By Lisa Gener, Chief Revenue Officer, Dealer Alchemist

Dealers across the country spend hundreds of thousands every month on digital marketing – but is it working to reach the right audience and sell vehicles? Or, are those dollars lost to all the internet noise?

The solution is responsive ad technology, configured analytics, and full data transparency. Without full access and the correct metrics, dealers are effectively blindfolded when it comes to making spending decisions.

It’s possible to solve these problems and make your marketing investment work for you. Focus efforts on the following:

Measure What You Want to Manage

You’ll never know which campaigns are a waste and which are making you money if you can’t measure the metrics. Too often dealers have specific internal goals for sales and service campaigns, yet conversion metrics are vague and hard to track. Does your dealership fall into that category? Find out by logging into your Google Analytics Goals and take a look at what you’re tracking. Can you see conversion metrics by department, specific webpages, social engagement, and more?

Defining goals is a fundamental component of any digital analytics measurement plan. Goals measure how well your campaign, website, social media, etc., are engaging consumers and converting them into customers. There are both hard conversions (like submitting a contact form) and soft conversions (like positive social media engagement). A soft conversion often happens before a hard conversion and when your strategy works, you’ll see the promotion of your inventory leading the conversion pathway for shoppers.

You also need to ensure that everything that matters is properly linked. For example, I met with a dealer recently and we discovered that his Google ad campaigns were not synced to Google Analytics, so he had no way to measure the amount spent on each campaign or campaign effectiveness. He was blind to how campaigns were performing and to the full customer lifecycle from how users engaged with marketing to how they finally made a purchase. This feedback loop is critical to make educated, data-driven decisions on where to allocate money.

Be Wary of Bundled Media Packages

The pervasive problem of misleading data representation is why I tell dealers to carefully vet bundled media packages before signing on the dotted line. It’s too easy to roll-up conversions into one monthly report that gives little insight into campaign spending, bounce rates, time on site, etc. Another misrepresentation to watch out for is reports that include clicks from Google Business Profile (which is free, organic traffic) to artificially boost results. This is data manipulation to make the numbers look better.

Insist on a full, comprehensive view of everything that matters. But keep in mind that sifting through data to determine your best dollar allocations can be time-intensive. Bring in industry experts to help if you feel overwhelmed or simply don’t have the time.

Prepare for Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

GA4 is here and dealers need to get on board now. Here’s why: Google will sunset Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 360 in 2023 and all historical data with them. Dealers need to dual tag websites with GA4 today so all historical data doesn’t disappear into the ether.

Getting on board now is also smart to take advantage of new GA4 standards for call tracking. If you have call tracking software in place, GA4 will provide feedback loops down to source, length of connection, if it’s a service or sales opportunity, and even if an appointment was set. This is a huge breakthrough for dealers as it will dramatically improve call analysis and expose spam bots that skew data and ruin useful metrics.

Another exciting development is the formation of the Automotive Standards Council for GA4, spearheaded by Brian Pasch. The council is composed of dealers, vendors, and OEMs who are involved in online analytics and want to create standards for universal analytics specifically for the automotive industry. Council spots are still open so check it out if you want to get involved.

Dealers are spending thousands of dollars every month on digital marketing – shouldn’t you know exactly what you’re getting? It’s time to pull back the curtain and make sure your investment is actually working for you.

Want to learn more on how to measure for the most effective spending?

Lisa Gener of Dealer Alchemist and Eric Barbosa, Managing Partner of Henson Brand Dealerships, will take you through the tactics the Henson Brand uses to determine the core metrics that count, smooth out inventory challenges, and eliminate wasted ad spend during their session at Digital Dealer Las Vegas 2022!

Author: Christine Corkran

Digital Dealer