Out of the box, Google Analytics is basically just a hit counter with graphs — at least that’s the way it was described to me in the Google Analytics seminar that I attended earlier this year. The best information that you can gather will come from the customizations that you employ for your site’s goals and needs.
The easiest way to start is to determine the conversion process for your website. You’re spending money on marketing to get people to come to your site, but what is it that you want them to do there? From a business standpoint, you should be aiming to get users to “convert” by either calling the dealership or filling out a vehicle inquiry form. But how do you track that? Although there are methods to track phone calls down to the keyword level, this post will focus on tracking those users that filled out a vehicle inquiry form on your dealership website.
Google Analytics provides an easy method for tracking the total number of conversions on your site every month called Goals. First and foremost, you’ll need to make sure that once your users fill out a lead form that they are taken to a unique “thank you” page that cannot be accessed anywhere else on the site. This is how Google Analytics measures conversions.
Once you have that set up, head over to the Analytics Settings page to start configuring your goals. If you have multiple profiles, choose the correct profile for this goal set and click “Edit.”
Once you’re on the Profile Settings page, make your way down to the Goals section. You’re allowed up to 20 conversion goals for each profile in your Analytics account, but we’ll start with the basic ones here. Since you don’t have any goals set up yet, start with Goal Set 1 by clicking “Add Goal.” I have my vehicle inquiry goal configured like so:
Notice the choices for goal type here, but as I said before, we set this goal up to be a URL destination goal. When a user gets to your “thank you” page (in my case, the vehicle confirmation page), Google Analytics tracks a conversion. I set the match type to “Head Match” to allow for any query string parameters (/vehicle-confirmation/?make=buick&model=lucerne) in case we decide to show the user a more personalized thank you message relating to their vehicle of interest, but the goal will work just fine without them.
As shown in the screenshot, goal values are optional. These are typically used for ecommerce sites that know the direct value of each conversion, but can also be applicable to car dealerships if you know the value of an Internet lead to your organization. Try your best to avoid using arbitrary numbers though, they won’t serve much purpose for measuring results.
For more complicated conversion processes, Google Analytics has a section to create funnels. Think of an ecommerce site that you’ve purchased something from in the past — remember all of the pages you had to go through to checkout and receive a confirmation for your order? That’s where funnels really come in handy. They’re a way to figure out where users drop out of your conversion process so that you can optimize pages for higher conversion rates. On dealership websites though, users typically don’t have to jump through too many hoops to convert, so you’re fine leaving the funnels section blank.
Once you save your goal, it’s a waiting game. Google Analytics isn’t retroactive so the goals that you created for this profile will only apply to future conversions. You can view your conversion data directly in your Google Analytics reports under the Goal section — you’ll just have to give it a few days or so to really gain some actionable insight.