mobile strategy

Solving the Attribution Confusion

How Dealers Can Eliminate Deficiencies with More Accurate Attribution Tracking

By David Metter

Through endless digital and traditional channels, consumer influence is happening both consciously and subconsciously as they navigate along a digital roadmap equipped with double-digit research touch points that follow no predictable path or straight line. This new age buying behavior makes attributing a sale to one source almost impossible. While new and developing channels provide marketers with an abundant assortment of avenues to reach potential customers, the challenge of measuring the return on your investment is becoming increasingly complex.

“Big data” is a widespread term used relentlessly in digital marketing across all verticals. But the question remains, how can we properly leverage big data to attribute a single sale to a single action? And is it possible to attribute one sale to one source within the surplus of information available today?

Let’s first properly define attribution. According to Forbes, “Attribution is the science of using advanced analytics to allocate proportional credit to each marketing touch point across all online and offline channels, leading to a desired customer action.” MarketShare defines it as “giving credit where credit is due.” To simplify even further, attribution is who or what takes credit for a sale.

For auto dealers, attribution is synonymous with the conduit that led the customer from screen, to search, to showroom. Attributing a sale or a lead translates to knowing exactly where it came from, how it came to you, and why. The problem with digital marketing is that this process can be very challenging as there is no conventional path to follow when it comes to tracking online (and offline) actions today. Attribution defines which elements of your marketing compounds will result in a reaction, or which will ultimately prove to be effective.

There is a reason Amazon is the #1 online retailer. The master of digital merchandising has the most straightforward attribution chain in the business - consisting of three steps: a search, a click, and a buy.

On the contrary, there is no such thing as the “search-click-buy” method in the automotive industry. The question of the moment is could there be, and how do we turn that possibility into a measurable science? The reality is, well below 5% of the total buyers in the market behave in a direct, attributable fashion. Therefore, dealers and manufacturers must focus on the 95% of buyers that have to physically visit the showroom to purchase a vehicle and really drill down to determine their personal, unique path to purchase. But dealers are not dentists, and drills are not a part of the standard dealership sales toolbox.

According to a Dataium study, “One-third of autos purchased today are a direct outcome of internet-generated leads.” Lead conversion must be measured at the dealership level. More importantly, measuring attribution, or the accountability of a sale is of growing importance as more and more media and social networks adapt to a paid advertising model.

Tips to Overcome Attribution Hurdles:

1.     Don’t be afraid to get a little personal. Customize your messaging based on a user’s previous actions and their digital footprint. The smartphone is regarded as the most intimate device ever. Therefore our marketing must follow suit and get personal. Custom-built, targeted messages elicit fiercer impacts. Consumers not only want personalized messages, but they now expect them, and respond better when marketing tactics convey a dynamically tailored message.

2.     Implement a streamlined form-fill process on all devices in conjunction with industry-leading responsive design. Evolving technologies have arrived that allow geo-targeting on mobile devices that currently provide dealers with a first ever, “showrooming” solution that is, you guessed it…100% measurable!

3.     The consumer experience plays a significant role in the attribution process. When considering the experience, focus on the variables that include specific IP addresses, number of page views before an initial offer or incentive is provided, and closing the loop with re-engagement and retargeting practices.

4.     Attribution can be more accurately measured when conversion is streamlined via e-mail or text message delivery. When the consumer data is captured during an incentive redemption during a showroom visit, we can then know without a shadow of a doubt which channel led the buyer to your lot. When you offer something valuable in return for a consumer’s personal information, the probability of them completing the form drastically escalates.

It’s crucial we all take a moment to step back and put aside all the math and the logic. At the end of the day, there is a simple method to the madness. Waiting until a customer physically shows up in your showroom to collect their information enables you to collect more information (and more accurate information) than you ever could from a typical dealer lead form. This is simple quid pro quo; you have to give something to get something. We have to think differently in order to capture the information we need to make smarter budgeting decisions.

To learn more tips towards solving the attribution confusion please check out our attribution whitepaper, “Automotive Attribution: Fundamentals and Future.” 


The Conference "Pay-to-Play" Mentality: Is it in Your Best Interest?

By David Metter

I want to start here. This may be my Jerry McGuire moment. Maybe I should end here…but this has been eating at me for a while. 

I’ve been in this industry for over 25 years. I started out selling cars at a Chrysler Dealership in Dayton, Ohio. Somehow, I have navigated my career through all facets of the dealership including an executive marketing position for a large dealer group. I have also had the opportunity to work on the vendor side with a start up CRM company in the early days of CRM. My latest startup venture, AutoHook (the artist formally known as HookLogic) was acquired by Urban Science this past year. Along the way, I have had the fortune of building great products, growing businesses, and speaking at events all around the globe. I don’t tell you all of this to stroke my ego, only to frame my position. 

As a dealer, especially as a CMO, it felt like I was asked to speak at EVERY event. Because we were first in with a number of digital marketing initiatives, I had a lot to share, both success and failures. I would often feel like I was on tour. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed sharing my experiences with other progressive dealers. I love my industry and want more people to have success. Dealers who can speak can be in demand at conferences but I have noticed a trend lately. There are less and less dealers speaking, with those spots filled with more vendors. Why is this? Have all of the progressive dealers gone away? Are they afraid to speak? 

On the flip side, I have noticed that the majority of the speaking spots are somehow tied to a sponsorship package. I remember a day when you submitted a topic and content that was relevant to the participants, wasn’t a sales pitch, and you were picked to speak, regardless of your checkbook. Yet, lately, when it comes to many of the conferences our industry has hosted, there is a strong emphasis surrounding the “pay-to-play” mentality. Vendors and auto companies can only present if they pay thousands of dollars to do so. Is this really the best way to educate our dealer audience with the information that is most beneficial to them and their business?

All too often the companies who spend the most money on conferences, that secure the biggest and best booth space or a prime speaking position are not in line with the companies that have the most useful story to tell. I don’t say this because I am envious of these companies or I don’t have the budget to compete. I say it because it’s the truth. It’s gotten so bad, that at one of the largest conferences this past fall, many of the speaking halls were near-empty because the content and speakers were practically the same as previous years…and yes, you guessed right - they were from the same main sponsors.

Even if the content or a speaker is chosen for a spot, it might not get the prime speaking position. At another conference this fall, there was a panel discussion that had “heavyweights.” The session was highly rated by the conference attendees and every seat was taken with people standing in the back of the room. However, they were relegated to a “breakout” because the larger sponsors occupied the larger, main auditorium sessions - and you guessed it, those sessions were not as full. 

It seems that more often than not, my experience, my name, and my brand are simply not enough to secure a speaking position at a conference. It’s sad to say, but as an industry, we need to be better than that. We need to share our wealth of knowledge in order to help others and to inspire our audience rather than just share from those that spend the most to host these events.

I am not alone in my thoughts on this topic. Many vendors have expressed the same sentiment, and attendance at a lot of conferences is dwindling. Are we losing sight of the entire purpose of these networking and educational events? Are the messages being delivered merely the ones backed by the biggest budget, or the best content? Are we providing these audiences with the knowledge they need to truly take their business to the next level?

Personally, I’ve questioned the offers to present at conferences if they are directly tied to a speaking spot. I want to be picked because I have a compelling message and the conference is confident that I won’t sound like an infomercial. Arguably, I am a better presenter than I was 10 years ago. I am WAY more mature and have more successes and a ton more failures to share with the attendees. When I am asked to present, I go above and beyond because my first priority is to make the content worthwhile for the audience, as they are paying good money to be there and learn. Let’s be clear, this is not me taking the opportunity to bash the large conferences as they do have a lot to offer dealerships. However, I strongly encourage you to take a step back and be discerning about who you choose to listen to and which sessions you choose to attend.

So, what do I endorse? I see a higher quality of knowledge being shared at smaller, local events that keep the vendor space equal. I see better content being shared in dealer 20 groups that allow presenters to share valuable insights without having to sponsor the event to do so. Dealers share their “best idea” with their non-competing peers. I also see content being shared on the industry blogs, in free (not paid) webinars, and in whitepapers (again free). And I am going to put our money where my mouth is. We are going to be very selective of where we present and make all of our content open to our industry.

Our first example of this will be a mobile marketing strategy whitepaper that is filled with great information from industry experts. It is not an AutoHook sales and marketing document. It will help those dealers who are searching for a mobile marketing strategy. Instead of forming panels at conferences, we will set up webinar panels and open it up to more people; especially those who can’t convince their ownership to attend the conferences.

I want this topic to be out in the open as it is reflective upon everyone involved in the automotive industry, including myself, and you – if you’ve made it this far. We need to consistently represent the values and principals that we’re proud of and that define us.

How do you feel about the exponential rise of the “pay-to-play” mentality?   

Don't Just Be Accessible With Mobile...Be Effective

"The invasion of the smartphone has changed how consumers shop for everything, including high-end purchases like automobiles."


When it comes to potential car buyers it is not uncommon to see people browsing mobile sites either looking at a dealership’s inventory, comparing prices and information, or shopping their trade in.

Walk in to any coffee shop, cafe, bus stop, train station, or almost any venue really, even at your dealership and you will see the masses browsing the mobile web or tooling through an app on the newest generation of cell phones, otherwise known as smartphones, many of them researching vehicles and local dealers.

Smartphones are defined as mobile phones that operate with advanced capabilities and operating systems, similar to that of PC functionality. These phones have Internet browsers and capabilities, and increasingly people are completing their internet browsing on these phones.

The new challenge then for auto dealers is not only how to be accessible via mobile but also how to be effective with mobile.

By effective, I mean being able to convert the right people at the right time.

Converting auto shoppers in a mobile environment often results in acquiring less information about each person because there is less real estate with which to work and also because if it isn't uber-convenient then there is a high chance you will lose the visitor all together. Therefore you need simple and highly effective conversion tools that differentiate your dealership from the others.

Gift card incentives are proving to be effective for this, and dealerships across the country are benefiting from increased incremental sales with effective tools such as HookLogic'sWeb to Show and Lead to Show products.

But it's not as simple as offering someone a gift card for coming in for a test drive. To do this effectively and consistently over time your dealership will need not only the best technology but also the right partners and a good process built in to both the front-end and back-end.

Nowadays the right tools and the right technology require being effective in mobile too. This might involve a mobile web version and/or a mobile app version of your reward incentive and it might require effective SMS (or text message) marketing techniques. For HookLogic Web to Show customers, influencing shopper behavior via mobile has recently been made all the more feasible.

As stated in a recent press release by HookLogic's Chief Product Officer John Berhman,

"HookLogic‘s new Web to Show 2.0 solution for mobile coupled with our AutoHook suite of products means we are able to influence car buyers into the showroom from whatever channel they choose to shop.”


In addition to this new mobile offering, HookLogic has also launched its mobile redemption app. With this new app, dealership personnel are now able to validate, redeem, and measure incentives directly from their mobile devices in real-time.

The dealer mobile redemption app is available in Apple iOS and Android versions and can be downloaded at the Apple App Store and the Google’s Android Market respectively. To learn more about this new app visit our recent blog post titled, Redeeming Coupons from the Palm of Your Hand.

To learn more about how HookLogic's AutoHook Suite of Products can help increase the number of incremental sales at your dealership, contact us today by visiting our website, or call 1-646-532-4707.