Automotive Digital Marketing

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Got data? 10 key digital metrics you MUST KNOW as an Internet Manager

We talk to hundreds of dealers about live chat and were often surprised by internet managers who are clueless about their traffic and lead numbers. Certainly in the auto industry, an 'internet manager' can be anyone from a service receptionist who responds to internet leads to someone who is in charge of digital marketing for an entire group. If you are indeed managing the dealership's internet department or have any responsibility for the performance of the internet leads coming into the store then you need to navigate the maze of data to track your performance.

It's amazing how much information is at our fingertips in all facets of our life. My phone tells me every day how many text messages and call minutes I've used, as well as where I stand with data consumption. Press a few buttons on our mobile devices and we can monitor just about anything to do with our bank accounts, life savings, and even our physical fitness. Even in the graphic to the right of a trans-Pacific flight, passengers and those on the ground can monitor not only progress, but altitude, airspeed, approximate map location, and estimated time of arrival in near-real time.


Why track your internet data? Because that's where the money is! So what are some key metrics for an internet manager to follow?

These 10 are a good start:

  • Total visitors
  • Unique visitors
  • Mobile traffic
  • Geographic location
  • Referring site (Google, OEM, etc)
  • Total internet leads
  • Website form leads
  • Leads from website add-ons (live chat, Pure Cars, KBB, gas card popup, etc)
  • Closing ratio for these sources
  • ROI (cost of the lead compared to sold units compared to gross profit)

Because these numbers are key to understanding health and performance of your internet, it is critical to find a process that works for tracking them. Whether it's a notebook or a spreadsheet (smarter), spend a few minutes each month to look up and document these numbers to recognize the health of your digital resources.


Maybe you are the decision maker for internet marketing dollars, but even if you're not, watching these figures will let you know if you are trending up or down, and also help you identify which of these areas should have more or less of the budget. Maybe the data indicate a one of your lead sources is dropping off and needs to be reevaluated. In other cases, one of your sources may have higher results than expected and deserves more attention.


One of the best - and most unbiased - sources for data is Google Analytics. Without question, navigating Google Analytics can be a daunting task, but your website provider and CRM company also have user-friendly reports that are a good source for this information. There are many more metrics to consider, especially with SEM and SEO initiatives, but the 10 basics above will help you create a much clearer picture of your website marketing strategies and how they are working.


Tom LaPointe CarChat24 CHAT GURU 24/7 Interactive Automotive Dealer Website LIVE CHAT Solutions Hosted or In-House Options – FREE web chat software 727-638-0195

A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Tom has an MBA in Marketing and is an automotive writer and author with nearly 20 years experience in virtually every aspect of the retail auto industry. He has been involved with the internet from the beginning, building websites at Johns Hopkins University in the 90's, and has been a performance leader in nearly every dealer role, from sales and service, to BDC / internet sales and viral marketing.

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Tags: Google Analytics, ROI, data, leads, measurement, metrics, statistics, website, website visitors


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Comment by Big Tom LaPointe on October 29, 2015 at 10:22pm

Brian - 

  1. Dealers / managers i talk to who DO have data, seem to be using google analytics followed by CRM data (and we know that's a crap shoot, but at least they can find the report)
  2. Probably 30% of people I talk to don't know where to FIND the data (of those who SHOULD know where to find it)
  3. It's rare that a dealer is top secret about the numbers, but I have honed my craft to find out without making them defensive by putting a range on it 1-2k, 5-6k, 20k...
Comment by Brian Bennington on October 24, 2015 at 5:44pm

Well Big Tom, that's some solid advice.  Considering you've talked to hundreds of dealers about CarChat, and probably covered its sourcing, there's a couple of questions you're uniquely qualified to answer.  And, no research is needed, as your gut assessment would be just as valid.  #1. What percentage of dealers' sourcing did you find acceptable?  #2. What percentage of dealers appear to have nothing organized to track performance?  #3. What percentage of dealers weren't even interested in discussing it?  I'd ask a couple of others, but I don't want to encourage you to bias your answers.  You can, if you would be so kind, answer these here, or, to your old friend  Thanks ahead of time.  

Comment by Ralph Paglia on October 23, 2015 at 10:16pm

Thank you, Tom, for an important reminder and specific measurements that every automotive marketing professional serving car dealerships should, and must be focused on!

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