AutoNation is the largest pure-play automotive retailer in the United States. The Fortune 500 company has been selling and servicing cars across America since 1996 and the brand’s widespread presence only continues to expand.
“We are in the business of retailing vehicles, selling parts and selling services to consumers in local communities,” states Famous Rhodes, Vice President of Digital Marketing and Customer Experience. “We are the largest vehicle retailer in the U.S., with about 130 different stores and 370-plus new car vehicle franchises.”
Rhodes knows that having correct, consistent digital knowledge online is integral to AutoNation’s success. “The shift in consumers starting their customer journey in search engines, and starting on social, continues to climb. What we see happening with consumers more and more often, is they’re starting on mobile devices to actually connect to, and find, those things that they’re looking for. Many of our consumers are connecting on Google to find our stores — to call or get directions before they come to the store. Or you find them starting on Google to look at the types of vehicles, or inventory, that we have in our stores.”
AutoNation Drives a Massive Rebrand, with Support from Yext
AutoNation uses Yext Listings to manage the public facts about its brand. The Yext Knowledge Engine enables brands like AutoNation to manage the digital knowledge about their people, places and products across their websites, mobile apps, internal systems and the entire Knowledge Network — the industry’s largest ecosystem of maps, apps, search engines, GPS systems and social networks including Google, Apple, Facebook, Bing and Yahoo.
Yext was particularly useful during a major company rebrand. “We went all across the country rebranding all of our stores to AutoNation, and through that rebrand process we recognised how challenging it is to manage our profiles on Google, Facebook and other social media outlets,” Rhodes explains. “So we needed a tool that would help us through that process and maintain that information, and help us to provide a consistent experience for our consumers. That’s how we found Yext.”
“Yext was instrumental in helping AutoNation achieve a new re-brand strategy,” says Molly Blanco, Manager for Digital Advertising for AutoNation. “We were introducing the AutoNation brand to all of our domestic retail locations,” she says. “So in order to do that, we needed a seamless interface that allowed us to manage everything from a central location. Without Yext, I don’t know how we would have been able to handle that on our own.”
“That rebrand effort took us about six months to complete, says Brian Free, Director of Digital Ecommerce. “Without folks like Yext, that probably would have taken us two years to do.”
Now with over 23,000 live listings, AutoNation has greatly deepened the digital knowledge about its brand. Since launching with Yext, the company has updated 20,000+ addresses, 63,000+ phone numbers, 73,000+ photos, and 100,000+ special offers. With Yext’s help, AutoNation has seen a 25% lift in search impressions.
“Location is everything,” concludes Rhodes. “When you’re in a local business, serving a local community, it’s important that a consumer can find you quickly, and have an immediate experience with you. That’s only possible if your digital knowledge — like phone number, email, and location hours — is correct and easy to find. If we don’t have that information available, you’re going to the next store that can help you. And in an industry as time-sensitive as vehicles, being prominent in front of a consumer, on their handheld device, is extremely important to us. Which is why we use Yext.”