Road Transport Media (RTM) publishes print and online publications in the vehicle and transport industry. The Commercial Motor website is its online classifieds service connecting buyers and sellers of used trucks, vans, and trailers.
Online classifieds are a key part of RTM’s digital strategy and account for the majority of its online revenue. But the media organisation was struggling to keep pace with its top two competitors.
Its existing technology platform was provided by a supplier that no longer saw the e-classifieds platform as a strategic product. This meant the platform couldn’t compete with features offered by competitor sites, and couldn’t meet the expectations of an increasingly mobile user base.
Closing the gap required a new solution to deliver a better user experience for buyers and sellers to protect and increase revenue from this important channel.
That user experience needed to make it easier for people in the market for used trucks, vans, and trailers to find the right commercial vehicle for them. It also needed to make it easier for prospective buyers to find relevant content to aid their purchase decisions, without having to log into a separate area of the platform. A better user experience was also needed to improve engagement with classified ads and deliver greater value to the site’s paying customers – the vehicle dealers.
Time To Part Ways
RTM’s Commercial Motor website was built on a proprietary classifieds platform owned by a supplier that had changed its strategic focus. This meant that the platform was starting to show its age.
Meanwhile, the site’s editorial content was managed using a niche content management system (CMS) that effectively tied RTM to its suppliers.
The two platforms had very little integration and lacked a single sign-on for users, making it harder to access relevant content and classified ads at the same time.
This set-up meant that RTM faced monthly license fees, lack of control over its platform, and tie-in to its supplier. As a result, RTM was unable to react quickly enough to changes in the marketplace, so was lagging behind its competitors and missing out on opportunities to grow revenue.
The organisation required a new, cost-effective, and flexible solution that would integrate Commercial Motor’s editorial and classified ads content, as well as integrating with RTM’s middleware, Web Essentials.
It was imperative that the new platform retained and strengthened existing business – in particular, from dealers paying a monthly fee to advertise on the site, which accounted for more than 75% of all digital revenues. To drive business value, the new site needed to increase the volume of responses to ads and provide the control and freedom needed to improve the user experience and evolve the service it provides to dealers.
Finding The Right Solution And Technical Partner
RTM decided to re-platform using a new technology partner, but there was a lot at stake. Getting a migration wrong could lose organic traffic, damage the Commercial Motor brand, and have a knock-on effect on the print title.
The transition between old and new platforms needed to be seamless, with no downtime or loss of stock.
After researching the market and running a competitive bid process that considered a number of potential suppliers, RTM drew up a matrix of key criteria including resources, understanding of the brief, pricing, and support.
The proposed platform needed to include a website frontend, a client backend, an admin backend, and several integrations with legacy systems. “From the outset, Inviqa proved it fully understood the concerns of the business, which is why it won the business to re-platform Commercial Motor.” Said James Clark, product manager, Commercialmotor.com.
A three-week discovery was facilitated and run by Inviqa’s consultants and solutions architects. This collaborative approach featured multiple stakeholder interviews and collaborative workshops – all carefully considered to create true alignment between RTM’s and Inviqa’s project teams and ensure the delivery of a lean digital solution capable of meeting clearly-defined business goals.
The process identified the true business goals and drivers the new digital solution would need to achieve, rather than uncovering a long list of product features to be included.
As a result, existing website features were all up for reconsideration and RTM quickly moved away from the idea of a ‘lift and shift’ approach to the migration. The organisation recognised that the re-platforming project offered the ideal opportunity to scrutinise and question every component of the old site, rather than simply replicating all previous processes and functionality.
“The discovery led to some surprising decisions. It shone a light on our users and provided a clear focus for the project, with dealers identified as the single most important group. We took the previously unthinkable decision to delay a payment gateway until after launch to focus more of our efforts on our key user group.”
The migration to the new Drupal-based site was completed in a 16-week timeframe.
Inviqa ensured the project was highly successful by maintaining a laser focus on RTM’s key users, and having a strong understanding of all issues relating to the site beyond functionality – including UX and SEO.
Following the migration, the site delivered several growth milestones between September 2015 and September 2016 including:
- A 90 per cent rise in page views of the site’s classified section
- A 42 per cent rise in email enquiries to Commercial Motor dealers
- A 32 per cent rise in stock levels at September month end
- A conversion rise from 1.79 per cent to 5.28 per cent.
The project achieved all defined goals, including retaining and growing traffic, retaining Commercial Motor’s existing customer base, ensuring a seamless transition between old and new sites, retaining stock levels, and improving design and user experience.
RTM is now achieving record-breaking response levels to ads placed by dealers and moving to a single platform for classifieds and editorial allows a better user experience with a single sign-on.
Crucially, the new platform has a lower cost of ownership and provides RTM with the flexibility to be much more responsive to its users’ needs – even without development work. When development is necessary, it is now fast, agile, and painless. “Inviqa taught us the concept of minimum viable product (MVP): get the product out there and start collecting information about how it’s used.” Said Clark. “Then use that information to guide further development. This is a real step change in our thinking. We’ve learned to focus on business goals and users much more than functionality or features lists.”