We all know that just having a website, no matter how great, is not enough to make sales in the automotive industry. LEARN MORE
Google has very recently launched a new feature inside the Adwords reporting element called “Store Visits” and it’s something auto dealers should pay attention to. It isn’t open to 100% of Adwords advertisers yet - so now is the time to gain understanding and be ready. Here’s what the new store visits metric is all about, and what it means for your business.
(this is a 12-pack post my friends, crack a cold one and enjoy!)
What Is The Adwords Store Visits Metric?
Without getting overly complicated, it’s a way that Google can utilize data from clicks on your paid search ads in conjunction with location and device data from the user to offer some pretty sharp metrics on when and if those clicks drive people through the doors of your showroom or onto your lot.
Let me illustrate:
A young man named Brian, a recent college grad, has landed his first job at a startup in Valparaiso, Indiana. He settles in for a few months and eventually decides it’s time to trade in his college heap for a brand new ride that will get him some attention from the local ladies. After all, he’s a working man now and has to look good when he’s out and about!
One Monday night late, from the comfort of his apartment in nearby Merrillville, he uses his laptop to research cars he’s interested in. He watches videos, reads reviews and even goes on Facebook to chat with his frat brothers about what they are driving.
He soon decides a 2014 Hyundai Veloster is what he wants. It’s got a nice stance and gets good gas mileage - so he begins looking for dealers nearby.
((following is the point in the buying cycle where “Adwords Store Visits” will kick in))
He has not lived here long, and doesn’t really know any dealers by name, so he searches Google using common terms such as:
“Hyundai dealers NW Indiana”
“Hyundai dealer near Merrillville”
His search results will look very much like this:
He, like many internet users today, clicks on the top result and is taken to a Hyundai dealer very close to where he lives. He’s pretty excited to see that this dealer has several choices for him to look at and in fact, has some 2015 models he had not even considered. After looking at a few vehicle detail pages and viewing a map of their location, he’s good to go. He doesn’t submit a form, chat or even make a phone call - he has no time for all that! :)
You see, today is Monday, and Brian has to work the rest of the week. On top, his boss gave him a tough assignment that’s got him working a lot of extra hours, sometimes until 9 in the evening.
Soon enough though, Saturday has arrived and Brian sets out to run some errands before hitting the dealership to test drive a new Veloster.
He has lunch with a friend that day in nearby Crown Point, and pulls up the dealership’s website (he searches their brand name using Google Chrome app and clicks a mobile optimized Adwords placement) on his smartphone and shows his buddy the car he is going to look at later that day. It’s an Ultra Black R-Spec, sure to get turn heads at the company Christmas party.
After lunch he runs a few more local errands, and then using Google Maps, pulls up the dealership’s Google My Business listing to get driving directions. Within 15 minutes he’s pulling in and is ready to start his test drive.
Great story right? We know that very similar scenarios play out everyday, but we haven’t really been able to quantify them using analytics and data. We’ve always had to rely on dealership personnel asking “how did you hear about us?” And subsequently we relied on the consumer telling us “I found you on the internet” or “I was just driving by.”
More specifically, we often wondered “Do those paid search clicks actually end up assisting in driving people into the showroom?”
We also wondered “what exact campaigns are driving most of this walk in traffic? Is it dynamic inventory search or is it the branded search campaign, etc?”
Side Note: You might be asking yourself, “So is Google going to give us the exact name of buyers who clicked on paid search ads so we can tie them back to sales?”
At this time, “no.” However, the Dealer Inspire True ROI Dashboard has been doing that for several months now, and is going to be bringing you much more info than ever before that will very closely relate - watch this video and prepare to have your mind blown!
Even if you don’t have a Dealer Inspire website, we still get some super awesome info from Google Store Visits - the data will bring all of us a lot closer to understanding shopper behavior offline, and what drives those shoppers through the doors.
How Does The Store Visits Metric Work?
Google can “see” a store visit by a consumer based on your store’s physical location (they know this because you have a verified Google My Business listing on Google Maps) and the shopper’s known Location History (which is tracked via their home internet service provider, as well as their smart phone)
Here is a screenshot from my own “Location History” in Google:
Google can “see” where I go up to the minute because I have location history enabled in my Google account. Even if you turn this off, your location and proximity to local businesses can still be followed (at this time, Google only utilizes data from those users with the feature turned ‘on’).
I like to read the “fine print” in different tools that I use, and clicking the "Learn More" fine print from the screenshot above takes me to this page. Here I find a few snippets of interest that relate directly to the Google Store Visits metric:
“Location History and Location Reporting data may be used by any Google app or service, including in ads on and off Google. For example, Google Maps may use it to improve your search results based on the places that you’ve been.”
“You can control how Google apps use your location with one easy setting. This setting only controls Google apps. If you turn this setting off, Google services that aren't apps and non-Google apps may still receive your location from the device.”
“Location History allows Google to store a history of your location data from all devices where you are logged into your Google Account and have enabled Location Reporting.”
It’s not an exact science (because of potential privacy concerns) but it’s very good directional data - a solid estimate. When Google looks at several/dozens/hundreds of scenarios like Brian’s above, they are able to paint a very clear picture of what is driving showroom traffic and what potentially is NOT driving that traffic - down to the Adwords campaign level.
Another key to the metics revolves around multiple device usage. Think about how you search and your intent. At home you use a laptop, and on the road you use your smartphone or tablet. According to Google studies many of these searches are “sequential.”
“Sequential screening” is a term you hear often in the industry and it basically means that a car shopper will look for an auto dealer website on their laptop in the morning, and then later pick up or continue that same search pattern/behavior on their smartphone in the afternoon. The search string is directly related across the devices or “sequential.”
It’s illustrated in the story above when Brian uses multiple devices with different intent, but added up in a line, they equal a “conversion” when he walks into the dealership.
Google can literally “watch” this entire sequence from start to finish.
That’s pretty darn cool!
The metrics Google gives via this new "tool" are only estimates but in their official release they stress that they error on the conservative side to ensure they aren’t inflating results. Currently, the results are based on a 30 day window, but I suspect that will open up as they dial in the reporting over time.
Read official release here:
How Can This Help Me Spend Marketing Dollars More Efficiently?
Since the tracking will display at the campaign level, it really helps us (and you) dial in the targets we are spending money on.
Let’s look at how these new metrics may help us make decisions:
Brand Name Campaign - it’s pretty obvious that people searching you by brand are wanting to do some sort of business with you. At the very least, you are familiar to them and that puts you ahead of your competitors. But do you know what the primary driver of “branded search traffic” is? It’s your traditional marketing efforts.
Mediums with massive reach and frequency like radio and television are what create awareness of your brand in your area and drive brand name searches online.
The “holy grail” metric for any traditional advertising company is “can I show you people walking through your doors?”
The brand name campaign in Adwords has always offered insights here - and with “Adwords Store Visits” metrics I feel like we will be a whole lot closer to helping our traditional partners better quantify their efforts!
(I’m personally excited about this because I have high regard for our traditional media partners that we work with everyday!)
Dynamic Inventory Campaign - we could go down a long rabbit trail with this one. Organically speaking, it’s very tough for a dealership to show up in the top 3 spots for searches related to specific vehicles. I’m talking searches like “2014 Hyundai Veloster.”
These searches are dominated (organically) by OEMs, third party sites like Edmunds and Autotrader and review sites like Car and Driver.
With dynamic inventory paid search campaigns, a dealership can show up and generate ads specific to these searches. In the example here, the dealership can show up in a paid search slot with a message of “hey dude, we have 10 of those in stock, get here now”
There is also the argument of “do I want to pay $3-4 for a click on a term like that when the person may just be doing initial research and not ready to buy yet?”
If we can see those searches actually sending buyers into your showroom via these new metrics, then we have opportunity to “up the spend” there and show real return on investment.
Now imagine how powerful it would be for your used inventory!
Service Campaigns - these type targets have always presented a challenge. There are arguments on both sides for and against them. The question being “does someone who owns a Mercedes Benz search for terms like ‘mercedes benz service’ or do they just automatically go to the nearest dealers by default?”
Another interesting set of data would be centered around more generic service like people searching for “cheap oil change” or “transmission service.”
If we knew that we were literally stealing walk in traffic from the local quick lane oil change places and driving consumers to your dealership we’d have great stories to share!
Credit Challenged Campaigns - many of you reading this (did you make it this far down?) have targeted this set of shoppers before. It gets mixed results for sure depending on who you are, where you are located and what reputation you have in the community.
But how often do people who look for help with credit challenges just walk into your store? Sure, we know they click your ads that read “we can help all forms of credit” and view your landing page… but those folks have been turned down a lot and may not want to fill out yet ANOTHER credit application. Maybe they’d like to just show up and talk to a sales person who can directly help them and their situation. Now we’ll be able to quantify some of that.
So there you go, these are my quick thoughts on these new metrics and how they can help us work more efficiently and quantify results outside of clicks, traffic, visits, etc. We’ll keep you informed on changes/additions to these metrics as they become available, and of course, be sharing our general findings as we set up tests across our client base. Currently we are not seeing this program available to auto dealers, but it won’t be long, that’s for sure.
Someone may ask “do people really have Location History enabled on their accounts?”
Android is getting more and more popular. Android phones come pre-loaded with tons of great Google apps. You can’t even use an Android unless it’s tied to a Google account. Many new Android users just create a new account right from the phone, and during setup, Google’s continuity streams (coming through as agreeing to terms of service) are VERY good at “convincing” users to “enhance your experience” by enabling features such as Location History. In other words, when a user is going through the setup process, they are “sold” on the benefits of allowing this tracking.
Further reading here:
(BTW- I’m a huge fan of this. I tell people to “open up all your devices and accounts and watch how much better your life becomes because of it.” I’m a huge Google fanboy and proud of it)
Any questions or comments? Let's start a convo below!