[Updated July 2022]

Is your dealership tracking analytics and URLs? Because if you’re not, you’re missing out on some pretty valuable information.

Google Analytics 101 for Auto Dealerships

URL tracking essentially means you add unique attributes to your final links from ads and content so that Google Analytics can show you data split based on the individual links.

It’s especially powerful if you are running paid search for your car dealership because you can accurately track your analytics results after a user clicked on a link (most PPC resources can only tell you about user behavior before clicks, but then cannot track activity). 

Without it, Google Analytics will just show you the big picture, meaning you’ll get data on the entire activity of your website, but you won’t know exactly what happens with each link. 

Here’s how to set up URL tracking for your dealership.

Collecting Data with Custom URLs

Google has its own Campaign URL Builder tool anyone can use to add parameters to their campaign URL destination. It takes about 30 seconds to set up a new link. When a user clicks on a link, the parameters you add will be sent to your Google Analytics for your auto dealership website, where you can see all the gathered data (Campaign reports).

First, let’s look at the parameters you can choose. There are currently 5:

  • utm_source – identify what is sending traffic to your website (site, publication, advertiser, etc);
  • utm_medium – the medium, like the CPC or email newsletter;
  • utm_campaign – the name designated for a product, like a promo code, slogan, etc.;
  • utm_term – which of the paid search keywords are sending people to your page;
  • utm_content – used to separate similar types of content, or different links in the same ad, like two different CTAs within the same SERP ad.

Each parameter has to be paired with a value established by you. Here’s an example to put it into context:

utm_source = promo-google (if you’re running a campaign on Google Ads)

utm_medium = cpc

utm_campaign = dealer-promo

These are the three parameters you must use. The other two are optional. After you set them up, your link will look something like:

https://www.cardealership.com/?utm_source=promo-google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=dealer-promo

How to Set Up URL Tracking in Your Dealerships Analytics 

You have two options for setting up your URL tracking. You can either do it manually or for Google Ads you have the ‘Auto Tagging’ feature. Note that Auto-Tagging is disabled by default, and if you want to turn it on, you need to go to your Google Ads Menu and check the ‘Account Settings’ page for the ‘Tracking’ sections and turn the feature on. 

For manual tagging, you can use specific Google Tools like the Campaign URL Builder or the Google app for building URLs. For the latter, you just have to type in the parameters and provide the website URL for your car dealership.

You can also make sure your vendors and agencies are setting this up for you and sharing this with you. The most important thing is to understand how it works and have access to the unique URLs. 

Tracking Events in Google Analytics: Dealership Edition

In the spirit of transparency and understanding your data, AutoLeadStar knows how important it is for dealers to see everything that happens on their website in their reports, including in Google Analytics.  Having website events set up properly in Google Analytics allows marketers to track different patterns like:

  • What page were my leads on when they converted?
  • What traffic source did my leads come from?
  • What types of pages did my leads view (Homepage, SRP, VDP, Specials, Service, etc.) 

Previously at AutoLeadStar, we were pushing events to Google Analytics only for actual conversions— when a website visitor would fill out a form on your website.  Now, we’re pushing multiple types of events to make it easier for our clients to understand what is happening on their websites. This gives dealers the flexibility of defining their own smart goals to fully measure the success of AutoLeadStar

So while we’re making it easier for dealers to track goals and events with our on-site engagement fully integrated with Google Analytics, we recommend dealers look into connecting the entire funnel to this central reporting system. 

As a refresher, we’ve left some important definitions within Google analytics below:

What is an Event?

Events are user interactions with content that can be measured independently from a web-page or screen load. Downloads, link clicks, form submissions, and video plays are all examples of actions you might want to analyze as Events.

What is a Goal?

Goals measure how well your site or app fulfills your target objectives. A goal represents a completed activity, called a conversion, that contributes to the success of your business. Examples of goals include making a purchase or submitting a contact information form.

Defining goals is a fundamental component of any digital analytics measurement plan for dealerships. Having properly configured goals allows Analytics to provide you with critical information, such as the number of conversions and the conversion rate for your site. Without this information, it’s almost impossible to evaluate the effectiveness of your online business and marketing campaigns.

Back to You – Analytics for Your Dealership

There are many digital marketing resources available, but the ones like URL tracking should be a priority for you and your dealership. Start using them now! Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need help setting up Google Analytics for your dealership’s account.

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