Clarity on Conversions: what is actually being reported to you? Leads?

Do you know exactly what your online providers call a conversion? What they call a lead? If you cannot definitively answer that question it might be time to have a chat with them.  Although there seems to be endless oversight in the automotive industry, there is no industry standard for what we call a lead or a conversion.

hand holding mobile smart phone at blurred car for sale in showroom background

Most people would agree that a form completion, email, text, chat or clicks-to-call all represent a lead as a consumer is engaging directly with your business. Sounds fair. Continue reading “Clarity on Conversions: what is actually being reported to you? Leads?”

Think with Google – Online Video Planning

Camera lens with lense reflections.

The Think with Google resource gives us online video planning tips for success with online videos. The first tip is to be mobile-minded. Google’s research found that viewers who watched an ad twice on mobile had – on average – a significant lift of 23% in unaided brand awareness, and 47% in unaided ad recall.

Think with Google also suggests to put YouTube alongside TV. But for most small to medium businesses, this might not be as easy as it would be for big-box businesses. So what’s the alternative? Put YouTube alongside Facebook. Not only are you adhering to the first tip, but you’re also choosing to advertise on a platform where people spend their time watching videos. When was the last time you watched a video on Facebook? The answer is probably yesterday or when you were on your coffee break.

Facebook is also more measurable than TV because you can track conversions from pixels and generate leads right from Facebook through their lead ads objective. In addition to the ability to generate leads, you can also track performance and measure key performance indicators to see if it’s all living up to your expectations.

online video planning tips

You can read the referenced Think With Google content here. If you would like more online video planning tips, check out or previous post about YouTube or give our Online Marketing Team a call; and don’t forget to ask about how you can get $500 in bonus Facebook ad spend!

Penguin 4.0 is Live!

After a 2 year wait, Google’s Penguin algorithm has finally been updated!  The Penguin filter was designed to capture sites that are spamming Google’s search results in ways that Google’s regular spam detection systems might not have noticed.  Previously, the Penguin filter would “catch” sites deemed as spammers, and they would remained penalized even if the site improved or changed until the next time the filter would run (which could take anywhere from several weeks to several months).

Google's Penguin 4.0 program has launched!

With this latest release, Penguin now operates in real time.  Now when Google recrawls and reindexes pages, these pages will be assessed immediately by the filter and then released or caught as a part of this process.

Penguin will now also devalue spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting the ranking of the whole site.  Previously, Penguin was a site-wide penalty, but now only specific pages on a website may be impacted rather than the entire site.

For more information on how this can affect your site’s ranking, contact one of our friendly OMM’s here at Strathcom Media!

The Outranking Share Bidding Strategy & How You Can Use It

The Outranking Share Bidding Strategy, it’s meant to do one job: automate your bidding to outrank ads. But just what does that mean for you?

If you’re in a competitive market and you want to make sure you rank above your competitors, then this strategy might be for you. You simply identify the competitor you want to outrank, and then you set a maximum bid limit. You also set how much higher you want to rank above your competitor.

In the event that two competitors are engaged in outranking share bidding strategies against each other, the maximum bid limit will be the safeguard. The maximum bid limit will put a cap on how much to bid on a keyword when a competitor is also running an Outranking Share Bidding Strategy. This will prevent your CPCs from drastically increasing. Without the maximum CPC ‘safeguard’ in place, you should expect CPCs to potentially get a lot higher.

Outranking Share Bidding StrategyOne caveat to using an Outranking Share Bidding Strategy is that you should be prepared to raise your bids. This strategy might not meet your goals if the budget is limited.

In the auto industry specifically, don’t set this to an OEM if you are hitting your budget cap. This is especially important against competitors’ OEMs. The reason is that competitor OEMs often have a larger budget and are set up with a large bid to begin with. However, if you have room in the budget, then maybe this is something worth considering.

Another case for use of this bidding strategy is in mobile-only campaigns. Most times you will have a general idea of who is taking that first or second position away from you on a mobile device. Simply identify who the main competitor is, set the strategy with a large enough budget, and then sit and wait for the results!

Bounce Rate: The Misunderstood Metric

Bounce Rate: the misunderstood metric

Today the internet is celebrating  it’s 25th birthday. In the early days, when people were still learning what makes the internet tick, they kept hearing about one metric: bounce rate – bounce rate – bounce rate. We were told that this was the metric we need to keep an eye on. High bounce rate was the smoke signal showing you may have issues on your site, causing people to view the page they landed on and leave. Even back in the early 2000’s bounce rate was a misunderstood metric, but 25 years later, in today’s world of online advertising, complex design, and extensive data, the relevance of bounce rate is only getting smaller and smaller.

How is bounce rate calculated? Google explains bounce rate like this” “Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page)”. To put that simply. If someone only views a single page or your website and leaves (bounces) that will increase your bounce rate.

bounce rate formula

Why Do People Think Bounce Rate Is Important? People assume if someone hits a single page and leaves the site, there must be something wrong with that page, why else would they leave and not continue on exploring the site? This is a legitimate question, but the answer depends on the situation. Maybe all the info the user needed was on that one page – Google doesn’t look at the amount of time they spend on that single page. I could spend 7 minutes reading about the 2013 Ford F150 you have in stock, call the dealership to book a test drive (which would be considered a success) but Google Analytics is going to show that as a bounce.

Bounce rate is even more watered down when you are running online advertising. Many online advertising campaigns target specific people searching for specific things. Landing pages for online advertising are designed specifically to remove the temptation of exploring the site. You want that user to see your ads, click to get to the landing page that is most relevant to the ad, and take the desired action; whether it be filling out a form, calling, printing off a coupon etc. If that person does the desired action, that is a success, a success by every metric except for bounce rate. This is why bounce rate is no longer the key performance metric you once thought it was.

So what metrics should I be using to determine if my site is working well? Unfortunately, there is no simple or single answer to this. You have traffic coming from many sources, and the different people from those different sources interact with the site differently. You may think time on site is a good metric, but you’ve noticed it go down. Is this bad? Maybe something needs to be done and let’s redesign your whole site! But did you also notice that the amount of traffic from mobile and tablet has gone up? People visiting the site on mobile spend less time on the site than those visiting from desktop, so now that drop makes sense. The solution is not to look at your traffic as a whole but to segment out the traffic. Look at the sources of traffic individually and whether they are going up or down. Look at what devices people are coming from, and check out behaviour flow to see how they are flowing through your site.

You should have access to your Google Analytics, your website provider has no good reason to keep that from you, so make sure you have access and go in and look around, if you see anything you don’t understand ask you website provider or drop us at Strathcom a line and we can help decipher the data for you. Data is power, but only if you look.

User viewing many pages online

Why You Can’t Afford to Skip YouTube

YouTube has about 16.6 million unique users in Canada; if you are not advertising your dealership on YouTube, you are leaving out this audience and these potential customers. Here’s why you shouldn’t skip YouTube.

Before you get into the reasons why YouTube is absent from your marketing portfolio, let me tell you that recent studies have shown that viewers retain 95% of information from video ads as opposed to just 10% from text ads. With advertisers being charged only when users watch their videos, YouTube is one of the most effective and cost-efficient channels to market your business and yet, surprisingly, is also one of the most underused channels in the automotive industry!

Users aren’t just watching videos, they’re also being impacted by them. About 70% of car shoppers say that YouTube influences their purchase decisions. YouTube lets dealerships reach new visitors who are not only interested in their business, but also eager to take action. With call-to-actions on video ads, YouTube also allows potential customers to connect with dealers to begin their car-buying experience. Studies show that 49% of vehicle shoppers who watch a YouTube video ad end up visiting a dealership.

Don't Skip YouTube
Don’t Skip YouTube

YouTube also allows dealers to remarket to specific audiences. This audience might include users who interacted with your ads and are much more likely to be receptive to additional brand messages. Remarketing can reach users who have already shown interest in your dealership and bring them to your website. By letting you reach your most valuable customers, this can lower your cost per acquisitions. And yes, we just touched on one of the reasons that should make YouTube very attractive to your dealership. It is highly cost-effective, costing you only pennies to get your message in front of interested buyers.

Google researchers found that 92% of vehicle consumers visit YouTube every month. With an eager and interested audience like that just waiting to be engaged by compelling offers and enticing visual messages, there are more than 16.6 million reasons why you should be advertising on the world’s second-largest search engine.

Start building an effective YouTube campaign with Strathcom Media today! Call our team at 1-888-914-1444.

Google+ Local – A Business’s First Impression

It’s time to buy a new car – you know your favorite brand and you’ve done your research on the models you want to try, but where should you start?

How does a customer decide which store to go to, the location, or even which phone number to call? With Google processing over 40,000 search queries every second, the possibility that a buyer may start on the web are extremely high. Google is currently being utilized by over 85% of today’s users, and can easily function as a primary connection between the customer and dealer.

Typing Into Google Search EngineBy typing a business into the Google Search engine, a quick search can produce millions of results for a user to choose from. But which one do they choose? A dealer who takes into account the importance of Google’s marketing ability will recognize that a proper search will pull up a link to the main website, quick links to many frequently sought out pages, as well as the convenient, easy to read Google+ Local page.

This area on the right hand side provides a first glance at the business. User friendly and appealing to the eye, the Google+ Local business page provides potential customers with quick links and more.

Professional photos, a map to the location, reviews, hours, and contact information give the customer access to everything needed to get a first impression and seamless accessibility to contacting the business.

Data shows that Google+ Local has had a steady increase in interest and users through to the year 2016. What better way to showcase a first look at your business than to do so with a strong development like Google+ Local!

From a business owner perspective, Google+ Local is easy to use and update. Plus enjoy the benefit of Strathcom Media tracking your reviews so that your business maintains a quick response rate.

Happy Customers with Google+ Local

Don’t overlook this simple business tool. Google+ Local is a first impression before the customer steps through the door!

Google Analytics 360

Looking for a way to deep-dive into your customer data and take Google Analytics one step further?

Introducing the new Google Analytics 360.GA360Suite_Vertical_Logo

This new premium paid, enterprise-level solution is designed to help businesses just like yours integrate all of your customer data into one platform so you can easily make sense of it all and create better marketing campaigns. It’s taking advantage of all those micro-moments car buyers experience and giving them the right messages at the right time.

The full suite comes with:

  1. Google Analytics 360 – Formerly known as Google Analytics Premium, this software is coming out with new capabilities over the next couple of months
  2. Google Attribution 360 – Formerly known as Adometry, it has been rebuilt to better help you determine the value behind your marketing efforts and allocate budgets for the best returns
  3. Google Tag Manager 360 – Allows you to add code into your website in a simplified and efficient way, saving Marketers a ton of time
  4. Google Data Studio 360 – Takes data from all products in the Google Analytics 360 suite and converts it all into visual and interactive dashboards and reports
  5. Google Optimize 360 – A brand new website-testing and -personalization tool that will let you A/B-test different versions of your website for better performance
  6. Google Audience Center 360 – This new tool will help you understand your customers better and find more customers just like them

So if you think your team has mastered Google Analytics and just wants more, then Google Analytics 360 and its new product suite may just be the perfect new tool for you!

Finding the Difference Between Mobile and Desktop Visitors

Since Google has announced the types of online moments most relevant to a customer, we need to understand what our market is doing on our websites. The sooner we can deliver the information they want, the more useful we become to our users. One of the ways to identify these online moments is to dive into Google Analytics.

mobile users

Here’s a case for leveraging Google Analytics:

In an initial look at one of our clients, we found that one of the differences between mobile users and desktop users was  page views on certain pages.

What else did we find?

A lack of page views and a higher bounce rate on mobile for the Build and Price page and the Our Dealership/About Us page.

What does it mean?

If clicks could vote, they wouldn’t vote for those pages. It’s not that users don’t care about those pages, it’s just that they’re browsing with a different intent than if they were on desktop. So where did these users go? Most mobile users ended up exiting the website on inventory pages. They found the information they wanted, then left.

This means we should cater to what mobile users want and don’t want. Knowing this information, we’re not going to create sitelinks or set landing pages for content which isn’t useful or relevant to mobile users. Doing that doesn’t help the client.

Mobile optimization requires a different perspective and approach, and Google provides the tools needed to make decisions for mobile optimizations. The analysts at Strathcom can identify those optimizations which benefit Paid-Search performance and your company’s objectives and goals.

What is Bounce Rate? (And What It Isn't)

Have you ever gone to a party, and thought, “Nah, this is boring. Let’s bounce!”? Maybe the music was too loud, maybe they were out of beer—maybe you showed up to the wrong house! Anyway, the record will show that you arrived at the doorway, made a quick impression, and then promptly left before exploring any of the other rooms. The same principle is behind Bounce Rate, one of Google Analytics’ most misunderstood statistics. But as we’ll discover, there are plenty of factors that come into play when dissecting this statistic. We’ll explore a few of these in this post.

Bounce Rate Like a Bouncey Castle

What is Bounce Rate?

Bounce rate is the percentage of viewers who arrive at your website, and leave without clicking through to any other pages. If ten people visit your webpage and nine of them click on at least one link, your Bounce Rate will be 10%, highlighting that mysterious stranger who didn’t click to explore another page for whatever reason.

**Think about this as you read: This blog post has its own Bounce Rate, and our Analytics team will be examining it later. Your actions will help determine this number. Do you feel like you will click through to other pages when you finish this post? Whether the answer is yes, or no, think about why that is. And is that necessarily a good or a bad thing for us? What do you think we hope to expect? Most importantly: How does this line of thinking apply to your website?**

What is a good Bounce Rate? Or a bad one?

To properly understand Bounce Rate, it is important to give up the idea of “good” or “bad.” Bounce Rate is a statistic. And, like any statistic, it should never be taken in isolation to make general conclusions. Perspective is key. For instance, if you’ve hired a firm to design and run your business’s website, and your site attracts only seven visitors, it doesn’t matter whether you have a high bounce rate, or even a low bounce rate—where are the visitors? Similarly, if you run the most lucrative car dealership in town, with one of the best reputations around, then your Bounce Rate shouldn’t rank among your primary concerns. Life is good! So just as you should be suspicious when your barber suggests you need a haircut, be a little wary when someone points to a Bounce Rate in a presentation and builds their case based on a number. confused 

Not all pages are created equal

Each page on your website fills a unique function. And, ultimately, these pages should work together in a way that best helps you sell cars. Your inventory pages should have low bounce rates, as customers should want to click on more links as they browse and compare vehicles. Your home page should also have a low bounce rate since it acts as the main hub to all other content pages. If your Bounce Rate is high here, then either you have an off-putting webpage (you should be able to tell), or you’re too good at attracting the wrong kinds of visitors (think car buyers from far away regions looking for local service). Meanwhile, some pages should have a higher bounce rate if you’re doing things right. Blog posts with regularly updated content and “Contact Us” pages are both natural one-and-done stops. Try to include some more engaging links to keep your visitors on the site if it makes sense to do so, but don’t be discouraged by a high Bounce Rate here. 

Reasons why you might have a high Bounce Rate

  • Your site isn’t engaging: This is what you should be worried about. If your content is too bland, if your navigation tabs aren’t anticipating your visitors’ interests, or if your Calls to Action are missing or simply not enticing enough, you’ll have a poor website. You’ll probably also have a high Bounce Rate.
  • False advertising: If you’re looking for a truck and you click on “Check Out These Great Pickups,” only to find this at the other end of the link, chances are you’ll exit right away and refine your search terms (before never looking at your neighbour in the same way again). Somewhere along the line your website isn’t meeting expectations; either your content doesn’t measure up, or the link to your site had a misleading description. Either way, your visitors will bounce.
  • Your landing pages are also your Exit Pages: People need to leave a website eventually, and some pages act as better terminals than others. Your Bounce Rate may be high if the sites your web visitors are landing on answer all of their questions, leaving them fully satisfied and ready to move on to their next task. (E.g. If someone is looking up your dealership hours, then chances are their web search will have them arrive at the very page they need, after which they can quickly move on to whatever else is grabbing their attention, like driving to your dealership.)

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When Bounce Rate is helpful

Bounce Rate is a bit like reading body language. Sometimes you can come close to making accurate judgments on first sight alone, with a lone data point, but this method is unreliable. To get closer to the truth you need to observe changes over time compared to a base rate, or what is considered typical for that stat. Bounce Rate is your canary in the coal mine. When you make changes to the design of one of your webpages (say you embed a few more links in the text, or add a few more call to action buttons), if the Bounce Rate for that page drops, then it is likely that your strategy had some effect. Especially if your Bounce Rate for that page has historically been consistent.

How to lower your bounce rate and keep it that way!

It’s simple: Make a truly awful website where people are forced to navigate through a whole bunch of pages to hunt down an answer for their basic question. They will eventually give up in frustration and never revisit your website, which protects you from future threats to your Bounce Rate. Genius! Or not. You might just have to get used to the ambiguity of this statistic. Keep an eye on your Bounce Rate, but don’t worry too much about it. Focus, instead, on how your analytic measures work together. For more information on Google Analytics basics, or for a Free Audit on your Bounce Rate, contact us!

Google Analytics – Getting Started

Google Analytics is a service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about a website’s traffic. More importantly, it can measure your website leads and it’s free!

By learning to read and interpret the metrics in Google Analytics you will be able to make informed decisions about targeting, performance, design, landing pages, keywords and many other aspects of online marketing. For this example we are looking at “All Traffic Sources.”

How to Read Google Analytics

Traffic Sources: when referring to a group of visits to your website, a source is the place that sent a user to your site. Examples of sources include Google search, Bing/Yahoo search, Paid Search, and Bookmarks. Sources can be classified as organic, referral, direct (none) and CPC (paid ads). These are called mediums.

When you first open up your Google Analytics account, you will see your Account Overview (click for larger image):

Let’s define the metrics we see:

  • Visits: a visit occurs when someone arrives at one of the pages on your website and includes the pages they explore during that session. These can be either new visitors or returning visitors.

A new visit occurs the first time the user visits your site.
A returning visitor has visited your site before.

Imagine someone visits your car dealership’s website. Let’s call him Bob. Bob likes mid-size sedans, and he’s doing some research before buying his next vehicle. While Google Analytics will never tell you Bob’s real name, it can tell you some metrics about how he interacts with your website:

  • Unique Vistors: Bob is a unique visitor to your website. Every time he drops in, it counts as one unique visit; if he visits your website twice, he will have generated two unique visits.
  • Pageviews: during his time on your site, Bob will probably visit a few pages. He might look at your online showroom, visit your car videos section, and end up browsing your used car inventory. In this case, he would have generated three pageviews.
  • Pages/visit: in one visit, Bob looked at three pages – so that was three pages per visit. The ideal number of pages per visit varies based on your site, goals and the user’s intent. Keep in mind that users like Bob might still be comparing vehicle makes, deciding what body style they like, or they might be ready to take action and buy a vehicle.
  • Avg. Visit Duration (length of time in a session): the formula to calculate average visit duration is the total duration of all visits / number of visits. This is calculated based on the time between the first hit and the last hit of the visit. The time between these two points is the visit duration.
  • Bounce Rate: this can be defined as the percentage of people who arrive on your site and leave without visiting a second page. Bounce Rate can tell you if you are targeting the right audience and meeting their expectations.

Google Analytics Benchmark Averages for Bounce Rate

  • 40-60% Content websites
  • 30-50% Lead generation sites (Car Dealers)
  • 70-98% Blogs
  • 20-40% Retail sites
  • 10-30% Service sites
  • 70-90% Landing pages

More Information on Google Analytics

Now that you know the basics, here are a few GA questions to start asking yourself:

  1. Are the numbers of new visitors and unique visitors increasing?
  2. How many new visitors is my site generating through Organic Traffic vs. Paid Traffic?
  3. Are there spikes in specific campaigns due to offers or seasonality?
  4. What is the users’ average time on my site? How long is taking them to find what they need?
  5. Where are most of the visitors coming from (geographically)?
  6. How high is bounce rate for new visitors? Do I need to change the landing page?
  7. What are the most visited pages on my site? How can I improve these pages?
  8. What are the most popular keywords attracting visitors to my site?

Always try to ask questions based on the results you get from each metric. Every case is different and has unique data. Your numbers are telling a story, and you have to learn how to interpret that story and use what you learn in order to improve your website’s performance.

For help setting up your Analytics account feel free to contact us!

Contact us for Analytics information