National Dataium DS3

In the same way every shopper who walks into your dealership comes with their own set of priorities, prior knowledge and motivations, every visit to your dealership’s website tells a unique story. No two visits are the same, and some are more profitable than others.

But how can you sort good traffic from bad? And how can you know which marketing channels have the greatest impact?

Related: Understanding Direct vs. Indirect Dealership Website Referrals 

When evaluating your dealership’s web analytics each month, it’s important to look at the full picture, not just direct referrals or clicks. Doing so will highlight which marketing tactics are helping drive traffic as well as how those visitors are performing once they arrive on your dealership’s site.

National Findings

As a follow up to our recent study of shopper activity on Groove Auto Group websites, Cars.com partnered with Dataium once again to better understand how Cars.com users influenced traffic to dealership websites at a national level.

After analyzing data from more than 200 dealership websites, it was clear that Cars.com helped drive 14.4% of all visits, with the majority being indirect.

That means that, on average, about one of every seven visits to a dealership website was from a shopper who had previously visited Cars.com, yet only a small portion of that traffic was visible through standard analytics tools.

Better Traffic

Additionally, the national study confirmed what was highly evident in our earlier study with Groove Auto Group: Not all clicks are equal. Cars.com shoppers proved to be more engaged than non-Cars.com visitors.

Dataium National Data

They conducted more inventory searches, were more likely to submit a lead and viewed a greater number of vehicle detail pages.

What About SEM?

While Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a part of many dealerships’ marketing strategy, the new study found that driving website traffic through SEM alone was less effective than reaching shoppers through both paid search and Cars.com.

On average, dealership website visitors who had visited Cars.com and also clicked a paid search ad performed higher in several key engagement metrics. According to the study, these shoppers were 24% less likely to bounce, viewed 27% more vehicle detail pages, conducted 33% more inventory searches and submitted 22% more leads.

For more perspective on how indirect website traffic can impact your dealership’s web presence, watch our recent case study, Unpacking Big Data: A Cars.com Case Study in Partnership with Groove Automotive.