Making sense of your dealership’s website referrals can be a complicated process. But at a basic level, it’s easy to divide referrals into two simple categories: direct and indirect. Knowing the difference will not only help your dealership understand web analytics reports, but also help assess the context and effectiveness of your store’s digital marketing strategy.

As a refresher, here’s the quick definition:

Direct Referral

A direct referral is when a shopper clicks a link on a website or online platform a dealership advertises on (e.g.,, Google, Facebook, etc.), and then transfers directly to the dealership’s website.

Indirect Referral

An indirect referral or “view-through” is when a shopper is exposed to dealership advertising on a website or online platform (e.g.,, Google, Facebook, etc.), and then visits the dealership’s website without clicking a direct link. This often occurs when a shopper opens a new tab or browser window, and then types in the dealership’s name or URL.

Note that this is not to be confused with direct traffic, which refers to the broad action of a consumer typing a URL directly into their browser to arrive at a given website.

So why does this distinction matter?

Whether a shopper clicks a direct link to transfer to a dealership’s website or lands there indirectly after being exposed to the dealership’s brand and inventory, all of the interactions along the way influence the shopping process.

By looking solely at visits from direct referrals, dealerships see only a tiny slice of the overall impact of their digital marketing. In the case of Groove Auto Group, which is on par with nationwide trends, the impact of indirect referrals is quite compelling.

To learn more about how Groove Automotive uses advanced analytics to evaluate website performance and referral traffic, download our recent case study, Unpacking Big Data.