What Car Dealers Need to Know About Google Analytics

Most car dealers spend thousands of dollars each month on software that manages their walk-in traffic through CRM’s or other 3rd party software.  Yet when was the last time you looked at the software that monitors your online traffic? If you are one of the few that look at your web traffic on at least a monthly basis, do you know what to look for?

In this article, our goal is to shed some light on why your web traffic is important and what Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) you should be monitoring.

The majority of automotive web providers use Google Analytics to monitor website traffic. In fact Google Analytics is used by over 50 million websites worldwide. For that reason we are going to assume your provider does as well.

Understanding how people use your website is crucial to making decisions about how you market your dealership and it’s inventory. For example, is the majority of your online traffic coming from a geographic area that you are not currently active in? Has your mobile traffic surpassed your desktop traffic but your website is still build for desktop users? Are you generating a lot of views to certain vehicles but not generating leads? All of the questions can easily be answered through your analytics.

I am going to assume you have access to your analytics account. You have access to your crm, right? You MUST also have access to your analytics.

Ok, now lets look at what are the most important KPI’s that you should be looking at in no particular order because every dealership is different.

Monthly Visitors –

This one is pretty straight forward. Look to see if your traffic has improved either month over month or year over year. Keep in mind that the auto industry is cyclical and will have drops in traffic depending on the month of the year.

OrganicTraffic – 

If you are concerned about seo, then the organic traffic report is for you. Organic traffic tells us how much of your website visitors came to you via the search engines. As your website continues to improve its seo and ranking results, you should see a continuous increase in organic traffic.

Paid Traffic – 

The Paid Traffic report gives you a snapshot as to how your paid advertising campaigns are performing. You might be spending thousands of dollars a month on banner advertising and being told that your cost per thousand is awesome! But how many leads has it generated or resulted in recurring traffic? Understanding how your Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, Bing Ads etc are performing is critical to making an informed decision on its effectiveness.

VDP Views – 

Vehicle Detail Views is one of the most important segments to analyze. There is so much information that can be pulled from one report to help you better understand what vehicles to carry and at what price. Getting the report is another story.

The only way to generate this report accurately is to go and do the following:

  1. Go to your Behavior Tab
  2. Select Site Content
  3. Select All Pages
  4. Locate the Search Box on the right side of the page and enter the url string that is unique to your website provider…..huh?
  5. This part can be a little confusing. Each provider uses a web address/url that is unique to them. In almost all cases, part of the url will signify whether it is a new or used vehicle. Identify that common portion and enter it into the search box. At EZ Results, an example of a used car url  might be http://www.miltonnissan.ca/2016-nissan-titan-xd-sv-prem-cummins-diesel-crew-cab-used~i481382-148. The “used~” portion of the url indicates that it is a used vehicle. We would then copy used~ and enter it into the search box.
  6. Press enter and voila. You should now be able to sort your used inventory. Entering new~ would display your new inventory.

Time on VDP – 

Now that we have figured out how to view your inventory in Google Analytics, it’s time to dissect the data.  You can now sort your inventory by Views, Entrances, Exits, Bounce Rate and Time on Page. Time on Page gives us insight into the length of time a user spends on a VDP. The longer a person stays on your VDP, the greater the likelihood of them filling out a lead form.

If you have a vehicle that has been sitting on your lot for a lengthy period of time, you may want to look at it’s statistics to determine if you need to add a better description, more images or make an adjustment to the price.

Mobile Traffic –

Mobile traffic is now responsible for more traffic to your site than desktop. Don’t believe us? Go view your Mobile Traffic in Analytics. While you are there, look to see how conversions/goals are impacted by mobile vs desktop traffic. If mobile is less you should consider looking into how your website performs on a mobile phone.  Is your site responsive? Do you use 5 Call to Actions when 1 will suffice.  Put yourself into the shoes of the customer and really see how your site flows.

Referral Traffic –

Referral Traffic is an important indicator of how well positioned your site is.  Shoot for at least 20% of your traffic to come from referring websites which can be from Trader, Kijiji, online newspapers, Facebook, etc.

Return Visitors –

This one is very under valued.  The average consumer can touch your web properties 5 to 6 times prior to filling out a lead form.  To explain, let’s say “Jane Doe” is thinking about buying a new car.  She goes to Consumer Reports and begins to do research. The next day she might see and click on an ad from your dealership that matches the vehicle she looked at the night before.  That night she may see a remarketing ad that reminds her of the vehicle and you.

After a day or so, she decides to go to Google to see if there are any sales or incentives available and low and behold there is a search ad for remarketing that she clicks on and returns to your site where she fills out a contact us form.

Understanding that customers will visit your website multiple times before they buy, the more returning visitors you have the greater the opportunity.


To learn more about using Google Analytics, please feel free to reach out to us anytime.