Kia Motors America wants to cut its outsize dependence on third-party shopping sites for online sales leads.
Now, 80 percent of the online leads Kia sends to dealerships come from third-party vendors or sources other than its retail Web site, kia.com. Kia wants to reduce the figure to 55 percent, it said in a May document obtained by Automotive News.
Kia hopes to improve the quality of the leads it sells to dealers -- and lower the leads' cost -- by generating more of them from kia.com.
"Doing so will increase our overall close rate and improve dealer satisfaction," says the document describing Kia's program. The document, released to dealers in May, is titled "Enterprise Lead Management Update."
Kia joins AutoNation Inc. and other auto retailers that are attempting to reduce their use of third-party leads.
The retailers say leads from the third parties can be from less-serious buyers and are sold to multiple dealers, which wastes salespeople's time and results in fewer vehicle sales than high-quality leads from corporate and dealership Web sites.
Plus, many dealers prefer to build their own brands online rather than channel money to third parties, which from the dealer's standpoint, elbow their way between customers and dealerships.
Kia provides leads generated from its Web site at no cost to its dealers, while it charges dealers about $20 for each lead it buys from third-party vendors, said a Midwest dealer with multiple Kia franchises. The dealer asked not to be identified.
More than 250 online vehicle shopping sites use Google advertising and other marketing methods to get car shoppers to come to their sites. When shoppers provide contact information, that's a lead.
Kia spokesman Scott McKee acknowledged the memo but declined to comment on the program.