Under the Radar over the Hump

*As written and published on December 10th of 2013

That’s Us Technologies is a driven, growing, and optimistic bunch

Rising in the ranks among young business leaders in Tampa, FL Matthew Brown has architected a growing internet business in the world of classified marketing for auto dealers called LotVantage. This following his success since 2006 after launching a SAAS model for the eBay consignment niche with a product that has become the industry standard to this day named SellerVantage. With his growing team of developers, as colorful and witty as one would expect a team perpetually living in “startup” mode, became interested in an apparent opportunity during the automotive industry’s slow transition from print to online advertising.

“Automotive purchasing begins online period.” says Matthew Brown.

“Let’s build a workflow that puts all of the relevant automotive channels right at the dealers fingertips.” The momentum created by this fundamental transition of print to online advertising posed opportunities to simplify this new world of automotive marketing. Internet directors at dealerships scrambled to get their arms around all of the nuances related to data feeds, posting ads, and lead management. There was no shortage of consumers not only beginning their auto searches online but also getting attune to buying cars in new formats like eBay auctions and from dealers advertised on classified sites like Craigslist.

Many advertising and website providers migrated to this arena as well to join the party in this dealer services space. “We were certainly not the first solution to market but our focus on the classifieds ads niche gave us our clear path.” says Matthew Brown. Many services have come and gone over the past couple of years but LotVantage is finding itself peering over the top of the heap in this highly competitive space.

According to Matt Brown he attributes the success to a day in day out drive towards continuous improvement and staying agile.

“When you can be agile and create software workflows for moving targets, you get to be the leader in the space.” says Matthew Brown.

The LotVantage software is an on-demand web-based product that is integrated with many powerful partner APIs. These APIs, in addition to Oracles JAVA technology extend our software’s capabilities around ad posting, vehicle data, lead delivery, multimedia and telecommunications. Integrated APIs include Google, Twilio, YouTube, Backpage, Chrome Data, Vinlink, NeoSpeech and others. The software delivers a full classified marketing solution for auto dealers to post ads and collect leads from landing pages, call tracking phone numbers, and mobile consumers.

LotVantage supports automotive business models of all sizes from small independent dealerships to franchise groups. LotVantage is also architected to support various value added reseller models through features such as single sign-on and scalable monthly pricing. That’s Us Technologies is poised to support exponential growth for LotVantage through strategic reseller partnerships and dealer direct sales channels. That’s Us Technologies will continue to expand LotVantage’s network by adding relationships in vertical markets.

Posted in Auto Industry, Backpage, Craigslist, CycleTrader, eBay, Facebook, LotVantage, software development, Tech Trends, That's Us Technologies | Leave a comment

Craigslist Changes, A Winning Formula

Have you ever looked at Craigslist’s styles and wondered how a site that looks unchanged can be so successful? Just because their minimalistic approach to web design appears to be from years past, don’t be fooled into thinking that they aren’t constantly improving the experience for both the buyers and the sellers on their site. If you take a closer look, the amount of improvements over the past couple years are vast in numbers and also in how they improve the lives of users everywhere.

Here’s A List Of The Most Recent Features That Have Been Added For Buyers:

  • Hide Ads – Sick Of Seeing A Car? Click The X And Hide It
  • Favorite Ads – Want To Remember A Car? Click The Star And Add It To Your Favorites To Follow Up On
  • Maps Of Vehicles Close To You, By Address, Dealership – Want To See All Vehicles Close To Home To Start Your Search? Use The Map
  • Search By Specific Fields In Each Category – Want To Limit By Transmission, Price, Color, Etc? Use The eBay-Like Filters
  • Scroll Through Images On Gallery View – Quickly Flip Through All Photos On The Gallery View Without Opening The Ad
  • Email Alerts – Like Your Search For That Classic Car? Setup An Email Alert To Notify You Of New Items
  • Save Searches – Want To Remember The Search For Later? Save It
  • Printable Flyers With Contact Info, QR Codes, All Photos Of Vehicles – Going To See A Vehicle And Want To Remember The Ad? Print View Works Like A Brochure With Photos, Contact Info And Even A Map!
  • Search Nearby Areas – Looking For Something Obscure? The Search Nearby Areas Option (Or Auto-Suggested Nearby Items) Will Help You Find More Specific Things

Here’s A List Of The Strongest Recent Features For Sellers:

  • Show My Other Listings — Maps Your Dealership, Shows All Inventory In One Place
  • More Required Fields — Direct Buyers To Your Specific Vehicles And Get Better Qualified Leads
  • Text, Email &Amp; Call CTAs — More Ways For Buyers To Reach You All Available From The Reply Button And On The Printed Flyer
  • “Search Nearby Areas” — Bring In Buyers From Surrounding Areas Without Having To Post Multiple Times.

On the surface, things may look the same, but there is a resaon that craigslist is still one of the top classified portals on the web. Keep your eyes peeled! We expect many more great changes to come from Craigslist in the near future.

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5 Reasons Why Craigslist is Still the Best Place to Shop for a Vehicle

It’s a consumers’ world in the car business. Shoppers have the advantage over dealers in many ways thanks to an increase in information available on the internet. Craigslist has been a strong way for car buyers to find local vehicles and that hasn’t really changed. If anything, it’s even better now.

Here are some of the things we like about Craigslist that make it superior to other automotive classified websites:

  • Every Listing is Created Equal: Unlike most of the other platforms out there, Craigslist does not offer car sellers a way to make their vehicle listings premium. The default listings come in chronological order, or visitors can sort by price. It’s a “pure” listing format, so there are no distractions through advertising. In other words, you won’t see a Hyundai ad next to your search for Honda Accords.
  • They’re Raw: Reminiscent to the old days of newspaper classified vehicle searching, Craigslist offers a raw methodology to their listings. Clicking on a vehicle yields some listings that are large, some that are small. Some are loaded with details, others have very limited information. It gives the consumer the ability to dive in and see the information they want if it’s available or to skip listings that are lighter.
  • Big Pictures: Before driving out to a dealership or a parking lot to see a vehicle, it’s great seeing big pictures. Other sites have images, but they’re usually not as big as the ones on Craigslist. We’re visual creatures – show us the pics!
  • Search is Simple: Every listing site has search. Craigslist search is by far the best, particularly with the keyword search component. Because the site allows so much information to be put on a vehicle listing page, the ability to hone in on the right car with the right features is better than the drop-down menus that many sites utilize.
  • The Best Deals: It might just be a perception. In fact, that’s almost certainly exactly what it is. It doesn’t matter. People feel better about getting a deal from Craigslist than on other sites. Still, the site itself invokes the concept of getting a great deal and there’s nothing you can do to burst that bubble.

Consumers love shopping for cars on Craigslist. Car sellers should love it as well.

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Quick Note: Posting in ALL CAPS Makes Your Listings Hard to Read

Caps Lock

There’s something strange happening on Craigslist, eBay Motors, social media, and other inventory listings pages. More dealers seem to be trying to highlight their listings by use all caps. Let’s see how that looks in the next paragraph.


This isn’t even as long as some of the paragraphs we see on dealer listings.

There is an argument that can be made that all-caps can be effective in headlines. For this, we have no objections because it’s much shorter. In fact, it may very well have an effect, though our data shows little difference. The words themselves are what really matter.

On listings sites, having the right message is more important than how you publish it, so if you’re dead set on all-caps, we won’t object. With that said, we recommend against it.

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Why Filling the Sidebar is Imperative on Craigslist

Data is everything online. Consumers love more information. They will spend a great deal of time researching a computer or getting more information about an appliance they’re considering. In the automotive industry, the love of data is even more pronounced.

Why, then, do most dealers leave some of the most important information off of their inventory listings? On some of the third-party sites, the reason is easy to see. They simply won’t take in as much information as the dealership wants to give or that the consumer wants to see. They are often limited to the basics – photo, price, miles, VIN, phone number. Sometimes, these listings don’t even allow for a map to the dealership.

Craigslist has mastered the art of data for consumers. It’s the reason that it has been so popular and continues to grow. They have the capacity, but many dealers are unable to take advantage of all of the space they have available for many reasons. Perhaps it’s because their posting software is limited. Maybe they aren’t able to get the information from the DMS to match up with the categories on the site. Regardless of the reason, many dealers have incomplete listings. This hurts in two major ways.

We’ve already discussed that people love information, but they really love the data that is potentially available in the sidebar. It’s very underutilized by many services in the industry, leaving incomplete listings floating around and not giving the dealer the best chance to sell the car.

Perhaps a more important problem with incomplete listings is that they help with searches. People will often search for particular keywords and a good chunk of these can be found by giving complete sidebar information to the listings. With incomplete listings, there are opportunities missed.

As Craigslist continues to be an exceptional source for leads and foot traffic to the dealership, the need to maximize the platform continues to rise. Shouldn’t you have a partner that specializes in innovating around these important listing sites?

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Car Shoppers Want All of the Details Before They Come In

Car Shoppers Want All of the Details Before They Come In
by Chastity Mansfield

Vehicle Details

The continued rise of information available online has made it easy for consumers to find every bit of information they need in order to make an intelligent decision before buying. Through the internet and mobile technology, there is no longer a need for obscurity. They want all of the details up front before they even drive to a dealership to see a vehicle.

There was a time in the automotive industry when everything was answered in person. It didn’t matter if someone asked whether or not a particular vehicle had wheels on it. The standard answer was, “Come on down and take a look for yourself.”

The reason for this wasn’t because car dealers were trying to be obtuse. They understood that the transaction, the excitement, and the communication was easiest when people were face-to-face. Nothing could happen over the phone. Even simple questions didn’t always have a simple answer, particularly when it came to price.

The internet has allowed consumers to have a better understanding before they leave their couch. Now, it’s up to dealers to be as transparent as possible with the information they make available to consumers while they’re online. Whether it’s on third-party sites or on the dealership’s own website, being descriptive in the form of images, videos, and vehicle details is extremely important for making consumers feel comfortable working with a particular dealership.

According to inventory posting company LotVantage:

A picture might say a thousand words, but the details you can put into the descriptions of your vehicles have a big impact on your ability to move those units. Sites like Craigslist and eBay Motors offer plenty of room to be as descriptive as you want, so use that space to its fullest potential.

It goes beyond the words. Images and videos give consumers a closer view of the vehicle before they make the drive. This can be especially important for distant consumers who are shopping online and forming a plan of action to come out to see a dealership.

Another thing to consider is the possibility that consumers will start buying cars online. It’s hard to imagine a good number of people purchasing cars through their computers, but as trust in online transactions rise and the stability of new vehicles improving, the possibilities that were once considered remote are becoming a reality. Sites like eBay have been selling cars directly online for a while now with some degrees of success while other companies are pioneering the idea to a broader audience.

According to AutoBroadcast:

The comfort zone is expanding, particularly for new vehicles. It’s harder to imagine buying a used car without a test drive, but new cars tend to perform consistently and at high levels. With the ability to see reliability studies, consumer reviews, and every possible specification regarding a new vehicle, we’re now in a place where the industry is ready for more eCommerce.

As society embraces the digital world as part of their everyday lives, giving as much information as possible to consumers is an easy way for dealers to differentiate themselves in a competitive market.

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Descriptive Ads Perform Best on Craigslist and eBay Motors

News Journalist

In the past, we’ve discussed the importance of pictures in your online inventory listings. That hasn’t changed, but it’s important that we make sure we don’t take away from the other important component of your listings: the descriptions.

A picture might say a thousand words, but the details you can put into the descriptions of your vehicles have a big impact on your ability to move those units. Sites like Craigslist and eBay Motors offer plenty of room to be as descriptive as you want, so use that space to its fullest potential.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re putting together your inventory descriptions:

  • Remember the Keywords: Both sites tell you not to try to “optimize” your posts to be able to come up in more searches. This is a somewhat misleading notion. You should definitely include keywords in your descriptions. Just make sure that the keywords are relevant. If it’s a convertible, be sure to note that in the description. The search algorithms cannot determine it’s a convertible if you don’t tell it so and people will definitely be searching for that option if it’s important to them.
  • Use Paragraphs: The easiest way to prevent people from reading your descriptions is to make everything one long paragraph. Break it up. Group them together. Use bullet points. One long paragraph will turn people away very quickly.
  • Tell the Vehicle’s Story: It isn’t just about listing all of the features. You want to tell what you can about the vehicle. Our posting tool will allow you to pull in descriptions that you plug into other sources, so having the words that tell the vehicle’s story can help to make your car more compelling. You don’t have to be a Pulitzer Prize winner to put together a good description. Just say it like it is.
  • Avoid Annoying Elements: It must say in some book that gives bad advice about inventory listings that you should use ALL CAPS in your descriptions because we see it used very often. This annoys readers and makes it challenging to read. Also, avoid colloquialisms or other loose types of speech. It’s fine to put personality into your listings, but you shouldn’t post things like, “This car is the bomb” or other phrases that make you sound immature. People like to buy vehicles from professionals.

By plugging in the right descriptions and using these best practices, you’ll see that your vehicles become more visible on these sites and that they convert better as well!

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How to use eBay to sell more vehicles

Some eBay dealers report that 70% of their sales are to consumers who have not physically seen the vehicle. If dealerships take care to appoint an eBay employee, the process can be very quick and easy. Dealerships are also reporting good sales of new vehicles on eBay as well as used. In Sara Dean’s article, she does a great job of sharing why eBay is a valuable resource for dealerships. She also mentions LotVantage as a company to help streamline the process of posting inventory to eBay.

How to use eBay to sell more vehicles

Posted in Automotive by Sara Dean

 Love My Car

Almost everyone is familiar with eBay and how it operates. For those who don’t know, a seller lists an item on the auction website and lets consumers bid on the item for a predetermined amount of time. The person who bids the most wins the item and the seller then arranges to distribute the item to the winning bidder. The seller can also opt to feature a Buy It Now button where consumers can purchase the item at a set price. Traditionally, eBay featured products from small businesses and individual sellers and was a great way to build their businesses, but the automotive industry quickly realized eBay’s potential and eBay motors was formed.

Many dealerships are hesitant to use eBay as a sales tool for their vehicles for many reasons. They fear that consumers will not want to purchase a vehicle sight unseen, they fear it will take up too much of their time, or they fear that they can only sell used vehicles on the site. All of these fears can quickly be disputed. Some eBay dealers report that 70% of their sales are to consumers who have not physically seen the vehicle. If dealerships take care to appoint an eBay employee, the process can be very quick and easy. Dealerships are also reporting good sales of new vehicles on eBay as well as used with companies like LotVantage helping them. The great thing about eBay is that it has a global reach so you can get in front of a larger consumer audience.

Here are some of the reasons that dealerships fail when they attempt eBay: Lack of Understanding on how to use eBay, Lack of Process at the dealership, Lack of Accountability, and Lack of Execution. How can your dealership remedy these issues? Train their employees on how to properly use eBay Motors. There are several sales tools on eBay Motor’s site that can help your employees understand how it works and to build a process for your dealership to succeed. When an effective eBay selling process is in place the following should be identified: What selling activity will be done? When the selling activity should be done. Who will manage each selling activity? What are the performance standards for each selling activity? When your dealership has a clear eBay selling process, it is a very successful outlet to reach millions of customers.

What should your eBay listing include? Photos are probably one of the most important features of your listing. Although stock photos are a great start, it is even better to have multiple quality pictures of the actual vehicle. Include both interior and exterior photos. It is also recommended that along with the Year/Make/Model and VIN, that a full vehicle description is listed in your post so that the consumer has as much information as they need in one spot. Include mileage and all options that are the vehicle are equipped with.

If you are new to eBay Motors selling, it is recommended to start with 10-20 vehicle listings so that you can easily maintain the inventory as well as see what is working for your dealership. You can then tweak the listings if needed to make them more effective. When you have figured out what works, you can slowly increase the inventory. It is also recommended that 50% of your inventory be made up of your new vehicle franchises brand, and 50% competitive make or conquest brand. The recommended amount of days to list vehicles on eBay is 7 to 10, but they can be listed for longer.

When you follow eBay Motors very detailed steps on how to sell vehicles on their website, you can have great success. There are several training tools on their website, and they hold various trainings that your dealership can sign up for. There are online webinars as well as physical trainings that your dealership personnel can attend to get a better understanding of how to use eBay as an effective selling tool to increase your dealership’s bottom line.

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How Inventory Marketing is Evolving in 2015

The car business is in a constant state of change. This is due to four factors: technology, consumer expectations, economy, and dealership/OEM priorities. One thing that doesn’t change is the need for dealers to market their inventory with solid strategies.

Let’s take a look at the factors that influence how inventory is marketed, then we’ll discuss the ways that dealers can take advantages of the changes that follow.


It wasn’t very long ago that dealers, vendors, and even OEMs would laugh at the notion of people shopping for cars on their mobile devices. Sure, the old flip phones and Blackberries has the ability to surf the net, but it was normally driven by very slow connections and the small screen experience was abysmal on most sites.

We’re not talking about decades ago. This was the way that mobile browsing worked for most consumers less than 7 years ago. It’s the most obvious example of how technological changes have influenced how our industry operates. It won’t be the last.

Consumer Expectations

Within the changing paradigm of consumer expectations are two primary factors that influence them: age and sentiment. Millennials, for example, were not of much interest to dealers a few years ago for the simple reason that most of them were not of car-buying age. Today, a good chunk of them are and more of them are entering into the market for the first time every day.

The other aspect, sentiment, is driven by the changing geo-political structure. It is mercurial compared to just a couple of decades ago when brands were able to maintain strong positive sentiment for long periods of time. Today, the public opinion about a company can change as the result of a public relations blunder, a consumer group attack, or even a simple Tweet that goes viral.

Consumers today are less loyal to individual brands but more influenced by changes in the sentiment about particular cars, manufacturers, and dealers.


We’re in a growth market. More people bought cars in 2013 than 2012. More people bought cars in 2014 than 2013. it’s up for debate whether this trend will continue in 2015.

It isn’t just about the condition of the general economy. There are other economic factors that influence the way that dealers should be marketing their inventory. For example, at the time of this article, gas prices are lower than they’ve been in years. This has an effect on sales of nearly all types of vehicles. The compacts, hybrids, and electric vehicles are less appealing than they were when gas was a dollar or two higher, while trucks and SUVs are more viable. This can change quickly.

Dealership/OEM Priorities

Depending on what’s in stock, a dealership has the need to push a particular model at any given point. Then, once you add in the requirements and incentives that the OEMs put out, they can put a focus on a different set of new vehicles.

The ability to be nimble and push the right inventory out to the right people is an extremely important part of inventory marketing in 2015.

What it All Means

All of these changes as part of the evolution of the car business means that dealers need to follow the best practices that seem to always be changing. There are always going to be new ways for dealers to market their inventory, but one thing definitely won’t change: you have to be everywhere.

We can all look at the way that things are changing and make the decision that we have to constantly change the way we market, but that isn’t necessarily the solution. Applying the data we have in hand to the various marketing venues is the key to successful inventory marketing in 2015. It can all seem very complex and in many ways it is. However, there are some things that are much simpler than they seem.

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Dealers Shouldn’t Abandon Third-Party Sites Just Yet

Put your inventory in front of more people on or off your website and you’ll generate more leads for yourself. That’s the modern strategy. In this article written by Jim Jabaay our VP of Sales, he dives into the importance of third-party sites and why many consumers prefer to shop on those sites rather than on a dealership’s own website. At the end of the day, it’s  getting your inventory onto as many external websites as possible but not relying on your company website alone to drive consumers traffic. We all know that the best leads are the ones that come directly from your own website, but you can’t force people to go there.

Multiple Targets

Here is a link to the article: http://www.drivingsales.com/blogs/lotvantage/2014/10/24/dealers-shouldnt-abandon-thirdparty-sites-just-yet

What do you think about his article do you agree? Leave your comments below.


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