Steve White addresses the importance of understanding how your marketing efforts perform so that you can make accurate decisions and adjust your spend accordingly for the best ROI.

BY March 27

Per Wikipedia, a black hole is a region of spacetime exhibiting such strong gravitational effects that nothing – not even light – can escape from inside it. For many dealers, trying to make sense of the data provided by a vendor’s dashboard can be like trying to escape from a black hole. Most don’t understand what the data means and have to access ten or more portals to get a true holistic view of what’s going on in their digital marketing  – ending up with what is essentially a black hole of data.

As a dealer, you are probably already overwhelmed with data. Even if you understand the metrics and analytics you see in your reports, my bet is that you would be hard-pressed to take all that information, combine it and create a report that makes sense and is accurate. Because the data is siloed, without a staff of individuals working on it full-time, it is almost impossible to then take that data and fractionalize it so that you can properly attribute credit across the multiple touch points and see the complete buyer’s journey.

Why is this? Every vendor report uses different metrics and attribution models. How can you compare apples to apples if one vendor uses last-click attribution, while another uses first-click? You can’t. The sad fact is that it will always be in a vendor’s best interest to choose the attribution model that best illustrates their solution’s performance — not what is best for your dealership.

How many times have you argued with multiple vendors claiming credit for a sale? Or been charged multiple times by different vendors for the same customer conversion? I’m betting it has happened a lot. Perhaps the customer converted via one vendor 45 days ago, but no sale occurred. Then, they convert again via a PPC campaign, end up on your website where they fill out a trade-appraisal form. Who gets credited for the sale?

If you ask the first company, they captured the customer first (first-click). The second company would say their efforts brought the customer to your website. The trade appraisal tool would say that, ultimately, their widget converted the customer (last-click). Then there is the possibility that the customer was exposed to retargeting, billboards, radio and even television ads — not to mention the multiple other sites they may have visited, but didn’t convert or click on (view-through).

The fact is that ALL these various sources are probably accurate and contributed to the customer ending up at the dealership. However, you will more than likely get data from each of these vendors stating, “Hey, look what a great job we did!” – And they’re all talking about the same customer. Most reporting is basic and is also not specific to the customer. On the surface, you may simply give full credit to all the vendors, not realizing that your reports all reference the same customer.

Without a workable solution in place, or a data analytics superman on staff to figure all of this out, the data might as well go straight into that black hole because, in the end, it is meaningless.

Today, it’s more important than ever to know and understand how your marketing efforts perform so that you can make accurate decisions and adjust your spend accordingly for the best ROI. You simply cannot let that data slip past you into a black hole. It is vital to have a workable way to capture and decrypt it all in a format you understand and can use to make smart marketing decisions, leading to increased profitability and sales.

There are many ways to prevent that data from being unintelligible and non-actionable. The first step is to truly understand the value that proper attribution offers. Once you do, you can finally escape from the black hole.