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Measuring data makes for better ad campaigns—and more sales

Posted by Meg Bernazzani on April 24, 2018

The data behind online advertising offers dealers opportunities to optimise their campaigns and target likely buyers

If you’re spending money on online ad campaigns, you should properly measure not only the results, but also the wealth of available data behind those results.

Many car dealers measure digital ad performance using high level metrics like Click Through Rate (CTR), Cost Per Click (CPC), and lead volume. These metrics certainly tell a story, but don’t provide the full picture on their own. For example, not many of us click online ads, but that doesn’t mean they don’t contribute to awareness, interest, and, eventually, sales.

Simply put, deeper measurement leads to better online ads, tighter targeting, and more used car sales.

Buyers are out there

Every piece of data is important in a world where used car buyers spend an average of six hours researching vehicles and dealerships online, and where third-party classified ad sites are the most popular places to find information.1 Buyers are out there, and measurement can help you figure out the most efficient way to get them to your website.

With that in mind, you need to know where your website traffic is coming from, and which touchpoints are most likely to drive genuine buyers in your direction. Those touchpoints might be display ads, paid search, social media, organic channels, email or—most likely—a combination of them all. The average car buyer can steer between review sites, blogs, social media, and display ads, all before getting anywhere near a test drive.

It’s all about data and how you use it

To make sense of the customer’s online journey, car dealers need data, and plenty of it. Happily, it’s data that’s relatively easy to find and collect in one place, using your CRM and Google Analytics (in addition to your media owner analytics). These tools can show you where visitors to your site come from, in what numbers, and what they do when they get there.

If this sounds complex, it isn’t. The dashboards on Google Analytics display—by default—the most important metrics, like the channels that drive the most visitors, and their behaviour on your site, in an easily digestible way. They provide raw data, pie charts comparing metrics, and timelines of one or two metrics, making the analysis of ad performance easy.

It’s also worth exploring your CRM, which may already display a lot of this information. And some analytics tools—like Clicky—are considered even better when it comes to digging into the data. But Google Analytics is a great free option.

Whichever you choose, the important thing is to use it, because these simple tools tell you whether your ads are driving visits, and whether those visits mean anything.

Regular measurement of data leads to more insight

Simply measuring visitor numbers during and after an ad campaign gives some measure of its effectiveness, but this data is especially helpful when you’re able to compare it to data from previous campaigns and your own baseline numbers (visitor statistics when no campaigns are running).

Direct click-through figures from ads are also useful, but only as part of a wider analysis. A visitor to your site who arrives via a search engine may have seen your ad two days ago, remembered your name and typed it into Google. He doesn’t click through, but your ad has still been effective.

In other words, don’t rely on high-level metrics alone. Regularly measure a wide range of data. When you have enough data, you have insight. Then the question becomes: what should you do with it? That will be covered in an upcoming article on what to do with the data you have.

1Opinium/CarGurus, December 2017 (5,004 UK used car buyers)

Topics: attributions, data, Google Analytics