Dynamic call tracking numbers for car dealers

The majority of car retailers use static tracking numbers to monitor their marketing and operational success. These numbers are particularly important on their websites, providing them with detailed information on their inbound calls.

To gain an additional layer of insight, visitor call tracking – using dynamic numbers – offers more granular reporting.

In this blog we look at what dynamic numbers are and give two examples of how automotive retailers use them to be much more focused in their web strategy.

These examples are around the success of Autotrader in developing leads and the impact of advertising on Google using brand and town names.

What are dynamic numbers?

Dynamic call tracking numbers re used to track calls originating from your website, and involve providing a unique telephone number for each unique visitor. As a result of having a unique telephone number, it is possible then to tie the telephone data to a visit session and have a ’rounded’ view of that visitor.

Using dynamic numbers allows automotive retailers to see:

  • Where a visitor has come from (say Autotrader or Google My Business),
  • The pages they have viewed on your website,
  • At what stage they actually picked up the phone to call you.

By using Vision numbers connected to web analytics data, automotive retailers have a much greater understanding of what makes their phone ring. You can view phone calls by keyword, source (i.e. SEO, PPC, referring sites, etc), medium, pages and other web variables. All of this data can be integrated into Google Analytics, Google Universal Analytics, Google AdWords and other analytics and bid management platforms.

How retailers use dynamic numbers

We have a number of automotive retailers (large and small) who use dynamic numbers to really understand what makes the phone ring from their websites. Every retailer has different priorities on what they need to measure, but in this blog we will look at two areas that are common to all of them:

  1. How many clicks come from Autotrader and do they convert to phone leads?
  2. Should a retailer advertise on Google for their town and brand name or does this just cannibalise existing leads?

Look at these two questions in more depth.

How many clicks come from Autotrader and do they convert to phone leads?

Mediahawk gives you the ability to see where initial clicks are coming from and then map these to phone calls, allowing you to break down the calls by PPC, SEO, and any other referring site that is required. As a result of this ‘outward view’, it’s possible to measure how many clicks Autotrader produces from their website to yours. The journey can then be followed to see if it leads to a phone call, which can then be reviewed and scored for lead quality.

By placing a static tracking number on the Autotrader site, and dynamic numbers on their main site, retailers can see their total call volumes and also click through rate from Autotrader.

A retailer with 20 sites has been monitoring this traffic and they show the following key statistics:

  • The Autotrader website generates 95% of their call volume. The other 5% comes from those who have clicked to their website.
  • Their website averages 80 clicks per call from Autotrader

With this information, the retailer is able to also understand specifically which vehicles generate the clicks to their website, and monitor call rate and how to improve this to increase conversions.

Should a retailer advertise on Google for their town and brand name or does this cannibalise existing leads?

Automotive retailers now spend significant amounts of their budget on Google Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, and the often heard question is whether paying for clicks that advertise their brand and town (e.g. Mercedes Derby) will cannibalise their existing customers.

Using dynamic numbers allows them to link all their PPC campaigns to see whether this generates a call and its quality. They can then run a test by pausing their brand and town-based campaigns to identify whether there is a commensurate drop in phone calls.

The results of this testing are nuanced, but the following general rules apply:

  • Where a dealer dominates their natural search and Google Business position, they should not be wasting their money on brand / town advertising. This usually happens where they are the sole brand dealer in a ‘secondary’ town (e.g. Nissan Wincanton).
  • Where a dealer is one of a number of dealers in the same brand in a town / city (e.g. Vauxhall Leicester with two dealerships under different groups) it is worth bidding on brand / town names, but this needs to be closely monitored.
  • Where other groups are advertising against a dealer’s town and brand and ‘passing off’, then a stern legal letter needs to be sent asking them to ‘cease and desist’.
  • Where a manufacturer is providing PPC support to a dealer’s manufacturer provided website, do not bid against them. This only increases costs for a lead that would have come anyway.

Google PPC is a rapacious beast and, if spent wisely, can provide significant returns. However, it’s easy to let it get out of control without realising its true value to a website. Dynamic numbers allow you to tame the beast and ensure that your PPC budget is invested intelligently – giving you the ability to transform how you understand the journey through your website. Our dynamic numbers report provides significant amounts of information showing what activity generates clicks and whether these actually convert to phone calls.

All of this data can then be integrated into analytics programs (such as Marin, Google Analytics, Google Universal) and bidding platforms to really drive web performance and phone calls.

About the author - Harry Bott

Harry Bott, Director at Mediahawk, has over 20 years of experience helping marketers generate a better response from their marketing. He has enabled businesses to improve their conversion rates through his consultative approach and deep understanding across various sectors, including automotive and care homes.

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