by Bob Myhal
The Digital Metrics That Matter for Dealerships
When it comes to metrics and analytics, digital marketing for automotive dealers can often seem like an overwhelming maze of numbers and statistics.
If those endless numbers and Excel sheets are making your head spin, then it’s time to focus on the metrics that matter most for your automotive digital marketing success.
The Basic Digital Marketing Metrics to Track
- Website Traffic
At CBC Automotive Marketing, we are firm believers that automotive dealers should be prioritizing quality over quantity with regard to web traffic. However, keeping an eye on basic traffic numbers and how these change over time is a must. This is a big bucket and includes sub-metrics like total sessions, new sessions, pages per session, time on site, unique users, new users and more.
- Acquisition / Web Traffic Source
Automotive marketers need to pay close attention to how a user gets to a page.
- Know where your traffic is coming from.
- Determine where your highest-quality traffic is coming from.
- Put more energy, effort, and budget into optimizing the sources that are producing the highest-quality users. (More about this shortly.)
- Top Website Pages
It’s important to know which pages and / or content on your site are getting the most views. After the homepage, which is the natural gateway into your online showroom, we like to see VDPs (Vehicle Detail Pages) and SRPs (Search Results Pages) high up on the list. Special Offer pages, Contact Us pages, Finance and Service pages…all of these are important to the health of your business and need to be tracked closely.
- Cost Per Click
CPC (Cost Per Click) advertising is one of the core components of an effective digital strategy. Tracking CPC for different sources and campaigns is essential, but like all advertising CPC should not exist in a vacuum. A lower CPC is not always better. In fact, there are many times when it is more cost effective and ROI-positive to pay a higher CPC, so long as it produces higher-quality traffic. Nevertheless, CPC is one of the core metrics you need to keep an eye on. Understanding industry benchmarks for various digital platforms is a great way to evaluate this metric.
- Cost Per Impression
Buying digital advertising through impressions is a marketing staple and is typically reported as cost per 1000 impressions or CPM (Cost Per Mil). You’ll want to analyze your CPM to gauge how reasonable the cost is. Again, quality impressions that lead to highly-engaged web traffic matter the most.
- Share / Impression Share
Impression share is a percentage that represents how many impressions your ads received divided by the number of impressions they were eligible to receive. For instance, an impression share number of 50% indicates that your ad was shown half the time it was eligible to be shown. The potential reasons that it wasn’t shown the other 50% of the time are numerous and include: competition, relevancy, quality score, bids and budget. Impression share is a metric that can be helpful but can also be very misleading. In a limited and local marketing environment like automotive dealers are typically advertising in, impression share can easily be misunderstood and manipulated. (We’ll have a more detailed post on the value and limitations of the impression share metric in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.)
The All-Star Digital Marketing Metrics that Need to be Front and Center
- Click Thru Rate
Click through rate (CTR) is the ratio of users who click on a specific ad to the number of total users who viewed the advertisement. CTR can be used to gauge how well your advertising is performing. Specifically, it is an important indication that your ad message is compelling and is getting in front of the right audience. Like others, this metric should not be evaluated in a vacuum. It’s crucial to understand the CTR benchmarks for each platform you’re advertising on and compare your own CTR metrics accordingly.
- View Rate
View rate is a ratio showing the number of paid views of a video ad to the number of impressions. This is important because it indicates how engaged your targeted audience is with your message. Low view rates are usually a warning sign that your online video is not compelling and / or reaching the right audience.
- Vehicle Detail Page Views
Nowadays, for most consumers your VDP pages are their introduction to the specific vehicle they may be interested in. As such, it’s important to create VDPs that are easy to navigate and appeal to the user. VDP views are correlated with sales, so it’s crucial to track your VDP metrics. In addition to total VDP views for new and used, pay attention to how long a user stayed on a VDP and any moves they make after that, including acquiring more information, going to a different page, etc.
- Cost per Lead
Cost per lead is the total cost of a marketing campaign divided by the number of leads it produces. While it’s important to keep track of how much it costs to acquire each lead, there are limitations to lead metrics due to the unique nature of auto buying and the growing reluctance of consumers to submit online forms. Our data suggest that well over 50% of folks that come into your dealership will never contact you in any way prior to showing up. This includes form submissions, calls, e-mails, etc. But nearly all of them will have been to your website and many other related auto sites prior to dropping in. That’s why our final metric below is so valuable.
- Inventory / VDP Engagement
VDP Engagement is one of the most sophisticated and thoughtful metrics to utilize in evaluating your digital traffic. When a customer walks into the dealership, you can pay close attention to their body language and manner to get important clues about where they are in the car-buying journey and how serious they are about driving off in a new or used vehicle. VDP Engagement involves sophisticated algorithms that allow advertisers to score a user’s “digital body language”. In this way, advertisers can determine which marketing campaigns are pulling in the most-engaged users and what the average cost per engaged user is. As the trend continues of less users contacting dealerships by submitting forms, etc, dealers need an objective way to assess the quality of their digital traffic. VDP Engagement metrics allows advertisers to determine how many serious buyers you have on your website, where those buyers are coming from, and ultimately where digital budgets are most efficiently spent.
Interested in learning more about how to properly evaluate your dealership or group’s digital marketing? Let’s have a conversation about how CBC Automotive Marketing can help.