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Matthew Kolodziej

Matthew Kolodziej Director of Analytics and Search

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In recent years, automotive marketing professionals have aligned around the concept of the Vehicle Detail Page.  We’ve become preoccupied with optimizing and tracking VDPs as an overall barometer for the effectiveness of our virtual dealership.

But the world has changed, and dealers have too.  While we’ve gotten more sophisticated in refining and improving web site performance, our customers increasingly shop for cars – and dealerships – using mobile devices.  It’s time for a more clear-eyed view of the VDP, and a new metric that helps dealers assess quality over quantity and get really granular on the subject of ROI: Value per page.

There are several problems with using aggregate VDP views as the primary yardstick of marketing success:

  • They aren’t accurate.  Traffic data can be polluted by automated spiders and bots, so aggregate VDP numbers don’t necessarily represent actual buyers interested in your vehicles.
  • They don’t capture ROI data.  VDPs indicate traffic, but don’t provide any information about the quality of the traffic.  If you’re gauging vendors or incenting staff based on aggregate VDP numbers, you’re probably overpaying. 
  • They don’t tell the full story. While VDP views represent a proxy for interest in your vehicles, today’s on-the-go consumers express intent-to-buy in a number of ways.  

Of course it’s important to keep an eye on VDP views, and to continue to optimize these workhorse pages.  But by getting a little more specific in how you track and evaluate consumer activity, you’ll be able to tell not only how many people are viewing a page, but how much money each individual page is making for your dealership.   

What should I be tracking?

We know it’s harder and harder to catch a buyer’s attention – the advent of the web has resulted in more educated, and more fickle, consumers.  But the trackability of online activity has also made it much easier to know when buyers are raising their hands and saying “I’d like to buy a car” – and increasingly, they are doing so on mobile devices.

Instead of focusing on page views, why not keep closer track of conversions – in other words, those buyers that have taken an extra step that tells us they are primed for a sale. Here are some key conversions that have strong predictive value:

  • Form submissions/Email leads: A clear expression of interest in a particular vehicle, and an invitation from the prospect to begin a conversation with them.
  • Mobile clicks to call: Indicates an interest in your dealership.
  • Visits to hours and directions page: Tougher to track customers throughout the process, but suggests an intent to visit your store.

Now that you’re tracking critical conversions, we can get down to the brass tacks of determining what each page is worth.

Calculating Value Per Page

Value per page is calculated based on dollar values that you assign to website conversions (like the ones listed above). Each conversion should be given a dollar value that accurately reflects its ability to impact your bottom line. In other words, form submissions will be worth much more than visits to your hours and directions page, because they are tied more directly to interest in a particular vehicle. 

Once you’ve gone through this thought exercise, the pages on your website that help generate those form submissions and clicks for directions will get credit in a metric that everybody in the dealership understands: dollars and cents.

You’ll move beyond simply looking at vehicle detail pageviews and get closer to understanding which vehicles on your site are actually making money. A sports car may nab a thousand pageviews every month, which on the surface says that your website is killing it. But if none of those shoppers convert, then those pageviews are worth exactly $0 to your bottom line.

Armed with better information about which pages are converting the best and making money for your dealership, you’ll be better able to shift your marketing budget around to focus on high-value marketing activities – and have better discussions with your vendors to ensure they are driving high-quality leads to your dealership.

So how do I actually do this?

To learn more about the mechanics of calculating value per page, download our recent eBook on the subject:

And check out a companion blog post that breaks down the formula in more detail:

Matthew Kolodziej
Hi Chris, Interesting points! Here's the gist up front: Value per page is better the higher it goes. It tells you which pages are making money for your dealership, so the bigger the number, the better that page is performing for you. Maybe it's a landing page with a great lease offer that grabs 5 form submissions and 12 clicks to call - it doesn't have to be a VDP at all. We're looking at page value as a dollar amount generated by the number of conversions that occurred after a shopper viewed a page. It goes beyond a conversion rate percentage, because you can value each conversion differently. If they submit a form on the VDP, it's worth $100. If they click for directions, that's only worth $5. So, even though both of those outcomes result in a 100% conversion rate on the page, the page value will tell you a more accurate story. Since your website exists for one overarching reason - getting more people to your dealership - then you need to set up goals/conversions that you can confidently tie to that end result. Even though your lead providers are also working to get more people to your door, they're not necessarily the same as your website. They may want to keep shoppers on their own digital properties and pit your inventory against other dealers', so the key metrics will be different for them. When a shopper arrives at your site, however, the acquisition phase is over, and you want to focus on outcomes. A vehicle details pageview is only a micro-conversion - meaning that it's a step in the path to a macro-conversion (form submissions, clicks-to-call, clicks for directions), and it might not even lead the shopper to the end of the path. That's why it's so important to set up those macro goals for your website and to give them dollar amounts. That way, you're not distracted by a massive jump in VDPs without the macro conversions to back them up. And where it really gets interesting is where you see a lot of pageviews for a particular vehicle, but a really low page value. You know right away that something is turning those shoppers away - if hundreds of pageviews haven't generated a single conversion, then something's off. I see your point on thinking about page value based on the opportunities each page could bring - and I think that's a fantastic way to look at it. And that gets at what I was talking about above - if a VDP has plenty of views, but a low page value, then the missed opportunity metric would be off the charts. Those are dollars your dealership missed.

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