Everywhere you turn today, data is being reported, analyzed, aggregated, and in some cases massaged and even manipulated. In a world of so much data and metrics, how do dealers make sense of it all? Better yet, how do they determine just what to make sense of, if at all? Furthermore, what data is pertinent to their situation and what data is only there for the “hmmm” value but is not actionable or really has no impact on daily decisions?

Obviously, the beauty of online advertising is not only the lower expense to reach thousands more shoppers, but the ability to track almost every click, link and path a shopper takes online to see exactly what is working online versus what is not working. It’s especially beneficial when it comes to online ad spend to see where your dollars are producing the best results, based on what results you consider to be the measure of success for that online source.

In other words, define your “success metric.” Is it a specific number of leads from a source that defines the success of that source, or are you looking to increase total traffic to the site as your measure of success? I highly encourage dealers to not measure every online ad or lead source by number of leads alone. Online advertising has a huge indirect effect on dealer walk-ins and phone ups—meaning shoppers will see your cars and read about your dealership online, but send no lead online. Instead, they just call or show up at the dealership.

So there is a level of dealer awareness that certain Web sources expose shoppers to that might not generate a definable lead. For example, when looking at Facebook referrals, we saw less than one percent direct referrals from social media sites to a dealer website. However, we saw an average of almost 34 percent cross-visitorship between Facebook and a dealer’s website. That is a lot of people visiting both places, but you won’t see hardly any leads directly from your Facebook page.

Measuring social media efforts by lead generation, in my opinion, is like using a ruler to measure a football field; it’s just the wrong device to effectively measure that much grass. If you are looking to Facebook to produce leads, you will be disappointed. But if you look to Facebook to increase retention, client be-backs, sales referrals, positive dealer image and testimonials, it provides much higher value. Again, define your “success metric” first; then be sure you are using the right measuring device to give you those results.

Online banners, blogs, secondary sites, microsites, live chat, inventory exports, OEM sites, Portals, etc. all have a place in driving shoppers to a purchase decision. They are not all created equal in how they do so, however. Weather it is direct or indirect, leads or traffic, emails or phone calls, know what to expect from that source and measure accordingly. Don’t let too much data get in the way of measuring success.

Define what success means for that online source; do I want more leads, more traffic, better-quality leads, etc.? Be sure you use the right metric to measure that success; don’t use a gallon jug to measure inches. And don’t always and only consider leads the sole measure of success from a vendor or online ad. Create overall awareness of your dealership, products and culture/value proposition, and use different online media sources for the purpose intended. The results will be natural and organic growth of overall traffic in your showroom and ultimately, more sales.

Vol. 8, Issue 5