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 Tom Gorham on November 2, 2012 at 3:57pm

Hmmmm Ralph,  I understand where you're coming from on the privacy issue.  But, and this is a big BUT, I think the issue of privacy among those of us from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and people like me who are repeatedly 39 years old, remember the days when the government spied on us and kept records on us without any provocation.  Of course they don't do that today... (OMG).

Actually, forget government, we remember when people were ostracized for being a bit different... such as gays, and religious groups, and political parties, and on and on.  Of course that doesn't happen today... (OMG).

To top that off, employers and potential employers are spying on their employees and applicants to see if they say (in private) sh*%, da*%, and mu*%#$#$@ in their personal lives.  Went to a party last night?  Got shi*faced?  Hmmmmm.

I guess the new generation hasn't thought about these things because they never had first-hand experience with them.  Instead we hear platitudes such as, "If you don't do anything wrong, why are you so concerned?"  Those same people are shocked when they are called on their own behavior.

There may be a difference in how generations react to privacy concerns.  I think you are correct there.  That doesn't make privacy any less of a concern.  Marketers want to dig as deep as they can for monetary reasons.  That doesn't mean they can or should.  JMHO

Comment by Ralph Paglia on November 2, 2012 at 11:39am

In regards to the privacy concerns expressed, Matt really covers the legalities mitigation and due diligence that Google and their legal teams have covered, but I want to comment on my own personal experiences. In regards to privacy concerns and the web, there is a dramatic difference between the attitudes and statements made by people born in the 50's, 60's and 70's and those born after 1980.  In 2010 I opened an operations center that was a joint venture between ADP and ASU within the SkySong program at ASU in Scottsdale, AZ.  As part of this program, a team of us from ADP interviewed over 50 recent ASU graduates. One of the things that struck me was the difference in these highly educated, top of their class job candidates perspectives on privacy and those of my own (I am over 50 yo).  After we launched and I had over 20 people under the age of 30 reporting to me, I began to understand and adopt a similar attitude towards privacy.  Today, I know that there are almost no secrets... If you post something on the web, assume the world will see it.  And, there is a liberating feeling to that realization.  The other attitude and truth I learned from these younger associates is that why would you want to maintain such a debilitating level of privacy? We are who we are and to seek a job or relationship based on hiding any part of your past, present or intent for the future is to reduce your own quality of life, increase stress and anxiety and live under a false set of assumptions.  The bottom line? I believe that privacy concerns and the desire to cloak and hide who we are, what we do and where we are at is a declining concern among the masses and as my generation retires and dies off, will fade into a distant memory, much like the days when we had "party line" phone systems that our neighbors could listen in on our calls.

Comment by Tom Gorham on November 2, 2012 at 9:34am

Matthew, I like the Moore site very much.  I saw some things I love to find on a dealer website such as the review section on the homepage.  Grazie!

Comment by Matthew Kolodziej on November 2, 2012 at 8:04am

Thanks for the comments, guys!


David, you're right as far as privacy goes, but Google's definitely taking a once-bitten-twice-shy approach after the uproar/lawsuits in the past. They even had one of their lawyers present at the conference! So you can bet they're taking privacy laws seriously this time around. That said, Universal Analytics won't necessarily be adding any new breaches of privacy or Big Brother-style tactics: it's simply making data collection and analysis a whole lot better. And if it helps customers get a shopping experience tailored precisely to their needs, then everybody wins.


Tom, my personal favorite design of ours is the site we built for George Moore Chevrolet in Jacksonville. But, as Ralph mentioned below, you can also reach out to Charlie Bass, Terry Gibson, or Steve Botello (I linked their ADM profiles) to get more examples of what we can deliver.


Bob, thanks for the kind words, and I'll pass them along to Alan, too!

Comment by Bob Gallagher on November 2, 2012 at 6:20am

Thanks for this great post - I may lean toward agreeing with David regarding privacy and sharing of information, however  I do see the MANY advantages this can have for both consumers and dealerships - #stillonthefence 

String Automotive and Alan Ezzati are absolute SEO guru's in this space - Listen Up!

Comment by Tom Gorham on November 1, 2012 at 4:37pm

Ralph, I see by their website that they take a minimalist approach to design (at least on their site).  Do you have any examples of dealer websites that they have designed?  I'm fascinated by the rhetoric but I would like to see some of their work out in the marketplace.

Comment by David T. Gould on November 1, 2012 at 4:18pm

The leap from sessions (anonymous user) to client ID# is a HUGE one from a privacy stand point... I'll wait, watch and take notes as Google sets the precedent on how far people are willing to go with "sharing" their information. As great of an idea as this may seem to a retailer, it sure feels like there is going to be a momentous backlash to me. My continued 2 cents on consumer privacy rights. Good Selling! DTG 

Comment by Ralph Paglia on November 1, 2012 at 3:36pm

When I first became aware of String Automotive in 2008 it was because they were making my team at ADP Digital Marketing look bad with the SEO performance of dealership websites that competed with our clients. As I learned more about these people, and then met Alan Ezzati, their CEO, I developed a high level of respect for their work ethics and the effectiveness of the websites the build for dealers.  At a certain point while I was their competitor, it seemed that they put way too much time and effort into designing and launching websites for their dealers... The DO NOT USE DEALER WEBSITE DESIGN TEMPLATES! (I know, they are nuts...) Then, after a few years go by, I see String getting more and more dealers to sign up... No sales team, no marketing, advertising. All their growth was by word of mouth around dealers talking to each other (but never to their local competitors).  Then in 2011 I started working with Alan and his team while I was at Tier10 Marketing because we shared several dealer clients.  By the time we got to the 2012 NADA Convention, I was setting up meetings between String Automotive senior management and the owners of the companies I work for.  Along the way, I introduced and recommended several auto industry dealer sales professionals to Alan Ezzati and was delighted to see that String Automotive hired these very ethical, experienced and dealer focused account executives; Terry Gibson, Charlie Bass, Steve Botello, etc.

So at this point in time, if I were to take over as General Manager of any dealership in North America, one of my first high priority action items would be to secure a deal and have String Automotive design and build my dealership's primary website. 

When Alan called me to bring me up to speed on the RADICAL changes, very much improvements to Google Analytics, I asked that he have his Director of Analytics, Matthew Kolodziej who was at the Google headquarters for the Partnership Meeting, to take some photos, and write this article... Google may be causing a fundamental shift on how all digital marketing reporting and tracking metrics are configured and analyzed with this major shift.  Transforming from "machine based" tracking, based on the idea that everyone uses a single device to access the web and that computers are never shared is simply an incorrect assumption at this time.  By tracking USERS instead of a machine, but recognizing that user as they go online using multiple devices, like most of us do, is a radical and much needed shift in strategy.  String Automotive is positioned better than any other dealer website provider to benefit from this vast improvement to Google Analytics because of their close integration with GA and the site architecture design, from the ground up to optimize the use of Google Analytics.  

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