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Measuring Vanity Metrics Vs. Actionable Metrics

Measuring your dealership’s website traffic is a key factor in determining which digital marketing channels are profitable and which are not. With all of the various marketing options out there for your business, are you really sure that your dealership is measuring what truly matters most?


Measuring your dealership’s website traffic is a key factor in determining which digital marketing channels are profitable and which are not. With all of the various marketing options out there for your business, are you really sure that your dealership is measuring what truly matters most? Or are you simply being misled by vanity metrics that look great on paper, but do little to bolster your dealership’s bottom line?

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What Are Vanity and Actionable Metrics?
A vanity metric does nothing more than look good in Google Analytics. Can you take measurable actions from a vanity metric to improve your dealership? In most cases the answer here is a clear “no,” because these are not actionable metrics.

On the other hand, an actionable metric can help you make smarter business decisions with your digital marketing by cutting out wasted spend, and provide your dealership with legitimate opportunities to create a sale.

Vanity Metrics: The Prime Offenders
Here are some vanity metrics we see tracked within our customers’ Google Analytics accounts as goals that may look good in a sales pitch from a marketing agency, but do little to help you actually sell more cars.

Pageviews — We see pageview goals set up for contact, map and directions, finance application and trade-in pages, as well as search result pages (SRPs) and vehicle details pages (VDPs). These numbers may look great and represent the flow of people visiting your site, but did they convert into a lead? Just because someone or something clicked on your map and directions page, does that mean they visited the dealership? No, it does not, and the same holds true for having people visit a VDP. Pageview data is good when split testing different content or layouts, but it should never be seen as the holy grail of metrics on which to base your marketing spend.


Impressions and Ad Views — These are measured in pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns (Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, etc.) as a way of telling you how many times your display ad was shown to a user. Keep in mind that the ad does not even have to be fully loaded on the page or completely visible to the user to count as an impression. Yes, you can have 60 percent of a banner be shown at the bottom of the screen and still have it count as an impression. Even though you are getting hundreds of thousands, or millions, of impressions each month, it all amounts to nothing more than a bloated advertising budget if those ads are not driving leads to your sales team. Please do not get this confused with impression share, which is an entirely different metric.

Photo Views — What profitable business decision can you truly make for your dealership’s digital marketing spend based off of seeing 24,000 photo views in a month? Yes, this is a nice metric to utilize if you want to measure the potential engagement of pictures on your VDPs. This will also allow you to see if you need to possibly take better photos, or maybe even more of them if the users are looking through the entire gallery. If someone is telling you a specific marketing channel is working well because of this metric, it is time to seriously rethink how you are spending your advertising budget.


The Metrics That Actually Lead to Car Sales
Here is a look at the actionable metrics that ultimately will help increase your monthly profits.

Phone Calls — Use call tracking numbers for each campaign so that you can then segment out the calls on a per-campaign basis. Paid search, email and social should all have different numbers so you can see which marketing channel is really working.

Completed Live Chats — Do not get this confused with how many people have started a chat, since this does not equate to the number of sessions completed. Plenty of people (or bots) start a chat and then close out the window before the session ends. With some chat providers, you can segment out your chat leads based on sales, service or parts. Be sure to track the real chat leads and not just how many times the chat button was clicked.

Form Fill Leads — If your digital marketing is not producing your dealership leads, what is it doing for you that is profitable? Track each form you have on your site so you can segment out the leads from your various digital marketing campaigns. Is email really making you more leads than social or organic? With this actionable metric, you can easily answer this tough question (and many others) regarding your digital marketing budget.


Store Visits — This is coming soon to Google Analytics and will allow you to see who has visited your dealership from which marketing channel. 

The Big Takeaway
The moral of the story here? While vanity metrics may be great at boosting egos and unnecessary digital marketing spend, only actionable metrics that actually lead to sales can generate a positive impact on your dealership’s bottom line. With this information in hand, you are now prepared to take a deep dive into your advertising budget and ensure that you never waste another penny again on a marketing service or campaign that doesn’t deliver. Steve Seeley

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