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Kevin McKillop

Kevin McKillop Owner

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PPC Conversion Tracking For Dealerships

It can often be difficult to track whether your paid advertising online is working out for you when it comes to conversion tracking for auto dealerships. So we’re going to take a look at other ways that we can measure the effectiveness of our paid search. 

In the typical online e-commerce environment, it is very easy to set up conversion tracking. So a visitor comes to a website, and they either fill in their name and their email address, that could be considered a conversion, or they can purchase something, that could also be a conversion at that particular point of time. So Amazon.com has a lot of sales that go on, and every time a paid . . . they might do some advertising, there’s a paid click and it comes to their website. If they purchase, that registers as a conversion, and it can be tied to the traffic source or the keyword.

With automotive websites and dealerships, the purchase doesn’t happen online like Amazon.com. So what happens is that the buying cycle, when somebody is an in-market shopper, they do a lot of homework, and they could make one, two, or three different visits to your website and several other websites as part of that research phase. So when you’re running paid advertising or other forms of media, like we’ll stick with pay-per-click for example, you don’t necessarily know if that traffic converted, because they don’t always necessarily fill in their email address to receive additional information. They may just pick up the phone and call, or maybe they’ll call tomorrow. But there’s never a tie between the phone call and the keyword or the sale of the car and the keyword. So conversion tracking becomes very difficult.

There’s one way we can address this issue, as best possible, and that is to make sure that you link your Google Analytics account with your Google AdWords account. Doing so will allow you to look at statistics about the traffic that is coming from particular keywords.

So here’s an example. What I would like to do is I would like to look at three things. I want to look at the number of pages per visit, the bounce rate, and the average time on site. So if I have a particular keyword and I would like to see whether it’s a good one or a bad one, I want to look for keywords that have a low bounce rate, that have a higher number of pages per visit, and a higher time on site. That means that the traffic that was brought to your website, through that paid keyword or that paid ad, is interested in what you have.

The opposite would be is if you had a keyword bringing traffic in and it had zero pages per visit, a very low time on site, and a very high bounce rate, meaning they came, you paid for them to come, and they quickly left. So, by linking your two accounts together, you can start looking at the level of interest that people have from your paid keywords. That’s about all we can really do without the ability to do the kind of conversion tracking that the typical e-commerce websites can do.

So make sure that you link up, go into AdWords, and go into Google Analytics. This must be done manually. It’s not automatic. Link up your accounts, go into your AdWords, or you can go into your Google Analytics interface, and you can add additional columns. What you want to take a look at, again, is your bounce rate, pages per visit, and the average time on site. With that information you can start weeding out the more interested sources from the less interested sources.

Cassie Allinger
Kevin, great point about needing to connect Adwords with Analytics, doing so allows you to see a much bigger picture which is important. But, I'm wondering why you assume that since automotive websites don't follow a typical e-commerce format, that dealers much stick with PPC and website engagement efforts? There can and should be a connection between the phone call and the keyword, and then your CRM can connect all the dots and tie it to a sale. The technology exists, so why not use it? It's certainly a huge missed opportunity.
Cassie Allinger
***I meant "metrics" instead of "efforts" ... Not sure what happened there.
Carl Maeda
Hi Kevin, that's a very good article. One thing I want to add is that you can track all conversions, there are several companies like Marchex that offer keyword level call tracking. Keyword level tracking is important when you launch a new client or try something new but it is pretty pricey to leave it on all the time.
Kevin McKillop
I agree the technology exists, I've yet to see one that uses it though so this suggestion is for those that don't use it (many) and ways they can measure (to some extent) how effective it is.
Kevin McKillop
I should say I've yet to see a dealership use keyword level call tracking. The other issue is the long life cycle of the searcher. It gets difficult to track phone calls to keywords when they're 24+ hours apart.

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