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The Case of the Missing Google Traffic

Google Analytics is the gold standard for measuring website performance. The key metrics usually monitored are number of visitors or sessions, bounce rate and website conversion. Dealers have learned to ask the right questions and look out for the obvious problems.

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By Rahul Saxena, Chief Analytics Office of FrogData, [email protected]
& Tej Soni, CEO of FrogData, [email protected]

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Google Analytics is the gold standard for measuring website performance. The key metrics usually monitored are number of visitors or sessions, bounce rate and website conversion. Dealers have learned to ask the right questions and look out for the obvious problems. But like anything to do with technology, it’s not all that simple. Here is an example that demonstrates that Google Analytics can be manipulated.

A car dealership, just like yours, was receiving a steady stream of around 25,000 monthly visitors to their auto dealer website. The dealership hired a digital marketing agency to improve performance and, sure enough, after implementing some “new strategies,” the traffic went up to nearly 40,000 online visitors.

This great improvement in online traffic, however, never brought in the expected rise in car sales. The dealer felt that the sales team must be dropping the ball and pushed their BDC and internet department to do more, with little success. 

They needed to take a hard look at what went wrong. Why did the increased website traffic not generate increased sales? After all, the traffic had increased 60%, so some investigation was required.

We downloaded all the Google Analytics data into our analytics platform and did a multi-dimensional analysis of the data. What we found was very interesting.

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We found that Google Analytics gave you different ways to measure site user metrics. The result depended on how the query was structured. One query shows 25,000 monthly visitors. A different query shows 40,000 visitors. The same website, the same underlying raw data and different metrics. Needless to say, that the “new strategy” was not working and the new agency had just changed the way they reported the user metrics. 

The website metrics were right. But they were subtly different. It’s the same metric, the same users and it’s from the industry’s gold standard system, but you must watch out. The website marketing experts are aware of this, and work around it. A new agency may do things differently from the old one. Of course they’re different — that’s why you made the change in the first place.

The dealer learned their lesson. Metrics need to be carefully examined before being believed. It’s important not to be taken for a ride on the back of fancy digital marketing reports. The best way get meaningful analytics is to invest in a data analytics platform that will seamlessly integrate with Google Analytics and give you constantly updated reporting.

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Getting Google Analytics Right

Google Analytics has evolved into a vast, complex web reporting platform. Most users, and even the so-called experts, use only a part
of what it offers. And although its reporting is very comprehensive, unless you’re using it on an e-commerce website, you don’t really know the connection between website performance and sales.

In any data-oriented report, there are several stages where data can be used out of context, or even fudged, intentionally or otherwise. An error in the source data can easily make it through to the report, where it can lead to a false conclusion. 

Most source data needs cleaning up and processing before the data can be analyzed. The Google Analytics system uses clickstream data from your website to create concepts of sessions, users and bounce rates that it then processes and provides to you on an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly basis. While creating reports, your marketing team will apply filters that remove internal traffic, say from the marketing team reviewing or testing the site or even from other countries. Filters will affect the report, so make sure you pay attention to this and ask your analyst to explain any filters that are applied.

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The most important analysis is the relationship between your website traffic and sales. This is complicated by the fact that website visits take time to convert into sales. An improvement in website performance will take time to flow down to sales, but equally so may just get lost if the sales team is already maxed out with existing lead flows and is not ready to take on more leads. This happens so often, we see a spike in leads from a new campaign or a new agency, sales remain flat, conversion rates dip and then things go back to normal.

Do new lead sources and new marketing campaigns consistently ratchet up your sales and lead conversion rate, or do the new leads end up wasted or cannibalize other leads? Are you getting exhausted in chasing ephemeral traffic? 

The answers lie in a robust data analytics platform that can aggregate data from Google Analytics, DMS and CRM systems to give you the true metrics and reports that you need to drive performance improvement in your dealership.

Click here to view more solutions from Rahul Saxena and Tej Soni and FrogData.

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