It’s time to really look at the data in the online marketing at car dealers!

Leads alone say nothing at all…


The right information can say a lot about the quality of marketing campaigns at car companies. The result of the investment is often black or white. Google Analytics is in itself a good referee that can show whether something works or not. But it is also immediately dangerous if it is not clear which data should be looked at, because not all data is relevant.

Referral traffic

Referral traffic or ‘referrals’ in Google Analytics provides insight into the origin of visitors coming via AdWords, newsletters, social media or other channels. The first ten results are often paid referrals. Portals such as Autoscout, Autotrack and Marktplaats cannot always be found at the top, and if this is the case, then the numbers are often small. There is a reason for that. The mentioned portals do not have the intention to generate visitors on the website of the car company or the dealer. They would like to keep the visit on their own platform.

They would like to deliver the lead (call and e-mail) to their customer, being the car company or dealer. The portals are in the business because of the delivery of VDP views, call leads, online leads and referring traffic. That is actually quite logical, they are often better at that. Most dealer and car company websites are not adapted to the user experience required by the current customer. That customer wants relevant information on his smartphone. Clear and accessible. It’s that simple. Then it is quite annoying when dealerships are of moderate quality, especially mobile, because Google’s business model with AdWords and Gaspedaal is designed to send as many visitors as possible to the website of the car company.

AdWords, AdMarkt and Gaspedaal

These three parties will be at the top of the ‘referring traffic’ overview in Google Analytics, depending on the available budget. The question is what the visitor does on the website of the company. Especially with AdWords a party is needed, for example DTC Media or Clicks Automotive, which guides you! Together with DTC Media we recently found out that a campaign at a dealer generated a lot of leads. That is great, of course, only the dealer is right to wonder if he sells more cars. By using the Call Track Manager of #DCDW, we quickly found out that many call leads were not about buying a new or used car, but they were service calls (some portals also do that with AdWords on the trade name of car companies).

One dealer will say that the campaign runs smoothly on the basis of the data, the other dealer will, in combination with the AdWords partner, in this case DTC, analyze the campaign and disable the words that bring in the call leads for service. Not because those calls are not welcome, but because they have to be separated. Many of these types of landing pages also often have little to no relevant information about service.

The practice is that the visitor with a service need and who is looking for a specific company out of habit will click on the first search result that he encounters with the name of the company. This can be AdWords or the Google Business Page. So if you are actively working with AdWords to start selling new and or used cars, Google Analytics will see that the campaign is based on leads (call and online), but when you go a step further in the analysis, than you will see that the data tells a different story. More information about viewing (high) bounce rates from the various sources can be found in an article that I wrote about this subject.

Compare then?

Investments in marketing are therefore hard to compare. An investment of € 1,000 in Marktplaats gives different results than an investment of € 1,000 in AdWords. Comparison can only be made if it is clear in advance that both platforms have a different approach.

It can also be different. We all realize that today’s customer wants to shop on the channels he knows and trusts. That customer is not looking for a website from a provider, but a familiar environment. In this environment he does not want to click out immediately, that doesn’t really happen on Facebook and Marktplaats. For a dealer or car company the objective is clear: selling cars. People have to see the stock to sell those cars. So there are ‘eyeballs’ needed. The more the better. On the other hand, we know that a used Porsche needs more than 20,000 views to convert where a used Suzuki Swift does not need 100…

And so you have to ask yourself as a dealer or car company what you want to achieve. What is the most important? The visit to the website or do you want leads based on your stock and is the source not important? If you just look at the number of visitors to your website, you are better off than looking at the bigger picture and also taking the number of VDP views, online leads and call leads into account. In the latter case you could draw other conclusions.

In any case, it is good to know that the customer of 2018 will increasingly limit himself to a number of addresses where he finds the user experience of this time. Annoying but true; the website of the car company does not fit in many cases. Simply because the sites are not good enough anymore.

About Paul de Vries

Paul de Vries became a Key Automotive Spokesperson at eBay (Marktplaats) after selling to eBay back in 2015. Paul is the founder and CEO of the #DCDW Academy and the presenter of the #DCDW Podcast. He is also a by dealers and importers frequently asked speaker in the online automotive industry. Paul is the winner of the prestigious Lighthouse Award 2016 in the U.S.! `Lead the Way op de digitale snelweg’ is Paul’s new book, which can be used as a guide in the online automotive industry. More information is available at:

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