Dealers Should Be Focusing On Cost per Shopper Metrics

By Brian Pasch


Dealers looking for insights into which digital marketing and social media investments are helping them sell more cars may find the answer is much simpler than they thought!  There are some differences in how dealers measure new car sales vs. used car sales, but both share a common ROI metric: Vehicle Detail Page (VDP) views.

Recent research from Cobalt shows that just 12 more VDP views can make a vehicle sell 44% faster!  Inventory “turns” a year is directly related to net dealer profits.  So let’s see how we can accelerate car sales by focusing on Cost per Shopper (CPS).

If VDP views are one of the key metrics to define if a car shopper is coming to a dealership website, shouldn’t dealers inspect the cost to drive a shopper to their website? For some advertising expenses, like Google Adwords, the cost per initial shopper visit can be calculated.

However, if the shopper comes back a second or third time organically, then the costs can be skewed due to the current limits in attribution modeling.

What Is A Car Shopper?

Companies are working to create better attribution models but there are also some privacy concerns that still might prevent true attribution.  In the meantime, I encourage dealers to look at the Cost per Shopper (CPS) for their advertising investments. This focus is a step in the right direction.

For this example, I will define a shopper as a consumer who looks at a Vehicle Detail Page (VDP) for one of the dealer’s vehicles. Dealers who want to include other metrics or page visits in their “shopper” definition can follow along with their own definition. For example, a visit to the hours and direction page, might be aligned with a shopper’s behavior prior to a showroom visit.

In Google Analytics, filters can be applied to see how many visitors viewed at least one Vehicle Detail Page.  For this dealer example below, I wanted to see the sources of traffic coming to their website in the month of September:


The traffic from source #5, was from their group website, which was hidden to protect the dealership name.  In September, this Toyota dealer paid ReachLocal, a national advertising agency, $10,000 for new and used car advertising.  The ReachLocal digital campaigns generated 4,352  initial visitors.

To stay consistent with the theme of this article, Cost Per Click (CPC) is not my focus but it comes out to $2.29.  Some dealers who focus on the CPC metric and their Cost per Lead (CPL) might be content with this ROI.  However, only 30% of car sales are tracked to a “lead”. The majority of car sales are from stealth shoppers who look at VDP’s.

What I want to encourage dealers to calculate is the Cost per Shopper (CPS) because most sales are from consumers who visit your dealership website at least once!  CPS is part of the visibility of all shoppers that is directly related to car sales.

When you apply a Google Analytics filter to the September traffic, that tracks how many visitors viewed at least one Vehicle Detail Page (VDP), here is how drastically the numbers change:


Only 497 of the 4,352 clicks were consumers who visited a Vehicle Detail Page (VDP). That calculates out to 11.4% of the visitors were shoppers, according to my definition.  The Cost Per Shopper (CPS) is $10,000 / 497 = $20.1 per shopper. This calculation excludes PPC costs for service and if you are doing this calculation for your store, make sure the Advertising budget for PPC does not include service campaigns.

Dynamic Inventory Advertising

Not all PPC campaigns have such a high Cost Per Shopper (CPS) and companies such as PCG,, and Haystak have the ability to advertise vehicles and drive consumers directly to a Vehicle Detail Page (VDP).  These campaigns are normally part of a multi-campaign strategy that dealers utilize and can deliver a Cost per Shopper (CPS) under $2.00.

The challenge for dealers is to look at all campaigns that are designed to sell new and used cars, especially used cars, to see what the Cost per Shopper (CPS) is outside of dynamic campaigns.  In many cases, the non-dynamic campaigns dealers think would supplement dynamic campaigns are actually very costly.  The costs can be in the range of $6.00 – $15.00 CPS, and that is where the opportunity exists to consider alternative strategies.

LotLinx Is The Perfect PPC Supplement

The LotLinx program delivers consistent CPS under $4.00 and directs shoppers directly to a dealer’s Vehicle Detail Page (VDP).  Dealers can drive low-funnel car shoppers to their website from over 130 third party classified advertising websites.  When these shoppers arrive at the dealer’s website they can be greeted with live chat agents, offered your latest promotional offers, and of course they are captured in the dealer’s remarketing campaigns.

When dealers take a look at what they are paying for third party leads and some of the PPC campaigns, they will find that the LotLinx strategy is a perfect compliment for incremental sales and to accelerate the sales of their in-stock vehicles.  If you have not watched the LotLinx overview video, take two-minutes to educate yourself on this advertising strategy.

LotLinx Enrollment Hotline

If your dealership is ready to drive more “shoppers” to your website, give the PCG LotLinx team a call at 732-200-9545.  Stop focusing on Cost per Click (CPC) when those clicks may not be the consumers that are ready to purchase a vehicle.


Brian Pasch, CEO

PCG Consulting