Digital marketing attribution for beginners: Part 2

Posted by CarGurus Admin on December 13, 2019

Our previous blog covered the basics of attribution: what it is, the key terminology, and how it has developed as a barometer for digital marketing. However, it represents such a fundamental part of a dealership’s analysis of its online spend that it pays to examine the follow-up process—i.e. how to use the information you’ve gained to tweak your spending and generate the best return on investment.

Attribution results: use them or lose them

It sounds painfully obvious, but if you neither examine nor act upon the results of attribution, then nothing will change—or worse, your digital marketing will become less effective as old methods stagnate. Take time to analyse the information it provides and really understand what you’re looking at; discuss it with your team and, assuming you’re using a digital marketing specialist or agency, consult with them. In short, the more you put in, the more you get out.

Compare and contrast

The obvious next step is to compare the split of your current digital marketing spend with the results of attribution. Again, it sounds basic, but unless you have a good understanding of exactly what you’re spending and where (a surprising amount of organisations don’t) then it’s going to be difficult to identify how improvements can be made – so if you don’t know, comb through the invoices and find out.

As we explained in part one of this series, multi-touch attribution puts the spotlight on every single element of paid search throughout the customer’s digital interactions with the business, and it’s the single best tool for establishing where and how you can alter your spend for the best results and for tailoring your spend accordingly.

Spread yourself thin

There’s a temptation to plough all of your budget into the channels that produce the best returns and do away with the rest, but such an approach would be a blunt instrument. A successful online marketing programme will incorporate a broad spread of channels to keep the business’s influence as wide and as relevant as possible; as is often the case, it’s never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket.

Correctly implemented, attribution results are best viewed as a way for retailers to tweak the bias of their digital marketing spend for the best results. By all means dedicate more funds to the most successful channels—if paid search is consistently bringing in high quality leads, then it makes total sense to turn up the wick—if another channel is underperforming, then be mercenary and get rid of it. Just make sure you maintain a broad spectrum of marketing outlets overall, as the idea is to catch and interact with customers at all stages of the buying process, and you’re not going to achieve that with just one method.

Equally, don’t be afraid to introduce new channels; a good digital marketing specialist will be able to identify fresh avenues for a dealer to promote itself online which, combined with a comprehensive set of attribution results, allows you to redirect a portion of your budget in what could be a profitable direction.

Look at your bang per buck

The costs of digital marketing can vary wildly and while it makes sense to gear the bias towards those methods that bring in the strongest leads, there’s a strong possibility that they’ll also be the most expensive. Another useful dimension of multi-touch attribution is that it helps to manage your budget; when you’re able to clearly observe the individual effectiveness of each form of online publicity, it’s possible to focus on those that strike a good balance between affordability and results.

That might mean moderating the amount you spend on channels that bring in the biggest numbers of high-quality leads. But if they cost a small fortune they can easily eat up an advertising budget. Use attribution to identify the best value methods—not simply the most successful ones—and your advertising budget will go that much further.

Want an in-depth review of multi-touch attribution? Download our white paper.

Topics: Attribution, digital marketing, marketing tips