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Google Analytics For Car Dealers - Part II by Brian Pasch

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.

Using Chrysler Websites As An Example


I found that has enabled Event Tracking on Chrysler OEM websites and recent testing also showed that 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 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  Website providers will make their own event categories so this example is just for customers.

Under each category, 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?

Is Event Tracking Better Than A Heat Map?

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 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. 


Looking Closer At The Vehicle Details Page Events


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.

What's Popular On Your Main Navigation

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. 


Are You Serious About Improving Conversion?


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 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. 


Share This Article


If you found this article helpful, please share it with your social networks on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ and of course leave me feedback in the comments area below.  

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

PCG Consulting


Connect with me on LinkedIn and Google+




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Tags: analytics, automotive, dealers, event categories, event tracking, google, pages, popular, websites


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Comment by Chris Burns on October 12, 2012 at 4:58am

Yes and make it easy for dealers to track conversion by including phone tracking scripts that ping a welcome page so the dealer can view the phone lead conversion right in their google analytics and so on. Big fan of utilizing Google analytics to the max. Looking forward to hearing more about your thoughts on the event tracking. 

Comment by Ralph Paglia on October 12, 2012 at 12:32am
It seems like every week I learn something new about Google Analytics and its capabilities. For example, the use of API based integration into third party apps for GA continues to grow and power an amazing range of tools. The blue bar chart on the ADM Showroom page that displays the last 30 days of Unique Visitors is a third party app that I authorized to access GA for the ADM Professional Community site. About a month ago I started using Sprout Social, which allows you to connect to a dealer's GA account and then connects to all of that same dealer's social media accounts, pages, profiles, etc. This GA integration now shows all traffic from that dealers social media marketing strategy and how that traffic has engaged with the dealer's website assets... Both in aggregate and by individual social media channels and down to the single post level. Brian rightfully points us in the direction of GA utilization, but there is so much more to come with Google's robust suite of API based app integration and data exchange features.

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