Automotive Digital Marketing

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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.




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:   877-227-8525   Auburndale, MA 

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 Ralph Paglia on December 7, 2012 at 8:36pm

Yago... You always make me smile, but I just want to say that when you and I speak, I believe that most of the time I encourage you to make business and product moves that you were considering before we spoke and what i provide you with is often more confirmation than creation. In any event, you thrive in a very competitive space and I know your success has not come easy, it is the result of a lot of hard work and making the right decisions.  For that I applaud you and your team.

Hopefully, you do not get angry with me for "plugging" your product, but I would not hesitate to invest money in having your company market my inventory on Craigslist and elsewhere online. Integrity trumps technical wizardry every time (in my book).

Comment by Yago De Artaza Paramo on December 7, 2012 at 8:06pm

Ralph you are always so politically correct!

I thought about some of the things here and with a choice to pay and be endorsed by you or being simply your friend I would chose to be your friend.

If I pay and I get endorsed as Tim claims people may think that is enought to buy from me or not (I don't believe it is...).

As your friend, I've to come to admire the fact that you will look into a person's business and open your knowledge like a book with all the intention to help and asking for nothing in return.

Agree with them or not, I have had more good business ideas about my business and how to do things better in the 5 minutes that i can get of you when i find you than with almost any other person.

I don't take that lightly, so thank you for that.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on December 7, 2012 at 7:57pm

Tim Martell has earned my respect on a level that provides me with exactly what he describes, the willingness and ability to disagree with him in public and still respect his knowledge and expertise enough not to take it on a personal level, or resort to name calling and personal attacks like I have seen other discussions devolve towards... And, which I will take action to remove from the community.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on December 7, 2012 at 7:53pm

Timothy Martell - I sincerely want to thank you... Your posts, the ideas you stimulated and the success of this blog post in generating traffic made it clear to Chris Cento and the team at String Automotive that they should become an ADM sponsor. I recommended their product because of my direct experience with the String team over a period of several years, before they elected to purchase advertising space, and if they cancel their ads next month, I will still recommend their product.  The two are separate issues... Although, I will not accept advertising from companies whose products I am either unfamiliar with or do not believe offer a genuine and real value to car dealers.  I have turned away more than twice the number of advertisers than those you see with ads on ADM. And Tim, if you are skeptical of that, go ahead and refer a supplier to purchase some advertising on ADM or dealerELITE that I am either unfamiliar with or do not believe in their products and then ask them what happened.  There are plenty of them to choose from.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on December 7, 2012 at 7:46pm

Yago De Artaza Paramo - I believe you are well aware of the respect and admiration I have for both the business you have built and the astute sense of perspective you bring to every discussion we have ever had... There are few people out there that have been "In The Trenches" as you have Yago, delivering real results and being held accountable for those results by dealers as much as you have. I always appreciate your sense of perspective and simply want to say thank you for participating in this community and expressing your expert opinions... You Rock! And, you can put me down as a charter member of the Yago De Artaza Paramo fan club...

Comment by Ralph Paglia on December 7, 2012 at 7:43pm

Tom Gorham - Thank you, as always I respect your integrity and outspoken willingness to back up a friend.  These are traits we share... I have recommended many products over the past 5 years that ADM has been active.  The only products I recommend are those I have direct experience with, and which I have seen serve dealers well in achieving their business objectives.  I am not sure why my positive recommendation of String Automotive has stirred Tim Martell's wrath, but given his silence about other products I have written about in the past, it is my sincere belief that there is more to Tim's displeasure with String Automotive than meets the eye.  Given the fact that both companies operate out of Massachusetts, it is my suspicion that transparency is not being served as Tim states, and that there is some sort of beef between Tim and the people at String Automotive that I am simply not aware of.

Comment by Tom Gorham on December 7, 2012 at 7:07pm

Tim, I appreciate your last paragraph.  "I would think most dealer's would say thank you because they have two perspectives to consider. I have been operating under the presumption that, THAT was the point of ADM in the first place. Perhaps I am mistaken... Remember, FREEDOM comes at a price -- both to those who benefit from it as well as those who provide it."

I have, at times, had and expressed opposing views to my friends here on ADM including Ralph and one of my best friends Keith Shetterly.  We have always handled that with respect and courtesy and remain good friends.  I have not and would never question their motivations, ethics and character.  I know better.

I've never met you but I can tell by your writings that you are well educated and an intelligent person.  You may even mean well, but then again, I can't tell if that's so because you are not straight-forward.  (No offense intended)  Your words always leave me feeling that there is a double meaning that, if I'm clever enough, I might "get it".

I didn't jump into this conversation to put you down.  I only wish to put things into perspective.  The man you are are criticizing gives you this space to do so.  Disagree with him, but do so without questioning his integrity.  If he had no integrity, your post would never show on this page.

Comment by Tom Gorham on December 7, 2012 at 6:46pm

Yago, thank you for setting me right.  I applaud your candor.

Comment by Yago De Artaza Paramo on December 7, 2012 at 6:21pm

@Tom Gorham my intentions where the oppposite of what you understood. I was being sarcastic about Ralph and Tim's 50K friends.

This is Ralph's venue so if you don't like that he endorses someone go take a hike. Some people don't understand that even though this is a great and open forum Ralph also works for a living and he has to answer to those that bring him business and pay the bills. That is the way the world works.

Furthermore tim always screams "transparency" of self and programs. His 50,000 fake social media scam proves that both are absent.


Comment by Timothy Martell on December 7, 2012 at 5:45pm

Tom I have no idea where you are coming from with this. Read my first post. There is nothing arrogant or sarcastic about what is written. In any case, there is no rational person that can say they can derive tone from the written word. Any tone or inflection is the presumption of the reader and in no way reflects that of the author, only the author can ever say for sure. It is for this reason that I constantly remind my own employee's that when they communicate about an issue they do so either in person or by phone, because people's own emotional baggage leads them to completely misinterpret the intention of written communications on a frequent basis.

There is no hidden agenda here, and I am not a website vendor so I have no dog in this fight. My only interest is, as always, transparency. Any time the issue of transparency is raised, some how people's ego's get bruised. I can't understand why that is. I have been operating under the presumption that the whole point of ADM was so that dealers could learn from experts and other industry professionals about relevant automotive marketing content. 

The article that was written here was very interesting. For some ODD reason rather than comment or contribute to that information, Ralph decided to put up an info-mercial for the company that employ's the author. In this "info-mercial" for string, Ralph details a long working relationship with their company over a 3-4 year period. So I wanted to do a little research. After all as a vendor that provides services complimentary to website vendors I am always looking for an alternative to the two goto vendor's I normally recommend, and vin solutions.

During very preliminary research my finding raised some red flags. Anyone can build a nice looking website (even if many still choose templates), but few provide websites to the automotive retail sector that also keep in mind the marketability of those sites. 

That 30,000 ft view research I did would suggest that it is not an area of focus for string which seems odd given the ringing endorsement Ralph gave. All I did was provide that information and suggest that even when automotive Guru's like Ralph give something a thumbs up, it is still wise to do your own research. That's it. I could just have easily have said, "even when automotive guru's like myself give endorsements..." Though I find it presumptuous and arrogant to refer to oneself as an expert, I find that experts are never short of a few people to back up their expertise. The point is, this was not an indictment on Ralph OR String and I made it really clear that the limited info I shared was in no way a statistically valid sample - merely it was the example String gave of their work and their own website.

I have always suggested that it is prudent for a dealer to not only measure an example of a vendor's client base, but also the vendor itself. It stands to reason if they can't market themselves effectively they may not be very skilled at marketing the dealer. At least, I have always felt that to be the case. Goes to the whole, "practice what you preach" mentality.

For whatever reason, Ralph decided to respond in a very defensive way claiming there was no hidden agenda (an issue I never even raised). Then post later in a separate blog that he is pleased to announce that String is now a sponsor of ADM while lighting me up for not being a sponsor of ADM! Seriously? Do I really need to connect the dots here? Look, I'm not even saying I have an issue with that! As long as there is transparency that you are endorsing a paying client do whatever the hell you want. I'm as much a republican capitalist as they get. I'll never begrudge someone making a buck. 

So where does Ralph's defensiveness about this come from? Or is he just mad that I did some research? If transparency is something Ralph would rather not have on his forum, then he should defend that. Otherwise I don't see his beef with me here. 

Tom, all I am is transparent. Hell the last time a called out a vendor for selling something that couldn't possibly produce ROI, I ran a full audit of my own services the next day and threw out a product my company was selling.

My passion gets me in trouble all the time. I don't care, its not going to stop me from saying what I think is right. Even if it means I have to reexamine what I am doing in the context of something I say. I am not afraid to look in the mirror and make sure I pass my own smell test.

I am passionate about dealers. And the more time I have spent as a vendor talking to other vendors... Hearing what they say about dealers behind their back... Selling s*** that doesn't have a chance in hell at making any money for anyone but the vendor... the more appalled I become day after day at the incredible volume of snake oil being sold. 

So how the hell can you tell me that Ralph is forthright and I am not transparent when the guy writes what would appear to be unsolicited infomercial about a company in one post then the next day announces they are a new sponsor in another and all I did was raise my hand and say, "hey, did anyone see this?"

And Ralph knows better than anyone, what we write here is about the topic at hand. Ralph and I can take shots at each other and he knows we're still friends when we get off our soap boxes. I have tremendous respect for Ralph Paglia. It is because I respect him that I cut him even less slack than I would someone else.

Ralph Paglia is one of the most influential people in the automotive marketing community. I feel that comes with an added responsibility to make c r y s t a l clear any and all motivations when it comes to recommending a service provider that a dealer might consider spending their hard earned money with.

Personally, I choose to never blur the lines. Its a personal choice. I also completely understand why others do not make that choice. I simply wanted the comfort of NEVER being questioned when I recommend a vendor that sells a product that I do not offer. We accept NO kickbacks, bird dogs, or anything else. When I recommend something its because its what I believe, period. 

Ralph may very well believe in his heart that his assertion about string was not motivated by the fact that they are a sponsor. But because he takes their money, I think he has an obligation to disclose that. Which it seems clear he is now doing. Is asking for that bashing him? And wether or not his motivations are clear, should we not challenge the assertions made by the experts we respect? Is it bashing Ralph because I did some research on String and found less than favorable results?

I would think most dealer's would say thank you because they have two perspectives to consider. I have been operating under the presumption that, THAT was the point of ADM in the first place. Perhaps I am mistaken... Remember, FREEDOM comes at a price -- both to those who benefit from it as well as those who provide it.

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