Automotive Digital Marketing

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ADM Members - Is AutoTrader Your Secret Santa?


Have you been able to quantify how much Autotrader,, or other third party classified websites contribute to your dealership's ability to sell more cars?  


Have you questioned the importance of alternative classified websites like Craigslist or Ebay?  


I started off with these questions because if you are a car dealer using any of these services, you most likely have been frustrated getting answers on the ROI of third party classified websites.  


Industry leaders like Dennis Galbraith have rightly suggested that dealers should look at Vehicle Detail Page (VDP) views per month and SRP's as one benchmark of value.  


Dealers frankly, wanted more confirmation and I'll let you decide if this is another way to confirm your digital marketing investments.



Your Best Kept Secret


Today, we have some other ways to look at your best kept secrets!  Why do I use the term secret to describe your digital investments that everyone knows about?  For years, dealers have only had a partial understanding regarding the source of their website traffic.   


What I have found out is that there are Secret Santas bearing gifts to dealers that they did not know about!  Would you like to find our who your Secret Santas are?  I'll show you, but let's see why dealers didn't know this is the past.


Dealers were told to look at "referring" website statistics, which is the LAST website that brought a consumer to your website.  What we did not see is what other websites influenced their behavior during the Zero Moment of Truth.


Autotrader Assisted Conversions



Consider this flow diagram below:


This diagram illustrates a consumer who was first exposed to dealer inventory on Autotrader and then did a Google search and then typed into the dealers website address.  Traditionally, Google Analytics would show this consumer is a "direct visitor" and Autotrader would not get any credit.  


It is clear now that Autotrader did influence this visit.  In this example, it is not unreasonable to consider that the consumer got the dealer's name from the VDP listing, did a search and went to their main website.  In this example, Autotrader is the dealer's Secret Santa.


Autotrader in this shopping funnel example is part of a group of steps called Assisted Conversions.  Multi-Channel Funnel conversions are linked to "goals".  Google Analytics goals can be set to represent a lead being submitted.  


Goals can also be created for any other behavior you want to measure.  Goals can be set to trigger when a consumer views your used car inventory listing page, which could give you insights to what sources are driving traffic to view your inventory.


Finding Your Best Kept Secrets



Take a look at a section of the Google Multi Channel Sales Funnel reports for a Mazda dealer and you can see how much richer the consumer shopping experience can be documented.  Your best kept secret may just be the service that you were considering canceling.  For this dealer, it is obvious that Craiglist is also one of their Secret Santas!




Create A Robust Set of Channel Rules



Taking a look at how I setup these "Channel Rules" below, you will see that I included rules for the OEM website, Group Website, and you can make rules for all your digital investments.    This is just a small snapshot of data from the larger dataset so not all Assisting Conversion websites were displayed in the report above.    


I'll be presenting a complete report of insights that I have discovered at 2012 DMSC, but here is an example of the rules that I setup for this dealer:




Are You Using Multi Channel Sales Funnels?


I've been writing about Google Multi-Channel Sales Funnels for the past few months and I am preparing to share my findings at the 2012 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference (DMSC) in Las Vegas, February 1-3rd.  I wanted to give you a sneak peek on what this new tool is showing car dealers and how this impacts their marketing investments.


I believe that data provided from free tools like this and richer data sets provided by Dataium, will make 2012 the year of dealership analytics.  I believe that progressive dealers, when presented with opportunities like show above, will want to look into how their marketing investments are truly paying off.


Need Help Setting Up Multi Channel Sales Funnels



The good news is that if you want to leverage this new technology, I am re-opening the Automotive SEO Study to run a three-week series of webinars on this very topic for car dealers. The webinars will be designed to show you how to configure  your Google Analytics software to get the insights on how to OPTIMIZE your digital marketing investments. 


The webinars will start after DMSC in February so sign-up today.  You can sign-up to the community website by visiting:   Details will be posted on the webinar dates shortly.


Don't miss this opportunity to gain better insights into your existing website traffic and your chance to find your Secret Santa!




Brian Pasch CEO of PCG


Brian Pasch, CEO

PCG Digital Marketing
Text PCGedu to 75674 get information on our upcoming conferences
Brian Pasch

Views: 1163

Tags: ., automotive seo study, autotrader, brian pasch, classifieds, google analytics, multi channel sales funnels


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Comment by Ken Beam on January 6, 2012 at 6:49pm

Brian you`ll be amazed at all of bthe info on Google Analytics in this book my friend! It`s absolutely awesome! It`s definitely NOT a "10 minute" book either....... but this is absolutely ideal! It teaches how to set up, customize, monitor...... everything in Analytics! You`re welcome -

Comment by Brian Pasch on January 6, 2012 at 6:42pm

I haven't seen the book but I bet it will not give car dealers the specific thoughts and strategy on how to use Analytics and Multi Channel Sales Funnels specifically for their business in 10 minutes.   There is much more than meets the eye here...but I will check out the book.   Any tools that help get business owners closer to embracing Analytics is a good read!  Thanks Ken.

Comment by Ken Beam on January 6, 2012 at 5:49pm

Hey great topic Brian - Here`s how I learned about Google Analytics........ All of the info you could ever want or need from multi-channel sales funnels and how to set them up to setting up goals to how to create a Google Analytics account to even analyzing traffic sources...... it`s all right here for $10 bucks! Now that`s a deal!~


Comment by Cole Matthew Mitguard on January 6, 2012 at 4:24pm

This is a really great guide, thank you for putting this out there Brian. I will be taking a deeper look into this over the weekend. 

I hope 2012 is the year of awakening for dealers who aren't taking the time to do this type of analysis. Dealers that do will really start maximizing the ROI on their marketing budgets. 

Comment by Brian Pasch on December 22, 2011 at 1:11pm

Keep in mind that "goals" can be setup to look at overall website traffic and not just lead forms.  Since we know that traffic results in ups, chats, and phone calls, overall trends of how traffic is being generated is very valuable.

In regards to chat, you can set a rule to capture the head URL of the chat session like this: and that would show as an element in their shopping path.

As far as phone calls, there is no way I can see that right now in this version. 

Comment by Jason Mickelson on December 22, 2011 at 12:56pm

Good stuff!  Dave, your point about phone calls is good as well.  I do feel this information will get you closer to the truth, even if it isn't 100%.  Your post is like an early gift.   

Comment by Dave Page on December 22, 2011 at 9:39am

Great information on tracking. Here is my question. The conversion tracking only helps when tracking lead forms from a website; how do we use this to track phone calls or chat leads? Form leads on any dealer website that utilizes tracking phones numbers or live chat is always distant third in lead generation. Although this information is still vital to understand consumers click paths, its still only measuring 25% at best what is generating the leads from the site.

Your thoughts?

Comment by Randy Holt on December 22, 2011 at 9:18am

@Brian Pasch


Just watched some of the muti-channel analytic vids on Youtube then re-read your article ... had one of those aha moments ... this is awesome! Have been using the "last click" model for soooo long ... looking forward to diving in! Thank you - Randy

Comment by Mike Warwick on December 22, 2011 at 9:06am

We finally have access to the type of information we need to make educated decisions on which advertising sources are working. I've long held that dealers who want to cancel products like Autotrader and aren't seeing the bigger picture.  Dealers want to see metrics like how many leads and phone calls we have received from these sources rather than looking at how the customer is actually behaving online and being influenced.  Autotrader especially has been saying this for several years and it has mostly fallen on deaf ears.  If we look at ATC and Cars as advertising rather than lead gen, their value becomes much clearer.  We know that when we pay for a billboard, we are paying for "eyeballs."  If we put the same "eyeball" test to ATC and Cars, their value becomes clear.  If we look at them as lead gen, we are miscategorizing them and using the wrong metrics to measure their performance. 

Comment by Randy Holt on December 22, 2011 at 7:27am

Interesting article and I will certainly explore this further.


Just one observation ... in your original "flow diagram" you showed "Autotrader" "Autotrader" "Organic Search" with "Direct" being the referring source in Google Analytics. Actually, Google Analytics would show this as an organic search. "Direct" is when a visitor types your domain name in the url bar at the top of their browser or when they have a website saved in bookmarks and click on that link.



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