What do you do when your website is already at the top of its game? Well, if you’re Really Good Domains you make it even better. RICHARD AUCOCK finds out how they did it
CAR makers do it all the time: launch a new version of an existing model. Really, it’s sometimes tricky to see why they’re doing it – after all, the old car is still selling really well. Why bother bringing out a new look, new features and other flash tricks?
The sales figures soon show the reason why. Customers start flocking in. Sales go up. The buzz outside the showroom makes that model plain easier to promote against rivals. It’s simply a more effective proposition – despite not losing any of the strengths of the old one. Smart stuff.
Which is why Richard Lawton, marketing manager of Really Good Domains, has taken note. His firm, which collectively boasts almost two million visitors every single month to its portfolio of websites, is the brains behind SaveMoneyOnCars.co.uk. This is a site that, since launch, has worked amazingly well for car dealers. Indeed, this has continued to be the case, even recently.
‘However, the old website could have been described as aesthetically weary,’ he admitted to us. ‘The visuals, while still acceptable, were not as polished as many consumers now demand from their websites.’
Furthermore, there was a whole host of extra tech he wanted to install, giving car buyers lots of new features to help them along the process. Enter SaveMoneyOnCars.co.uk mkII – an entirely new website, built from the first line of code upwards.
‘SaveMoneyOnCars.co.uk has always been the most effective way to advertise new and nearly new cars on the internet,’ MD Dave Timmis told us.
‘The old website has been one of the biggest drivers of traffic to websites in the motoring industry, as confirmed by Experian Hitwise, for several years. During the past year we identified areas of the website that could be further improved, and this led us down the path of building a new website from scratch. Everything about the new site has been dramatically improved.’
Lawton added: ‘While the old site has been very popular with car buyers and dealerships alike, Really Good Domains isn’t a company that rests on it laurels. As part of the company’s strategy of renewing the whole portfolio of automotive websites it’s the turn of SaveMoneyOnCars.co.uk to receive the treatment.’
All the fundamentals remain the same. It still lets car buyers access thousands of new and nearly new cars, from some of the biggest car dealers in the country. However, the new site is built on a different programming language, so everything about it is entirely new.
What’s been done to it? Lawton tells us a key boost has been the introduction of CAP vehicle data. This lets advertisers ‘align car deals displayed on the site to the exact specification contained within CAP data’.
It means visitors can really drill down into the data, and opens up thousands of additional pages for the search engines to index.
Lawton said: ‘Car dealers can quickly and easily get their deals onto the site, either by using the intuitive and fast web-based advertiser console; alternatively, the website also accepts a variety of industry-standard feed structures.’
Making the big website much easier for all concerned. And, big it indeed is – indeed, it’s the number one new and nearly new car website, says Lawton.
Note the differentiation here: ‘There are a huge number of buyers that aren’t interested in a “used” car: we cater for anything up to three years old, meaning every car still has some manufacturer warranty. Such a single segment orientation also ensures the visitors are all high-quality.’
Lawton puts figures on just how big it is. The site, he says, has 400,000 monthly visitors, and a staggering 1.5m page views every single month.
Such growth has come in a rush since the site was launched in the summer of 2003. The genesis behind it, Lawton revealed to us, was based around another site owned by Really Good Domains, ContractHireAndLeasing.com. The idea there was deals rotating around the website, depending on when they were added to the site.
‘As more deals are added, older deals fall down the results page,’ he said. ‘Advertisers can then manually renew their deals, which push them back to the top of the list. Alternatively, an advertiser can use AutoRenew on a selection of deals, which randomly renews a deal every 15 minutes.’
It’s an extremely clever and innovative method that has seen the firm grow big over the past decade. Along the way, it’s been well supported by car dealers – because, explains Lawton, it isn’t a price comparison model. ‘Car dealers concerned with trying to hold onto skinny margins needn’t cut them to the bone,’ he said.
‘Sure, prices displayed need to be competitive, but as users of the site cannot sort deals by price, the website works on exposure. The more exposure your deals have, the more enquiries are generated.’
Car buyers also love the URL. Lawton admits dealers may not be so keen, but for those ‘looking for a bargain’, it’s just what they’re after. What’s more, the clever marketing and targeting tools ensures BOTH dealers and customers get a good deal.
Various packages are offered for dealers, says Timmis. The full package comes with a flat monthly fee, and allows all makes and models to be advertised: ‘In actual fact, up to 13,000 deals!’ This is done through either a web-based login panel, or an xml data feed. With no cost per car, or week, or pay per click, advertisers can budget accordingly.
There are also two ‘Lite’ versions of the login – offering the same features as the full package, but for a single marque. Great for single-make franchises and specialists. There is a feature-laden statistics package offered, too.
Lawton presses home the point about no pay-per-click, or PPC, dependence. ‘Our search engine derived traffic is all ‘organic’ – from people clicking on the natural search engine results, not a sponsored listing,’ he explained.
Experian Hitwise regularly places SaveMoneyOnCars.co.uk in the top five websites sending traffic to car dealer websites.
He shows us dozens of testimonials on the site, proclaiming its value for money: ‘For many car dealers this website equates to the cheapest cost per lead of all their marketing, and has become a fundamental cornerstone of their online marketing strategy. Featuring a raft of new features, and built on an entirely new platform, the new SaveMoneyOnCars.co.uk builds on the success of the old site by being an improvement in all respects.
‘Crucially, however, the main principle of the website remains unchanged – providing car dealerships with a highly visible platform to advertise new and nearly new cars to an eager, large, and importantly high quality audience.’
To find how you can get involved call 0161 482 7650 or email [email protected]