The Best Google Analytics Reports For Car Dealers
Google Analytics is a leading industry analytics platform that provides useful insights for websites. Over the past several years, Google Analytics has become one of the most important reporting tools for car dealers as it provides useful data which leads to insights about a dealer’s website and lead generation. An analogy can be made of Google Analytics (GA for short) to the “Website Gate Keeper” because GA reports on all trackable website traffic. There are many reports pre-built into Google Analytics that ooze with information. How should car dealer personnel know which reports are important and which ones they should pay attention to? In this article, we discuss the top 4 Google Analytics reports that car dealer’s should monitor as these reports provide general trends and detailed insights into dealership’s overall website health and online customer behavior.
(1) Audience → Geo → Location
Since there are many different automotive vendors that claim to push significant traffic that influence car sales, it’s good to audit all sources periodically. The locations report will show the location origin of all website traffic. Sometimes, traffic originates not only from inside the dealership’s primary market area but oftentimes out of state and even out of the country. See below for an example of a car dealer’s sample Google Analytics location report. You will notice above that this report is accessible in the audience reports under Geo and then Locations. Since we are discussing automotive dealerships, this report is most effective if broken out into the “city” segment as car dealers are local businesses and are impacted by city and geographic variations.
This report can be helpful to not only identify top traffic locations but also weed out outliers that do not make sense. For example, in the above image, the town of “Ashburn” was not part of the specific dealer’s primary market area so appearing as the 2nd highest user-generated town seemed very out of the ordinary. Upon further digging, the behavior metrics indicated this location and source/medium is plagued by low-quality traffic proven by a minimal time on site, minimal pages / session and very high bounce rate. This example illustrates how to determine quality vs non-quality traffic.
(2) Acquisition - Source/Medium
Whether you're an in-house dealership digital marketing manager, a general manager, a marketing vendor or agency, or a lead generation vendor, the source medium report is an insightful report because it serves as an all encompassing website traffic report across all different sources. Each source is listed as an individual row and each column is a metric of that report. The reporting columns are broken up into 3 groups:
Acquisition which tells you what type of users are coming to the site,
Behavior which tells you what those new users or people are doing on your site, and
Conversion which provides insight on what actions those people are taking on different pages of your site.
Some may counter that the “Channel” report under acquisition provides similar information as the Source/Medium report but the DDM team prefers the Source / Medium report, especially for Automotive clients, because it breaks down multiple sources more thoroughly. For example, a dealership may have an email marketing service through their digital agency but perhaps for a month they subscribe to a radio package with their traditional agency and that package comes with a complimentary conquest email blast at the end of the month. In the source medium report you will be able to see metrics from each one of your email campaigns broken out separately as then they can be evaluated separately as opposed to the channels report where any email campaign would be grouped together thus not being able to see a true view of data. See the image below for the illustrated example.
(3) Behavior - Site Content - All Pages / Landing pages
This report is designed to provide a list of your website’s top pages and their associated metrics. It’s organized in descending order by users and lists the top 10 by default. Typically for a franchise car dealer’s website, the top 5 pages will include the following:
New VRP (New vehicle results page)
Used VRP (Used vehicle results page)
New [top model] results page
Each OEM has top sales volume models like the Jeep Wrangler, Nissan Rogue, or Subaru Forester as examples. The top model is a large traffic driver and that individual car will most likely be within the top 5-10 results pages organized by page views.
Certified VRP (Certified vehicle results page)
Service / Schedule Service
Other pages may be within the top 10 but the homepage should most always be #1. Here’s an example dealer’s top 10 pages organized by page view within a 30-day time span.
Notice that the 1st 3 pages are in fact the homepage, the new vrp (new vehicle results page) and the used vrp (used vehicle results page). This report automatically defaults to sorting by pageviews in descending order and that’s important to recognize because it shows the order of importance of which pages are most significant to your website. Website recommendations and changes should be made from analysis rather than feeling and DDM team members recommend to make meaningful changes to the pages that matter the most first. A wise strategy would be to focus efforts on the pages that are driving the most traffic such as the homepage or vehicle results pages as opposed to typically low traffic coupon and staff pages. Optimizing for user experience and conversions is critical to a successful website.
It’s important to analyze this page against configured goals as certain pages will generate more types of goals than others. Vehicle detail pages (VDPs) should be geared towards generating a significant amount of conversion goals where as the homepage would generate a more mixed variety of goals including behavior goals (converting goals including form submissions and chat initiations compared to behavior goals including 4 or more pages viewed and 3+ mins time on site).
A best practice to utilize the comparison time frame as shown above. The reason why comparisons are so pivotal is because a comparison allows you to see current trends and capture key insights about your dealership’s website traffic and performance. The default time frame reporting that members of the Digital Difference Maker team uses is the last 30 days compared to the previous period. Why do we use this time frame? The last 30 days date range provides digital marketers a balance of recent data, to analyze current trends, and sample size, to validate that these trends are reliable. Also, 30 days parallels a dealer’s monthly sales cycle, and comparing the last 30 days to the previous 30 days provides insight to each sales cycle. One caveat to remember is that whenever there are comparisons, the time of the month is a dominant influencing factor as car dealers typically sell more cars at the end of the month as opposed to the beginning of the month.
One can see in the table above, homepage views and used vrp views are negative 12% and 14% respectively upon last 30 days vs the previous 30 days. This may be alarming, but at the time of writing this article many dealers are facing inventory obstacles as our economy is adapting and recovering from the business and demand affects from the Coronavirus (Covid-19)
(4) Conversions - Goals - All Goals
This view provides a nice scorecard of the engagement metrics that are important to your website. This should be how the digital marketing team member / liaison begins meetings because every marketing decision and campaign should be crafted and tailored to increase actionable items that customers perform on your website.
As mentioned earlier in this article, a comparison gives great insight because it shows which campaigns are winning and which areas the marketing and website team need to focus on for improvement
It’s helpful to have a last 30 days compared to another comparable time frame to give an insightful analysis. Note that if any major website change occurs, goals would need to be re-validated and possibly reconfigured and may not show the most accurate data-set. Green represents a positive increase while red represents a negative decrease.
Taking the example goal overview report above and honing down into areas of improvement we are alerted to 3 goals that need attention shown in the image below.
The DDM team watches out for fluctuations that are greater than the range of 10-15% because anything over that range indicates a more significant fluctuation that might be caused by external factors as opposed to normal market conditions. In the example above, the Used VDPs, Certified VDPs and Schedule Service goals have all decreased by 33% or more. As a dealer, and digital marketer, this is something we need to look into to make sure all of the website goals are tracking correctly and there’s not something that changed within the site or form process. Again, at the time of writing this article, dealers are dealing with inventory issues so it’s not surprising that Used and Certified Pre-Owned vehicle views have decreased because dealers are having trouble acquiring enough used and certified inventory due to high demand. However the service form submission is questionable so that would be something our DDM team members look into to see if there are any opportunities for optimization or improvement.
In summary, there are many Google Analytics reports that are useful for car dealers and any businesses for that matter. The top 4 listed in this article are the main reports from each reporting classification in Google Analytics (audience, acquisition, behavior, and conversions) and provide useful insights to make quick and effective decisions. Our team recommends to not just solely look at these reports but to establish benchmark KPIs (key performance indicators) that are important to the effectiveness of a dealership’s digital performance, and directly relate to lead generation and sales. If you have any questions or would like a consultation on how to view or analyze these reports in Google Analytics, feel free to inquire below.