Written By Matthew Finke
If your dealership uses any kind of online marketing, you’re probably at least a little familiar with Google Analytics and the broader concept of conversion tracking, which helps you isolate the best-performing parts of your digital advertising efforts (and the ones you can improve on).
But does your dealership utilize the more sophisticated parts of Google Analytics, like call tracking and third-party integration tools? Getting the most out of your data from Google Analytics isn’t all intuitive, but it’s crucial to help determine where your best leads are coming from and what’s really growing your business.
Google’s Analytics 4 Update
With the incoming release of the Google Analytics 4 (GA4) update, there’s no better time to learn how to get the most out of your dealership’s conversion data. The current version of Google Analytics, which is installed on practically every dealer website in the U.S., is going away. Specifically, on July 1st, 2023, the current version of Google Analytics will stop tracking new website analytics data. Google is essentially replacing this version of Analytics, also referred to as Universal Analytics (UA), with an entirely new system that requires new accounts and new code installation to work. This is where some of the new data interpretation and conversion tracking challenges begin.
As far as utilizing the tools within Google Analytics, making sure that you’re tracking everything from a conversion standpoint is hugely valuable to your dealership. In fact, a lot of agencies and vendors don’t or can’t do that to the fullest potential for your dealership’s growth. I want to go over why it’s so important, why it’s not that difficult to do, and why your dealership should be using the deeper conversion tracking strategies that Google Analytics offers.
Conversion Tracking & User Interactions
So, in Universal Analytics they have what they call “goals.” Goals help quantify how well your site or app accomplishes your target objectives. A goal represents a completed action, called a conversion, that helps the success of your business. For a standard Analytics account you get 20 goals. At BitMoto, we use these goals to track events that we could classify as a conversion or a KPI (key performance indicator).
Basically, that includes anything that’s important for us to track from a user engagement perspective. But there’s quite a high number of conversion actions that a user can take on a dealer’s website in terms of actually getting customer information to you, the dealership, whether it’s directly to your CRM, sent via an email, a lead form, or something else.
There are arguably four key conversion types that result from user interactions on your website: forms, phone calls, chats, and texts. We’ll go over each more in depth below, so let’s start with a closer look at utilizing some for securing valuable customer information.
Online Forms & Call Tracking
Perhaps the easiest interaction we all think of is the digital form. For example, it’s popular to include a form on your website for users to fill out information like their name, phone number, email address, and more. All that good stuff that easily gets sent to your CRM. But are you also tracking phone calls? This is usually tougher to track, and in most cases you’ll likely have to pay for some third-party integration – Car Wars is a great example.
They provide great phone tracking and they can put the phone call data back into Google Analytics for you. And while tracking manually-inputted numbers from users visiting your website is harder, you can still do things like track mobile click-to-calls pretty easily.
For instance, at BitMoto we track those click-to-call actions in Google Analytics (like in the image above). That means any time someone is on a mobile device and they click that call button, they trigger a little section of code that helps track data without having any sort of third-party integration. And again, while you do lose out on someone being on their desktop and manually dialing a number on their phone, you can still reliably track click-to-calls without any third-party integration.
Online Forms & Digital Retailing
Are you using digital retailing on any of your dealership websites? If you are, then you probably know that it doesn’t natively offer form-fill capabilities. For instance, Autofi, Roadster, and similar platforms all provide third-party digital retailing integrations that do provide form-fill options for Google Analytics. If you work with those providers, you can give them your analytics code and they can actually pump data back into your Analytics accounts by providing necessary data-layer labels. These labels actually track user interactions throughout that digital retailing process and not just the sending of the lead information off to the dealer. Some other examples are completing a credit app or finding the value of their trade-in.
Let’s look at another example:
The dealership in the above example uses Dealer.com’s digital retailing service. The “Offer Submit” tracking feature basically sends the customer lead information to the dealership through Dealer.com’s digital retailing. So that’s a lead that, without setting up that integration, you’re totally missing from an analytics-tracking perspective.
Digging a little deeper, when you work through the rest of that digital retailing process with platforms like Dealer.com, they allow you to accomplish additional value trade tracking and credit application tracking too. You can also get data based on user actions all the way to finalizing their car purchase before literally committing to buy it. Dealer.com includes this pre-purchase finalization step as a trackable element, or goal, in Google Analytics called “Accept Deal.”
This not only helps dealerships see how many people started the process and submitted their lead information, but also how many completed a credit application, put in a down payment, and more. As a dealer, you can pump all this information back into your analytics account and get almost real-time data into how people are interacting with these third-party platforms.
Chats, Texts, Forms, & Service Appointments
“Chat Session Lead” is another great trackable element in Google Analytics. For example, if you’re using Gubagoo or CarNow as your chat provider, you can supply them with your Google Analytics code and they can pump the data back in and give you the necessary data-layer labels to interpret it. This enables you to set up an Analytics goal that actually tracks the number of chats that users complete that send a lead to your CRM from your website.
There’s a similar dynamic with tracking Schedule Service Appointment interactions with third-party platforms, like CDK Smartt. You can send your dealership’s Analytics code over to them, which enables them to send the data back to you and track it within Google Analytics as a conversion. The reason that’s so important is that, without accurate conversion tracking, why do any of it at all? You’d be really just guessing with data that’s too generalized.
Form fills, which are the easiest to track, are probably the lowest conversion-rate interaction that you have happen on your website. It’s usually harder to reliably have someone submit a form and wait a day or a couple hours to get back to them because most users want to chat and know if it’s available now.
Overall, if you’re not tracking forms, phone calls, chats, and texts in analytics, you’re missing a huge portion of where your leads are converting. For instance, if you’re trying to evaluate the performance of a vendor that’s doing paid search for you, or Facebook advertising, or your organic traffic for SEO, or any referrals such as CarGurus, Autotrader, they all likely tell you that they’re sending traffic back to your website. But, then, other important questions come up:
Do you know if users are calling you when they get to your dealership websites? Are they submitting a digital retailing lead? Are they chatting in?
If you’re missing the ability to track all of those things in your Analytics account, you’re really just looking at raw traffic. Which is a great start, but it doesn’t get you the full picture of what actually is working for you and what’s actually driving leads into your CRM that you can hopefully sell.
Without proper conversion data, you’re really just throwing darts at a board. You can have some traffic that looks really great based on the amount of users and how long they spend on the site – but are they submitting leads? That’s what matters. And that’s what goal tracking and conversion setups within Analytics helps you achieve.
Conversion Tracking & Advertising
Securing more comprehensive conversion data for your dealership also offers additional fringe benefits. For instance, a lot of advertising channels now rely on conversion data to optimize the ads themselves, which means there are entire advertising strategies out there that optimize for conversions too.
Essentially, Google Ads looks at the conversion data it receives from Google Analytics and it uses that data to determine who is likely to convert and who is not. And that actually changes your ad-bid amount. So, if you’re not giving Google Ads all the conversion data, it’s making assumptions based on just a very small piece of the data pie, and likely making the wrong decisions in terms of optimizing your ads to get the most conversions. So the more data you give the AI, the more accurately it can figure out how to best attribute your ad-spend and how to modify things to get the best results.
Figuring out how to implement proper conversion tracking within Google Analytics will only support your business with better data for improved growth. That’s why conversion tracking really is an essential part of your dealership’s Google Analytics strategy and digital presence.