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Traditionally, leads have been the Holy Grail of automotive buyer intent. Leads are still valuable, but there is a whole spectrum of true sales indicators that are getting lost in the shuffle. Our business intelligence at Cobalt exclusively reveals that the top four true sales indicators today are: Hours and Directions pageviews, VIN views, time spent on VIN, and total number of vehicles viewed.
To my put this in perspective, here is a real life example from a recent dealer visit. This dealer had 3,131 monthly visitors. Out of those visitors, 34 submitted an email lead. In the traditional worldview, when we add his phone calls from the website, this would be the extent of the measurement. But the dealer would be ignoring the fact that he got 4,370 Vin Views, 143 Hours and Directions visits, 7,418 inventory searches, and had a total time on site of 220.2 hours. When you do the math, this means that an email lead occurred only 1.1% of the time, whereas VIN views occurred 140% of the time, and inventory searches happened 237% of the time! When you look at the whole picture, a much more optimistic and more importantly a more accurate view of dealer website performance emerges.
If you keep in mind that roughly 70% of buyers do not contact the dealership before they walk in your showroom, what you cannot take for granted is that all of your “visits” are real people who are interacting with your dealership every single day. They just happen to be doing so anonymously, arming themselves with all sorts of information, from what you have in inventory, what the prices are, what the National and Regional incentives are, and just about anything else they can find out about you online.
Now I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea here. I’m not suggesting you never look at leads again, because as we all know that leads are important. But what I hope you now understand is that there is much more to the equation. These new sales indicators reveal a deep level of engagement with your dealer website; it makes sense these would correlate more closely with car sales.