As a small business owner I had to find a business model that provided me with exceptional product and service offerings with little to no overhead. (I am not independently wealthy and had to utilize every bit of savings I had to survive this past year but I did it.) When choosing who to work with I looked for transparency and integrity and found it with Lotlinx, a referral from a good friend of mine, George Magda… This however had been put to question lately.
Jeff Collins, Ecommerce Director ofAutoMax Auto Group, called me the other day and told me we had a problem. When you only have a few small handful of clients this can be scary to hear…”Since on boarding with LL there has been a mysterious referral showing up in his GA account that has thrown his remarketting out of whack”…. Immediately he saw traffic coming from dealer5.com a mysterious 3rd party vehicle listing site, and the traffic was not positive. The site was giving him impressive amount of referrals but 100% bounce rate at 0 page views… a WTF moment began to happen.. This was bordering on dangerous. Where did they get his DATA! Each view on dealer5.com became a referral in his GA account. This was at the feed level…
Nobody had heard or seen anything about dealer5. The site was gross, no way to connect to the dealership website, vdp and had a unique phone number associated with it… I called Jason Knight from Lotlinx, it wasn’t them.
For the past week Jeff called his vendor partners to track it down. All data pointed to LL… unfortunately that did not jive with the Lotlinx business model. Lotlinx gets paid by unique referrals and performance only. They track this by a code that is placed within their network which redirects a consumer to the dealership VDP from a 3rd party inventory listing site. Lotlinx is clearly sourced in GA as a stand alone referral and matches up with the Lotlinx dashboard quite well…D5 referrals never showed up on the dealership VDP.
Since according to the data it started the same day LL did the coincidence concerned him, a lot….Working together we jumped into action. Knowing we had little time to make sense of it in order to save the “account” we partnered to solve the issue. … hopping into the code of the site and diving into the ux we began to find some clues. Lotlinx only connects the consumer with the dealership and makes it easy to do so. The only way to contact the dealer on D5 was to email the vdp to a friend. So we did. I emailed it to myself. We called the phone number and found it was a tracking number that matched with a block of numbers that the dealer had. By double checking we discovered that dealer5 was an entity that”craigslist” was using to drive additional views for the dealership, unfortunately they never disclosed this to the dealer nor provided any real value.
The problem was this:The GA account showed traffic because of the tags in the feed but it never trafficked customers from D5 to the actual dealerships website. Unlike Lotlinx which delivered real shoppers, D5 and Craigslist created inflated traffic numbers that were detrimental to the strategy not complimentary. Dealers watch out for this! Look at your referral sites and see what the data shows. Your GA may not be perfect, your vendor partners may not always have the right answers but true partners will be transparent and will be happy to find the answer to your problems.
I loved working with Jeff on this and hope we never have to do it again.
p.s. Eric Miltsch just asked what did we do to fix it? Jeff canceled the feed from craigslist to D5, simple fix…