String's Automotive Marketing Blog

Getting GA Goals Right: Google Analytics for Cobalt Dealer Websites

Posted by Matthew Kolodziej

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Nov 5, 2013 4:18:53 PM

Welcome to our new blog seres, Getting GA Goals right.  Over the next few posts, we'll provide step-by-step instructions for configuring goals in Google Analytics to measure the effectiveness of traffic to your car dealership websites. These steps can vary slightly depending on your web vendor. In this first installment, we'll be addressing Cobalt.

To get the most out of Google Analytics (GA), you need to configure goals. Without them, the entire Conversions tab of reports within GA will be empty, and, even more importantly, you will have no insight into how well your digital channels are performing.

MSN Bot Blocking on Cobalt

Before we get started on goals, take a quick look at our previous post on blocking the MSN bot from polluting your Analytics reports.

By setting up the filter outlined in that post, you will prevent the MSN bot from causing problems in the future. And by setting up an advanced segment, you can remove that traffic from your existing data.

Configuring Form Submission Goals

Let's start by creating goals to track the email lead forms being submitted to your Cobalt site. First, navigate to the Admin tab at the top-right of the Google Analytics navbar, and then look for the Goals flag:

Next, click the "Create A Goal" button, and select "Custom" rather than "Template." Move onto the next step, and name this first goal "VDP Form Submissions." Select "Destination" as your goal type, and then move onto the final step in the process.

Here is where things get a little tricky, so we'll break it down step-by-step: 

    1. In the Destination drop-down, pick "Regular expression." For the URL field, enter this exact phrase: thankyou(.*)vehicledetails
    2. Click the "Value" slider to the on position, and then enter a dollar value that makes sense for how highly your dealership values an email lead from a vehicle details page. For more on goal value calculation, see our previous post on ROI.
    3. After that, click the verify link to test if you have any conversions over the past seven days, and then click "Save Goal." When you're done, it should look like this:

Don't worry if you get a 0% conversion rate when you click the verify link. Depending on your site, Cobalt may have conversions configured differently, so we're going to cover a number of different goals with this tutorial.

To track form submissions from inventory search pages, you're going to create a new goal and follow the exact same process as above, except the destination URL string is going to vary slightly. This time, you're going to use thankyou(.*)search, and be sure to set a goal value:

Now that you have the hang of it, let's move quickly through a few more. Create new goals for each of the following, select regular expression as the destination type, and use the following URL strings:

    • Finance - thankyou(.*)finance
    • Quick Quote - thankyou(.*)quick
    • Contact Us - thankyou(.*)contact
    • Service Form - thankyou(.*)service
    • Parts Form - thankyou(.*)parts
    • Email A Friend - thankyouemail

For certain Volkswagen Cobalt sites, as well as others on the Cobalt platform, email lead submissions may be configured differently. So, we also recommend also adding this generic "Lead Submissions" goal to your Cobalt GA configuration:

    • Other Lead Submissions - leadsubmission

Be sure to set appropriate values for each goal that you create so that you can start calculating the ROI of your traffic sources in dollars and cents.

Hours and Directions Visits, Plus Mobile Clicks to Call

Another easy goal to configure in Google Analytics is visits to your dealership's hours and directions page. Although it's a "softer" conversion and should be given a much lower goal value than a form submission, it still shows intent to visit your store.

To set up hours and direction visits as a goal, follow the same steps as above, but instead of choosing regular expression as the destination type, you can get away with a simpler "Begins with" and a URL string of /Hoursanddirections:

Tracking mobile clicks-to-call is a great way to see how well your mobile site is performing, but Cobalt's mobile site platform wasn't built with Google Analytics in mind.

In short, you need this brief Javascript tag added to all of the click-to-call numbers on your mobile site: 

onclick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'phone-call', 'mobile-click', 'sales']);"

The 'sales' element at the end should be modified to 'service' or 'parts' depending on the number of call buttons you have on your site. The code can be wrapped in a <span> tag, or simply as part of the <a href="tel:(555) 555-5555"> tag. The problem is that Cobalt's mobile platform doesn't have an easy easy way to plug this in, so for now, dealers will have to rely on Cobalt's reporting tool.

Custom Reports for VDP and ROI

As a little bonus, we'll throw in some custom reports and dashboards. The first is a report that breaks down your vehicle details pageviews by traffic type. Click into any traffic type (paid, organic, referrals, email, etc) to see the sources within each category:

Simply click that link above and apply it to any Cobalt dealer website. Another handy tool to use that we've built is our Attribution custom report:

This report allows you to dive into your different traffic segments to see not only what channels are bringing you traffic, but also which are delivering dollars for your bottom line. For a higher-level GM Dashboard custom-built for Cobalt sites, try the link below:

It sums up the total website value, along with the top vehicles by traffic and by goal value. Keep in mind, though, that these reports and dashboards will need a few weeks of goal data to be useful!

If you'd like to learn more about the custom dashboards and reports referenced above, check out our recent webinar on the subject. And if you have any questions about configuring goals in GA for Cobalt, drop us a line in the comments below!


Topics: auto dealer analytics