Opinion: Why Dealers Struggle with Analytics

A picture of Ron Wheeler

Dealers struggle with website analytics for many reasons. The most prevalent originate from people who share the analytics with you.

When they intend to share data without interpreting it, you will have problems.

Analytics providers share data in a thousand ways, leaving you a thousand ways to become confused about what the data says. Sound familiar? This confusion is detrimental when analytics indicates an activity that you feel comfortable with but should not.

To prepare you for the entirely new retail selling world ahead of us, I would like to give you questions to ask your data/analytics providers, whether they are employees or outsourced personnel.

Analytics are confusing and worthless without interpretations and recommendations to follow. Historical data is also essential. Here are 10 questions you should be asking and why they are important.

Where is the access to my analytics?

Do you own the analytics and are you the administrator? Over the past three years, only 75% of our new clients own or have access to their Google Analytics accounts.  In many cases, the website provider or digital company claimed it owned the account, and the dealer lost all historical data.

What is my average Google cost for pay-per-click (PPC), display and YouTube ads?

Specifically, ask for these metrics defined by each category. If you get only your Google cost per click, your costs will be distorted because each category has a different marketing purpose and cost. Often, people combine these to hide a high Google Search cost per click.

What is the cost per click for my PPC campaign for my brand/name, general RV terms and product-specific searches?

Dealers often receive a general cost per click for a paid search. This can also be misleading.

Ask to see your brand name cost per click. This is a search associated with your dealership name. Cost per click is inexpensive and can greatly alter your true PPC for important keywords.

Your product and brand cost per click is the most important statistic to review. Consumers using these searches are low funnel shoppers, and you need to win them at this point of contact. When customers intentionally search for your products and brand names, you need to connect with them.

What is my impression share for each campaign?

Impression share tells you how often your ad is served in paid search when a targeted consumer performs a relevant search. So, a 10% impression share would indicate your ad is reaching 1 in 10 consumers who search for a term or phrase important to your account. A 10% impression is not very good. Of course, 100% would be ideal but is too expensive to reach. We recommend an impression share between 35% and 55%. Your brand campaign (which is your name) should be in the high 90% impression share. As competition and inventory levels rise, you want to be sure consumers see your ads, or you will lose the online consideration battle.

How many Vehicle Details Page (VDP) views am I getting from my PPC campaign?

A click is a click, is a click, and is worthless if end users are not buying. Viewing a VDP has been proven repeatedly as the only consistent action every consumer partakes in before buying. If consumers are not viewing your RVs’ VDP, the quality of your clicks is poor. Asking about VDP views will help you validate the traffic quality you are generating from paid search campaigns.

Are the clicks representing my inventory?

This will be critical over the next year. You must check inventory levels with your click and VDP counts. Sending many clicks to low inventory areas is easy. Within the next year, dealers will realize this hit as they spend too much money sending clicks to motorhome inventory versus towable. When you have five motorhomes in stock and 120 trailers you need to be sure the percentage of budgets to keywords associated with each category is appropriate.

How do these statistics compare with previous months and years?

As you go into the next few months, comparing the month-over-month data will be very important. The trends through summer will be essential to your marketing strategies. Although year-over-year data will be interesting, past Covid and inventory challenges will skew the numbers. So, keep a sharp eye on month-over-month data while watching impression share and budget levels. You will need to increase budgets to maintain the exposure you had last year. There is no way around that. As consumer interest falls from industry peaks, and 2022 competition increases due to inventory levels, you will see higher cost per click and lower month-over-month results.

How do your numbers compare with other dealers?

Ask your providers how your data compares with other dealers. The results are so important. Comparing yourself only to yourself can be misleading. Check how other dealers are attacking the market. What is their average cost per click? What is their impression share? How are their VDP views trending month-over-month?

What are your recommendations for next month?

Ask your data providers, based on the results, what their recommendations are for you next month? What will you adjust based on results or expectations? Most dealers receive a data dump containing numbers and percent-ages, but no action plans based on the results. Generally, dealers fail to get action plans because data providers are reporting numbers and do not really understand what is happening.

Are my clicks from all media channels providing VDP views?

This question is critical as you move forward. Consumers do most shopping online.  Consumers are only visit only 1.2 dealerships before they buy. You are likely being eliminated from consideration online. To grow your business, you must increase your VDP views. Doing so is the best marketing indication you have at your fingertips and your dealership’s one true leading activity indicator.

Finally, here are some observations based on industry data we collect and aggregate.

  • Year-over-year VDP views started slower in 2022 but seem to have caught back up.
  • Only 10% of consumers physically visit more than one dealership when they decide to buy. Because consumers do research and shopping before visiting the physical store, this finding means dealers close deals once foot traffic occurs without losing that customer to a competitor.
  • Asking the right questions will provide the right answers. Asking the wrong questions will only get you unimportant answers to your marketing future.

Like a good reporter or an outstanding interviewer, ask relevant questions to get reliable results. By doing so, analytics will become an insightful friend rather than a confusing or misleading foe.

Ron Wheeler is founder and principal at Wheeler Advertising. Ron has been a speaker at RVDA for more than 30 years and at NADA for more than 18 years. He has spoken on topics ranging from dealership branding to RV effectiveness, social media and digital marketing. He began his RV advertising career more than 30 years ago. Ron was RVDA Convention and Expo chairman for six years and also sat on the RV Hall of Fame board. His company works with RV dealers in more than 30 states and Canada.

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