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Google Declares Existing Web Metrics Obsolete: A Sea Change in Dealer Website Analytics

The 2012 Google Analytics Summit theme is “Next Generation Measurement”, and considering the bombshell Google dropped on day 1, it couldn’t be more fitting.

Google Analytics is set to make a seismic change to its very core, shifting from sessions to users. “Sessions don’t spend money,” as Google Analytics Principal Engineer Sagnik Nandy put it, “users do.”

For too many years, dealer website reporting systems have looked at visits in a vacuum, focusing on single visitor sessions in a short-sighted attempt to understand customer behavior and falling out of touch with today’s automotive consumer who jumps from one web device to another, desktop to mobile, mobile to tablet, and reaches dozens of touch points before purchasing a vehicle or getting one serviced. With the release of “Universal Analytics”, Google is set to redefine automotive marketing’s relationship with web data to accurately capture customer behavior across every device, every visit, and every action - even when new and used vehicle shoppers go offline. Gone are the days of looking at Internet sales leads and service appointment requests as the primary goal; showroom traffic and sales are what matters, and that’s exactly what this next generation of dealer website measurement targets.

With Google’s new Universal Analytics, visitors are given a clean and simple User ID that replaces the current mountainous number of tracking cookies packed with reams of confusing variables and micro formatted data. This unique User ID is like a customer number in your DMS, but it is stored on Google’s end, and is identifiable across any number of devices and locations. So if your customer first visits your dealership’s website on her home desktop after receiving a promotional email, then returns a week later on her iPhone, but waits a month before seeing a display ad from your store’s online advertising and finally converting by pulling turn-by-turn directions from work to the dealership on her work laptop, all of those interactions will be attributed to a single visitor. And that initial, month-old email will be given credit, along with the last-touch display ad, and any other touch points in the sales process.

For businesses with the right technology, User IDs will be sent directly to your CRM software. When customers walk in after visiting virtually, you will be able to log every visit and view them in Google Analytics. You now track all customer points of contact - online and offline - and finally get the complete picture of a customer’s journey from seeing an article your dealership published, researching your make and models, to purchasing on your showroom. A reporting trail that provides the insights and metrics for car dealers to learn which marketing channels actually bring you sales… While ignoring those that generate leads to nowhere!

Marketing and Advertising Channel Attribution Gets More Accurate

Google’s Universal Analytics includes a new attribution modeling tool that uses a data-driven model to assign value to touch points in the sales process. Every interaction is now weighted according to its frequency and position in the purchase process, instead of always being given equal credit. And a more complete picture of every sale can now be more accurately configured with cost data that users upload directly into Google Analytics and update daily. Track the effectiveness of your dealership’s entire ad spend to realize the true profit on every sale - all without leaving Google Analytics and wrestling with dozens of media and advertising reports.

Analytics no longer begins with a single online session only to end with a disconnected form submission that depends on an email address that blocks messages from your dealership as spam. It begins the moment a customer first engages with your dealership’s websites, blogs and online assets. And it never stops... Welcome to the new marketing reality of Universal Analytics from Google.

 

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About the Author: 

Matthew Kolodziej is the Director of Analytics at String Automotive Solutions, which is the only Google Analytics Certified Partner supplying dealership websites in the automotive space.

 

About String Automotive Solutions:

www.StringAutomotive.com   877-227-8525   Auburndale, MA  

http://twitter.com/stringauto 

String Automotive provides North America's most innovative auto dealers with highly effective and uniquely customer focused dealership websites. Based in Massachusetts and having been many car dealer's "best kept secret" for automotive digital marketing over the past 7 years, String has developed a reputation for being focused on driving dealership sales and profits.

String Automotive creates custom websites designed for your dealership

We don't do templates, and we don't follow the industry. We look outside the automotive industry and take inspiration from empirical data, experiments and enterprises that are on the cutting edge of web design and technology.

Yet, your dealership is distinctive and your website should differentiate you at first glance.

Your dealership is focused on attracting and retaining customers. Your showroom is spotless. Your sales force is attentive and informative. And your customer care representatives are courteous and knowledgeable. In other words, you ensure that your customers have a great experience at your dealership and that they would recommend your dealership to others.

Before visiting your showroom, most of your customers visit your website and interact with your business - often without your knowledge. They form an opinion of you and get a first impression. Your website should be elegant and easy to use, yet rich with informative content. We study our designs carefully and constantly improve them by observing car shoppers using them in blind tests. We observe in study after study, year after year, what impresses visitors and what turns them off.

Most dealer website are busy, confusing and designed to compete with their competitors’ websites. Our clients don't compete with or follow their competitors, and they don't mimic the next door neighbor's website that is designed to scream messages at visitors and keep them on the site as long as they can. Our clients play a different game. Click here and we'll explain...

What is a Google Analytics Certified Partner?

A Google Analytics Certified Partner, or GACP, is an accredited web analysis and optimization expert. Google awards the partnership only after a rigorous application and interview process, and few companies make the grade. String Automotive is the only GACP web provider geared specifically to car dealers.

Why is Google Analytics Important?

Google Analytics provides unbiased, actionable insights into how users reach your site, how they engage with it, and who they are.

GA takes the guesswork out of search engine exposure, third-party lead provider effectiveness, and accurate lead attribution. With Analytics, you know exactly how much traffic comes from organic and paid search and your third-party referrers, as well as which traffic sources are actually generating leads.

Analytics also unlocks valuable information on where your customers live, the devices they use to navigate your site, and which pages receive the most visits. This just scratches the surface of the data that Google Analytics delivers. Let String Automotive be your guide on deep dives into the data to help grow and evolve your business.

What Google Analytics Services Does String Automotive Provide?

String Automotive provides best-in-class Google Analytics deployment with advanced technical implementation and easily digestible reports. GA tracking code is automatically inserted into every dynamically generated webpage, complete with custom variables to track more granular data, and event tracking to monitor conversions. 

We provide management with direct access to GA site profiles, along with custom reports and advanced segments tailored to present you with exactly the KPIs you want to track most. And our Analytics experts are available to help you parse and examine data that requires a deeper dive.

Drawing upon our past partnership with Google as a Google Website Optimizer Authorized Consultant, String Automotive has also been awarded the Content Experiments Specialization.

In 2012, Analytics absorbed Google Website Optimizer, enhanced its features, and renamed it Google Analytics Content Experiments. Its core function of conversion rate optimization remains the same in Content Experiments, which means that String Automotive is also the only web provider for car dealers with a proven track record of Google-partnered conversion optimization. We test and improve our page designs constantly to maximize conversions and bring you more leads.

 

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Tags: Google Adwords, Google Analytics, Universal Analytics, analytics, attribution, big, channel, data, google, session, More…universal, user

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Comment by Tom Gorham on November 30, 2012 at 9:31am

Things that make you go "Hmmmmm....."

Comment by Timothy Martell on November 30, 2012 at 8:04am

This is an amazing announcement and I thoroughly appreciate Matthew's contribution here. I have to say, I'm a bit surprised by Ralph's glowing endorsement of this vendor and over the years, because I hold such a high opinion of Ralph, that might have been all I would need to make a decision -- After all in the world of "been there done that" few have as many notches on their belt as Ralph Paglia.

Because I have been on this tear about transparency and accountability specifically as it regards vendors, I felt compelled to do a little investigation. Let me just say, I have no axe to grind with String and I fully recognize this is by no means what I would call a statistically valid sample, but I was surprised to find these results hand in hand with Ralph's endorsement:

String Automotive's marketing grade

George Moore Chevrolet's marketing grade

My point here is to always remember to do your own research on decisions as important as your dealer website. Even the smartest, most well respected professionals may not be privy to the WHOLE story. Again this is not a statistically valid sample but as a dealer it would concern me that their own website has such a low marketing grade. Certainly I would think a Google certified partner would understand the importance social media plays in SEO and have a strategy in place for that. Perhaps another blog is warranted for that discussion.

In the interest of full disclosure:

Wikimotive's marketing grade

McCluskey Chevrolet's Marketing Grade <- Wikimotive client

In fairness, one might point out that in spite of String's extremely low overall marketing grade, their mozRank is higher than Wikimotive's which demonstrates a solid commitment to understanding SEO.

Again, decisions of this magnitude require thorough investigation and an understanding of all of the elements of digital marketing. 

Thanks to Matthew for bringing this important topic to light, you can bet I'll be tweeting the heck out of this article!

Comment by Matthew Kolodziej on November 28, 2012 at 8:20am

Hi Yago,

Google doesn't supply the unique User ID - your site does that. Once someone logs into your site, then the User ID is sent to Google Analytics and all of that person's actions before and after signing in are associated with that User ID. So if your site already has an ID for every member, you can use that same ID in GA to make data analysis easier.

Comment by Yago De Artaza Paramo on November 27, 2012 at 6:19am

@Matthew:

How would Google have a unique user ID for every person? Google+? Would be neccesary then for the customers to be logged into Google for this to be meassured?

Comment by Alexander Lau on November 7, 2012 at 7:31am

I suppose this good news to Google Analytics users (especially those with conversion processes implemented and pushed out to a CRM and/or SEO CRM). However, they are far behind in the game and just now catching up to the rest of the pack.

If you have the option and the know-how, you shouldn't be using tags and scripts to track user performance, in the very first place. Omniture, WebTrends and Google Analytics (again, by far, a limited option) all either use tags or scripts. In other words, it's a lot smarter to use Passive Web Data Capture.

Complex sites need actionable information and a better way to collect critical data than tagging and scripting can provide because of problems like:

  • Implementation: it's expensive and time-consuming to code, test, deploy and maintain tag scripts every time there's a change to your site or your data requirements.
  • Data access, management and integration: outsourcing web data management to a vendor limits your access to the data. Joining it with your corporate databases or even accessing the raw data is difficult and expensive.
  • Security: tag scripts open doors for hackers into your corporate computing systems.
  • Missing data: tags and scripts miss many crucial events like server errors, visitors using mobile devices, and blocked tags and scripts.
  • Performance: complex tagging and scripting may add a performance burden to your pages so visitors may experience slower site performance.
Comment by David T. Gould on November 5, 2012 at 10:31am

Tom brings up a very good point with... "As for the younger generation not being concerned, I think it is right for us to remind them of what can go wrong when they give up their rights to privacy so easily.  There has to be a way to aggregate information without intruding on people's lives so completely..."

In my opinion there is a place for aggregated user data, I see that place as somewhere that should be user driven, not a continuous stream of any and all activities of those utilizing the internet.

The internet, our greatest opportunity for free speech / communications, yields vast power (as in the nuclear comparison below)... what we do with that will have consequences for the future (as in the nuclear comparison below).  

Note: I am not suggesting BIG DATA should be shut down... I believe internet users should participate in how their private information is utilized and disseminated.

DTG

Comment by Ralph Paglia on November 4, 2012 at 6:38pm

Brian, maybe I get excited over the wrong things, but this change within Google Analytics from a "Visitor Session" tracking and reporting application, to a "User Activity" tracking and reporting application that connects all the visits of a consumer within the slected period of time, across multiple devices and many different user sessions seems to be a radical new development... To me, this seems like a major shift and will shake things up at Omniture (Adobe), WebTrends and many other web based tracking and reporting systems... Plus, look at the impact on all these back end reporting systems that web site and CMS suppliers provide that are proprietary and laden with self congratulatory handling of visitor data.

Comment by Brian Pasch on November 3, 2012 at 11:04am

AWESOME NEWS!!

Comment by Tom Gorham on November 3, 2012 at 5:00am

Ralph, you're right.  I do know you as a very progressive guy and I know you've been around.  (Tim Leary? Hehehe)  Thanks for giving me an opening to make my case though.  I do believe as a marketer, you've got to use the tools that are available. 

As for the younger generation not being concerned, I think it is right for us to remind them of what can go wrong when they give up their rights to privacy so easily.  There has to be a way to aggregate information without intruding on people's lives so completely.

Big data, or deep data, is here but keep in mind that like atomic energy, it can be used for good or ill. Sorry to go off course. Oh, and by the way, I like what I see with String. 

Comment by Ralph Paglia on November 3, 2012 at 1:10am

Tom Gorham - You know me well enough to know that I could not agree with you more... Heck, I am old enough to know what it is like to be arrested for "Disturbing the Peace" because of participating in a Viet Nam War protest.  So, yeah, I feel and understand your point... Better than most... What i am really referring to is the decline in popular support for legislative or AG pursuit of privacy rights violations when it comes to how Google provides reporting to users of Google Analytics... First and foremost, Google knows more about you and I than J. Edgar Hoover ever knew about us when you were in a rock and roll band and I was writing for the "Alternative News Collective" in New York while introducing Timothy Leary on stage to thousands of SUNY students... Think about what your search history and site visited list would reveal? I sure as heck do not want anyone seeing many of my search queries because they reveal who i am voting for, where I donate my money, who I find attractive and more information about the work I do than I really want the competition to know about!  However, with all that said, Google has shown a propensity to guard this type of user specific data like Coca-Cola guards their secret formula and the Colonel guards his secret recipe... Indeed, that is basically the defense Google used successfully in Europe to violate a court order to submit their SERP Ranking Algorithm.  So... Like it or not, this is the world we live in and to disregard Google application of this type of user based reporting is like refusing to use a GM marketing manifest because it has the customer's birth dates on it.

So... Yeah, I see your point, but I am still going to take advantage of Google Analytics for my dealer clients to help them sell more cars, and I hope their competition does not!

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