CommentaryOct 9th, 2017

How Google Analytics Help You Assess Vendor Performance


Dealers today have an infinite number of ways to get in front of their consumers. Display advertising, social media, video, targeted campaigns, and even texting are all ways to attract in-market shoppers to your store.

These solutions come from specialized vendors who help you reach your target audience, but how do you know if each vendor’s approach is working?

Dealers are often unsure of how to best measure the impact of their digital marketing efforts, so they look to their partner-vendors to be trusted advisors in helping to create standards, and to work within their current processes to understand their results.

Google Analytics has become the private investigator dealers didn’t know they needed and, in most cases, already have. It’s free to set up, and all you need to do is place the Google Analytics tracking code into your website.

Google Analytics can also tell a story about your vendors, and gives you the power of an unbiased third party to evaluate individual vendor performance. It also augments performance metrics that your vendor should be providing.

What Google Analytics can tell you

But how do you use Google Analytics to your advantage? What questions should you be asking? Is there a one-size-fits-all metric for vendors? Remember: Not all vendors are created equal.

You hire different vendors for different reasons, so before you decide if the only three metrics you care about are bounce rate, time on site, and pages per session, ask yourself, “What did I hire this vendor to do?”

For example, chat services will never drive a great amount of traffic to your website, so their pages-per-session score will constantly be low. They could, however, be supporting a more effective time on site scoremeeting or exceeding your expectations.

See the difference? Bounce rate is another metric used to benchmark vendor quality, but again, it depends on what expectations you’ve set for that vendor’s product.

Consider a case where you’ve hired a vendor to send targeted communications to your customers and prospects, you want each campaign to be customized, and you want the targeted individual’s needs to be met as quickly as possible.

If your vendor is performing, it should show a low bounce rate, right? Not necessarily. It is possible for a vendor to show a higher bounce rate while still meeting expectations.

Here’s how.

If a prospect receives an email and uses it to find directions to your dealership, the person will most likely click on “Contact Us,” be directed to your website, and then immediately click the Google Maps link.

This path would populate as a “bounce” for the responsible vendor, yet the vendor performed the task you set out for it — driving consumers to your dealership. Google Analytics’ Source/Medium page is another good example of a reporting tool that will let you drill down and evaluate the quality of traffic your vendors are generating.

Within the Source/Medium page, you can measure metrics like vendor-initiated contact, vendor-influenced shopping, last-click attribution, and returning traffic.

Multi-channel attribution

But website traffic is just one way to measure a vendor’s value. Consumers today aren’t just surfing websites; the modern car buyer is engaging with dealerships through multiple channels such as Facebook, YouTube, dealership websites, and various review sites before they make the decision to walk through your dealership’s door.

Understanding multi-channel attribution can help you distinguish where vendor influence comes from and how it affects your shoppers. Multi-channel attribution helps dealers better understand the impact of their marketing across all forms of media, and ultimately gives them the power to make educated budget decisions.

Make sure you talk with your vendors and understand what results make sense for their products. A true partner is a vendor that consults with you and educates you.

Such a vendor can — and should — discuss what goals you expect to be achieved, and be willing to review its performance in Google Analytics.

Now more than ever, dealers have incredible digital marketing solutions available that create an unforgettable consumer experience.

Reputation management software, AI-integrated platforms targeting individual consumer interests, dealer management systems that greets your customers as they arrive for their service appointment — all these systems cater to the personal experience we have come to expect as consumers.

Take advantage of Google Analytics to optimize your marketing spend and hold vendors accountable, and create a more cohesive marketing strategy that will benefit your dealership’s most important asset: its customers.

Kathryn Massopust is a marketing manager at Outsell, headquartered in Minneapolis. Kathryn develops and manages lead generation programs that drive qualified leads, resulting in revenue.

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