Measuring Success in Marketing

Craig Wilson

I'm looking for the top marketing metrics that you use to define success in your dealership. It seems like things are always changing, and I'm wondering what everyone is focusing on today. Thanks!

Linda Loepker

I came here looking for the same information today!

Randi DeSantis

I feel like as soon as a dealership has a way to track marketing successfully- marketing agencies ruin it. VDPs used to be a genuine gauge to determine success... then that became what everyone went after and that data became skewed. 
Mainly now I look at a bunch of things- and then I compare that to previous months to determine success. But there are so many variables. 

Arthur Bratton

We usually start by segmenting the traffic down to visitors that visited an SRP or VDP since we have a lot of blog traffic that isn't particularly converting traffic. Then we start looking at quality metrics, usually by source/medium since that helps bucket the different types of marketing campaigns.

Time on site and pages per session are my first rough look at quality since they are already built into the source/medium report in Google Analytics. Longer time on site and more pages per session can be an indicator of quality (though if your website is really well organized out and optimized, this may be less true). 

I also look at website goal conversions which include things like form fills, phone calls, chats/text, digital retailing interactions, scheduling service, etc.

If you have a great website provider, have someone that is good with Google Tag Manager, or hire a company like VistaDash, you can create even more quality metrics to track things like: vehicle image gallery interactions, zero engagement sessions (visitors landed on a page but didn't interact with anything, page scrolls, etc. Goals like these give you a better sense of what is working and what might need to be looked at and adjusted.

If you want to go down the rabbit hole further, look into what events are being fired by any third-party plugins. You can usually see how many people click into a particular tool vs how many actually convert into something that you and I would consider a lead.

Troy Scheer

I tend to take a deeper look into things. And while KPIs may differ a bit from dealership to dealership, most of these metrics are used by our marketing team for both automotive and non-automotive brands.

Here are the metrics we look at in no particular order:

  • Clicks
    Cost-Per-Click (CPC)
    Click-Through-Rate (CTR)
    Search Impression Share (SIS)
    Conversions (Forms, Calls, Chats, and Store Visits)
    Online Lead Response Time
    Conversion Rate 
    Conversion Rate by Channel
    Conversion Rate by Device
    Qualified Sales Prospects (QSPs)
    Vehicle Sales
    Customer Lifetime Value 
    Customer Retention Percentage
    Brand Search Lift
    Historic Market Share
    Search Conversion Efficiency
    Lead Actions
    Unique Prospects
    Qualified Sales Prospects
    Paid Prospects that Resulted in a Sale
    Sales and Service Connection
    Referrals Per Sale
    AI Social Listening and Data Analysis to understand: Traffic, engagement, sentiment, reputation management, Brand/Product Intelligence, Competitive Intelligence, Industry Intelligence, and detailed Audience Insights


Motoi Namihira

So this will be a "duh" comment, but really the only marketing metric that matter is sales.  Now the obvious issue that we're all dealing with is how do you measure marketing's impact against sales, which get's back to your question of what marketing metrics to track.  But to Randi's point, no metric is meaningful in isolation because as soon as you start tracking it, your marketing agency will start to manipulate it, rendering it largely meaningless. 

The way I control for this is simply to run a simple correlation analysis.  Just get some historical monthly data for each of your marketing metrics that you want to consider.  The way I personally do this is by starting with the marketing budget, and then listing which metrics should in principle be affected by the marketing spend.  The key detail is that you'll need a decent amount of data, at minimum 12 months, but ideally 36 or more.  Then simply chart your metrics against your monthly sales and look at which of your marketing metrics move in tandem with your sales, as well as when they stop moving in tandem.

If you want to really get fancy you can use the correl() function in Excel and compute the statistical correlation between your sales and marketing metric.  This value will be between -1 and 1.  0 means no correlation, 1 means they both go up, -1 means one goes up when the other goes down. In other words, the closer to 0 the correlation is, the worse of a metric it is to track.  For an example see this:  FYI, in my experience, the charts are much more informative then the correlation statistic, but having the correlation is nice if you have a lot of metrics and you want to be able to quickly rank them against sales.  

Spoiler alert most of your marketing metrics won't be correlated with sales. Unfortunately, there are two reasons why: 1) the marketing activity that's driving that metric isn't impactful, or 2) your agency is artificially inflating it. While this analysis won't be able to tell why a marketing metric isn't correlated with sales, it will tell you which ones are worth tracking and which are just random noise. 

Finally if you really want to have some fun, you can take the ratio of sales over each metric x to give you a "conversion rate" between metric x and sales.  For example if we take x to be sessions, then sales/sessions tells you how many sessions were needed to generate 1 sale. 

The key here is see how consistent this ratio is month to month.  Using sales/sessions as an example, if this value is bouncing around all over the place, then it means you shouldn't be paying too attention to sessions.  On the other hand, if this ratio is 1% every month, then that's telling you if you increase sessions by 1,000, you should make about 10 (0.01 x 1000) more sales. The same basic math holds for any metric, e.g. clicks, calls, form fills, even things like time on site.

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