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Last week I decided to write a series of articles on Google Analytics to help dealers better leverage this powerful tool. Google Analytics reports must be a part of the monthly marketing decision-making process, because the data can direct dollars into the most effective strategies.
My first article showed ADM readers how to identify the Top 10 non-inventory pages on their website. This list is important for prioritizing website merchandising efforts and to increase conversion.
Today, I wanted to show readers the power of Event Tracking as a way to see how website design impacts the consumers utilization of a dealer's website.
I also wanted to point out how event tracking can help test new "on-page" elements such as buttons, conversion tools, changes in navigation order, incentives, etc. on the website.
I found that Dealer.com has enabled Event Tracking on Chrysler OEM websites and recent testing also showed that Dealer.com had event tracking on most all of their sites.
Only a few website providers have "turned on" event tracking so if your "events" section in Google Analytics is empty, contact them about coding your website with events.
The website provider may push back since it may have to be a corporate decision to add more transparency for website customers like Dealer.com has done. It also is not a "quick" fix since it has the be programmed into the website template.
In the Top Events report shown below, you can see the event "categories" that were programmed for tracking by Dealer.com. Website providers will make their own event categories so this example is just for Dealer.com customers.
Under each category, Dealer.com added granularity to further analyze what consumers are clicking on. For example, under Vehicle Detail Pages, we will see what elements of the page are being used the most.
As I mentioned in Part One of this series, it should not be a surprise to readers that Vehicle Detail Pages (VDP's) are the most "clicked" category followed by "clicks" on the main navigation menu bar (nav). We will take a look at both of these categories in greater detail in a minute.
Why is this data important to review? Well if you care about conversion and website design, this data is critical. Would you have expected a payment calculator to be that popular? If this is a popular action taken by consumers, should this also be highlighted on the home page? Added to other pages?
How about the order of choices on your main navigation menu? Have you tested what happens when you move "service" to the far left? How would you know if the order of the choices on the menu make any difference without tracking the click events?
Want to test the home page design? Event tracking can help see if the click engagement is changed based on new design elements. eCommerce companies are continually perfecting the optimal website design so what is your dealership doing to increase calls, leads, and showroom traffic?
Before I drill down into the top two event categories for this Chrysler dealer, let me be clear that event tracking is much richer than a basic "heat map" tool. Google Analytics provides a free heat map tool which is called "In-Page Analytics" and is found on the "CONTENT" menu.
I also recommend www.CrazyEgg.com as a third party choice if you don't like Google's tool. Heat maps are great for websites that don't have event tracking turned on to see what is being clicked and how design impacts click-through rates.
Once events are programmed on the website, the "flow" of consumer behavior can be tracked. This may be too technical for some readers, but for others this is exactly what they have been looking for. You can now see what secondary and tertiary actions consumers take when clicking on a menu choice, a button, or an engagement widget.
So, let's say that you added a graphic on the service appointment page that encourages vistors to listen to customer testimonial videos. Is this call to action working to increase appointments? Is it creating a distraction and reducing online appointments? With event tracking, these questions can be answered.
By seeing the consumers "path" on your website you have the ability to influence their experience. Find out what consumers are doing when they select to view the dealership's "Pre-Owned Inventory" choice, as shown in this example, and then you can have a reasonable discussion on what you might want to change.
Without this type of data tracking, design changes are just guesses. A dealership website is TOO VALUABLE to just change on a whim.
Chrysler Dealers can drill down into the "Vehicle Details Page" category to see what consumers are doing on the VDP's. Once again, some of the data you could predict seeing that the most popular action is to click on the photos.
So would you agree that taking sufficient, high quality photos is aligned with what consumers want from your website? What percentage of your inventory is not properly merchandised with 20+ photos today?
However, what if you wanted to "increase" the actions on your vehicle detail page, like getting a CarFax report. You could now test changing the placement or size of the CarFax button to see if that can increase clicks. I hope you see how powerful event tracking can be when it is coordinated with your website provider.
CAUTION: There are many great tools that dealers can plug into their website to enhance VDP pages and conversion. If you have event tracking enabled, make sure your vendor partner adds an "event code" to that new button, graphic, or call to action so it is added to Google Analytics so it can be tracked.
As you will see from the above snap shot, in last place was the "Share This Vehicle" option, did that surprise you? Event tracking can clearly document what design elements are working and which ones are just fluff. Event tracking also has the potential for creating "cleaner" website pages because non-performing elements can be removed.
Chrysler dealers can also look at the activity on their primary website navigation menu. The report below is the detail under the "nav" category which has a wealth of information from my perspective.
This report tells me how consumers are utilizing the dealer's website. For example, in the fourth position we can see consumers looking for RAM inventory. If this dealer wants more activity on RAM vehicles, they now have a benchmark to test again changes to their home page or navigation to increase the 315 clicks a month they are now getting from the current design.
The Service Department menu choice is only getting 64 clicks a month. Again, we have a benchmark to measure changes in both the home page design and menu to increase customer activity for service. I hope that you see how powerful this data can be to influence the "path" that consumers are currently taking on your website.
I will continue to expand this series with more ways to leverage Google Analytics for your business and your feedback below is really appreciated. Is this content is helpful to your business?
But before I end Part II in this series, I have to ask you a question: how important is conversion to your dealership? Is there a priority to understand how your website behaves and how to influence the consumer engagement when they visit?
Today, the tools are readily available for dealers to get into the discussion without having to be a technical guru. Companies like Dealer.com have thousands of websites collecting data on consumer activity and they can use that data to perfect designs. Website providers have a vested interest in making sure their sites perform the best they can.
However, dealers can change designs very easily with page builder tools that can negatively impact results as well. How many times have changes been made on your dealership website without data backing up the decision? Are you testing your design today?
If you need help converting your dealership into a more data-centric business, ask for help. The dealers that leverage the tools that are available today to make fact based marketing decisions have the potential to be the most profitable in their market. That's a great goal, don't you agree?
In Part III, I will show you how event management can make it very easy to setup Multi-Channel Sales Funnels.
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I hope to see everyone this year at the 2013 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference, February 5-7th just two days prior to the 2013 NADA Convention in Orlando. Get access to over 30 of the best strategies for car dealers to increase success in 2013.
Brian Pasch, CEO