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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Google Analytics For Car Dealers Part Four - Automotive Digital Marketing

Google Analytics For Car Dealers Part Four - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

If you have been following this series on Google Analytics for Car Dealers, this is the fourth article in the series.  The previous articles can be found on the below links:

Today I will be discussing the setup of Multi-Channel Sales Funnels, and if you have done your homework from sessions 1-3, you will have goals setup and data already being collected.  Multi-Channel Sales Funnels (MCSF) can only work if goals are created and enough time has passed that the collected data represents a large enough sample to see trends.

For most dealers, you will need to collect data for at least 60 days to start to see some real patterns, however data after 30 days will start to be of interest if you are impatient.

Viewing High Level Conversion Influences

Under the Google Analytics menu choice labeled "Conversions" you can click on the "Assisted Conversions" menu choice shown in boldface on the right, to display the "default" and very primitive chart that shows which sources influenced or assisted a conversion.

I call the report below "primitive" because it does not show the referral sources that dealers commonly want to track.  Those sources include,, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  The default report of which websites influenced a conversion is really not helpful and thus we need to create a custom report.   I will show you today how to create a custom report for assisted conversions.

Custom Channels Show Assisted Conversion Partners

If you really want to see which digital partners are assisting your sales and marketing efforts, you have to create custom channel groupings.  When you setup custom channels, you can see how your reports can be tailored to show all your marketing partners for an automotive dealership:

The report shown above uses custom channel grouping to identify the specific vendors you want to track.  Setting up custom channels (vendors to track) is very easy and will take only a few minutes to complete.  If you follow the steps outlined below, Google Analytics will start tracking data based on these channels.

When the custom channels are created, Google DOES NOT show historical data so just because you create a custom channel from, the last 30 days worth of traffic is not automatically segmented for That is why dealers will need to wait 30-60 days to have enough data to start seeing patterns of influence.

As I stated in Part Three of this series, the total influence of your marketing partners can only be seen using enterprise analytics, which today is not available for the general public.   Consumers who visit or and locate a car they like and open a new browser window to confirm that the car is still on the dealership site, Google Analytics and MCSF will not attribute influence to that classified marketing partner.

Viewing The Basic Channel Group

The first step is to create a new "list" of your custom channels, which can be accessed by clicking on the menu choice called "Top Conversion Paths" as shown in red below. This a file that contains your marketing partner's website addresses to track.
Google calls this list a "Channel Grouping" and the basic list is called the "Basic Channel Grouping" shown in green below.  To create your own channel grouping, simply open the menu shown in orange below. Once you create the list, you can add as many custom channels that you want.

Creating Your Custom Channel Grouping

When you click on the Channel Grouping Menu, shown in orange above, you will need to click on the menu choice that is titled "Copy Basic Channel Grouping Template", shown on the right.
You will notice that on my menu I have an option called PCG-MCSF because that is what I titled my custom list to use for this demo.  You will be able to name the file anything you want, or just follow me and name it the same way I did.
We are copying the Basic Channel Grouping so we can enhance what Google has rather than starting from scratch. When you click on the menu choice shown, the below screen will appear.   At the top of the page you have a box to name your Channel Grouping, (orange arrow) so do that now.  Use your own name or the name "PCG-MCSF".
You will also see that there is a button to create new channels (red arrow) and a button to save your list at the bottom of the page.  DO NOT forget to save your list periodically when you are working.   Once you save your list, to go back and edit the list, drop down the menu (as shown above) and click on the "edit" menu choice.

How To Add A New Rule (Channel)

So, let's add a new channel (aka rule) to your custom channel grouping.   For this example, we will add a rule for Kelly Blue Book using their website Be forewarned that the FIRST time you create a rule it may seem "odd" how the "syntax" of the rule looks, but just trust me, it works.
There are many ways to identify a channel that you want to track, and you will see that there is a list of choices to build the rule to look at the Google Analytics data.
Start by naming your channel in the box shown by the orange arrow below.
Next, we need to select something from the green box. For our purpose, we are using a basic "source" match, so find that choice in the drop down list identified by the red arrow.  Scroll down the choices in alphabetical order and click on the choice called "Source" as shown by the green arrow.

The next step is to select the matching criteria, and as you can see below you have a few choices. You will select Matching Regular Expression, as shown by the orange arrow below:

You will see that the name of the rule is "Kelly Blue Book" and the "Source" menu choice has been selected.  I also clicked on the light blue colored box at the bottom of the screen to color this channel blue.  The only thing left to do is to put in the website address to match.  However, we want to use a special syntax to be able to match any combination of website referrals from Kelly Blue Book.

Regular Expressions

I'm not going to go into why the syntax MUST be typed this way, so just trust me on it.  However, if you are interested to learn a deeper explanation on this rule just Google "Matching Regular Expressions". In any case keep in mind that any website follows the same patter, so here are the codes for a few of the popular dealership partners that you can copy and paste into these rules.

  • ^(.*\.)?facebook\.com$
  • ^(.*\.)?twitter\.com$
  • ^(.*\.)?edmunds\.com$
  • ^(.*\.)?cars\.com$
  • ^(.*\.)?autotrader\.com$
  • ^(.*\.)?kbb\.com$
  • ^(.*\.)?youtube\.com$
  • ^(.*\.)?craigslist\.org$

The pattern is simple.  Just be careful that if the site is a .NET or .ORG domain, like Craigslist in the last example above, you have to make sure you add the correct domain extension.
So, when you are done, with pasting in the regular express, click on "Save Rule".  You will do this for every channel you want to track and then YOU MUST CLICK on "Save and Apply" at the bottom of the page or your work will not be saved.
When you are done adding your marketing partners, the list could look something like what is shown below.  Keep in mind that this list had over 16 rules, and this is just what was shown on the first page.

Changing The Default Order Of Rules

The only "caveat" is that after you are done adding your custom channels, drag the Social Media and Referral Channels that Google created to the bottom of your list.  This is VERY IMPORTANT.
You can click on any rule's anchor box, shown by the red arrow on the right, and drag the rule to any position.  Why?

So if you have a "catch-all" rule for social media, and it comes FIRST in the list, you will never have any matches for your Facebook and Twitter rules that you created.
So is the case with the Referral Rule, if it comes first, all your referral sites like Autotrader,, etc will not be tracked.  Soooooo, don't forget that these two rules should be in the last two positions.

Checking On Your Multi Channel Sales Funnels Rules

Congratulations, you have now setup Multi-Channel Sales Funnels for your automotive dealership.  I know this was a long article but it was necessary to document all the steps so you did not get lost.  Once your custom channel is created, Google will start collecting data.
To see if your setup is working, you can go back to "Top Conversion Paths" in a week and see if your channels are working.  There is ONE TRICK, however that you must know.  Just because you created a Custom Channel, Google DOES NOT display your custom channel by default.  That's correct, you have to select to display your custom channel.
So to select your custom channel, click on the "Channel Groups" menu and click on the name of your custom channel.  DO NOT click on the EDIT function, just click on the name.  When you do that, you channel will become the primary dimension and your custom rules should be showing.

Share This Article

If you found this article helpful, please share it with your social networks on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ and of course leave me feedback in the comments area below.    These articles take time to prepare and your comments and social sharing tells me to keep going with the series.

I hope to see everyone this year at the 2013 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference, February 5-7th just two days prior to the 2013 NADA Convention in Orlando. Get access to over 30 of the best strategies for car dealers to increase success in 2013.

Brian Pasch, CEO
PCG Consulting
Connect with me on LinkedIn and Google+

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