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What sets great dealers apart: key website metrics to track

Posted by Ashley Karr on October 30, 2018

Monitoring website performance is the cornerstone of your digital marketing strategy

Your website is the lifeblood of your business, and most of your digital marketing efforts likely revolve around ways of driving people towards it. In fact, according to Hubspot’s latest State of Inbound report, 54% of companies say driving more website traffic is their current marketing priority.

That’s a laudable aim. But for car dealers, as with all businesses, driving extra traffic is only useful if your website meets both visitor expectations and business ambitions. Nearly 40% of people will stop engaging with a website if they don’t like its content or design.

By monitoring a few key metrics, readily available on Google Analytics, you can more accurately measure the performance of your website and tweak it to be more user-friendly, compelling, and productive. Making this a continual process of improvement sets great dealers apart and creates the foundation for success—digitally-savvy small businesses are five times more likely to increase profits and operate more efficiently than less advanced competitors.

With that in mind, here’s what you need to know.

Top level metrics

Before you do anything else, you need to know the basics. Your users figure—the number of people who have visited your website—is a vague measure that lacks insight on its own. But a rising number is both reassuring and clear evidence that your marketing efforts are finding an audience. Conversely, declining figures can be a cause for concern.

The figure becomes more useful when combined with metrics on visitor behaviour. Average session duration tells you how long a visitor typically spends on your website. It’s safe to assume that the longer that is, the more engaging your content. This is a similar metric to bounce rate, which tells you the percentage of visitors that navigate away from your site after viewing just a single page.

Needless to say, over time you want to lengthen session duration and decrease bounce rate (while increasing page views per session). If the opposite is true, you have all the evidence you need to conduct a thorough review of your content, design, and internal linking. Tweak, rewrite, and reorganise, and see what happens to the numbers.

Serious buyers or casual browsers?

While all website visitors are welcome because a casual browser might become a serious buyer six months down the line. But it’s also useful to track those visitors who engage with your campaigns and take actions that suggest a serious intent to buy. If your newsletter, email marketing, and social media are funneling sales-ready customers to your website, they’re working well.

One metric to keep an eye on is returning visitors. A car buyer is likely to visit several websites before taking any action. If people visit your site and later return, it’s likely they found it useful and engaging. If very few visitors come back, ask yourself if your content could be tighter and more persuasive.

Monitor traffic on specific pages, too. The popularity (or otherwise) of a landing page speaks to the health of specific campaigns or special offers. Blog performance is a window into the priorities and concerns of your audience. For dealers, traffic to vehicle details pages is not only a performance indicator for your website, it also adds raw data to professional instinct when it comes to the car buying preferences of your local demographic. A tweak to your inventory might be as useful here as a website rethink.

Finally, website metrics can tell you where your traffic is coming from and, by extension, how successful your various marketing channels are (paid search, social media, organic, etc.). Keep an eye on your organic numbers in particular, because sessions prompted by organic search tend to be of higher quality (more sales-ready) than sessions from other sources. Again, the trend is the important thing. Check all these metrics on a weekly basis, so you can analyse and quickly adjust for unexpected peaks or troughs, but an upward trajectory is your aim. If that’s not the case, you may need to fine-tune your SEO.

Conversion is key

The ultimate aim of all digital marketing activity, of which your website is the hub, is to drive leads, conversions, and ultimately sales. If you have the foundation in place—good content, easy navigation, and clear design—conversions should naturally follow.

Still, it’s worth tracking conversion rates just to make sure. A conversion is an action taken on your website, like a form fill or an email contact. It’s calculated as a percentage of total traffic and is typically around 4%. But again, the trend is more important than the baseline figure.

It is possible that visitors find your site, spend time browsing it, come back…and still do not convert in significant numbers. In which case, you may need to spend time creating more persuasive calls to action (CTA), and placing them more obviously on pages. Analyse internal links and pathways to make sure your customer journey always leads to a clear and easy CTA.

But the likelihood is that when you act on a few basic website metrics, conversions will follow. These simple metrics can shine a spotlight on your visitors and give a clear idea of how well your website is meeting their expectations and nudging them towards positive action. Monitoring these metrics regularly over time, and modifying them accordingly is crucial for dealers who want to set themselves apart.

This piece is part of a series on key metrics to boost your digital marketing performance. Next up: key metrics for social media. 

Topics: dealer success, marketing tips, metrics, website