Do Car Dealers Still Rip People Off?

sleazy car salesman

If video killed the radio star, perhaps the internet killed the sleazy-car-salesman stereotype. Of course there are always going to be salespeople that only have their own best interest at heart, but thanks to the internet it is much more difficult for car dealers to manipulate a customer like they could back in the ’70s and ’80s. All a customer has to do is enter the information for the vehicle they want into Google and can determine right then and there if they are getting a good deal.

As discussed in an article from Dealer Bar, the auto industry is very unique in that, “As consumers, we don’t blink an eye when buying a couch or a shirt that brings in 50% or more profit to the retailer, but car dealers often struggle to make 4% off of a vehicle sold”. Of course dealerships are still making money, but this distinction is something that car buyers should consider.

This is great news for car buyers! We can now make more informed buying decisions and we should no longer feel so intimidated when visiting a dealership. I think as car buyers we can begin to view the process this way:

“They aren’t your enemy. You want to buy a vehicle and they want to sell one. Your goals are aligned.”

How Mobile-Friendly Are Your Ads?

Mobile search has become a way of life for consumers. In fact, Google proclaimed that 2015 was the first year that saw more searches being done on mobile devices than on desktops and laptops combined. Not surprisingly, more and more people conduct their research online before making a purchase, and automotive customers are no different. Buyers are now Googling vehicle brands, reading reviews, comparing models, and visiting dealership websites before finally deciding on which vehicles they’re interested in and where they will be purchased.

Customers are spending more and more time on their smartphones

Continue reading “How Mobile-Friendly Are Your Ads?”

Dealers, Avoid Car Jargon!

“DOHC with VarioCam Plus variable valve timing, 8 s., sequential automatic transmission”


How most customers react to car jargon

Every industry has its own jargon, and the automotive industry is no exception. In fact, insider jargon at car dealers is so prevalent that if you search “car dealer jargon” in Google, you will find endless jargon dictionaries to prepare customers for a dealership visit. Some believe that the use of jargon strengthens their sales presentation and their image by making them seem more technically savvy or more knowledgeable.

This is a mistake.

If you are looking for the source of a problem with a customer, there is a strong chance that it may rest on some misunderstanding, and this often stems from a lack of common vocabulary. If you’re not in the automotive industry, it’s highly unlikely that you will be exposed to the technical jargon used within dealerships, and even simple car jargon can be confusing.

Using car jargon just leads to frustration for both parties

If the customer has no idea what you are talking about, they often won’t tell you. Even the small portion of those who will tell you have lost valuable time trying to understand what could have been put in plain language.

So what’s the solution?

Unfortunately, since dealer jargon has been used for so long, sales associates often don’t even realize they are using it.  But to truly inform and engage your audience, pay attention to the terms you employ, the descriptions you use and the people with whom you are communicating.

If your messaging isn’t adapted to the person to whom you are talking, your client will not understand and they will end up being heavily disappointed and frustrated at the end of your interaction. Therefore, listen to the words your client is using and bridge the terms they use with yours. By demystifying the language used within the automotive industry, you will successfully build a sense of trust between you and the customer, and we all know trust is critical for sales success.

Testimonials: Are They Still Relevant?

Are your website or marketing campaigns failing to generate business? How do you convince uncertain buyers that your product and services meet their needs and expectations? How do you persuade them that they are right to call on your services and right to trust you?

One of the most effective ways to persuade a potential customer is to show credible testimonials.

Why is this?

How often do you hear the following statements: “I’m not much of a car person”, or “I don’t know much about cars”. Now, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What do you do when you need to buy a product you don’t know much about?  What is your initial reaction when you are searching for an expensive product or service? According to Google’s Think Auto data, 48% of people consult the internet for vehicle information, and 25% consult their family and friends for this information. This is because prospective clients want to mitigate as much risk as possible. When we are faced with a tremendous amount of vehicles to choose from, we all want to make the “right decision” and avoid making a purchasing mistake.

Loyal customers have a story to tell. Give someone who has already made a similar purchasing decision a chance to tell their story in front of the cameras and showcase what’s great about your dealership.

These testimonies will play a huge role in reassuring customers of their decision making throughout the buying process. That being said, not all customer testimonials are created equal. Unfortunately, many false recommendations circulate on the web, which makes it even more important to make sure your customer testimonials are credible and authentic.

Once you are ready to reap the benefits of a strong video testimonial, get on YouTube! This medium is greatly underutilized by Canadian car dealers. The potential to drive a lot more traffic and inexpensive pay-per-click rates are the two components that make YouTube a great tool for delivering video advertisements.

And guess what? Here at Strathcom Media, our automotive video production team will come right to your  dealership with the proper equipment to produce high-quality videos without disrupting your day-to-day operations. All you need to do is have your vehicles (and any featured customers) detailed, polished, and ready to film. We will edit your videos to your satisfaction, and then optimize them for search engines to help you get the most views possible.

Check out one of our testimonial videos below!

Turn Even More Website Visitors into Leads

Advertisers love the ability to follow around potential customers with remarketing ads because it’s a great reminder to customers of their ever growing list of wants, as the advertiser patiently waits until your will power is at its lowest and for you to finally return and make your next purchase. You may even be running these images ads for your own dealership.

Today, this is how most people search for new vehicles.

Now, what if I told you that you could have this same stalking ability but get your business in front of audience that is actively shopping for your products a second time? No more passive approach to remarketing, patiently waiting until a user is ready to continue down the purchase path. You can skip the waiting and now entice previous website visitors when they’re actively on the hunt again. How can this be? Well…

Continue reading “Turn Even More Website Visitors into Leads”

Dynamic Remarketing 101

 Is it fair to expect to convert visitors on their first visit to a website? According to Hub Spot, approximately 96% of visitors that come to a website are not ready to buy….yet[i]. For the casual browser who is looking for more information, offering the visitor relevant information to keep them on your webpage for longer could mean the difference between a conversion and a bounce.

Today, this is how most people search for new vehicles.

That being said, we all know that a certain percentage of bounce  is inevitable for any website out there, particularly when we are dealing with an extremely competitive landscape such as automotive marketing.

Continue reading “Dynamic Remarketing 101”

Facebook Best Professional Service – What It Means To You

Facebook, being the largest social media network (with about 1.5 Billion active users) has always tried to close the gap between their users and other sites. The more they can roll into facebook the more time their users will spend on facebook. This is why it was no surprise when facebook took a giant leap in the reviews world by launching their new Best Professional Service site.

Facebook's new Best Professional Service is the latest tool at your disposal

Continue reading “Facebook Best Professional Service – What It Means To You”

Changing The PPC Game with Google Customer Match

In the world of Google and PPC, there are currently only 4 ways you can target potential customers. These include:

  • Keyword searches
  • Past site Visitors
  • In-Market Audiences and;
  • Affinity Audiences

Recently, Google – in their infinite wisdom – decided to throw another targeting method into the mix and it is sure to float the proverbial boat of car dealers across the world.

Modern advertising involves targeting the individual.

Continue reading “Changing The PPC Game with Google Customer Match”

Reach Your Customers The Moment They Come Through The Door With Facebook Beacon

A customer walks into your dealership. They start looking at cars. And – like the over 1 billion people around the world – at some point they decide to check Facebook.

Normally they would scroll through their newsfeed, see what their friends are doing, and check whether they have received any new messages.

But not today!

At your dealership, they see something different. They are greeted with a beautifully-designed notification welcoming them and offering to show them the current OEM special you are running that month.

They click the notification and are taken to a page where they can see information, photos, and posts from your business. They can also see any interactions their friends have had with your dealership.

This new way of interacting with your customers is the next step that Facebook is taking to help you connect you and your customers.

It’s name: Facebook Beacon.

Continue reading “Reach Your Customers The Moment They Come Through The Door With Facebook Beacon”

NEW EBOOK: The 4 Steps to Social Selling

The 4 Steps to Social Selling - Free E-BookHave you been eagerly anticipating the next Strathcom ebook volume? Unlike A Song of Fire and Ice series author George R. R. Martin, our content writers and designers have eluded the late night talk show circuit in order to bring you another fresh batch of knowledge for car dealers in the online age without delay.

Last month we published a list of the 29 best tactics for planning, writing, and designing content on a daily basis. This time we’re focusing on helping you navigate the often uncharted waters of marketing and selling cars through social media.

Selling cars on social media? Yes, it’s possible.

You don’t have to have a masters in Marketing to Millennials to know that today’s buyers, particularly in the 25-34 year old range, have largely abandoned traditional media like TV and magazines for other means in getting informed on what new or used vehicle to buy (and from whom). Instead, shoppers enjoy the speed and convenience of being able to ask their friends/followers, read reviews, and check out the latest pictures and videos—all though social media.

If your store’s Facebook and Twitter feeds have been left to wither and die like houseplants while mom’s down in Arizona on vacation, give them some TLC with this easy-to-read, 4-step guide.

We’ve written this ebook for the unabashed amateur, but even self-proclaimed social media moguls will find something of use. From creating account profiles that reflect your brand, to interacting with customers and serving up your unique content on multiple fronts, we’ll give you the tools to sell more cars and encourage your customers to keep coming back for more.

4 Steps to Social Selling Free E-book
Click to download our newest FREE online resource.

Get your ebook now!

You can keep all the how-tos for yourself or print off a copy to plunk down with authority on all your sales persons’ desks. Don’t miss this opportunity to get ahead of the competition when there is so much room for marketing growth in social media.

NEW EBOOK: 10 SEO Slip-Ups That Will Sink Your New Website

Just in time to start the new year, Strathcom is giving you the chance to strike off one of your digital resolutions: get a better understanding of search engine optimization.

Even if you already trust your dealer website’s SEO duties to our development, content, and web design teams, it doesn’t hurt to know some of the finer points for yourself.

Ready to pop open the hood and learn how to tell a redirect apart from a responsive design?

We’ve extracted today’s best online practices from across the web and placed them into one learning resource for the uninitiated: 10 SEO Slip-Ups That Will Sink Your New Website: A Guide to SEO for Your Website!


Click to download


This new ebook — the first in a trilogy set to publish this month — will take you by the hand and guide you step by step through the sometimes comfusing world of search engine optimization, helping you to identify and avoid the most damaging SEO pitfalls and pratfalls.

It’s a quick read, written for the layman, and totally free to download!

You’re welcome.

But save your gushing letters for another time; a more intuitive, speedier web experience is thanks enough for us — and your customers!

Follow the link below to download your ebook!

Get your copy here!

The Automotive industry has changed, have you?

You have to believe the automotive industry has changed

The complete change in marketing for auto dealers in the past few years really is enough to make one’s head spin. There has always been a sink or swim attitude within the car biz, and that has continued with managers now expected to be experts in social media, SEO, SEM and Google Analytics. There is, for the most part, a slap dash attitude towards online marketing. For those in high places it can be an intimidating and often difficult task to ask for help.

Many managers I speak to whilst on my travels find relief in telling me that they learned a lot, or are looking forward to learning a lot more about online marketing.  But they often wait until after the TOAST presentations, when the room has cleared, to talk candidly about their shortcomings. I recently joked with a couple of managers from BC that there is an “AA feel” to proceedings, of course nowhere near as serious. But the similar “we need help, but we just don’t know where to start” phrase is something I have heard across Canada when it comes to online marketing. In addition to this, there is pressure from above to make results tangible and highly visible. That, I believe, is wherein lies the problem.

In olden times, spending on an ad could be justified with an audible radio advertisement or star-burst-filled, three-to-choose-Canada-day-special center spread in a local rag. Such expenditures cannot be so similarly justified online: Adword campaigns, Blogs and well-written web content are of the utmost importance. They also cost money and time to produce effectively. But the results cannot be seen or heard on completion of their design or implementation. They cannot be “paraded” at a Saturday morning meeting with the promise of “making the phone ring.” They are more effective than that, and they are ongoing. And success can be measured.

Online marketing can be measured with incredibly accurate tools such as Google Analytics or even something as simple as the “back end” of one’s own website provider. But for upper management, the attitude should be changing: you have to believe that online marketing works. It is difficult to quantify and measure, and it is certainly more difficult to see and hear, but it is there, and it is the most cost-effective means of marketing to ever exist. But you have to believe.


Google Research for Car Dealers

Google has changed the way we access information.  For the last 15 years, it has slowly impacted every portion of our lives, in most cases, making finding information easier and more relevant, and settling late night arguments a snap.  Given how good Google is at providing us data, they also have an unbelievable amount of information on the habits and patterns of people who use.  With that data, and 2300 or so volunteers who bought or leased a car in the last 12 months, they came out with some pretty cool information for Car Dealers on the impact of Search and other emerging technologies like Mobile, Video, and Social.  I’ve combed through their Google Think report a dozen times now and wanted to share some of the data I thought was impressive and how leveraging this information can help your dealership gain a competitive edge in 2013 and beyond. Consumer Influence In 3 years, the window of time a dealer or manufacturer has to influence a new consumer has shrunk from 36 days in 2009, to 30 days in 2012.  Dealers have less time to market to and convince a buyer that they have the right vehicle for them.  33% of buyers spend less than 2 weeks researching and investigating vehicles before purchasing, which is an incredibly short window. Information sources have also changed, with Online (75%) and In Dealership (76%) neck in neck for importance to consumers researching what car to buy.  Traditional media is still steadily declining with Radio at 36% and Newspaper at 31%. Specifically with online sources, there are also deep shifts in the sources used by consumers: Shift in online sources used by car shoppers Ad Recall is also changing significantly across various mediums with Print and TV declining, Keyword Ads and Radio Neutral (No Change), and Display Advertising online increasing by 9%. Online Video 18% of online shoppers who bought a vehicle watched online videos during the buying cycle.  73% of them did it on YouTube.  Here is what they were looking at: What Kind of Videos Car Buyers are looking at Mobile Mobile is a fast growing area with the proliferation of Smartphones, Tablets and other portable devices.  It is also significantly impacting the automotive space.  33% of shoppers used their mobile devices during the buying cycle. 27% of them searched for a dealership specifically, 32% visited a dealer by finding directions on their device, and 33% used click to call to get in touch with a dealer.  During the research phase of buying their car here is the information they were consuming: Mobile Browsing information for Car Buyers Social Media Everyone talks about Social Media and car buyers are no exception.  Social Media so far is primarily used as a barometer for customer service, with 57% of car buyers using social media using it to read reviews vehicles, and 42% using Social Channels to read Dealership specific reviews.   These patterns look like they will hold true for the balance of 2012, and well into 2013.  Is your dealership ready to compete online in Search and Display advertising, Mobile Websites and Experience, Video Development, and Social Media and Reputation Management?  Strathcom has the the tools and the know how to help your dealership succeed in any or all of these mediums.  Give us a call today to get started.

Customer Newsletters for Car Dealers

Ever wonder what kind of actionable data comes out of sending a newsletter to your database of car shoppers?  Lots.  If you apply the same logic that we have talked about with website analytics, you can learn a ton of valuable information about your customers and what is currently of interest, and create actionable contact lists directly from the data you collect.

Most good newsletter offerings allow you to tag the different links in your newsletters to analyze who is coming from your newsletter to your website (Better yet, tag the links with Google Analytics tags, more on this another time).  A good newsletter service should also allow you to track who opened the newsletter and clicked on what link.  This creates an instant list of customers who have shown interest in a certain product/service/feature that you highlighted in your newsletter.

So, you know exactly who clicked on exactly what in your newsletter.  What next?  Send them a very targeted newsletter specific to what they clicked on.  If they clicked on a service special, follow up with a service discount newsletter only to the people who clicked on it.  New model coming out, send them a deal/test drive offer, exclusive something or other, you get the idea.  Yes it is more work, but it is alot less than creating an ad for the paper, or planning a mailer campaign, and again, it is targeted, not Faith Based.  It is very similar to retargeting using Google.  (In Fact, if you really want to kill it, and Strathcom can gladly help you with this, you could put google retargeting audience codes on the landing pages from your newsletters so that not only do the customers get a specific second newsletter regarding what interests them, they get to see an ad for the same discount all over the internet…)

Its a cost effective way to learn alot about what interests your customers and a great way to drive targeted advertising to an already captive audience.

Google Retargeting for Car Dealers

We get alot of questions about Google retargeting and how our dealers can best leverage it.  This post is a quick primer on how Google Retargeting works, and how it can benefit your car dealership.

How Google Retargeting Works

Google retargeting uses a some custom code on your website to collect visitors in to audiences.  Audiences can be defined in almost any way you can setup your dealer website.  You could have the audience collection script only on New Vehicles if you wanted to retarget new buyers, or used vehicles, parts and services visitors, basically any area/page of your website can have it’s own audience collection.  You can even collect multiple audiences on the same site (Different audiences for New and for Used Cars).

These audiences are persistent, as it works by dropping a cookie on their computer, so Google can remember they belong to your selected audience.

After your audience size reaches a reasonable size, you develop display ads (Graphic ads or Flash ads) specific to the type of audience you collected.  If you setup retargeting to collect used car customers, then you want to show them used car ads.

Now that you have an audience and an ad, as your customer browses around the internet, anytime they are served a google display ad (These are everywhere on the internet, Kijiji, TSN, The Edmonton Sun, you name it, it is probably run by Google Display), they see the ad you created for that audience.

Google retargeting is really just persistent advertising for your customers who have been to your site.  You can control how long they see your ads, how often they see them, and the content of them.  It is a pretty powerful tool for direct advertising to customers who have shown an interest in your product.

Retargeting for Car Dealers

As I mentioned above, you can tailor make your audiences to your departments, which is fairly straightforward, but how can you really drive a customer back to your site to complete a conversion, or better yet, a sale?  A few ideas:

  • Model Specific Audience Collection.  This is alot more involved, but you could tag every <insert your dealer badge here> on your dealer site, new and used and retarget customers with a discount on your on make vehicles.
  • Body Type Specific Audience Collection.  Also fairly involved but extremely powerful.  If your market is bent towards a certain type of vehicle (Alberta = Trucks), you could tag all your New and Used Trucks and serve ads regarding the benefits of buying a new truck from your dealership.
  • Service Customers.  You could tag customers who Submit a service lead, and offer them upsell work between their conversion and their appointment.  Maybe with them having seen 25 flush ads after they already have an appointment, they will be more receptive to the Transmission flush you offer them when they come in.

The possibilites are endless, and like everything, a great retargeting strategy comes down to time, money, and effort.  Don’t get started with retargeting if you are not going to properly manage every part of your campaign or don’t have the resources to handle the different aspects of ad creation, audience collection, and so on.  You will literally be throwing money away.

Online Analytics for Car Dealers – Cost per Acquisition

Most car dealers now measure their marketing fairly well.  There are a ton of tools that make it easy, and most service providers have some kind of chart/graph/wizardry that purports to explain the Cost per Acquisition (CPA) of said service.  Having said that, I have seen some highly questionable measurements come out of this.  I have seen service providers in the online space measure a visit to the contact-us page of a website as an acquisition.  While this is quite likely going to lead to a lead or contact of some point, it is a bit loose in my opinion.  In my last post, I talked about Faith Based Marketing, which is essentially what calling a visit to the Contact-Us page is.

Measuring CPA for Car Dealers (in Canada)

Most of the dealers I talk to measure CPA in some way, shape, or form.  Some simply allocate a marketing budget based on the number of vehicles they expect to move in a given month.  With all the data that is easily available, and the ability to tag virtually every aspect of online traffic, there is no real good reason not to allocate your marketing dollars to the platforms that produce leads (and more importantly, sales).

Automotive marketing is a fairly complex animal.  Below is a list (by no means comprehensive) of the major portions of a dealer website in Canada today, and where the marketing falls into:

  • Your Dealership Website.  Your dealer site is your main online marketing tool.  It is where you drive everyone through your branding, SEO efforts, PPC, and so on.
  • Your Direct Online Marketing Campaigns.  Newsletters, E-Mail Specials, any digital communication direct to your existing or new client base.
  • Your Major Online Auto Portals.  Kijiji, Auto Trader,, CBB, and so forth.  These sites have a broad national reach.
  • Your Local Portals.  The Edmonton Journal Driving Section, Castanet, The Chronicle Herald.  Sites local to your shoppers.

Here is a simple table to get you started: (Click for full size)

I know how simple it seems, but I am willing to bet over 50% of car dealers are not doing this currently.  All this information is readily available with a little legwork (or say, a Premium Website Solution and a Google PPC Campaign) and some monthly updates to a simple spreadsheet.

This is also just the start.  From this, with a proper CRM (or a more serious excel doc and a lot of legwork), you can actually narrow each lead source down to revenue, gross,  and net.  How many marketing dollars could you save if you knew exactly what sources drove THE MOST PROFITABLE leads, not just the most leads.

And, for those who are wondering, this data is actually a scaled down percentage wise from actual car dealers.  What can you take away from that?  Invest in your website, start with PPC, and banners are really awesome for branding, but are only ok for leads (or maybe the dealers need better banners).  From a Syndication perspective, I would try and highlight my inventory on Kijiji (Maybe a new Kijiji Features Package?)

Faith Based Marketing – Why?

My favorite part of the automotive industry has to be marketing.  After spending 2 years running the marketing department for a large auto group, it still amazes me the amount of time and money spent on Faith Based Marketing activities.

What is Faith Based Marketing you say?  Generally, traditional media is what I consider faith based marketing.  Take a look at this chart:

In 2010, Online Advertising surpassed print advertising for the first time in history.  Print had a pretty good run.  340 years or so since the first newspaper ad ran.  Anwyays, back to my point.  Dealers spend alot of money in newspaper.  Even today, as print readership declines, here in Edmonton, if you open the Edmonton Sun, I would say fully 40% of THE ENTIRE PAPER is car dealer advertising.  It is insane.  The only real way to track print is to have trackable phone numbers (which are a must, not just in print), or specific website addresses to distinguish what print medium your customer came from (if you advertise in multiple papers).  So, 40% of 130 pages is roughly 52 pages of vehicle ads, all with the lowest price possible, amounting to $65,000 EVERY DAY spend on a shrinking set of people reading a newspaper.  And that is just Edmonton.  That is a ton of bottom line dollars going towards hoping that the phone rings.

Or, for other markets, maybe TV is your drug of choice.  The metric used to buy TV advertising is the BBM score.  A small handful of people have a box in their home that records what is being watched and by who (if they remember to punch it in).  Millions of dollars spent showing your Market Priced inventory, and all you get is a small measurement of these people with the boxes multiplied over the entire population.  Sounds like a fishy way to measure that kind of cash.

Take almost any form of auto dealer advertising and think about it in those terms.  Maybe the Giant Gorilla isn’t so bad 😉


There is one form of advertising, that you can measure almost 100% of every view, action, and conversion, even right through to sale.  Online Advertising!  With a well managed Pay Per Click or Display campaign you know exactly what buyers are looking for by analyzing their keywords, you know similar terms by looking at their matched queries (A Matched Query is when your Ad appears on a search term you haven’t explicitly defined), and you can track EVERY INTERACTION THEY HAVE WITH YOUR WEBSITE.  Every single one.  With a good adwords campaign, I can tell you:

  • What a Customer Searched For, and What Ad they clicked on.  I can also tell you what Ads they didn’t click on
  • What a Customer did when they got to my website, and more importantly, what they didn’t do
  • What a group of customers is interested in, allowing me to make inventory changes and website improvements

The real value for alot of the campaigns we build is not only in delivering clicks and customers (which is how most people manage PPC campaigns), but in finding out what is not working.  That is almost the most valuable take away from online advertising.  It tells me what Ads I don’t need to run again, what keywords aren’t driving value, and what parts of my website are customers not interested in.

Data Driven marketing is clearly here to stay, but does your dealership have a strategy to integrate it into your marketing habits?  $3,000 a month goes a long way online, but buys you a couple of full page ads in the paper.  Just some food for thought.

Car Dealerships and Online Analytics: a primer

Website metrics.  Hooray.  Visits/Visitors, Bounce Rate, Time on Site, etc.  Where does it end.  And what measurements are important?  I could spend a week writing a novel about each measure, but wanted to write a quick primer for car dealers that explains the difference of the measurement and what they really mean.  I will cover off these topics in future posts in much more detail, but this guide is a good starting point for analyzing an automotive website in basic terms.

Visits and Visitors

Visits is the total number of times your site was visited.  Simple.  This number will always be higher than visitors because people buying cars tend to come back to websites throughout the buying cycle.

Visitors is *usually* (Not every analytics package is exactly the same, but I will settle on visitors being Unique Visitors) a measure of unique visitors coming to your site.  This is the actual number of  unique car buyers coming to look at your inventory.

These numbers can be affected by a few things.  First thing is any filters applied to your analytics.  I would typically recommend (if possible) that you filter out the IP Address of your dealership directly in analytics.  What this will do is NOT COUNT any visits to your website from your staff when they are at the dealership.  Counting those visits will artificially inflate your numbers and decrease things like your conversion rate, skewing the real results of your online marketing efforts (I would hope that your sales staff are not submitting leads on your dealer website).

Bounce Rate

Probably one of the more important but least understood statistics on your dealer website.  Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that arrive at a page somewhere on your site, only look at that page, and leave.  This is one of the best indicators of your online marketing efforts, especially when paired up by looking at the traffic source the visitors are coming from.  There is no right number for a bounce rate, but when you are selling cars, you want to make sure people land on a page that has something to do with cars (or service).  Having a box with specials right out front can help with this.  The other side to that coin is someone is simply looking for your phone number and that is that.  If you want to get super detailed, you can now track bounce rates relative to your inbound calls by using certain call tracking tools that provide your visitors with a unique toll free phone number.  If you are doing that, you are way ahead of the game today.

Time on Site

Time on site, like visits seems like it should be pretty straightforward, but there is certainly more than meets the eye.  Most analytics packages use sessions to track users on a site (some packages use your web log files, but that is a different animal).  In that session is a start time for each page visited.  By subtracting the time each page is visited from the previous page, Time on Site gets calculated.  See my lovely chart below:

  • 3:00 PM – I come to your Home Page.  I browse around your digital tent sale, look at your employee of the month, then I remember I came looking for a car.
  • 3:02 PM – I search for a BMW 750il on your site (I like big cars).  You have 6 in stock (clearly, you have fine taste in inventory).
  • 3:05 PM – I click on one of the BMW’s you have in stock and read your 6 paragraph description and look at the 45 photos you posted (good work!)
  • 3:10 PM – My attention span wanes while reading about this car and I leave your site heading to wikipedia to read about the higgs boson.

Time on Site: 5 Minutes

Whoa.  Wait a second.  You lied to me.  You said if I subtract the last time visited from the first, I get time on site, which in this case is 10 minutes.

True, I said that, but I also said there is more than meets the eye.  Since on the BMW page that I spent 5 minutes on, I then went off to some other page, most analytics packages (including Google) don’t know how long I spent on that page, since I left directly from it.  Since there is no trail after that, it assumes I left at 3:05 PM.

This method also relates to Bounce Rate.  If I come to your New Car Specials Page at 3:10, spend 20 minutes reading every special, then leave without having visited another page, Time on Site: 0 Minutes.  I know, it’s not fair.


These are 3 great Macro measurements for your websites performance, but they don’t really tie into your marketing efforts or dig beneath the surface of what makes visitors do things on your site.  In setting you up for the long game, ill cover off some heavy duty metrics for your site in my next post.  We will talk about CPA (Cost per Acquisiton), Loyalty, Page Depth, and more.



Dealer Website Traffic – Calculating Goal Values

A common question we get about dealer website performance is calculating a value for form leads on a dealer’s website.  Google Analytics has some great features built in to handle this for you.  Goal Values under the Conversions menu helps measure performance for a specific goal on the website, and in the case of every dealer we talk to, it always comes back to Leads.

Goal Values are a monetary measure of what a lead is worth to you.  You put in a value to define what each lead is worth based on the revenue (or gross) of the transaction associated with that goal.  In the case of Car Dealers, we usually base this off of the Front and Back gross of the vehicle sold from that lead on average.

Let’s say a GM Dealer in Saskatoon averages $1500 Front and $1500 Back on all his cars sold.  The Average Value of a goal is $3000.  You could use this number to say that every lead is worth $3000, but that would imply you close every lead from your website (and if you have a 100% closing rate online, I would love to chat with you).  Taking it one step further, if you know your closing ratio online, you divide that number into $3000.  So if you close 15% of your online leads (NADA industry average from 2010), your Goal Value would be $3000*.15, which equals $450.

Using $450 as a Goal Value for this dealership is a good benchmark to determine what leads from your website are worth to you in real dollars.  So every time a lead goes unanswered, you are throwing away $450.  Tell your sales team that and you will see an immediate increase in lead responses.

Thinking further along these lines, if you can increase your online closing rate from 15% to 25%, your goal value is that much higher ($3000*.25 = $750 per lead).

Our dealer Training program, TOAST, speaks to how you can increase your online closing ratio just by being dilligent in your online efforts.  Drop us a line to see how we can help you drive more sales.