Let’s talk about metrics.
More specifically, let’s talk about the attribution analytics and metrics you receive from your dealership’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vendors.
In recent years, SaaS vendors have brought about a transformative shift in the automotive industry, emerging as pivotal players in dealership success by offering dealers the ability to optimize their marketing operations and drive business growth at the level of global retail giants. As dealers embrace these cutting-edge technologies and SaaS plays an increasingly crucial role in business growth, concerns has surfaced regarding the accuracy and validity of the analytics and attribution reporting practices of these vendors.
Problematic Reporting and Attribution Practices
Marketing attribution metrics essentially assign credit for a sale to a particular marketing channel, source, or touchpoint on a customer journey. These metrics are helpful for stakeholders to understand the impact and effectiveness of specific marketing or sales campaigns.
Take, for example, if a shopper converts on a specific website page – you may want to understand if the shopper visited your website directly, found your website through organic search, or if they clicked on a specific targeted ad that directed them to your website so you can understand the impact of your various cross-channel marketing.
Now, when it comes to reporting on their own product performance, SaaS companies wield a lot of power. Standard practice in the SaaS industry is to provide clients with regular metric reports or access to a dashboard where you can review the impact of their software and understand how it is furthering your business goals.
While these reports and dashboards are theoretically designed to provide you with a deep level of transparency and insight into product performance, the sad reality is many SaaS vendors take advantage of their position and pad their numbers, creating an illusion of success. SaaS companies looking to create the perception that their software is indispensable to the dealership’s success, will inflate their numbers, attributing leads, sales or transactions they are not fully responsible for winning to their software as a way of ensuring their clients continue using their technology.
The Impact of Inflated Metrics on Dealership Operations
While it may feel frivolous to complain about a little inflation in attribution metrics, the reality is that inaccurate data has massive ramifications for dealers looking to utilize these metrics in improving their operations.
Think about it this way – when it comes down to the dollar and cents of your monthly sales figures, you can more than likely rattle those numbers off from memory down to the very last decimal point. Why? Those numbers have serious implications on your business. They impact how much new inventory you are going to add to your lot next month. They give you an understanding of how your sales team is performing. They impact your bottom line, your hiring decisions for the next quarter, the benefits, returns or perks you will receive from your OEM this month, and more.
Attribution metrics and Saas analytics, should be approached by dealers with a similar level of reverence as their sales figures as attribution metrics can directly impact the business on the same scale. When provided with accurate, clear numbers from their SaaS vendors, these analytics can help you:
- Understand which strategies and platforms are driving results, enabling you to better allocate budgets and resources for marketing and sales initiatives
- Identify trends within your data that can help you better understand the needs and preferences of your customers
- Make data-backed business decisions for your dealership by identifying areas for improvement and ways to optimize operations.
Ultimately, in order to advance your business, you need to understand exactly how your SaaS vendors are impacting your bottom line. Inaccurate or inflated attribution metrics can lead to potential missteps and have you investing in underperforming marketing channels, misallocating valuable operational resources, or, in the worst case scenario, implementing inherently flawed business strategies that can deeply impact your dealership’s future growth in a highly complex and competitive market.
The Path to Transparency : Holding Vendors to a Higher Standard
Given the ever increasingly important role SaaS solutions play in the dealership decision-making process, it is imperative that dealers begin demanding a higher standard of accountability, honesty, and transparency from SaaS vendors. Even more importantly, by encouraging transparency and accuracy, dealers can drive change in the market at large by ensuring integrity and credibility are at the forefront of the SaaS industry as technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace.
Dealers looking to impact change with their SaaS vendors can take the following steps:
- Perform thorough research: Protecting dealership interests starts with due diligence. Take the time you need to learn about potential vendors from existing or previous clients, understand the company’s reputation and track record, and perform deep research into their product to ensure you are partnering with honest, honorable vendors.
- Clearly define expectations: You should always approach a new SaaS vendor with a clear list of expectations you have for the new software. Ensuring both parties understand your dealership’s goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) can help build a solid foundation for the partnership.
- Ask about attribution – Before signing on with a new SaaS vendor, you should have a frank conversation about their attribution models. By educating yourself about the complexities of SaaS vendor attribution models, you can ensure that these software solutions are driving tangible results that align with your business goals.
- Communicate regularly: Maintain open and regular communication with your vendors to address any concerns, track your progress, and discuss potential shifts you can implement to drive improvement. Ongoing dialogue ensures that both parties are aligned and allows for timely adjustments as needed.
As the automotive industry continues to evolve, dealers must not only demand accuracy and integrity from their vendors, they must also dedicate themselves to becoming informed consumers so they can select the right vendors that share their values and pave the way to sustainable growth and success for their businesses.
The Fullpath Attribution Model
At Fullpath, accuracy in attribution and reporting is a foundational part of our business model. Our goal is to always enable our clients to build better and stronger businesses. It is with this goal in mind that we developed a clear, trackable attribution model to ensure traceability and transparency in the impact of our Customer Data and Experience Platform (CDXP).
Our platform is designed to unify disconnected, siloed dealership data sources and connect them into one, organized, clean, cohesive platform. The Fullpath CDXP then leverages the data through AI, machine learning, and predictive analytic technologies to create omni-channel marketing campaigns and provide a seamless shopping experience for dealership customers. Fullpath clients are provided access to a comprehensive, personalized and easy-to-use dashboard where they view metrics and understand the ins and outs of our platform’s performance.
Our attribution model centers around the different ways we define “shoppers” and “leads” and how our platform interacts with these different definitions:
- Engaged Shoppers – Engaged shoppers are people who have had an interaction with the Fullpath platform. This includes shoppers who have interacted with a digital ad created by Fullpath or a shopper who received an email from a campaign created by our platform.
- Active Shoppers – Active shoppers include engaged shoppers who go on to have a meaningful interaction with the dealership itself. For example, if a shopper receives an email from Fullpath and clicks on a link that leads them to the dealership website, they are now considered an active shopper.
- Converted Shoppers – Converted shoppers include active shoppers who have visited the dealership website and then convert using a form on the website.
- Attributed Leads – Attributed leads include CRM leads that became active shoppers through Fullpath activity .
Now, it is important to note that Fullpath works within a strict 90-day attribution model. This means that, if an engaged shopper converts on the dealership website within 90 days of engaging with a Fullpath email, we will include them in our attribution metrics as a Fullpath conversion – and as a lead when relevant. If a shopper converts later than the 90-day mark of their active engagement, Fullpath will not attribute that conversion to the platform’s performance. Fullpath will only ever take credit for leads who became active shoppers within the 90-day attribution window.
When it comes to sales attributions on the Fullpath platform, we also work strictly within the 90-day timeframe for all shoppers. If a shopper makes a purchase from the dealership within 90 days of becoming an Active Shopper, Fullpath will attribute that sale to the platform. If the sale happens outside of the 90-day window, Fullpath will not take credit for that sale.
It is important for us as a SaaS company in the automotive sphere to share our attribution model with the dealer community for several reasons: the first being transparency on our part as an automotive-centric tech company serving the dealer community. We want to provide our clients with insight into how we measure our success so they can fully understand what our platform does, how we do it, and what they can expect from their investment when they partner with Fullpath.
On a larger scale, we aim to help the greater dealer community understand how the SaaS model works and how they can measure the success of their partnership. Ultimately, we hope sharing the Fullpath Customer Data and Experience Platform attribution model will empower the automotive industry at large to demand more transparency and honesty in reporting from their technology partners.
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