Automotive Digital Marketing

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You have Google Analytics implemented across all your dealer group's sites. You know that data based analysis grows more important to your dealership management teams and the decisions they make every year. You may have even heard Google's Avinash Kaushik railing against traditional web stats at the last Digital Dealer conference in Orlando. But you're not sure how to accurately measure what matters... Or which metrics matter more than the others.

The short answer: Ignore any measurements or information that isn’t helping you better understand how to streamline the customer’s journey to a sale at your dealerships.

To help you do just that by making full use of Google Analytics, we put together some best practices to set yourself up for success.

The Bottom Line

Before you dive into any segmentation or analysis, make sure you're tracking conversions that matter.

Start by navigating to the Conversions tab at the bottom of GA's sidebar and click the Overview link within Goals. If you're greeted by a page telling you that "this report requires goals to be enabled," then you have no way to chop up your data and see which visitors are converting into leads, how they arrived at your site, and how they interacted before converting.

If goals are enabled, then you're halfway home. Only track goals that focus on the tangible, which means ditching any that focus on engagement metrics. Time on site, pages per visit, inventory pageviews, and other soft goals pollute your stats and give you artificially high conversion rates. There's a reason why the top 50 sites on the web average a 2% conversion rate: they're only tracking goals that directly impact their bottom line.

Start with form submissions for price quotes, test drives, and financing. Add clicks for directions. If your platform allows for it, track mobile clicks-to-call. Talk with your vendor about adding goals that you can honestly tie to revenue, and then add appropriate dollar values to each conversion type.

With that foundation in place, everything you look at in GA can be examined through the "what matters" lens. Look for the handy "Goal Set" links near the top of nearly any page in GA, and you can immediately see the last-click conversion rate and value of any traffic source, keyword, city, etc.

The New Metrics

Don't bother with visits and pageviews. If you want an accurate look at how you're filling the funnel and which sources are contributing most to conversions and sales, put engagement aside and concentrate instead on unique visitors and new visitors. If a vendor is tying success to time on site, bounce rate, and pages per visit, then they're not looking at the right metrics. A longer time on site and higher pages per visit may simply mean that users are confused and spending longer looking for what they want.

Bounce rate is useful only to the extent of understanding whether a customer is finding what they are looking for on your site. If you are experiencing high bounce rates, take the time to understand what is going wrong.

The Customer Journey

So how do you connect the dots to determine if visitors are becoming customers – and what makes them do so?

Now that you have the right goals enabled, start looking at the Multi-Channel Funnels report in GA under the Conversions tab. Here, you get a 30-day window into the interactions with your site that a visitor makes before submitting a lead. This report is particularly important for auto dealerships, as car shoppers touch your site more than once before converting, but that lead is attributed solely to the final traffic source. The more you understand how visitors move along the funnel, the better you can tweak the experience at each stage to move them along to the next one.

Google recently launched its Customer Journey to Online Purchase site, with the typical conversion path that users take across a variety of industries. Automotive is one of the featured categories, and Google's 2012 data suggests that direct and organic traffic are receiving the lion's share of the credit for work that email campaigns, referral sites, and paid search are putting in.

The Report You Should Implement Today

At Digital Dealer, Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist Avinash Kaushik suggested that you take a look at your conversion events and break them down by channel. While it's not as sophisticated as the heatmap he presented at the conference, this custom report for GA will provide you with a snapshot of your goals and which channels are delivering them. Simply click the link and select the profile that you want to apply it to:

At the very least, this report will tell you:

  • Whether you have any conversion tracking in place

  • What types of conversions you're tracking

  • Which sources are delivering the most last-click conversions.

For more information on how to use this template in combination with your other reporting, read the full Measure What Matters series, particularly the final installment, “The One Report Dealers Can’t Live Without.”

It may seem overwhelming right now. But set your conversions to focus on the bottom line, start scratching the surface of the data you collect, and you'll push the proverbial needle in the right direction.

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Tags: analytics, attribution, conversions, dealer, digital, funnel, google, measurement, metrics, multi-channel, More…tracking


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Comment by Alexander Lau on June 14, 2013 at 8:04am

Additionally, it should surprise none of you that Organic and Direct traffic hold more power. 

Comment by Alexander Lau on June 14, 2013 at 7:57am

Very specific information, which I love. Although I do not believe Google Analytics to be the best web performance analysis, (nor do I feel tags should be used for tracking; should be tagless = a much better method / mechanism) yes setting up conversions is what you should be doing before anything else. Obviously, it will help you measure your ROI by placing a value on conversion completions or conversion gates. You can quantify your ROI if set up correctly.

I go as far to apply Google Analytics API to a 3rd party application (SEO CRM) in order to measure the exact keyword combinations that are not only measured for search volume but for conversion purposes as well. The tool also takes into consideration many 3rd party sites, such as social networks, external blogs / articles, etc. for conversions as well. It uses GA conversion set-ups and shows paths to conversions, not necessarily purchases per se. Online purchases in the automotive industry are rarities at dealer sites. Data suggests it leads to purchases, but in person.

I removed the keywords to keep client anonymous. Last 7 days.

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