Metrics are the driving force of modern marketing. Any digital marketer will be able to tell you which Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) matter to them, and will design their campaigns around achieving those metrics. But are you sure that the levers you’re pulling are having the right impact?
Take “bounce rate,” for example. Traditionally described as “the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page,” it’s a number you’d want to be low, intuitively. But as is often the case, a surface level consideration isn’t going to yield the truth. If you’re in the business of selling page views, then sure, you want people clicking multiple pages, reloading block after block of HTML and lucrative banner ads. It’s a great model, if you’re BuzzFeed, or Upworthy or any company on this list of 12 Famous Purveyors of Clickbait (#6 will really surprise you!).
But I suspect if you’re reading this, you’re in the business of selling cars. You could argue that a site visitor who quickly and efficiently finds what they want and comes to your dealership ready to buy is more profitable than a visitor who had to load through six pages before either getting to their desired VDP or giving up in frustration.
Ask yourself: in our best volume month, what were the bounce rates? Higher than usual? The same? Is there a trend, do they correlate? It’s possible that there’s absolutely no relationship, which makes designing your marketing campaigns around bounce rates seem counterintuitive. You have to take an holistic approach; one metric will almost never determine success or failure, therefore it’s imperative automotive marketers understand the correlation between web metrics and dealership metrics. While you’re at it, pull your top three months and look for other correlations in the data. Be on the lookout for macro events (seasonal promotions, one time email communications, etc) that may impact the nature of your website audience.
The point is, there are many KPI’s you could be tracking, from VDP views to Map & Direction Page loads, etc. But let’s say you’ve done the analysis and you’re sure that Bounce Rates correlate to sales (or better yet, profit) for your dealership. The next question you have to ask is: are you measuring your KPI accurately? Bear in mind, you’re the one who configures your analytics software, be it Google Analytics or some other. You determine what a “bounce” is.
What do we mean by that? Well, many site visit metrics were designed for dumb-loading pages, where all the content is serialized page by page. But that’s not how the web works anymore. Facebook scrolls forever, as do Instagram or Twitter. It’s intuitive, and best of all, you never force your viewer to make the decision “Do I want to load another page, or do I want to leave this website?” Traditional bounce metrics might count a 3 minute homepage visit on Facebook as a site bounce, depending on how your analytics software is configured.
With so many observable metrics, it’s a great and challenging time to be a marketer. Analysis can help you optimize towards any goal – just make sure that goal is actually tied to your dealership’s bottom line, and make sure you’re measuring it accurately. Because optimizing towards the wrong action is wasted money.
For more on this topic, see this article by Google’s Analytics team.