It’s not enough to have a website that you like, or that you think “looks cool;” your website is not a brochure, nor is it merely an inventory listing service. Your website, when created and managed properly, should be the Number One lead and traffic source for your dealership. To ensure that you’re truly maximizing your website’s potential as this business driver, you need to track and measure. But, you must track and measure the metrics that matter.
Great! How do I determine what metrics matter?
Remember Your Website’s Goals
As we’ve learned repeatedly in this series, your website has just two primary goals:
- Attract Visitors; and
- Convert Those Visitors into Buyers.
Given this, the only metrics that matter are those that take us closer to these goals. As the first goal relates to your website’s search visibility – and this is a series on improving your website’s conversions – we won’t be discussing those metrics. This leaves the metrics that matter when it comes to deciding whether or not your website is driving conversions – all conversions: leads, calls, chats, texts, and even walk-in traffic.
The DISC Test
Anything we add to or change about our website has to pass the DISC Test. That is, Does It Sell Cars? For some outcomes of a consumer’s visit to our website, like the completion of a trade form that’s delivered directly into our CRM, we can easily determine the metrics that matter: In this case, it’s leads and sales. Nothing complicated there.
By the way, the primary conversion metrics we’re going to track for our website and any added parasites are all related to leads and sales. We’re measuring:
- Contacts (leads, calls, chats, texts, etc.); and
- Transactions (service appointments, revenue, grosses, sold units, cost per gross, etc.)
Of course, most visitors to the typical dealer’s website don’t complete a lead form or even pick up the phone and call you. Moreover, most buyers actually make zero contact with a dealership before they show up. Since virtually everyone is online, we can correctly assume that at least some of our walk-in traffic has visited our website.
Wait, given this, how can we give the proper credit for the store visits and sales generated from these anonymous visitors?
Simple: We can account for these through something called extrapolation. While we wouldn’t use extrapolation to determine how well a parasite (like a car dealer chat program) performed, via extrapolation, we can estimate the overall impact of a given website traffic source on our sales.
For example, let’s say a traffic source generated ten leads that resulted in two sales as recorded in the CRM. If we assume the DrivingSales data showing 61% of buyers make no contact with a dealer before they arrive is accurate, then we can simply divide both of these numbers (10 and 2) by 39% (the percent who buy after making some contact) to estimate the overall impact from that source:
- 10/.39 ≈ 26
- 2/.39 ≈ 5
Via extrapolation we can give this traffic source credit for roughly 26 leads and 5 sales, even though the CRM recorded just 10 and 2, respectively.
Wait, What About Bounce Rate, Page Views and Time on Site?
Given that our website’s goal is to attract and convert, I’m confused why so many dealers (and their website vendors) want to discuss potentially meaningless metrics like Bounce Rate, Page Views and Time on Site.
But Steve, I want a lower Bounce Rate and a longer Time on Site, don’t I?
Well, no. You want your website visitors to transact business with you. Nothing more, nothing less. If a potential service customer came to your website looking for your phone number, and they found it on the first page they visited and then left, this would register as a bounce. Is that a bad bounce or a good bounce?
In order to not register as a bounce, they would have to view at least one more page during this visit. Why would you want to make them unnecessarily look through more pages of your website just to find your phone number? The answer is simply you wouldn’t want that. This is a good bounce; and since Bounce Rate can’t differentiate between good bounces and bad bounces, you’re wasting your time measuring this (with respect to how your website or one of your parasites is performing).
To be clear, if you were buying traffic, say from an SEM vendor, then the Bounce Rate of that vendor’s specific traffic is likely important to track and measure over time. However, as a measure of whether or not your website is performing or if some change you made to your site is good or bad, Bounce Rate is meaningless.
Likewise, Time on Site and Page Views aren’t good barometers of whether or not the impact of a given change to your site was positive or negative. Think about it, if prospects can find what they want quickly, why would they spend any more time on your website? Why would they look at any more pages than necessary to find just the right vehicle?
Because so many dealer websites today are built with high-converting pages that are easily indexed by the search engines like Google, a prospect is likely to find exactly what they’re looking for immediately without the need to spend any measurable time on a website or dive into any more pages.
Similar to the Bounce Rate example earlier, if a prospect Googled “Used Mustang Denver” where the vehicle details page for your 2014 Ford Mustang appeared in the search results (Paid or Organic), and the user clicked onto your page and found exactly what they wanted; it is likely they would Bounce, showing zero Time on Site and just a single Page View. (Was this a good or bad visit? Was the traffic valuable or not?)
The lesson here is that trying to artificially deflate Bounce Rate, while trying to artificially inflate Time on Site and Page Views could hurt your website’s ability to drive conversions. You remember conversions, right? Those pesky leads, calls and sales that are one of the primary goals of your website.
Since conversions are the key in this series, we’ll look at how pricing transparency impacts your website’s ability to ultimately generate sales in the next post: Transparency and Conversions.
(If you’re catching this series for the first time, you may want to begin with the first post: Before You Change Even One Word on Your Website…)
Steve Stauning, creator of The Appointment Culture and an expert in Digital Marketing and Website Conversion. He is also an extremely popular keynote speaker, writer, and industry consultant. Learn more about Steve at SteveStauning.com.