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

Ed Brooks

I read, with a great interest, a post on 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.


QUESTION ONE: Do you give give the last touchpoint 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?

Chris K Leslie

Question 1:

I prefer to give credit to last click. Withouth knowing the userid or timeframe bewteen first click and last click. I mean who knows what finally got that person in. 


Question 2: 

It isn't a problem because as long as we have showrooms we will not have 100% attribution models. The spread of things that could lead people to your doors is just so wide. At least with a digital only model you could get pretty close to an accurate attribution. 


Question 3:

No there is not a solution. Some vendors might say differently but how can anyone say what percentage of attribution should go to autotrader vs your website vs. your BDC. 



Ed Brooks

My sense is, in a shopping process as complicated as researching buying a car, trying to assign 'credit' to any single source is inaccurate at best - 

mark rask

We still give credit to the last click but make sure that we are are aware of the big picture .

Ed Brooks

If you give 'credit' to the last click, how do you measure the influence of the prior sites seen?


Russ Chandler

Great article Ed! 

From my perspective, I don't think anyone can know 100% what the real attribution there is but you can measure the highest converting customer paths. That can lead to understanding the highest converting paths taken by customers that most often lead to a sale. 

For example, a popular consumer path could be a website visitor that lands on your site after being touched by channel A, channel B and channel C of your advertising. It's realistic(and actually being done by dealers) to look at the reporting and see that this specific path is 3x as likely to buy.

In the same way, a customer that goes through your trade-in tool, visits at least 6 pages, at an average of 6:00min time on site and become also goes through 2 other lead tools, could be your highest converting customer path. 

Both examples are an alternative strategy to understanding what sold you cars or provided the best ROI, instead of giving all the 'credit' to the last or first source of a lead. Attribution modeling is far from a sure thing but it is a much more pragmatic approach to calculating your ROI based only by what you see on the surface. 

Thanks again for creating a conversation around this topic Ed! 

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