AutoNation Employs Yext to Uphold Brand Consistency and Deliver Buyers to Dealers
"We began working with Yext as AutoNation took on the challenge of rebranding the largest automotive retail group in the country. We were in the midst of changing 26 brand names to one — updating thousands of business listings for 250 locations — so the platform was critical for us. Working with Yext has allowed us easily to manage business listings for brand consistency and ultimately to provide the best and quickest experience for our customers."
As the largest pure-play automotive retailer in the United States, AutoNation works hard to help people get from point A to point B. The Fortune 500 Company has been selling and servicing cars across America since 1996, and the brand’s widespread presence only continues to expand.
"Our customers are predominantly individuals, anyone buying and servicing vehicles," states Ryan Porter, Director of Content. "In 2015 we celebrated the sale of our 10 millionth vehicle. Ultimately, we want happy customers who recognize our brand name and want to do business with that brand name, for new and used car sales as well as the lifecycle of servicing, financing, and insuring. Essentially, we act as an agency to our dealers," he continues. "Our locations — what we refer to as ‘rooftops’ — support over 22,000 sales associates, combined. That’s a lot of people. And the automotive industry is heavily commission based. That sales associate is thinking about all the factors that touch the money he or she makes. Incorrect business listings, incorrect hours — those are factors that directly impact customers showing up at their dealerships or showrooms to purchase a vehicle."
Purchasing a car is not a decision consumers enter into lightly. As with home buying and job hunting, the choice a person ultimately makes will have a long term impact on family finances and all around lifestyle. "When you look for a television, you generally aren’t looking at 65 different options for a 55 inch set," Porter says. "Shopping for a vehicle, as opposed to a TV or some of these other larger ticket items, can become really overwhelming. Especially now, with online research, there are just so many options."
While online shopping has impacted the car buyer’s journey in a general sense, the rise of mobile is causing a particularly major shift in consumer behavior. "The timeline for buying a car is lengthy, and increasingly, we are seeing shoppers continue to browse mid-purchase," explains Porter. "Your average in-store car buying process takes over an hour. In that time, we’ll see customers — while they are physically in a dealership — still looking for other options on their mobile device. So mobile is beginning to play a much more important role to our business. We are now reaching past the 50% mark on mobile, in terms of site traffic."
AutoNation drives a massive rebrand, with support from Yext
Porter joined AutoNation in 2012, right before a pivotal period of company expansion. "When I joined the team, it was at a time that AutoNation was beginning to centralize marketing," he says. "At that time, we operated in 15 states, and each state had been a market of its own."
"We began working with Yext as AutoNation took on the challenge of rebranding the largest automotive retail group in the country," Porter recalls. "Previously we had names such as ‘Champion’ and ‘Marooney’ in South Florida, and ‘AutoWay’ in Tampa. We were ‘Go’ in Colorado. We were changing 26 brand names to one — updating thousands of business listings for 250 locations — so the Yext platform became critical to that effort."
"Business listings had until then basically been managed as a component of social media," he continues, "and as we started to rebrand, the social media team had the responsibility of ‘hey, on Day 1 of rebranding, we want each of these businesses to say AutoNation and not whatever it was before.’ That is what prompted us to look at the solutions out there, and this is where we came across Yext, its API, and its direct partnerships and integrations. Yext stood out as a resourceful platform that could help us accomplish our goal of making real-time branding updates as our business changed."
Yext’s industry-leading technology powers the local listings data for brands like AutoNation, helping them to manage and update location information for every local dealership, all from a single comprehensive dashboard. Unique to Yext is the global PowerListings Network®, with proprietary integrations that enable real-time updates across major online publishers, search portals, maps and apps, including Google, Apple, Bing, Facebook, Yahoo!, and more.
"Yext for the re-branding was great," concludes Porter. Since launching with Yext, AutoNation’s online presence has improved exponentially. Now with over 18,000 live listings, the company has increased its overall listings presence by 128%. 20,000+ addresses and 63,000+ phone numbers have been updated. Porter’s team has also added 73,000+ photos and 101,000+ special offers. With Yext’s help, AutoNation has also seen a 270% lift in search impressions.
"We continue to customize and incentivize the auto retailing experience," says Porter, looking ahead. "In a world that is increasingly mobile, location still matters. The car buying experience often starts from the comfort of one’s home but finishes in the retail establishment. At day’s end we want most to deliver the vehicle and celebrate the micro-moment of getting your keys. We want to spend more of that sort of time in the dealership, less of the decision-making and ‘what can I afford?’ sort of time in there, since you can do that through the comfort of your home or your workplace through digital tools." Concludes Porter, "Making Yext part of AutoNation’s infrastructure has allowed us easily to manage business listings for brand consistency and ultimately to provide the best and quickest experience for our customers."