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Attribution: Do you give the last touchpoint all of the credit for a sale?

Discussion in 'Online Marketing & Best Practices' started by Ed Brooks, Jun 27, 2016.

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  1. Ed Brooks

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    I read, with a great interest, a post on DMNews.com Marketers' Twisted Cross-Channel Attribution [Infographic].

    At one point it was stated "...almost one quarter of marketers (23%) still give the first or last touchpoint all of the credit." I added the emphasis on the word 'still' because the article was published in October 2014. Many verticals have moved beyond this sort of attribution, but my sense is that isn't the case at most dealerships.

    onequarterofmarketer.png

    QUESTION ONE:
    Do you give the last touchpoint (Advertising Source) all of the credit for a sale?

    Why is this? Perhaps it is because car dealers are one of the only B2C verticals that have embraced CRM systems. I am a huge fan of CRMs and I can't imagine running modern dealership without one. But there is one glaring shortcoming; In a world where consumers average 24 sources of influence (touchpoints), most CRMs allow for one "source" to be assigned credit.

    Knowing this shortcoming exists we can start looking at other methods of evaluating attribution and influence. As I wrote in "We are being beaten by socks. SOCKS!" ...

    Let’s start with the fact that they are employing advanced attribution analytics. They understand that many of their customers are ‘multichannel’, using multiple sources to do their research. Because of this fact, the sock guys aren’t just relying on Google Analytics. Google Analytics does a great job on one very specific task – looking the performance of one particular channel out of many used; your website. Now remember the sock guys don’t sell the majority of their socks using ecommerce from their website (just like most car dealers don’t sell most of their cars using ecommerce from their website), the website is just one channel out of many used. They want, no, they need to see the big picture.


    QUESTION TWO: Is this a problem?

    QUESTION THREE: Is there is a solution?
     
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  3. JoePistell

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    I'd like to add to your observations Ed...

    "In a world where consumers average 24 sources of influence (touchpoints), most ATTRIBUTION MODELS assume all websites are equal." IOW, from a car shoppers POV, some sites are really helpful and others suck wind.

    You can see it in my diary: "Observing my Brother... the car shopper." 10 days, 29 websites visited. All had car shopping content, but only a handful had an impact on his decision making. From my seat, an ATTRIBUTION MODEL that equal weights all sites is as flawed as all the other models.
     
  4. Ed Brooks

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    The C+R Digital Influence in Automotive study says the exact same thing -
    [​IMG]
    The questions remain; Which sources have the biggest influence? Is the last source the the MOST influential?
     
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  5. mikesayre

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    Great topic. I've frustrated myself to death over attribution modeling in automotive for years. There are too many online & offline unknown variables, and factors with car shoppers that effect a purchase.

    You can't build a model which will know how to assign a value to a advertising source that makes absolute sense all the time. Although you can build a model in Google analytics that paints a picture of a path to purchase, or assigns shopping value, and use linear attribution model to understand your exposure strengths with online (& offline) advertising, but it's just a another guide, another tool.

    You really don't have to get that deep with it though, there are probably less than 10 new & used online automotive sites (national & local) that are worth paying for, and most dealers can afford to be on all of those sites anyway. If I could prove what source brought them in to visit the dealership, then I would assign the highest value to that source, regardless if it's first or last. But did they contact me first, or just walk-in the door? See, too many unknown variables.

    In traditional eCommerce online shopping websites, I can show a real conversion (checkout) that has a real $ value, I can see virtually everything about the customer once they enter the site and login, their entire path, and I know with very high probability how I enticed them to visit the website. It's a very simple system compared to automotive, and real estate, both are just different shopping journeys. Would a website that requires a login for shoppers work in automotive?

    I think if dealers can focus on making their websites easy to search, view photos of the vehicles (great photos), list all options clearly, provide detailed pricing, and provide several ways to communicate for the shopper, then handle every customer interaction with professionalism... they are doing the majority of what's needed to lead their local markets. Once that's solid, now we can choose where to expose your inventory and dealership online.
     
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  6. craigh

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    I don't think it can be determined by the order (ie: last) since consumers don't all take the same discovery path.
    I do absolutely agree that some sites will be more effective than others, but even that can change.
    Some people will be sold by a feature they saw in photos, some will be sold by a review that mentioned track performance and some will be sold by safety features they saw in a YouTube crash demo.

    I think CRM should have the ability to attribute multiple sources, but I don't know how sales people would feel about interviewing the customer to get even more points of contact. The best way to handle this is to just email all the third party companies, listing sites and automotive news sites and ask them to put your tracking snippet on their website so that you can see everywhere a customer went and then run metrics against it to see which sources most often lead to a sale. :D
     
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  7. JoePistell

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    Damn good thread Ed. You're making me think (& that's why we come here :-)

    I'll take a stab at this. I think the answer requires 2 answers.
    Logically speaking... the most influential source created the path that led to last source. IOW, if a dealer is not in the path, then, no last source will matter.

    That being said, last source has real power:
    • Can the 'last source' cause the shopper to realize the time-to-buy has come? YES.
    • Can a 'last source' CHANGE the shopper's intended path? YES.

    From a car shoppers POV, using my brothers experience as a tool, his path was dominated by the influential sites (Consumer Reports, TrueCar, dealer ratings & dealer inventory depth & youtube car reviews). This led him lock down the make/model/trim AND the price (via CR and TC). The dealer's site was the last source, it's role was minor to the others. The site was used to prep for the dealer visit.

    Great stuff ed! Hope someone can add their take on this mystery.
    Joe
     
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  8. mikesayre

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    First one to make this happen wins the "Automotive" internet. Sadly won't be on the dealer level though. My bet would be Cox automotive will have some pretty cool tools around this idea.
     
  9. craigh

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    I met guys from more than one of Cox's big data teams.
    At the time they didn't have much cross platform stuff, but I'm sure they will be adding it soon.

    Being able to track Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 + classifieds and educational sites is the holy grail of metrics for me.
     
  10. jeffwallen

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    I believe a dealer needs more than 1 attribution model and those models should be broken down by New and Used. The overall concepts I'm posting are all generalities. Analytics Attribution helps dealers make marketing decisions, talking to your customers grades those decisions. Analytics Attribution and KPI's are a monster and different at every dealership.

    Talking to a customer, I believe the first thing you want to establish is the "heaviest influence" that brought them in the door. Family/friends, former customer, internet, etc.. First and foremost I want to know if the starting point was the dealership or a vehicle shopping journey. After that I want to know the heaviest influence inside the starting point, all I care about are things that made an impact. I agree with the charts above that it's usually around 6 influences on the internet, just need to weight them on their role and monitor duplicity. I also believe the dealership should be extracting information about the whole process, but you can grow into that. (i would be writing all of these insights down and storing them in a shoe box. AI will be coming to automotive at some point and historical customer insights will give you a competitive advantage).

    From there I believe you can combine analytics attribution and customer attribution to build correlations and look for signals. Signals could be dealer weaknesses or a waste of money among other things. It brings together a clearer picture for grading and discovering new opportunities.

    I would never list my website as a source, I would judge it on its own merit. This is about as basic as I would go in trying to even tackle attribution, over time you can expand into where the data takes you or what you want to discover. Any sense of trying to get close to a true attribution model without your customer's input is guessing, IMO - you're lacking intent and value. I also believe a true attribution model is impossible to attain, you just want to get as close to it as possible so you can make the right decisions faster.

    Start easy then go micro.
     
  11. Tallcool1

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    We try to ask customers which websites they visited. Most of the time, customers can tell me which site led them to the dealership. They can also tell me other sites that they may have visited. What they CAN'T tell me is that they saw my car on all 3 sites that they visited. Many times, they tell me about visiting sites that my cars are not listed on.

    I believe that this is the reason so many dealerships give a great deal of credit to the last touch point. I realize that this may not be the right way to assign responsibility, but often times it is the only way that I can justify.
     

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