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Recently I was in a heated discussion with a dealer about conversion ratio's on dealer websites. It is my opinion that the national average is just under 2%. I have seen this time and time again. Here is the problem, this dealer is used to the manufacture telling him his conversion ratio is above 15% month in and month out and he has learned to believe it. The way I measure a true conversion is by a lead submitted from the website and if you can absolutely place a phone call from the website to "SALES". it is my contention that if you measure it this way then you will understand first of all what is really going on with your website visitors and what a true conversion is.

So my question to you great reader of ADM is what is your "TRUE" conversion ratio? With your answer could you direct me to your website?

Conversion="when a consumer takes action by submitting a lead from a website" I am very interested in opinions on this subject.

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The concept of a conversion today is more complex than the ratio of visitors to a email lead/phone call, however I understand why this is a number that people want to talk about.  It simplifies the discussion but leads to false data and bad marketing decisions. 

There are multiple influences that create a consumer to contact the dealership or walk-in as an up.  Recent case studies that have been published on the consumer journey show that website conversion rate is a very outdated construct and has little value as a comparison between dealers, even on the same platform. 

For example, if a consumer finds a car on and then opens up another browser window, comes to your website to check pricing/availability, and then if the car is found, submits a lead or calls, who gets the "conversion"?  So, a dealer who is a heavy or customer will have more website traffic that has been pre-qualified, less likely to bounce, and more likely to "convert".  

Continuing this discussion, many of those consumers are typing in the dealership name to get to the website.  This "appears" to be organic traffic so the SEO Guy get credit and the classified advertising partner gets left out of the conversion influence metric. 

Here is another thought. Consider dealers that utilize engagement tools like chat or website incentives like HookLogic.  Their website "conversions" can't be compared to a dealer on the same platform that does not have these tools.  Chat, for most dealers is the #1 lead source outside of their own website forms.

Dealers that use paid search, display, and retargeting create constant brand awareness. Once a consumer decides to re-engage with the dealership from a retargeting banner or video, they are more likely to convert.  A dealership that does not have a strong paid search strategy would seem to have a lower conversion rate as well. 

We are approaching a day where the consumer journey can be intersected with the dealer's marketing investments and online influences to measure what is working and what is not.  This is a much richer discussion because the traffic that comes to the dealership website is influenced by many things.

Looking at the final "result", as if the website was the biggest factor, does not give you any ability to make changes in your marketing strategy to influence sales.

This is where "Big Data" conversations start and the work of companies like Dataium attempt to give dealers more visibility on which investments create the desired end result: more sales opportunities at the dealership. 


Brian Pasch, CEO

PCG Consulting


Well, it looks like everyone is stumped and this always seems to be the case when it comes to dealer website conversion ratio.


As usual you are right on point which leads to so many more discussions and I get what you are saying, However humor me for a moment: Consumer is on dealer website-----does not matter where that person came from at all as they are on the dealer website which is where are so desperately trying to drive consumers as we know or "conversion" ratio is higher, or do we? So the consumer is on the dealer website, it is now the job of the website to convert the consumer into a lead or phone call, would you agree? Autotrader website failed to convert? at what point do we give the website credit for converting consumers ? So this is my point and my question, "what is the true conversion ratio" On a dealer website.


Once you divorce yourself from the concept of a single influence causing a conversion, you can move to a conversation on which conversion "paths" result in the most calls and leads. A path being a set of multiple influencers like Autotrader, KBB,, PPC, Social Media, Reviews, etc. 

The website as a conversion "influencer" is an important conversation so we should make sure that we are merchandising properly, and engaging the vistors with appropriate messages.  The goal should be to hold each marketing investment to the same light and start to use data and analytics to see which partners, working in conjunction with your website, produce the most net conversions.

I have a budget analysis tool that works in conjunction with Google Analytics, and I would be glad to do the analysis for your website for free.  This will start to show you how to look at all your marketing investments as part of a multi-touch path, and attribute costs per touch.

Funny, just cannot get a straight answer for a very simple question. A divorce is the last thing I need I assure you.

You are not understanding the question and you are making a simple task harder than it needs to be. Very simply forget about auto trader(what if you do not use them) Auto trader website did not convert the customer, neither did the TV ad or did it? Did the radio ad convert the customer? Nope,.....Again very simply answer this question "How many leads did you get from the website"? Because this is where it all happens, The purpose of a dealer website is to? Convert, matters not with the question that is being asked where that traffic came from, what matters is what the conversion ratio is on that particular website.

Example: (impossible test) same consumers from all entities visit site A and B same dealer same inventory etc, however each website is built by different providers, website A has converted 4% of the visitors (hard lead IE:Credit app, contact us etc) website B converts 2%. As an end result I am looking to the age old question: How do I get my website visitors to "ACT"

I hope this was a better explanation of what I am looking for.  I will say if you are not measuring this simple metric then you are really missing the money. Because if you simply raise the conversion ratio on your own website then you will of course sell more vehicles.


Valid point I suppose, however I have to wonder if this forum is just to create arguments, I am just looking for a simple answer to a simple question and no one seems to be able to answer it. No surprise as I have asked this same question before and received the same type of responses. I will say that I missed it and did not add in phone calls to the BDC or sales department, I do hesitate counting phone calls as it has been my experience that very few have found a way to accurately measure a sales call.

I would like to examine exactly what you have said.,,,,,,,, "My personal opinion is that you need to lead a costumer through the actions you want them to take<-------Agreed. HubSpot does an amazing job of that<-----Agreed. But since auto dealers are not a web based product<------has nothing to do with the question. We as digital marketers need to track conversion in multiple capacities<-----Agreed, however I was not asking or talking about Multiple capacities just one the website. If emails from the website is the only measure of success it will never be successful" <-----Agreed, however again you are changing the subject, I am just asking about the "website conversion ratio" . I am not exactly sure why you and Brian are have such a hard time with this question? Or why you are trying to place more reasoning in it than is required. Certainly using hubspot is a great tool no question about it. Certainly understanding the metrics of all sources and how to measure the success is important I get all that. I agree with you and Brian on probably just about everything you would like to talk about, However as usual getting a simple answer to a simple question seems impossible for 90% plus of people to answer, instead they would rather "confuse"  the question with additional garble that has nothing to do with the one simple question. What is the conversion ratio to unique visitors from a given website. Counting hard leads and possibly phone calls. Again this has nothing to do with Autotrader,, Hubspot tracking consumers through buying processes. 

Certainly would love to hear from Internet directors and BDC people on this as well.

Given such a wide range that you have given I am assuming you do not know what your website conversion ratio is?

You obviously did not read the first post as it is very specific. Actually I have been very specific at least four times. How much more specific can I get?

Nice article! This is exactly what every application and website needs to have done @ User-centric, expert analysis of your interface and/or information architecture that identifies what is useful and usable, what is not, and provides recommendations for better business results.

Dealers really believe what manufacturers tell them on conversion? Like asking your mom if your good looking.

LMFAO! HA HA Dude, funniest thing I've read here, EVER! So true too! Ohhhh man...

The part I do not understand is why not extend your reach by showing your internet marketing efforts to the customers you already have?  I mean most of you, not all :-), are creating great marketing content on the web.  Show that in your dealerships?  Use your social marketing efforts as a digital sign in your dealership when a customer is already there which will result in selling new products and services.  It is just another great way to communicate with your customers.  Do not take them for granted. If nothing else you give them a preview of what you are doing on the internet which might make them actually like your pages and get more referrals.  A very small percentage of your customers have even seen your social media pages.  Showcase them. 


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