when you came in, you were you were selling you came to sell cars, they had no idea that you were going to essentially revolutionize their digital marketing. Right? Right. Correct. So was it the same president, then that it is now? No, it’s different now. But

Aharon Horwitz  7:34


when you when you were in when you came in early, and you like, walked into that office, and were like, hey, I want to put a website together. How do they react to that?

Derek West  7:44


Well, they saw my site, they saw the one I did for myself first and so they’re like, oh, wow, well, why don’t you do this for everybody here, all the stores, you know, why don’t we transition you into a role where where you do that for all the stores and you know, You based on performance and give you a percentage and it was, you know, very attractive offer. Interesting. So

Aharon Horwitz  8:05


that was getting of digital marketing for Autobahn essentially.

Derek West  8:09


Yeah, we they did have one site before, but it was, you know, like, I mean, it’s, it’s who did it, it was just it just wasn’t what it could be. I’m

Ilana Shabtay  8:18


go ahead Ilana you’re doing this all while you were selling cars, or did you fully transition to marketing at that point?

Derek West  8:24


Yeah, I was. I was selling cars at the time. So yeah, you know, between eight to 14 cars a month and then doing this on the side and I built this BMW at the time had a process where you could order a car and so I built this little tracking system so customers could kind of follow their car where it was in the journey of all the way from pre production to when it was going to arrive at the dealership to help them feel have something to do while they’re waiting on their car. So so it was it was pretty unique time

Aharon Horwitz  8:55


it was that did people use it? That tool,

Derek West  8:58


I couldn’t track it. Like we would be able to today so, so but I think that they did based on, you know, feedback and, you know, I would get a call and the customer say, Oh, you know, I saw my cards on the ocean. So

Aharon Horwitz  9:14


that’s really cool. So I like Google ads. I mean, Google Ads launched what, like, early 2000. I mean, 2000 I think AdWords launched officially in 2002 limited advertisers. And then it you know, it spread from that. When When did you start dabbling in? I mean, when did your dealership start dabbling in? Let’s call it actually, let’s first of all before that, talking about the like endemics like the classified sites. When did you start working on autotrader, that type of world and when did you start working on the direct Google advertising Facebook advertising?

Derek West  9:48


Sure, so on and auto trader, etc. We did those pretty quick first year to save time, I always hated the idea of putting our inventory out there. for other people to gain from and sell advertising around and everything, but we did it because we knew it was necessary. And we don’t have anymore. But we do use Autotrader. Still when we use CarGurus still, but those are definitely not near what what, you know, AdWords. At that level, I mean, through the last 20 years remained a really strong, very, actually the strongest probably marketing tool that we have. So it’s very important. Yes.

Aharon Horwitz  10:34


Because I think like, essentially, Google Ads is basically saying, We’re the marketplace we have all right, is there a direct audience filter, so to speak? So I guess the transition, I see that, you know, maybe when I think about the evolution of dealer marketing, there was a time where dealers were like community hubs, they were, they own their customer base, they had relationships, people bought cars generationally, and, and then as things moved online, And at first, the internet was a wild west. And you know, dealers would throw websites and pictures and no one had inventory and some sort of inventory. And the neighbor was like, Oh, they put up in the garage, put up inventory. No one had prices, then they’re like, Oh, they put up prices. I just like, that’s how it evolved. Right? It was kind of an arms race, a digital arms race. And at some point, I think the dealers missed the fact that like, you know, when they were being essentially mediated by the classifieds online, they were becoming a number they’re coming to URL, they’re coming on, you know, price, they were kind of they were losing our identity as a brand and as a as an entity, like they used to have for the, you know, hundred years prior to or seven years prior to internet. Do you feel like your direct efforts, say like Google Facebook place where you control the pathway to market so to speak as best as you can today? Do you feel like you’re able to restore some level of that like identity and that a presence in that brand differentiation or is that last forever? In your mind?

Derek West  11:59


No. Yeah, I think I think it’s a, it’s, it’s, I think we can definitely control it. And I think that a lot of customers over the years, tried some of those things. And ultimately, you know, they figured out that they’re buying the car from the dealership and establishing a relationship with the salespeople and the, the gyms and the service advisors and all the other people that are part of the group. So I think that the next time you know, when they bought a car, they just came straight back to the dealership again. So I think people still use some of those tools and it can be helpful, you know, especially for the pre on market where where, you know, no cars the same, finding that special color or that special interior options or whatever. I think it can be helpful for that. But for the most part, we’ve really seen our customers coming straight to us to our website, you know, via email or phone call text messaging to you know, a lot of our sales reps, keep great relationships. with customers through text messaging, so the direct relationships definitely still very strong.

Aharon Horwitz  13:05


And in your own kind of work, do you have a lot of contact even though you’re kind of orchestrating the marketing? In a sense, you’re you’re looking at screens right to do that? Do you do have contact with customers now to make that a practice to be in touch with them? Like, what’s your personal engagement? Out of curiosity?

Derek West  13:21


And I think it varies in different dealerships throughout the country on what the level of contact would be. I don’t have much actually though. You know, I was in sales so long ago that I’ll still see a name that’s familiar here and there and you know, if I get a chance I’ll I’ll, I’ll try to meet up with somebody who bought a car from me 20 years ago, because actually, I saw customer’s name the other day that bought a defender from us and he was, you know, I sold him and his family and BMW back in 2001. So and that’s an example you know, long term customer that keeps coming back with, trust us with his family and friends. So but not too often. But I’m not opposed to it. It’s just you know, it’s been a while since I sold so, yeah, it’s pretty incredible. Go ahead Ilana.

Ilana Shabtay  14:07


I was gonna say it’s pretty incredible. They come back in 19 years and it’s pretty, it’s more, it’s more impressive, but you can remember their name.

Derek West  14:16


Well, thanks, thanks.

Aharon Horwitz  14:18


Yeah, I had a experience going to a dealership where I’m from in Ohio. And I was like talking to them. They’re like, I think I know your name. And they were like, oh, you’re you’re like grandfather bought a car here. And like 19 like, right when he got after world war two or something like that. There’s they had his record still in like a little old box in the back. But it was very, it was hard to have that happen. Yeah, it’s amazing. Yeah.

Ilana Shabtay  14:46


So Derek, where do you see the biggest change since you’ve started in marketing? I think

Derek West  14:50


it’s communication. Just what, what’s happened with communications over over the last 20 years. You know, kind of what you guys We’re talking about the beginning. You know, for the, for so many years, the car business was the same from the 50s, to the 60s 60s to 70s you, you drive around town, you go shop, you haggle, you do all of these things, and it just stayed the same. I mean, despite a few, a few small changes, I mean, it’s, it’s kind of funny to me. You know, I’m, I’m sure you guys have seen him to vacation with with the griswolds. And the, you know, the whole experience of buying a car where, you know, he goes, I think the world kind of had this idea of what it was buy a car. And I think that movie kind of encapsulated it when he went down to the dealership, and Eugene Levy was his car salesman and, and he was trying to buy the family truckster and, and he was even trying to show this it was like a rite of passage deal to the son showing him how to buy a car. So so I think communication, though, has really just completely taken us out of all of that and and now you know, it’s It’s changed with the convenience and the support of effective websites and other technology. The it really helps streamline the process the real process of purchasing a car and, and servicing the car for everyone involved and for the better, you know, for that matter, I mean, it’s an easier process now it’s quicker I mean, you’re not going to a dealership for six hours you I mean, if you want you can just I mean we have we have a system where we can get everything done up front and the customer can just come and then sign and leave and we can even do the delivery later at their convenience. Why don’t you so how long

Aharon Horwitz  16:37


is that? Is that your own system? Are you using a platform

Derek West  16:42


it’s a combination of things we use we use a lot of we use dealer inspire for website, which I love them because they use the WordPress platform, which is just excellent for SEO purposes, for structure for being able to modify it I’d actually learned WordPress you know, years ago. So it helps me with, with, with making changes being super familiar with it. So he’s dealer inspired for a lot of stuff. And then we used their product online shopper for stores and then we recently also started using roadster to experiment and to test and we did that with a few stores. And you know, we were able to look at the data and look at the leads and look at the traffic and stuff and we’ve made a decision on which way we’re going to go. I don’t know if you want me to say or not, but they’re both good products.

Aharon Horwitz  17:35


Yeah, I think they’re both really I mean, I know those two companies I know that people those companies, they’re very very good products. I think like you know, in automotive they’re like Apple level I mean they have that feel of like really high quality high value products do inspire and roadster I mean, I guess I am curious. I don’t know if it’s like you don’t need to reveal them. It’s public, but it’s not public, but it is curious just to see what we’re

Derek West  17:59


Well, it’s tough because they’re both good. But we’re, we’re going to go with roadster, we, we just signed on the other four, four stores or foreshores closed on yesterday. But prior to that we actually, you know, before those technologies, it was it was kind of a, it was a hard balance for us because, you know, we still wanted to maintain control and to maintain that pace that we do of getting customers to come here to meet people to get to know that environment to get to know our sales reps and feel comfortable and then make the decision and not rush through it. So we set things up like actually had a Ford slash streamline for all of our stores to where people could see, oh, if I want to streamline things, here’s what I can do. I start with, you know, picking the car and then I go on to the credit application that’s done. You know, I can I can go and I can save a few hours at Autobahn, you know, they’ll have everything ready for me to sign so So prior to these two, we kind of did it on our own. But then these two kind of, you know, forget the saying that, you know, they have taken us to the next level, especially with being able to sign signed documents and everything and do home deliveries and stuff like that. So, yeah,

Aharon Horwitz  19:12


you know that that probably became important, you know that there was a certain urgency around. It sounds like you were prepared, but I think every dealer, it’s felt even more fuzzy around the experience of the past few months and being fully prepared to do as contactless you know, selling as possible. But tell me on that front, and then I want to go back to marketing step for a minute on that crime. Do you like I’m curious, you know, a purchase like a, you know, a Porsche of BMW, it just doesn’t seem to me logical, despite the hype, to think that the next few years, people are gonna wanna just, you know, check out from the cloud and get a car show up at their house. And it seems to me that there’s something about you know, touching it, feeling Driving and having experience of walk in the showroom, it still appeals to certain brand by buyers of certain brands. And I’m curious, did you see I assume you saw a significant dip in showroom traffic? Right, in some cases shown for down? Have you seen floor traffic come back up? Since things were relaxed?

Derek West  20:18


Yeah. Yeah. I mean, in March, when all of this initially happened. I mean, it was it was like nothing that any of us had ever seen. Again, just you know, through I mean, going back any number of years, so, and, you know, you just didn’t know what was gonna happen. And the showroom traffic did did completely just, you know, drop off a cliff and for for a short time, actually, the shows were Oh, yeah. So. So we’re in Texas, so things were a little bit different for Texas than they were for some other states. So fortunately slow. We were able to leave service and parts open fully, although they have limited hours. But yes, I mean, to answer your question, March beginning of April, it was just, you know, it’s just really, I mean, scary, for that matter, and not just for car sales, but just for all of us. I mean, just for everything going on or our families, and, you know, so many people were being affected and just, you know, it was all you all that’s on the news. So, so yes, it did drop off, though, in April, in May, it, it picked up substantially, especially, it seemed like people started feeling a little bit more comfortable. And I think some of that was due to, you know, knowing that the local businesses were following CDC guidelines and, and, and local ordinances, you know, following directions and doing things to make sure that the customers would feel safe. So, so yeah, we did see it, you know, come back either way. So I’m

Aharon Horwitz  21:53


really I mean, do you Where do you stand on like, how digital is it going to get in the next five years is in Do you think that the dealership is just going to be a drop shipping warehouse? for cars? Or do you think that there will continue to be a desire on the part of consumers to have that test drive to have that salesperson to know where their cars gonna be service? Where do you fall out on that?

Derek West  22:16


Um, it’s funny, if I base my future prediction on just like the past month or two, it’s actually I think we’re going to see both, I think, offering sales and service choices for customers, so they feel safe and are safe, and giving them that option on how they want to buy their car. So so so we’ve had them kind of, you know, at one end of the spectrum, no, I don’t want to come to your showroom. You know, how can you deliver the car for me? What’s that process look like and our sales reps, walk them through it. And same with service. You know, our service advisors. We actually put a message on our website that said, you know, if you if you want to talk through any of this with exactly what we can provide for you, please call our service advisors and But covered on the phone with you. But then surprisingly, and I think that surprised all of us actually a good majority or a good amount, can I still come to the showroom and buy the car? And sure, yeah, I mean, we’ll, we’ll do it in a socially distant distance way. And, you know, everything’s clean and your car will be in the delivery Bay, and there won’t be any other customers around. And, and so I think when, when they were able to talk to us and feel like we had it under control, and they would be safe here, you know, that they felt comfortable with coming in. So, to get back to more to your question, I think that we’re going to continue to see that spectrum, especially as COVID rates in like, you know, continue to rise, I think we’re still going to see all that, you know, some people will want to do everything online, some people will want to do it traditionally. And then there will be a very wide range actually just in between, like, Okay, well, I want to come to the dealership, but can I just do ABC and you know, or, or whatever. So I think I think what what we need to do as a dealer and what dealerships need Do is, is continued to just listen and offer a wide variety or spectrum of how we can meet the cause. Yeah, I mean, it’s an interesting

Aharon Horwitz  24:15


conversation probably having a dealers and internally as well because we we like our I guess our position is that it’s gonna exactly as you said it’s a spectrum, it’s gonna be hybrid you have to be available for whatever the deal the consumer wants, why not? But that thinking about e commerce or it’s a bigger question than just what your shopping cart is, you know, or what your checkout processes it’s about a whole way of approaching the kind of engagement and nurturing lifecycle of a customer over the course of their car buying lifetime. And, and I think that for us has sort of been our focus, you know, our tools tend to be upper funnel right now, but we do a lot of data mining in order to be more effective in the upper funnel to advertising The conversion optimization site, but um, you know, but if we think about it very holistically and I think that that’s that that’s gonna align, we think that’s gonna align with experience, you know, you need to have all that. It’s not about that it’s, it’s the urgency should immediately piece in place, or it should be to build a functioning stack of marketing. Yeah, you’re exactly right. We’ll ask about that a little bit. In terms of rituals.

Ilana Shabtay  25:27


Yeah, I’d love to know what you’re using Derek right now,

Aharon Horwitz  25:31


I’m worried. I mean, it’s we’re always interested like, you know, share whatever you will, like what are your core go to Tools, you know, there

Derek West  25:37


will definitely be analytics was a was at the top of the list for all of the things that it could provide with website traffic numbers, traffic sources, bounce rates, time on site, new versus returning, you know, which pages got the most traction. So you know, we could quickly learn that, aside from the homepage that our specials page was the most popular page and so we knew to give that a lot of attention. And then to change it out on a monthly basis. So I think all of that was important, and it still is important. But now at the same time, I think that dealerships, dealership management knows that websites work. And the better the site, the more business you’ll get. And, you know, I think we also know that half the half our customers are on mobile. So we’ll continue to watch analytics. And it can come in very, very handy. Like some of the graphs I’ve sent you showing, you know, where we were before we started with you guys. And then spending the same amount where we went, I mean, Google Analytics was paid off for that. But I think we’ve moved into more of an area where the our cDk ealey. One dashboard has gotten a little bit important with the the track tracking and the metrics that we can get from it with incoming leads and with how it tags are leads automatically. So that’s no longer determined by The sales rep, you know, saying they drove by, you know, all right, whatever. So, so all of the incoming leads are now being tracked or have been for a while. And so we can see which channels and mediums are working better and not. So we look at things like the number of leads, sold, closing ratios, appointments, appointment ratios, demos, write ups, a Pre Owned appraisals, you know, look to book things like, Okay, well out of how many, you know, the salesman had 12 appraisals, how many of those did did we get? We get half to one, you know, is there a problem is or is this guy doing a sales rep doing extraordinarily good job. So that’s, that’s been helpful too. And then, with some of the stuff like we mentioned a little bit earlier, then just what we ran into with reporting is it can get very fragmented, and you’d have to run a report for this and you’d have to run a report for this, and then you’d have to put the together and combine everything there wasn’t just this one great way to see all of the data in one view and in a quick view and that was a lot of numbers. So earlier this year I started using a spreadsheet database hybrid and I created some some of our own dashboards for us to look at where we can track everything with the quick easy to view graphs, charts, you know, just very easy to see the data in real time any way we wanted from month to month and so we could compare month not so I’d say that’s where we’re at now we still use the lead and V file so then you can you can go in and that other tool to take a closer look and and and monitor things like when we with those tools a very quick turnaround with our within sales within our PMA we can see you know zip codes that that started increasing, and, and other, you know, all kinds of interesting stuff. So I think that’s where we’re at now.

Aharon Horwitz  29:07


Um, that’s great. So, and it was very cool to see the charts. Thank you for sharing them. We spent some time on it today. And I actually want to touch on some my, my product people, but we, you know, it’s interesting. So in that case, I mean, you know, you have a really nice kind of aggregator, you know, pull into your own database setup. Do you like, do you log into the individual apps that you use out of curiosity? Like, do you log into AutoLeadStar, you log into the lead you log in? Or do you pretty much just rely on your views and you don’t need to go and no, no, I definitely,

Derek West  29:42


you know, rely on other things, too. And I have to tell you, it’s not just because I’m talking to you, I would tell anybody this. You all’s reports are absolutely the best. And they’re appreciated because you can just tell that your team took a lot of times To figure out how to take a lot of complicated information, like if you’ve ever tried to go into Google Analytics or AdWords, and create reports, it can be very difficult. It can be time consuming, jumping back and forth between, especially if you’re a multi multi carline dealership jumping back and forth between all the stores and everything so, so hats off to your team for developing just these great reports that you send us. And it’s great because we get them on the first or the second of the month. So it’s just very relevant information. And it’s divided into just very easy to view, easy to determine, you know, if things are working, not working, which are working, by the way. So, so yeah, we love your reports. And I use reports from other other companies too. And I’ll go into dashboards on occasion. But not too much. A lead is probably the one that has the most time in the

Aharon Horwitz  30:55


day. Yeah, got it. Okay. Very interesting. And I guess if you are This time, we’re always always discussing as well, when we, when we look at paid, let’s take, you know, search or general paid advertising. The major metric we’re always trying to solve for is essentially, you could call it cost per lead, but it’s really about more quality leads for the money you’re gonna spend, you know, so essentially derived, it devolves, the cost per lead, but obviously, whenever cost per quality lead, right, there’s, you can get as many leads as you want if you’re willing to not get quality leads. So, no, I think that for us is like our key metric, meaning we tend to not care about click through rate and kept it and not care about, you know, and positioning. It’s all about that final kind of terminal point of, can we get in more quality leads for this dealership, they’re going to convert to sales at the, the, you know, again, the right price or for how much they’re willing to put into the market. Do you have another metric on the I guess paid marketing Have you care a lot about out of curiosity?

Derek West  32:02


Uh, no, I think it’s just that I think it’s our own sales rates and, you know, having a constant pulse of the kind of traffic that we’re getting the kind of traffic you know, the, the managers will, will tell me, Hey, you know, man last week was really great, or last month was really great. Did we do anything different? or whatever? Like that qualitative look from your managers? Yeah. And, you know, that’s a great advantage to being here, too. It’s a little bit more, you know, they can stop by my office when they’re headed over for something to say, you know, what about this? Yeah, this is going well, like our parks director for BMW called us called me about a month after we had started with you guys and he is like, you know, and I’m just I’m just telling it like, trying harder you but, you know, he’s just like, man, I don’t know what happened, but big changed and we’re just getting so many more calls and emails for accessories. And that was great to hear. BMW is one of our biggest stores and so I presume you know for if that’s happening for BMW I’m going to presume that it’s happening for the other stores too and maybe haven’t heard about it yet. But you know, to hear that is really, you know,

Aharon Horwitz  33:13


good that’s really cool actually that’s interesting Did you I’m just I want to check your account real quick. Did you activate on BMW? Did you activate the parts objective?

Derek West  33:25


I think we did. I’m pretty sure we didn’t

Aharon Horwitz  33:28


we didn’t see parts activity, even if we don’t turn on the parts activity meaning parts accessories, it’s nice, but we just I don’t know if it’s public yet. So this may be the reveal but

Ilana Shabtay  33:39


it’s still in beta Aharon

Aharon Horwitz  33:41


okay, sorry. It’s in beta excuse me product team. Really cool. Parts objective in acquire which is our which is the tool Derek’s talking about that runs, paid search, social and display. So it’s actually something we’re testing out a bunch of stores and playing around with like, how do we get really plugged into Google Shopping, kind of ad placements and opportunities in Facebook shopping and you just try to get parts out there because we think there’s some dealers that make that’s very important strategy piece for them now some, some don’t care. Some do. So that’s very nice. Wow, this was cool. This is a great conversation. Derek, very, very interesting. Um, I think, you know, in terms of my takeaways just from interacting with you and also seeing through forwards and other previous conversations you’ve had with art with our team, you have a certain advantages because you you have a background in kind of computational thinking and you know, you know, how to structure data, you know, how to organize you know, how to write some basic code books, to put things together. It’s just a big advantage when it comes to an in house leader around marketing. And I think that’s, that’s very apparent with you, and I think dealers that want to be, um, it also lets you assess SAS like ours, you know, software as a service type platform. Like, I think If you are a future oriented dealer, it’s pretty imperative to have in in the in that headquarters, someone with that level who has that that same kind of toolkit that you essentially, you know, fell into because that general generational transition you were, you went through in those early 2000s. You, you saw the internet in March. I just think that’s so critical these days, and people will can actually understand data statistics. dealers are very good with all the there’s so naturally good around, everything has to do with selling cars. But when it comes to like looking at a Google Analytics or Google Ads dashboard, and actually figuring out what does it mean, and understanding how to set up the tag, manage the tags on the site, and on all the campaign, it’s just a different world that requires a dedicated person to kind of own that type of space and who comes with those tools. So it’s very great. Autobahn was very lucky to have that and it was very interesting and enlightening speak with you. And we really appreciate it. We love you guys and we love choosing so Ilana Anything you want to add to it?

Ilana Shabtay  36:02


No, it just it was great meeting you as well. Derek, I know I see some of your stuff I see the stuff that you share in air table. It’s It’s incredible to see how, how well versed you are in marketing and an automotive. So it’s a real pleasure to have you on our show.

Derek West  36:17


Thank you. Thank you. Thank you both.

Aharon Horwitz  36:19


Amazing. Okay, that is Derek West from the Autobahn Motorcar Group over in Dallas Fort Worth, and we really enjoyed it. Thanks, Derek. Alright,

Derek West  36:27


thanks. Bye, guys.

Outro  36:32


Thanks for listening to Inside Auto Podcast. Check out our other episodes with top entrepreneurs and industry leaders.

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