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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Nenni

Website Tools Must Support Google Analytics Tracking

Updated: Nov 12, 2020

I am fascinated by the number of new Digital Retailing (DR) and trade-in-valuation tools hitting the automotive digital marketing space. At the recent 2019 Digital Dealer Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas, there were several new DR solutions fronting a booth and demonstrating their offerings. General Motors dealers have recently been given the choice of several trade-in tools that will qualify for co-op. This is a fast-moving space with many great solutions. These DR and trade tools both allow the consumer a better customer experience as well as generate additional leads from the dealer’s earned and purchased traffic.

A major challenge for many of the new entrants is that their tools cannot be tracked in Google Analytics (GA). This lack of tracking in GA means the dealer will not be in control of the reporting and will be under-reporting their total number of hard conversions. Perhaps it is because of oversight, or maybe these new companies are rushing to quickly get to market, but leaving out this important tracking element makes these companies a poor choice for dealers. What do I mean by Google Analytics tracking? Out of the box, GA allows you to track pages, visitors, traffic sources, and some basic information on the behavior of the website visitor. However, if a dealership purchases a plug-in website tool, Google Analytics cannot see the activity within the tool. The problem is solved when the tool provider supports “events” in Google Analytics.

What are “events”? They are interactions with content from website visitors that need to be measured differently compared with web-page loading. Examples of events you could track would include video plays, chat engagements, or photo carousel scrolling. A website tool provider would put code on the dealer website that would “fire” these Events for various activities. This allows Google Analytics to track the activity in a very granular way. For instance, a chat tool could fire events whenever the chat tool is engaged, and when the chat is complete. In a similar way, a trade-in tool would fire events for the tool being clicked on, when the vehicle is chosen for valuation, and finally, if a lead is submitted. These events allow tracking at every stage of the process, so that dealers can measure critical success metrics for these tools such as lead-to-visitor ratio, tool engagement percentage, and tool abandon ratio. In short, when these tools fire events in GA, their performance is made fully transparent to the dealership.

Above is a screenshot from GA, showing CarNow events being fired. If you would like to check what events may be firing for your website, go to Google Analytics and choose the Behavior menu. From the Behavior menu, choose Events, then Top Events. You can scroll through the list and find the corresponding events from your website tool provider(s).

My strong advice to dealers is not consider any website plug-in tool that does not support Google Analytics Events tracking. Today there are too many competing solutions that fully support GA Event tracking, tools such as CarNow, TradePending, Dealer Science, Edmunds, and others. Shoot me an email with any questions or additional ideas!

George Nenni is founder and principal consultant with Generations Digital, helping automotive dealers reduce waste and improve the efficiency of their digital marketing and advertising.

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