Direct Versus Indirect

Having been in this industry for over 25 years, both on the dealer side and vendor side, I am still surprised that what I thought was obvious and known is oftentimes the opposite. We are now tracking the behaviors of over 11 million active online automotive shoppers, and relative trends are eye-opening to say the least.

Some are obvious, and some are the opposite of what you’d expect. However, with this many shoppers being tracked, it is possible to predict what shoppers will be buying in the weeks and months ahead. Further, what buyers purchase often varies from month to month, as does what shoppers initially set out looking for at the beginning of their shopping process compared to what they ultimately purchase.

Example 1: A data set of 1.5 million shoppers was taken to see how many clicked on a link directly from a social media site to a dealer website. That number? Less than 1 percent of auto shoppers made a direct link from a social media site to a dealership website. Of that 1 percent of people who did link directly, only six people out of 1.5 million sent leads.

However, in looking at the indirect effect of social media on auto-shopping behavior, Facebook is the second most visited website among auto shoppers, at 52 percent, right behind Google. YouTube is third on that list at 34 percent, and in looking at the traffic to a dealership website, on average, about 32 percent of all shoppers to a dealership website have been on Facebook at some point prior to their visit to a dealer website. The shopper may or may not have been on a specific dealer’s Facebook page, but there is a large overlap in shoppers who visit both sites.

Although you won’t see a lot of direct leads from Facebook, it is very important to have a positive “face” on Facebook for your dealership, as the overlap in visitors is too large to ignore.

Example 2: Data shows that there are fewer direct email leads being sent from third-party portal sites to dealers, even though traffic to those sites continues to increase.

However, auto shoppers who visit a third-party auto portal site any time prior to visiting a dealership website are three times more likely to send a lead on that dealer’s website. The problem is, you would never know that lead originated at a portal, as the person went to Google between visiting the portal and your website to type in your dealership name as a search term. Did Google create the awareness of your dealership? Probably not. The portal did, but it’s not getting the credit it deserves for driving these ups to your dealership.

It behooves you to analyze your website traffic and leads to see where they came from and more importantly, where they were before Google or another search engine to determine which site is sending you the most traffic, both directly and indirectly (not just leads, but phone calls, walk-ups, etc.). Now that this direct and indirect analysis is finally possible, the actual results will help you dramatically when allocating online ad dollars, with far less trial and error.

Vol. 8, Issue 8