Most of us would consider conversions the main success metric of dealership websites, and for good reason: receiving contact information means the buying conversation can begin. However, since about 97% of visitors leave dealership websites without submitting a lead form, it’s crucial to measure what these customers are doing on your site: are they engaging with your content, inventory, and service pages, or are they simply leaving?
88% of car shoppers use the internet to research their next purchase, spending an average of over seven hours gathering information online (see study). Many of them are wary of filling out forms, especially at early stages of the buying journey. But, just because a customer does not convert does not mean they are not interested in your site, or that they are not getting value from it. The key is to understand if the traffic that is not converting is engaging with your website, spending time on it, and finding useful information– so that you can make sure these customers return to your site, and not your competitor, when they are ready to convert.
“Tracking your engagement metrics and optimizing your numbers accordingly are crucial steps in ensuring that your website– your digital dealership– can bring you success.”
A few months ago, we spoke about enriching your dealership website with high-engagement content: great VDPs, comparison and research tools, effective finance features, informative photos and videos, how-to guides and shopping aids (see article). Once your site is equipped to reach your researching shopper, it’s time to check your success.
Whether you check your analytics in-house or outsource, make sure you consider these metrics to measure your on-site engagement:
There is a fair amount of controversy about bounce rate, or how frequently users leave your site without taking any further action. On the one hand, a high bounce rate could indicate that your site is not engaging viewers. On the other, shoppers may bounce quickly after finding the information they wanted. That’s why it’s important to consider not only your actual bounce rate, but also which pages your visitors are bouncing from. A glance at your contact and directions page may be all a customer needs– and such a customer is likely on their way to your showroom. However, high bounce rates from your homepage or inventory pages could indicate that your online shoppers are not finding sufficient information, or that your navigation is confusing. It may also mean that the popups you are using are too aggressive and don’t give shoppers enough time to browse before appearing.
Knowing which of your pages get the most views, and which ones get the least, can give you insight into your online shoppers’ areas of interest. If a sizeable proportion of your traffic is heading to your careers page– and not your VDPs, specials, or finance pages– your site may lack engaging content. On the other hand, numerous views of your inventory, or of particular VDPs, could show that these pages are helpful, or that some of your models are more popular, which could help with marketing decisions. If you have landing pages for research tools, check to see how much of your traffic is using them.
Because VDPs are the heart and soul of dealership websites, they deserve their own category. Speed Shift Media does a great job explaining the insights you can gain from measuring specific VDP metrics, including time spent on individual VDPs, the number of VDPs viewed in each session, the percentage of website visitors that view VDPs, and the amount of engagement actions visitors take on VDPs. Set up your analytics to track these points to see if your online inventory is just as engaging as your showroom.
Session Duration, and Average Time on Page
Like bounce rate, this metric must be taken in context. In general, longer session durations signify engaging content and information– with the caveat that users often leave tabs open and forget about them. As you measure your session duration, be sure to check the average time spend on individual pages. On your homepage, VDPs, and research landing pages, a longer average time on page most likely shows useful and rich content. A longer time spent on your hours page could simply reflect a distracted user. Make sure to check not only your session durations, but where that time is being spent.
New vs. Returning Customers
Buying a car is a long process, so if online shoppers are returning to your site, it’s a good sign that they are getting closer to buying, and that your site holds value. If you are not seeing much return traffic to your site, consider boosting your on-site content and research tools, and refining your retargeting efforts. And whether or not your return traffic is currently strong, ensure that your website offers second and third-time customers new value at each visit, either by using dynamic content, or simply by continually updating your site with new content, photos, features, and deals.
Emerging Metrics for Dealers
Check out the PCG Engagement Project to learn about new metrics that measure engagement and determine the quality of your website traffic. These advanced new metrics allow highly precise user activity tracking so you can calculate your dealership’s Cost Per Engagement– and create effective and cost-effective strategies for reaching that vast majority of website visitors who don’t submit lead forms.
Tracking your engagement metrics and optimizing your numbers accordingly are crucial steps in ensuring that your website– your digital dealership– can bring you success. Keeping your website visitors engaged at every step helps them move their shopping process forward, so that eventually they choose your dealership for conversion and closing. With your engagement metrics top of mind, you can develop a powerful digital strategy for constant growth.
Author: Devorah Wolf
Devorah Wolf is the Content Marketing Manager at AutoLeadStar, a lead engagement platform for the automotive industry. With many years of experience in content writing and editing, she blogs about making the most of your online traffic and making your online shoppers happy so you get more customers to your showroom.