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Metrics 2.0

Automotive Engagement Conference, Tysons Corner, Fairfax, VA, April 20, 2017

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As automotive conferences go, this was nicely packed into only one day and much easier to travel to. And, with the understanding that most sessions are 50% business pitches, this one was also a business pitch, for a product that does appear to fill a legitimate need.
 
VistaDash — an analytics platform designed for the single-point dealership or the multipoint dealer group, understanding that data is coming from multiple OEMs and varying website/digital marketing vendor platforms.
 
In other words, my dealership has two web sites run by two competing vendors, more than one digital marketing service company and multiple third-party and classified inventory lead sources.  We also have multiple phone call tracking vendors. Our parent company manages multiple dealerships that attempt to similarly measure and compare results via multiple digital marketing services. 
 
Whether it’s to manage one store, or to manage multiple stores served by our vendors, VistaDash provides one portal to see compiled digital marketing performance, and VistaDash advocates for dealerships to make use of uniform quality, not quantity, metrics that we need to know, to hold ourselves accountable as well as our vendors.
The promise is that this becomes the tool to identify and eliminate (the best of your ability) waste when it comes to digital marketing spending.
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These are the engagement metrics:
 
1.) Cost per Engagement — specific actions, from photos viewed to buttons clicked to forms submitted, etc., are considered “engagements,” but are weighted in order of importance 
 
2.) Engagements per Session — identifying low-funnel in-market shoppers
 
3.) Photo Engagement Rate — did the shopper just land on the VDP, or did the shopper dig into the photo set?
 
4.) Zero Engagements per Page Rate – what percentage of vists were low engagement?
 
5.) Button Click Rate — measure it, a/b test it, improve it
 
6.) Form Completion Rate — too many forms suffer from high bail-out rates — but measures beat anecdotes, we can all agree — and if you can measure it, you can also improve it
 
 
All of which means that the following metrics are not useful for comparisons, performance gauges or any other kind of keeping score:
 
Bounce rate
 
Time on site
 
Pages per session
 
# of visitors, sessions or any other traffic “counts”
 
 
Random notes:
 
“Website” is not a lead source.  It is your dealership.  How a shopper got to the website, that’s your source.
 
Hiring the right people and hiring enough people so that equity mining is done right is the most critical hiring activity in the sales department.
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On average, shoppers leave your website with 14 seconds of submitting a lead form.  Fast Ring, Call Drip and other lead-to-phone tools are must-haves.
 
Does a web site need a tune-up?  Look at Google page speed tools for recommended fixes — any page scoring less than 90 can get a ranking penalty.
 
On the subject of mobile, web site traffic can be upwards of 65% mobile — customers landing on the top of a search results page can quickly bail if the page is an endless scroll without a relevant vehicle of interest — simple, optimized for mobile, landing pages work better.
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Simple pages with one call to action are the norm everywhere but automotive — automotive needs to follow the example of other consumer goods sold online — keeping it simple is the key to success when it comes to digital.
 
Call-to-action buttons need active language.  “Unlock” vs. “get,” “best price” vs. “e-price,” “instant” vs. “request a …”
 
But only one button, not nine.  SRPs often don’t have call-to-action buttons at all — one is also better than none.
 
Lotlinx and similar direct-to-VDP marketing works because they successfully find the in-market buyer, not because they land anyone they can find on a VDP.  VDPs and sales have a correlation, not a causation.
 
To put that into other words, Lotlinx helps you find the shopper while helping the shopper find your merchandise. Both may be needle-in-the-haystack.  Conversely, your inventory may be not rare at all, easily found everywhere — in that case, the value of Lotlinx is bringing the shopper to your site before that shopper lands on your competitors’ pages.
 
Definition of terms: “third party “ leads are not VIN-specific, and may be inaccurate when it comes to model year, color, trim, etc. Make and model are all you know.  They are landing on a price site.  “Classified” leads are third-party sites that host your VIN-specific inventory.
 
You respond to ‘third party” leads differently than classified leads or leads from your dealership site.  You ask specific questions to learn more about a shoppers vehicle(s) of interest.  Ask specific questions when leaving voice mail, too.
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CRM processes — good to build inspections into the managers tasks, inspecting duties are more important than mechanically clicking fully written templates — is the sales rep writing clear notes?  Are we answering the questions asked?  Are we asking relevant questions, too? Does the status and process match appropriately to the contact history?
 
Measuring the wrong things is pervasive when it comes to Adwords — phone calls are 90% service calls when only sales campaigns are running.  Sales campaigns are phone books for customers who already know they want to call us. 40% of ad-to-site clicks and 90% of click-to-calls.
 
Compared to Adwords campaigns, Cars.com and Autotrader bring in much higher percentages of in-market vehicle shoppers vs. parts and service shoppers. Don’t write them off yet.
 
Every vendor has a differing definition of a “conversion.” Few are validated, relative to sales/purchase activity.

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