You Might be Looking at the Wrong ROI Metrics


By: George Nenni, Vice President of Operations

When dealers look at their dealership advertising budgets, there is no such thing as chump change. The most recent NADA Annual Data Report for 2014 shows that, on average, dealers spend over $41,000 on their monthly advertising budgets. Of that total monthly spend, 26 percent or nearly $11,000 goes toward Internet advertising. When working with that much money, it is a shame to see dealers making the wrong decisions with their advertising budgets due to inaccurate data points.

What “wrong data points” am I referring to? The two most commonly misleading metrics are click-throughs and lead form submittals. While there is nothing wrong about a shopper clicking through a dealership site or submitting a form, these stats simply do not reveal the overall success rates of dealership sales campaigns.


Click-throughs can be tricky. An email campaign or a Pay Per Click (PPC) ad can cause a consumer to click, but in reality, both of these say very little about the intent behind the action. Perhaps the consumer noticed a clever offer, searched for different content, or worse, wasn’t a real consumer at all, but a click-bot instead. Unless dealers measure what happened after the click, then the data is interesting, but likely, misleading. Dealers spend so much money on PPC campaigns that they are sometimes convinced that a campaign was successful based simply on the high volume of click-throughs. The large majority of these clicks simply visited the home page then abandoned the site. This is when dealers began to see how meaningless click-throughs were when viewed independently. Dealers must study the metrics that demonstrate consumer intent if they want to measure a campaign effectively.

Lead Form Submittals

Dealers would love it if every interested shopper would submit a lead form, but the reality is that only 1.9% of auto shoppers ever fill out these forms according to Automotive Venture. In most cases, it is because the form requires too many fields of information- causing consumers to give up before ever submitting the form. A more common progression for active vehicle shoppers on the web is that they find dealership sites through some sort of campaign, view specific vehicle detail pages (VDPs), take note of dealership addresses or phone numbers, and then either call the dealership, visit the store or both.

Auto shoppers don’t want to submit dealership forms. Effective advertising campaigns that drive shoppers to the website measure both behavior and intent. Click-throughs are meaningless and lead forms are far too sparse to effectively measure these campaigns.

VDPs and Integrated Dashboards

So what should your dealership measure? When running a campaign for new or used Sales departments, measure how many people are actually shopping for vehicles. Measure how many times a shopper views the inventory merchandise VDPs! If dealers begin measuring every campaign for their Sales department by VDP views, then they are measuring how well the campaign delivered shoppers to their website. How do you effectively measure VDPs? Website analytics reports are the first place to start. Simply contact your web provider, ask for VDP reports that include view sources. Keep in mind, if a digital advertising company is not the dealership’s specific website provider, the dealer will need to get those companies connected so that they can track every email, PPCs and Facebook campaign through website analytics. If dealers are not very tech savvy and are having trouble setting up their analytics reports, there are website advertising companies that can provide integrated dashboards that instantly show ROI metrics for every campaign, allowing dealers to proactively make cost-efficient digital advertising strategies and decisions.

If you would like to learn more about how to set up effective ROI metrics and tracking or to see specific dashboard examples you can start using at your dealership, join me, George Nenni, October 5-7, 2015 at the Digital Dealer Conference and Expo in Las Vegas. Start measuring the right ROI metrics!