Autobytel

Autobytel

Autobytel.com was launched in1995 in Irving, California by popular local 80’s car dealership owner Pete Ellis as an internet company specializing in automotive media and marketing services. It was one of the first businesses of its kind in the automotive genre, with a history of innovation. It was the first internet company of any kind to have an ad during the SuperBowl in 1997. Today, the site serves over 10 million automotive consumers, helping them research vehicles, connects dealers with car buyers nationwide and provides brand marketing for major automakers. 

The Good

  • Serves dealers and consumers
  • Great tools
  • Customized app

Autobytel serves both automotive dealers and consumers, in that order.

For Auto dealerships, Autobytel offers automotive dealers tools to manage their business.

Specific products include:

  • The Rapid Response program, designed to connect dealers to online customers via phone
  • The Email Manager program, which manages long-term email campaigns on behalf of the dealership
  • LeadCall, a live call program that sets in-dealership appointments and scores customer readiness to buy for auto dealers.

Through Autobytel's marketing network, the company provides both automotive dealers and manufacturers with what they claim to be productive and cost-effective brand and product marketing opportunities.

Autobytel also provides consumers with a comprehensive and positive automotive research and purchasing experience. When it comes to resources, the site hits on all cylinders with a:

  • payment calculator
  • vehicle history report
  • comparison tool
  • recommendation tool
  • trade-in value tool

These tools are all on one website, providing convenience and full preparation for consumers to make a viable vehicle purchase.

Note: The Trade in Value calculator is actually a Kelly Blue Book (KBB) calculator widget on the website.

In addition to its valuable research features, Autobytel offers important shopping features to help consumers buy, sell and maintain their vehicles, including:

  • new and used car research
  • new and used car price quotes supplied by dealers and other vehicle sellers
  • used car vehicle listings and information with links to providers of insurance, auto finance, and other products and services

If your credit is not the best, Autobytel attempts to make it possible for consumers unable to secure loans through conventional lending sources to obtain vehicle financing from dealers or finance institutions through Autobytel's Specialty Finance Lead Program.

Where some auto consumer sites have one or two top ten recommendation lists, Autobytel offers a full list of recommendations in specific categories that are relevant to what car shoppers are looking for. Here's what the list looks like:

  • Top Ten New Cars
  • Top Ten Used Cars
  • Top Ten Best Gas Mileage Cars
  • Top Ten Gas Guzzling Cars
  • Top Ten Least Expensive Cars
  • Top Ten Most Expensive Cars
  • Top Ten Low HorsePower Cars
  • Top Ten High HorsePower Cars

Another feature that deserves recognition is its customizable apps. More on the apps in the following section, but there are valuable benefits for dealerships.

Autobytel Customized Apps:

  • Designs and functionality belong to each specific dealership.
  • Customers can receive dealership's information on a regular basis.
  • Customers can quickly and easily interact with dealer's service and sales staff.
  • Text messaging capabilities are easily integrated.

Ultimately, these apps are structured to help dealers more effectively connect with customers and get business.

Another helpful tool Autobytel offers to consumers is MyGarage, an area of the website that helps car owners diagnose repairs and calculate costs. You can enter your car symptoms by what it looks, smells, feels or sounds like or whether it is not working at all. The website will also suggest symptoms for you to help you troubleshoot what may be wrong with your current vehicle. You can get repair estimates on a number of different possible problems with your vehicle. Autobytel will also help you find a certified mechanic in your area and let you know if there is any recalls concerning your automobile.

One last mention is regarding consumers. Autobytel offers a varied list of tips and articles for its visitors, providing topics on everything from money saving tips and leasing a car to auto shows. This is a medium they use to help keep consumers informed and knowledgeable.

The Bad

  • No upfront pricing
  • Difficult to find apps
  • End-user friendliness

Autobytel.com does not give you upfront pricing on vehicles. You have to wait for a dealer to email or call you in order to get a quote. Some leads generated by the website contain out-of-date contact information for car dealers. Overall, customers seem very satisfied with the personalized customer service and the automotive research data is excellent.

It can also be hard to find where to download the apps. Some apps like the Car Minder Plus App, is not even free to download. After searching for a while looking for the app, you finally realize that the company seems to only offer customized apps for dealerships. (If they do offer apps for consumers directly, it isn't easily accessible).

Another site faux pas is regarding end-user friendliness. There are too many clicks to get to the desired page on the Autobytel website. Each page or section has an arrowhead to the bottom far right on the screen, which you may or may not know to click on. The way the tabs are positioned makes it slower and more confusing to navigate. More user content aggregation is definitely needed for a more effective user experience.

The Bottom Line

Overall, Autobytel's value for car dealers and auto institutions outweighs its value for consumers. Don't get us wrong-the site is on top of its game regarding resources, tools, calculators, loans, and recommendations for consumers. But these features can be found on other competing sites in the same genre. (Only a few that are as comprehensive, most not-so-much). But what stands out about Autobytel is their marketing program for dealers. Car buyers benefit from being well-informed, but Car dealers benefit all the more.

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