Tablet showing monthly performance chart

Your dealership’s digital marketing is a great way to drive traffic to your site and increase sales, but your digital marketing campaigns are only part of the overall marketing picture.

Sure, your campaigns paint your dealership in a positive light and promote your brand, but without tracking results, your digital marketing is incomplete. By tracking specific KPIs and making strategic adjustments based on the results you find, you can optimize your campaigns and get the most out of your marketing.


What Are Marketing KPIs?

Two men smiling and looking at a laptop screenKPIs are key performance indicators. As the name suggests, KPIs can help you gauge the performance of your marketing campaigns. They give you quantifiable, actionable information that can help you track your current campaign performance against past campaign performance, and even against other businesses in your industry.

KPIs give you a way to set and work toward marketing campaign goals and a reason to double-down on what’s working or make necessary adjustments when campaigns aren’t performing up to expectations.

While KPIs come in different categories—they can vary between industries and even individual businesses—tracking a few specific marketing KPIs can ensure that your campaigns are working to increase leads, grow sales and boost your bottom line.

Optimize Campaign Performance & KPI Tracking by Consolidating with One Vendor

Before jumping into the KPIs that should matter to you, it’s important to note that marketing strategies like SEO, SEM and email marketing are all interrelated. They play off one another to draw in prospective buyers and keep customers in your sales funnel.

Because your campaigns and marketing strategies are all connected, it’s much easier to gauge the performance of your digital marketing and optimize your campaigns when everything is being tracked under one roof.

When possible, consolidate your KPI tracking with a single vendor or track everything in house, so you know exactly what your KPIs mean within the larger perspective of your dealership and how they relate to one another.

Marketing KPIs You Should be Tracking

There are many KPIs that are specific to marketing, but as more customers come to your dealership through online avenues, it’s important to focus on the KPIs that help you evaluate your digital marketing campaigns. Consider the following KPI categories specific to your website, SEO, SEM and email marketing.

Website KPIs

1. Website Traffic

Monitoring website traffic can help you identify trends and gather information about your customers, which can inform future campaigns and help you create personalized marketing messages. When a shopper clicks on a digital ad or opens an email and follows a link to your site, you can track site visits to know that your campaigns are piquing interest to the point that customers want to learn more. The more site visits your campaigns generate, the better they will perform and the more you can double down on a specific campaign or digital marketing tactic.


2. Time on Website and Page Views Per Visit

The time a shopper spends on your site can help you track customer engagement and give you an idea about whether your campaigns are generating interest and promoting value. You can measure time on site by tracking how much time a shopper spends on each individual page, the total time spent on your website and page views per visit.

  • Time on Site: When shoppers spend more time on a particular webpage, you can know the inventory and types of content that are generating the most interest, which can inform your campaigns and the type of content you should keep giving shoppers. Total time spent on your site can help you know which customers are most interested and how well your website in holding their attention.
  • Page Views: Similarly, when a shopper clicks on a digital ad or opens a marketing email and lands on your website, that shopper might browse your website and visit other pages, read other content or browse inventory. The number of page visits per session informs you about website engagement and can indicate that a particular customer is closer to making a purchase.


3. Vehicle Detail Page Views

Vehicle detail pages are where customers go to make a decision about a purchase. It’s where they find information that will influence their purchase decision—for better or for worse. It’s the virtual equivalent of a customer coming into your dealership to view a unit. The more vehicle detail page views a particular unit has, the quicker it will sell.

If VDP views are low and inventory is sitting at your dealership, you may need to make a change to your campaigns to promote your inventory more aggressively and send customers directly to particular VDPs.  Tracking VDP views can also help you personalize marketing messages to customers and send them information about a particular unit that interests them, while also sending them a direct link to view a VDP on your website.


4. Form Submissions

When a website visitor submits a form, they are interested in starting a conversation with you about a possible purchase. You can also begin to track their interest and send them personalized marketing messages. It’s the beginning of a serous sales relationship.

Form submissions may fluctuate from month to month and year to year. Tracking these fluctuations can help you know when you need to make changes to the forms themselves or make adjustments to your campaigns to drive people to learn more by contacting your sales team. You can also use this KPI to send emails specific to each shoppers’ interests to improve site views and generate more form submissions.


5. Bounce Rate

Bounce rate KPIs can tell you how many website visitors navigated away from your page (and possibly to a competitor’s page) after just a single page view. Bounce rate can help you determine how engaging your website content is to your visitors. A high bounce rate may indicate that you need to make changes to your website, your content, your vehicle deal pages or update your visuals or website design.

If your campaign messaging is inconsistent with your actual website content (discrepancies in prices, information and more), it may cause frustration for customers and increase your bounce rate.


6. Conversion Rate

Conversion rates calculate the percentage of website visitors who take a pre-specified course of action (as defined by your business) in comparison to the total number of website visitors. These pre-specified actions may include completing a form submission, signing up for newsletters, signing up for email updates, subscribing to social media and more. If conversion rates are low, it may indicate low engagement with your marketing and website content.

Personalizing your marketing messages can improve conversion rates. When customers receive marketing messages that are relevant to them, they are more likely to complete a specified action and continue down the road to sale.

If you’re an ARI customer, you can track these website KPIs and more by logging into your website performance report. Click here to learn how.


7. Impressions

When it comes to SEO, impressions measure the number of times a shopper sees a link to your site on a search engine results page. Your audience doesn’t necessarily need to interact with the link; impressions are only concerned with the number of eyes on your ads. Tracking impressions can help you know that your paid or organic search results are either reaching a wide audience or not reaching enough shoppers. The primary goal of your digital marketing campaigns is to improve the overall rank of your website. Ultimately, impressions make your website more visible.


8. Visits

Visits track the number of visitors to your site that come from search engine results pages. When it comes to organic SEO traffic, visits are more accurate than clicks, as they record the number of actual shoppers that land on your site, which is somewhat more targeted than clicks. Tracking visits can help you know whether you need to adjust your SEO keywords or your website’s content to rank higher in search results pages and increase organic traffic to your website.


9. Leads

Leads are a conversion metric and measure any interaction that may indicate interest. These include calls, form fills and other key interactions. Tracking leads can help you know what percentage of site visitors are converting to leads, which can help you make adjustments to your website or content to make it easier or more enticing for customers to contact your dealership.


10. Reputation Management

Your entire storefront (and the internet’s opinion of your dealership) is just a quick Google search away. Star ratings are an indicator to both search engines and other shoppers of the quality of service provided by your business. Your star ratings tell potential customers what they can expect from you (in the form of low or high ratings) and how busy you are (by amount and recency of rankings).

Tracking your star rankings can help you know what customers think of your dealership and whether you need to implement reputation management measures to drum up more positive reviews.


11. Online Directory Listings

Accurate and optimized directory listings aren’t just helpful for local shoppers. They give Google an accurate impression of your business for key NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) data points. The more robust and accurate the data, the more confident Google can be in returning your business as a relevant search result.

If your business has recently relocated, been bought or sold or your name has changed, it’s crucial to ensure that Google (and your shoppers) know exactly who you are and what you sell, so that your NAP data can confidently list your dealership in search and maps results.

SEM (Search Ad KPIs)

Laptop on a desk showing the words Breakdown of Ad Spend on the screen

12. Click-Through Rate

Click-through rate (CTR) measures the number of clicks your paid ads receive on search engines, measuring the effectiveness of your ads. The higher the CTR, the more relevant the ad is to the consumer. You can track CTR by dividing the number of clicks from the number of times your ad is shown. If consumers are clicking on your ads, your campaigns are resonating with them and doing a good job of generating interest about your content or inventory.

CTR varies between industries and will change depending on a number of factors. But an average CTR across all industries is 5% and may be as high as 7.35% in the vehicles industry. If CTR is low, you may need to change content, adjust ad or email copy, personalize messages or adjust CTAs to bring more customers to your site.


13. Cost Per Click

Cost per click (CPC) measures the cost effectiveness of your paid ads. You can determine cost per click by dividing the overall cost of your ads by the number of clicks you get. When combined with a higher Quality Score, you can keep your CPC low to stretch budgets further and show more ads. Quality Score is determined by expected clickthrough rate (the likelihood that your ad will be clicked when shown), ad relevance (how closely your ad matches the intent behind a user’s search) and landing page experience (how relevant and useful your landing page is to people who click your ad).


14. Conversion Rate

Conversion rate measures the amount of phone calls and form leads you generate, based on the number of times one of your paid ads is clicked. Similar to its website counterpart, conversion rate in search engine marketing may indicate high or low engagement with your paid ads. If low, you may need to make changes to your paid ads or your website content to generate more excitement and keep consumers engaged.


15. Cost Per Conversion

Cost per conversion measures how much your dealership spends on paid ads to get a customer to call or submit a form lead. In other words, it measures the cost effectiveness of your paid ads. You can calculate cost per conversion by dividing the total cost of your paid ads by the number of calls and lead forms submitted. Tracking cost per conversion can help you identify the effectiveness of your paid ads and opportunities for improvement.

SEM (Display Ad KPIs)

16. Impressions

Similar to impressions for SEO, impressions for SEM measure the number of times a shopper sees your paid ad. Again, your audience doesn’t necessarily need to interact with the ad, the impression is only concerned with the number of eyes on your ad. At the end of the day, more impressions will mean more clicks for your paid campaigns and more visits to your website.


17. Clicks

Clicks measure the number of times one of your paid ads is clicked. Tracking clicks can help you know what kind of paid ads are interesting your audience. Lower click totals can tell you to change directions in your copy, tone, or the type of message you are communicating to your shoppers through your paid ads.


18. Cost Per Click

If you’re running display ads, you should also track the cost per click, as you would with search ads. This will keep you informed on how your ads are performing and the impact they’re having on your digital advertising budget.

Email Marketing KPIs

Male hand holding a mobile phone showing tracked results

19. Delivery Rate

To have an effective email marketing campaign, your audience has to receive your emails first. Delivery rate is the number of marketing emails that actually get delivered, compared to the number of emails you send. Delivery rate can tell you if your audience list is healthy—a drop in delivery rate may mean that you’ve been blocked or that the email addresses in your customer base are no longer in use—or that you need to update your email marketing list.


20. Unique Open Rate

While every email opened is a win for your marketing, there’s a difference between total opens and unique opens. Total opens tracks the total number of times one of your marketing emails is opened, whereas unique opens tracks only the first time an email is opened by an individual recipient. The average unique email open rate is 16.97%. Having a high unique open rate tells you that your subject lines and pre-headers are resonating with your audience, enough to pique their interest to learn more.


21. Unique Click Rate

The goal of every marketing email is to drive recipients to your site. Once there, they can browse your inventory, view content, and continue down the path to purchase. By providing links to your site within your emails, you can track unique click rates to your site. This KPI will tell you how many people are interested in your email content and want to learn more.


22. Click to Open Rate

Click to open rate compares the number of unique clicks to the number of unique opens. This KPI measures the effectiveness of your email content and whether it’s creating enough interest for the audience to take action. It also gives you a good indication of how your email messages are resonating with your audience. An average click to open rate is about 10%.


23. Hard Bounce Rate

The flip side of delivery rate is bounce rate. A hard bounce means your email failed to deliver for permanent reasons—the email address is invalid (doesn’t exist) or the email server has completely blocked the delivery. Keeping track of hard bounce rate can help you know whether you need to update your email lists and deliver the types of messages that your audience wants to interact with.


24. Soft Bounce Rate

A soft bounce rate indicates a temporary delivery issue. An email inbox may be full, an email server might be down or an email may be too large to deliver. Tracking soft bounce rates can help you make necessary corrections to avoid undelivered emails. Too many soft bounces in different campaigns will be considered a hard bounce.


25. Unsubscribe Rate

Unsubscribe rate tracks the number of email recipients who unsubscribe from your email list for any reason. Recipients may unsubscribe because an email message doesn’t match their interests or perhaps emails are sent too frequently and get overwhelming. Unsubscribes may even happen when emails are sent too infrequently and your audience’s interest goes cold. Whatever the reason, tracking unsubscribe rates can help you take a closer look at your email marketing strategy and make corrections when unsubscribe rates spike.


26. Spam Report Rate

Spam report rate measures the number of people who report your marketing emails as spam, compared to the total number of emails sent. Recipients may report emails as spam based on something in a subject line, a “from” address or the actual body of the email. Emails marked as spam can result in a permanent ban and affects your brand’s reputation.

You can reduce the risk of spam by tracking spam report rate and giving your website visitors a double opt-in form, where they confirm their email. Tracking this KPI can also alert you to words in your subject lines or body copy that might trigger a recipient to send to spam. These words include “click here,” “clearance” and “win.”


Additional KPIs

The foregoing list of marketing KPIs isn’t exhaustive by any means. You may even have a few KPIs specific to your dealership to help you track campaign performance. To help you get in the spirit of monitoring your marketing, here are a few bonus KPIs to help you track the cost of acquiring customers and the value of keeping customers long-term.

Customer Acquisition Cost

Do you know how much money are you spending on your overall marketing to acquire a single customer? This cost can tell you how effectively your marketing campaigns are performing. You can measure customer acquisition cost by adding up your marketing expenses on a particular campaign and dividing that figure by the number of customers your campaign acquired. Unsurprisingly, with so many consumers shopping online, digital ad spend is up in the automotive and related industries, according to NADA, with other dealership industries following suit.

Lifetime Value of Customer (LTV)

Now that you know your costs to acquire a customer, do you know how much money a single customer brings in to your dealership over a lifetime? Compare this KPI with customer acquisition cost to see how much you’re spending to convert a lead, versus how much money you can expect to bring in, once a customer has converted and made a purchase.

While there are complexities involved in calculating LTV, perhaps the simplest way is to multiply the average value of a purchase by the average number of times a customer buys in a specific time period and by the average length of the relationship in a specific time period. If lifetime value of customer feels low, you may need to do more to engage customers over time by sending email messages when customers need service or when they may be in the market for a new unit, for example.


Your marketing is only as effective as the KPIs you use to monitor your campaigns. By tracking specific KPIs and making strategic adjustments based on the results you find, you can optimize your campaigns and get the most out of your marketing. Implement these 26-plus KPIs at your dealership to drive traffic to your site, increase sales and get a better overall picture of your marketing performance.