Critical Tasks Before The Deadline For Automotive Websites
The deadline to switch over to GA4 is coming, and it doesn’t look like there will be a surprise delay on Google’s end. After working with hundreds of dealers on the GA4 migration, we’ve discovered a few critical tasks we’ve had to perform for our clients that haven’t been discussed enough.
Whether you’re using events from the Automotive Standards Council or have events flowing from your website provider or 3rd party vendors, you must set aside some time to configure custom dimensions and events to fully utilize the data available on your website. By doing so, you’ll be able to do the following:
- Get more in-depth data and information on the actions performed on your website
- Use Conversions in Google Ads and Remarketing audiences to optimize your ad performance
- Use Custom Events to simplify your dashboards and reporting
Setting Up Custom Dimensions: Why Should I Care?
In a space of trying to sell vehicles, you’re likely to be interested in more profound data points that describe vehicles, like the year / make / model, condition, or VIN #. If you’re capturing web leads, you will want to know which lead form was submitted, whether it’s a ‘Get e-Price’ form, a ‘Book a Test Drive’ form, or another.
If your web vendor has set you up with custom events, especially with ASC events, there’s a treasure trove of those data points available in GA4. All of these characteristics of your data are known as dimensions, but GA4 doesn’t know that. They aren’t available to you by default, and you’ll have to create custom dimensions to ‘reveal’ them in your reporting.
To check if you have these custom dimensions created, go to your Admin Panel (bottom left) within the GA4 property and click on “Custom Definitions.” Everyone’s custom dimensions will be different, but there should be values that match the data flowing from your website.
To determine what custom dimensions to create, you’ll need to work with your vendors to determine what data they’re passing through. But a quick way to see which ones are available is to click on the event of choice under the Events report and then view the custom parameters on the following page.
Once you find them, you should have a preview of additional data points that are associated with that particular event. In this example, we see parameters like vdp_name, vdp_price and vin_number available to us using the real-time widget. The problem is that these data points need dimensions to be stored into, so there’s a need to create them via the Custom Definitions page, as shown earlier.
After creating them, you can perform intricate analyses inside the GA4 platform or through Looker Data Studio. Custom dimensions are not retroactive, so creating them as soon as possible is essential.
Setting Up Custom Events: Recommended To Enable Desired Conversions
If you use Google Ads, you’ll need Conversions to support your campaigns, essentially the same concept as Goals in Universal Analytics. Recall that in UA, you created goals by defining the event conditions or the page URL (such as the thank you page for forms). But in GA4, this process has been changed to a simple yes/no toggle, which might initially be confusing. It means that GA4 wants you to have an event for every conversion.
However, the events you have in GA4 are likely not entirely set in a way that matches your marketing goals or the conversions you’ll want to make. What if you wanted to create a conversion event that only focused on ‘Book a Test Drive’ leads? Or a conversion event for leads submitted on used VDPs only?
This is because website, chat and service vendors are not working directly with you to configure events that are 100% suitable for your business. Events from your vendor weren’t designed for your dealership but generalized for all dealerships. At Quantifi, we work closely with each dealership to build a bespoke data model that works for your business for the long term.
GA4’s ability to create custom events can help you navigate this situation. To create an event to be conversion ready, go to your Admin panel and click on the Events section to create a new event off of existing data parameters. From here, with your new understanding of the event parameters, you can set the conditions and rules of when this particular event should fire. For example, if we wanted to create a ‘Book a Test Drive’ conversion, we’ll need to make an event that is counted when that lead type is triggered.
This example uses the Quantifi data model to define a ‘book test drive’ event using two different parameters, ‘event_name’ and ‘form_type.’ We recommend checking with your website or 3rd party vendors to determine what event parameters should be used.
Once the new custom event collects data, you can flag it as a conversion in the same Events settings and use it to optimize your Google Ads traffic or create remarketing audiences.
There are other benefits to creating custom events as well. If you’re using a 3rd party reporting tool or want to be more efficient with your reporting, we recommend creating custom events that reflect commonly viewed metrics. You can easily access that particular custom event and get the numbers you’re looking for without having to constantly drill down or tinker with your reports, a benefit your marketing analysts or strategists can appreciate.
GA4 was not designed for automotive websites, so there’s a lot of configuration to get everything in order with your vendors and marketing teams. While it may seem that GA4 presents many challenges, we can assure you that they are for the right reasons.
We hope this has been helpful; if you need any assistance, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and we would be happy to help.