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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 December 7, 2012 at 4:45pm

Guys, Tim, Yago, thanks for taking the time to bash a friend of mine on his own venue that he provides for you.  Tim, you are right (although you say it with forked tongue) that there are few more relevant than Ralph in this segment of the car industry.  He has earned more respect than this. 

Tim, I respect your intellect but often suspect the sly way you present it.  I find no transparency with you.  I find double entendre and ambiguity mixed with arrogance in much of what you write.  One thing I enjoy with Ralph is forthright discussion.

None of us are angels and let's not pretend we are.  But I respect the accomplishments of people like Ralph and many, many more in this industry. I've never seen Ralph filter out those he disagrees with.  The proof is here on this page.  Enjoy the freedom.

Comment by Timothy Martell on December 7, 2012 at 10:00am

In any case, I feel the focus has really veered so far off the topic of the article. The information contained here is excellent. I think it is great to have another voice in the community. It was because Ralph's post had nothing to do with the topic and read to me like a sales pitch that I was surprised in the first place. Typically, comments are about the information in the article, not a sales pitch for the person writing it. Seemed out of character for an ADM post to me.

Comment by Timothy Martell on December 7, 2012 at 9:54am

@yago, perhaps you aren't aware, there are only 5 people more relevant than Ralph: http://www.automotivedigitalmarketing.com/profiles/blogs/who-are-th...

:)

Comment by Yago De Artaza Paramo on December 7, 2012 at 9:43am

I just think that you should easily find someone more relevant that Ralph among those 50K followers you have.

 

Comment by Timothy Martell on December 7, 2012 at 9:36am

@ yago. That is the road we've chosen as opposed to paying for good press. The issue here isn't "why aren't we getting any love?" Ralph is the one that opened that door by pointing out that he is apparently upset by the fact that we are not sponsor's of ADM.

I really don't have a beef with Ralph. Nor do I have any issue with the concept of paying to play if that is the road a company chooses -- as long as that fact is transparent. Which, thanks to Ralph's latest post - is made clear. 

Comment by Yago De Artaza Paramo on December 7, 2012 at 9:27am

@Tim,

 

You don't need Ralph's endorsement. Your 50,000 Facebook friends should be more than enough as an endorsement to your business practices. Why don't you ask a few thousand of those to endorse you?

Comment by Timothy Martell on December 7, 2012 at 9:16am

Ralph, perhaps you want to re-read my post now that you have inserted your foot way in to your mouth. lol No where did I question your motivations for the post, in fact, it hadn't even occurred to me that they were a sponsor. 

I simply pointed out that ringing endorsements from "automotive superstar's" like yourself can often be the only word needed for some dealers to act. Typically, I find that I follow things you say quite a bit more closely than say other "automotive experts." 

The little bit of research I did following that ringing endorsement showed a lot of inconsistencies. If the assertion that "doing your own research," instead of buying anything that the all mighty Ralpha Paglia says is good is bad advice, then I stand corrected. 

Ralph, I think you said it all in your response. Wikimotive is noticeably absent as a sponsor and in spite of some of the best results, has never been endorsed by you as String was in this article. Truth in advertising does not apply to automotive retail alone.

If the only way to get an favorable mention is to pay to play, then where is the value to the dealers who read ADM?

Funny, I wasn't even picking on Ralph. I guess being overly defensive says something as well... Wanna get away?

Comment by Jim Canto on December 6, 2012 at 2:06pm

Dayum! (this post got a bit warm...)

Either way... "If you post something on the web, assume the world will see it" is such a fundamental concept. And, I believe as folks (average, everyday internet users) meditate on the truth within that statement, their actions will begin to fall in line. As such, I suspect individuals will live something of a double life. Much like most individuals behave one way in their professional lives and one way in their casual lives. Due to the prospect of and presence of opportunity online, I suspect responsible people will put their professional foot forward online and take greater precaution in their casual lives so as not to be tagged in a compromising photo. This speaks to Ralph's summation regarding the fading concern for privacy. Personally, I don't think they (younger generations) care less...they've have simply learned to "go with the flow" (had to throw a hippie statement in here.)

The whole concept presented in this article sounds great. However, I have to wonder how Google will accomplish this. And, it appears to have been answered below by Matthew;

"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."

 

** insert sound of tires screeching to a halt ** Wait... "once users log into your site" ?!?!? Am I to understand that their is an actual log in action which would need to be performed by the consumer? Someone help me understand, please.  

Comment by Ralph Paglia on December 1, 2012 at 5:01am

Tim,

I stand by my statements of appreciation for the unique approach and innovation that String Automotive has brought to the dealer website supplier segment. Keep in mind, my perspective in observing String's activities has been at the request of my dealer clients, and not always something that myself and my team at Tier10 Marketing were necessarily happy about. Because of being the dealer's creative design shop, we had to work directly with String Automotive, which resulted in my team getting involved with these people.  Also, as a qualifier to express my opinion about dealer website suppliers (Brian Pasch in NOT the only person qualified to form an opinion about dealer website suppliers!), I have been intimately involved with several dealer website supplier start-ups over the past 15 years, and I participated in their success... You could even make a case that my last two years of entrepreneurial activity has been funded by the sale of a certain Coventry, RI dealer website supplier to ADP.  So, it is fair to say I am familiar with the pros and cons, as well as the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to dealer website suppliers. 

Although... Like any other dealer website supplier, String Automotive is far from perfect, and they have some idiosyncrasies I find more amusing than harmful to the work they do for dealers. The following is a partial list of what I have seen after participating FROM THE DEALER'S AD AGENCY PERSPECTIVE, and as an (almost) competitor to String Automotive, during the changeover from other dealer website suppliers to String Automotive. My involvement has varied from being annoyed by the extra work my team had to do, to assisting in the design requirement sent to String for over 50 dealerships since January 2011:

1. WEBSITE DESIGN SERVICES - So far, String Automotive has not used design templates, ever time they create a website platform for a new dealer client, it is designed from scratch by Alan Ezzati, who is one of the more advanced web designers in the country and was famous for his work in web design before he ever thought of designing websites for car dealers. There is one skill String has that some would call good, and others would wince at... These people are the best at copying somebody else's design over to the auto industry! When it comes to creating virtually perfect duplicate "knock off" dealer website designs, String is exceptionally talented... For example, they duplicated the Nordstrom Department Store's website, but made it into a car dealer's website!  If a dealer sees a website he/she really likes, these people will mimic every aspect of that site's design and functionality, adapted over to a car dealership's functional requirements.  Considering the sheer vacuum of actual web designers in our industry, a dealer website supplier that is OWNED by formally trained web designers that are creative and highly skilled, is an exception.

2. GOOGLE BUSINESS PARTNER - I started out this comment by stating that I have worked with several dealer website suppliers since 1998... What has mystified me since around 2005 when SEO emerged as a Top Of Mind issue with car dealers, is that whenever I would suggest taking our website platform architecture team to Mountain View for meetings with Google's own engineers so that we (ie: Reynolds Web Solutions, AutoMark, AutoFuze, BZ Results, ADP Web Solutions, etc.) could build in close integration with Google Webmaster and Analytics, and you know, actually get some help in making sure the dealer websites were going to work well with Google's indexing systems and stuff... The developers would glare at me like I was some kind of Judas turning traitor and belch out something like "Google does not know anything about what car dealers need in a website" or "It is none of Google's business and WE ARE the people responsible for designing the new website platform so inviting Google to interfere is an insult to our capabilities..." Yada, yada, yada... It drove me nuts that over and over again I would listen to all these website developers from several different companies get all up in a huff and act like I called them idiots when I offered to set up meetings with Google's engineers.  Well, so apparently the people at String Automotive seem to have escaped this specific form of delirium that seems to effect most of the dealer website suppliers.  Without any shame or bruising of egos, they went to Google's facilities in Mountain View and built their website platform architecture in conjunction with as much assistance as they could squeeze out of Google.  They went so far as to build their entire platform to be complaint with Google Webmaster and Google Analytics Certification standards... Now, everybody who hates to see anyone do something different and better than in the past in this business is going to say the same thing that they said when I insisted that ADP Digital Marketing Consultants get Google Adwords Certified... "It doesn't really matter if you are Google Certified, we can do anything they can without going through Google's Certification nonsense..." OK, maybe yes, maybe no... But in my expert opinion GOOGLE CERTIFICATION AND WEBSITE DESIGN STANDARDS MATTER! 

You know, you can drive a car without car insurance and probably do just fine... However, when it matters, IT REALLY MATTERS!!!

3. CUSTOMER RESPONSIVENESS - Having lived through many life-cycles of starting with excellent customer service for our dealer website clients, and then making dealer support "Scalable" by making it suck, I am acutely aware and appreciative of fast and personalized customer support for dealers where you call the person who managed the initial website design and launch project, so he/she makes the requested changes while you are on the phone and the conversation sounds more like two business partners collaborating then taking a number at the supermarket deli.  So far, and all bets are off if these people sell String Automotive to some big conglomerate (that hardly ever happens, right?), String Automotive provides such personalized and direct support to the dealers (and me) that i work with, I think they simply do not know any better... so PLEASE do not tell these people what the other website suppliers do! For right now, they are my favorite dealer website company to work with because when you call and ask the account manager to make a change or fix something, it happens right away and you speak to the same person every time you call... I like that.

4. DATA EXTRACTION AND INVENTORY DISPLAY - Somebody forgot to tell the founders of String Automotive that you do not need to build your own data extraction and inventory display page generating application, that you can just buy it from one of the major suppliers of these services... Because they built their own inventory system! Now, this is actually kind of a scary thing for me, and I do not recommend you kids try this at home.  This stunt is performed by highly trained professionals on a closed circuit course... Anyways, I watched the brain damage the people at String went through to get their inventory system built and working right for a major dealer group that was a mutual client at the time.  I saw these characters actually do their own "Customer Focus Group"... yeah, for real... Just like you see in TV shows like Mad Men.  They brought in groups of in market auto shoppers and observed them using different dealer websites, tracking and recording what the customer liked, did not like and what compelled customers to come to the dealership, call on the phone, engage in a chat session or complete a lead form.  I know that sounds really goofy, and a lot fo us were kind of chucling at the money they spent behind their backs, but darn if all that first hand customer research did not result in one of the best Vehicle Detail Page (VDP) designs in the business.  Go figure!

So, do I like the people, products and service at String Automotive? Yes sirree, I certainly do, at this point in time... Plus they brought on one of Toyota Motor Sales best and brightest marketing and sales executives who has spent a good portion of the last 12 years inside many of the most successful Toyota dealerships, Mr. Chris Cento.  Chris is String Automotive Chief Marketing Officer...

PLUS, String Automotive hired three of my favorite people in the auto industry that I recommended to them so they could launch an actual sales team (Yeah, they never had a salesperson prior to 2012...):

  • Charlie Bass
  • Steve Botello
  • Terry Gibson

I have worked with Charlie and Steve shoulder to shoulder for several years and from over 300 sales team members at ADP, I have cited their integrity and dealer focus on many occasions... Then there is Terry Gibson, who was my room mate at NADA conventions, so he has a lot of dirt on me... I have to say good things about him (just kidding! Martell is already flushing out the conspiracy).

As for the history of me and String Automotive: Back when they called themselves "Captive Lead" (they seem to have a problem with names), I met the owners, Alan and Ken through a mutual client... My initial impression is that I did not like the way their websites were making my company's websites look bad... I wanted to put them out of business, my competitive instincts told me to do everything possible to crush them.  Over time, I really got to know the people at String and we became friends.  When they started to recommend that their dealer clients use my team at Tier10 Marketing for digital advertising, our friendship became stronger and we worked together via phone and email on a daily basis.  Today, I find myself helping them by referring employees, making advertising recommendations and pushing their team to write and publish articles like the one above.  They are my friends. Ask anyone in the car business who is my friend, if I am willing to help them be more successful. (other than Tim Martell)

As for recommending any website supplier, I do not really care which website supplier a dealer buys their sites from, I cared a lot when I worked for companies whose primary business was selling dealer websites, but I don't any more. I have plenty of friends working at ADP, Cobalt, Dealer.com, Naked Lime, DealerFire, AutoFusion and several other website suppliers.  But, when I discovered that the Rick Case Auto Group was using a VERY lame dealer website supplier, who I will not name because they have an accessory sales application that I really like a lot... I recommended String Automotive. When their IT Director, Naz, who is EXTREMELY knowledgeable and is no easy IT professional to impress, looked at String Automotive's technology and site architecture, and the custom work they do, she bypassed all the other big name website suppliers and selected String Automotive.  She said the decision was actually very easy to make.

As for Tim Martell's penchant for repeatedly questioning my motives (like his are so pure!), he can kiss my ass... BUT, since he sort of recommend this sort of thing, I am going to go try and sell some advertising to String Automotive because I like their products and if I am going to defend their capabilities when people like Martell question them, then I think String Automotive should man up and start supporting ADM and dealerELITE with some advertising sponsorships like several other suppliers are doing (Notably absent is Tim Martell and Wikimotive)...

Are you listening Mr. Chris Cento??? Your Automotive Media Partners, LLC Advertising Rate Sheet is in your email inbox... I will be calling you soon!

Comment by Matthew Kolodziej on November 30, 2012 at 12:54pm

Hi Tim,

Thanks for reading the post and adding your two cents, although the HubSpot grades are a little out of scope to the Universal Analytics discussion. But as you said, we're focused on SEO thanks to our Google Analytics partnership - and we're just as committed to transparency and accountability as a result. GA opens a wealth of unimpeachable data to the dealers that we help make sense of, and any dealer with a Google Account can dive in as deep as they want on their own, too.

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