Tracking and attribution are the means by which we track visitors and their behaviour – from searching to clicking through to your website. From here we can attribute any completed goals to the right type of traffic.
Having good tracking and attribution is not only essential from a commercial perspective – but also from a PPC optimisation perspective, as this relies on attribution being quick, granular and accurate. It’s worth remembering that we rely on attribution to make valuable decisions about factors such as the value of a click, ad creative split testing and even applying rule-based bidding.
In general, the automotive industry (car dealers in particular) face some significant challenges in terms of tracking and attribution, not least because most “transactions” are conducted offline – whether that’s at the dealership or over the telephone.
That being said, it doesn’t mean that we can’t track anything. In fact, it simply means that we can only track up until a certain point – a point at which we can gauge the intent of a user. That point is usually a completed enquiry form or a phone call made from the website.
A typical user journey might look something like this: The user searches for a particular vehicle, clicks an ad, visits the landing page, locates the enquiry form, completes the enquiry form, visits the dealer, takes a test drive and finally purchase the vehicle.
In that scenario, we would either add tracking code to the “thank you” page shown when the enquiry form is completed, or we would set up a Google Analytics goal which tracks each time that “thank you” page is loaded (assuming that particular page is only loaded after a user completes the desired enquiry form).
As illustrated within the below diagram, we are then able to track at keyword, ad group or campaign level in order to find out how many users we send to you, how many of those then go on to make an enquiry and what it costs you in PPC spend to generate that enquiry.
Let’s say for example, that we send 1,000 clicks your way at 15p per click. The pay per click cost for those 1,000 clicks would be £150. Of those 1,000 clicks, let’s say that 10% of those visitors then go on to complete the form – we will have generated 100 completed forms (each of these are known as a conversion). That would mean that each completed form has cost you a total of £1.50.
A goal in this context refers to an action you want a user to take on your website and there are typically (if not always) more than one of these.
We argue that in terms of PPC optimisation, you should track between 1 and 3 actions as your primary goals and then all other actions as secondary or even tertiary goals. What this means is that in terms of evaluating which keywords generate enquiries or phone calls etc, it’s best to keep this simple and to track your most important goal(s).
In Google Ads, Microsoft Ads or Facebook Ads, you should make optimisation decisions based on the most important goals. Your “In-Line ” conversions (i.e. those shown in the Google Ads or Microsoft Ads interface) therefore should be restricted to primary goals only.
We would then recommend that you use Google Analytics to track all other actions.
There is no standard way to apply tracking and attribution, even within the car industry and so there is no standard cost per conversion. Some car dealers only track test drive enquiries, whilst others track dozens of goals – such as phone calls, visits to a key page, service enquiries and general enquiries.
Whatever you track, the key to optimisation is knowing and monitoring what your key figures are and tracking the change over time.
Going back to the example above – if in a month’s time your cost per completed form has risen to £5, then clearly something needs to be looked at. If it has fallen to £1, then you need to find out why and do more of the same.
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