PureCars launches an attribution platform just for car dealerships

The auto dealer-focused online marketing platform says this new solution is the first to solve dealers’ unique problem of attribution.

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Buying a car these days often involves extensive online research before visiting a physical dealership.

That’s a key reason why attribution has been difficult for auto dealers, says car marketing platform PureCars, which released a sales attribution/business intelligence platform this week that it says is the first one to fully track the path from online research to dealership visit.

Called Signal Pro, it is complementary to PureCars’ existing Smart Advertising marketing automation platform for dealerships, which enables multi-channel campaigns. CEO Sam Mylrea said clients can use Signal Pro in conjunction with Smart Advertising, or separately.

The challenge. Mylrea said that car purchases present a unique attribution problem, because buyers typically spend so much of the pre-purchase time conducting research online, with a physical trip only in the last stage of test driving, final negotiation and purchase. In other words, the funnel dynamic is particular to this industry.

A solution. Signal Pro gets a feed from the inventory management system of its clients, about 3,000 dealerships in the US. It tracks user activity at dealer websites, engagement activity with ads run by its client dealerships, and, via third-party data services, engagement and impression data on car-related ads that are run by others, like auto makers.

When a user goes to a dealer web site or views one of the ads, PureCars is able to match the user to a cross-device graph, which employs IP addresses and other indicators to match anonymous users to persistent identifiers, like phone numbers. Those identifiers then help match the customer who walks into a physical showroom and buys or leases a car to an ad engagement or a site visit.

Previously, Mylrea said, his company could track ad campaign engagement, as well as specific attribution signals like a user filling out a contact form or a user calling a specific phone number. Now, he said, Signal Pro enables dealers to link the online research to the physical purchase, and also predict where each customer is in the buying cycle. Mylrea claims Signal Pro can accurately tie about 80 percent of dealership purchases to the relevant marketing or advertising impetus.

Why you should care. While other attribution services similarly offer multi-point attribution, including linkages between online marketing and offline purchases, Mylrea said Signal Pro is the first specifically tied into dealer inventories and designed for auto purchases.

Given that cars are generally consumers’ second-biggest purchase after homes, knowing which ad spend or site content impacted sales can be a valuable piece of the marketing puzzle.

This story first appeared on MarTech Today. For more on marketing technology, click here.

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Making your analytics work harder and smarter – SMX East 2018

At SMX East 2018 in New York City Jenny Halasz and Simon Poulton shared their best tips for two approaches to upping your analytics game. Here is a brief summary of their main points. You’ll also find links to their presentation decks to learn more.

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In May 2016, Google unveiled Data Studio, a free data visualization tool that allows anyone to create reports with graphs, charts, tables, and other elements that automatically grab data from a variety of sources.

Tips and tricks to get started with Google Data Studio

Jenny Halasz – President, JHL Marketing. Twitter: @jennyhalasz

Jenny Halasz presented an introduction to using Data Studio, along with many useful tips, tricks, and hacks to make it even more powerful and easy to use.

Jenny began by pointing out that Data Studio was rolled out as a much more user-friendly alternative to the (now deprecated) Google Dashboards. In addition, Data Studio now supports connections to over 90 data sources. There are better tools for data visualization than Data Studio, but it’s free and relatively easy to use, so for most purposes, it will do the job.

Some Data Studio terminology

Knowing what the terms below mean in Data Studio will save you a lot of pain during your initial setup:

  • Data connectors: The connection between a data source (such as Google Analytics) and a Data Studio report.
  • Segments vs Filters: A subset of data in Google Analytics (GA). Segments can only be created in GA, but you can use them through a data connector in Data Studio. A filter includes or excludes specific portions of data from a source or a segment. Filters are created in Data Studio and act on the data after it reaches Data Studio. (They do not change anything in the original data source). For example, you could create a filter to exclude all sessions below a certain number.
  • Metrics: In Data Studio, a metric defines the specific thing you want to measure. For example, “sessions” could be a metric.
  • Dimensions: Containers you put the metrics in. For example, you might want to look at the metric “sessions” broken down by the dimension “medium.”
  • Goals: Specific actions or engagements you want to track. Goals must be set up in Google Analytics, but can be used in Data Studio.

Getting started with Data Studio

Log in to your Google account and go to Data Studio and start a new report. PRO TIP: for a quick start use one of the many templates provided, which can be fully customized. Also use Google’s sample data to make sure your reports work right before connecting your own data.

The first data sources you should add are Google Analytics and Search Console (the latter if you are creating an SEO report). HINT: You have to scroll way down the list of sources to find those!

Once you select a data source you’ll be taken to a screen where you select some specifics for that source. For Google Analytics, each report must be linked to a specific account, property, and view.

When you’re in a report and create an element (a table, graph, chart, etc.), you can select what metric it displays using the Metric Picker in the right sidebar. Also, use this to change the metric of an existing chart.

The next thing to expose is filters. Filters are powerful because they let you include or exclude data parameters from a source in between the source and your report. So you aren’t stuck with the raw data coming from the source if it contains noise you don’t need

You can also change the style of any element by selecting it in edit mode and then clicking the style tab in the right sidebar.

Some tips and tricks

Jenny shared some things you might overlook but which can vastly improve your reports.

  1. In the styles tab, you can change the axis of a graph if the wrong one is showing.
  2. Uncheck row numbers in styles for tables if you don’t need them.
  3. If all else fails, create a white text box to cover anything you don’t want!
  4. To automatically align elements, select multiple elements, right click, and select align.
  5. You can even create sticky notes to add explanations to your data displays. IMPORTANT: Give your custom metrics and filters unique descriptive names.

Blending data

Data blending is a relatively new feature in Data Studio. It allows you to bring in data from more than one source and place it in the same chart or graph. To create blended data, go to Resources, then to “Manage blended data” and “Add a data view.” The example below shows selected metrics from two different sources to create a year-over-year graph.

Some rules for blending data:

• You must have a join key (a metric that is the same in both sources)
• You can not filter blended data
• You can not change dates on blended data

Some problems with Data Studio

As powerful and easy to use as Data Studio is, it still has some issues and some areas for needed improvement. These include:

• No auto-emailing function to send scheduled reports
• Reports can’t be exported as PDF
• There are still not connectors for some major tools such as SEMRush and SearchMetrics
• Google Search Console connections are limited to URL and query data
• No template link creator to easily share templates you’ve crated
• The blended data function is too limited.

See the full slideshow presentation from SMX here.

Metrics for profitable growth

Simon Poulton – Senior Director of Digital Intelligence, Wpromote. Twitter: @spoulton

Simon Poulton gave us an advanced look at a type of analysis he thinks too few marketers use: measuring the profitability of marketing campaigns. He noted that delayed gratification is a challenge for marketers under pressure to show short-term results. However, optimizing for profitability is the surest path to long-term growth.

In 2014 the Think with Google blog published a post by Matt Lawson titled “The Profit-Driven Marketer.” Some of his main selling points for marketers to be more driven by profitability included:

• Moving from reactive to proactive. The more assurance you have about the future the better decision you can make in the present.
• The ability to better predict customer lifetime value, allowing more concentration of resources on the most profitable customers.
• Allowing KPIs to evolve into higher forms. Clicks and conversions are fine starting metrics, but revenue, gross profit, and lifetime value yield far more useful information.

Using the formula Growth = Acquisition + Churn gives you a sense of how confident you can be that customers will return for another purchase.

Peter Fader promoted what he called the “Buy ’Til You Die Model.” He was interested in the probability that a given customer would still be a customer within a twelve-month window. Use this information to create a hierarchy of customers so you put the most resources toward your elite customers.

Simon also recommended an article on how to calculate and leverage LTV.

Profit-centric analytics

Simon then moved into how to set up your analytics to measure profitability at a product SKU level. This involves importing the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) including any media costs into analytics so actual profit vs. revenue can be measured.

Take a competitive approach to profit and find that sweet spot where profits are maximized as compared to your investment. As you see in the graph below, most companies stop when revenues start to level off, but the actual target of maximum profit may be further on.

Essential to optimizing marketing for profitability is knowing the COGS and being able to import it into Google Analytics. Simon shared an example of a GA custom metric to do this.

Next, include this custom metric as a variable within your purchase dataLayer.

Now create a lookup table with the COGS associated with each product SKU. This could also be done at a product category level.

Reference the lookup table for COGS to push it into the Purchase dataLayer.

Now call back the values via a Google Sheet.

Your purchase dataLayer should now look something like this.

Now create a calculated metric for COG-adjusted revenue.

Now you can see a column for COG Adjusted Revenue in your Google Analytics product dimension.

To get true profitability by SKU, you should also import media costs (such as CPC). For the steps to do this, see Simon’s SMX East slide deck, slides 31-33.

Once all this is in place, you can calculate actual profit: Product Revenue – (COG + Media Cost) = Profit.

Profit-centric analysis and strategy

It’s a good idea to create a profit dashboard (Data Studio, importing profit data from Google Analytics would be an excellent tool for this). Such an overview can enable better decisions making. You’ll be better able to answer questions such as how much you should invest in:

▪ new customer acquisition
▪ existing customer retention

Other questions you can answer knowing the actual profitability of sales:

  • How often should we run promotions and what can we offer?
  • Which products should we focus on for:
    • profitability?
    • growth?
    • best customers?
  • What is the impact of increasing investments in an incremental capacity?

See the full slideshow presentation from SMX here.

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From funnel to flywheel

If you’re like most marketers, you could name the basic parts of the sales funnel in your sleep: Awareness, Interest, Evaluation, Decision, and Purchase. Of course, businesses have tweaked the model over the years, adding extra steps and so forth, but the basic premise has remained the same. But there is one problem with the […]

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If you’re like most marketers, you could name the basic parts of the sales funnel in your sleep: Awareness, Interest, Evaluation, Decision, and Purchase.

Of course, businesses have tweaked the model over the years, adding extra steps and so forth, but the basic premise has remained the same. But there is one problem with the model: it’s the opposite of customer-centric. In fact, in the traditional sales funnel, leads are treated a bit like uniform widgets moving along a conveyor belt, with various things happening to them along the way.

The problem is that if you’re not centered on the customer, your marketing efforts might be going to waste. If we had a nickel for every brilliant content strategy that seemed to explode with engagement while yielding little (if any) measurable return on investment, we’d have more than a piggy-bank full of change.

Centering the customer in your sales model changes that, though, because the customer now drives all content and all marketing efforts, instead of the other way around. In this piece, we’ll explain a new sales model. Maybe by the end you’ll be like us: falling ever-so-slightly out of love with the funnel — and in love with the flywheel.

A what wheel?

Like its predecessor the funnel, a flywheel is not just a metaphor, but also a real-life tool that powers multiple, modern-day inventions. Invented by James Watt of lightbulb fame, the flywheel is a disc or wheel around an axis. It has assorted industrial applications and can be found in car engines, ships, and a lot of other places where energy needs to be generated, amplified, stored, and stabilized.

The flywheel effect, described by Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, describes a massive, 5,000-pound metal disc mounted horizontally on an axle. He asks the reader to imagine pushing it, so that it turns around that axle. At first, getting it to move at all is extremely difficult. But with each push, it gets fractionally easier and the flywheel begins to pick up speed. Collins writes:

Then, at some point—breakthrough! The momentum of the thing kicks in in your favor, hurling the flywheel forward, turn after turn … whoosh! … its own heavy weight working for you. You’re pushing no harder than during the first rotation, but the flywheel goes faster and faster. Each turn of the flywheel builds upon work done earlier, compounding your investment of effort. A thousand times faster, then ten thousand, then a hundred thousand. The huge heavy disk flies forward, with almost unstoppable momentum. 

It’s a great metaphor for marketing. Because that momentum isn’t the product of any single push. Instead, the energy is cumulative, generated by a lot of little pushes, with the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Ideally, marketing and sales should work the same way. The energy, leads, and revenue created by marketing efforts is not due to any single channel, piece of content, or campaign; it’s a cumulative effect. And once it really gets going, a good marketing campaign keeps spinning. It generates energy.

Putting the customer at the center

Instead of a funnel into which prospective customers are unceremoniously dumped, the flywheel puts the customer at the center of the wheel: the axle.

Hubspot CEO Brian Halligan, for example, sees the customer as the lynchpin, with the flywheel itself divided into three equal segments, each representing stages along the customer journey: attract, engage, and delight. Each area creates energy and passes it along to the next, with the delight phase feeding back into attract.

Other flywheel devotees divide the disc into Marketing, Sales, and Service — again putting the customer in the center position. Each effort feeds into the next, cycling around and around, but always circling the customer.

This may be the most important aspect of the flywheel model — that it centers the customer. The funnel, on the other hand, doesn’t consider how those customers can feed back into the funnel (or the flywheel) to help create additional growth and engagement.

The funnel can’t conceive of customers buying from you more than once, so the momentum you build acquiring customers via the funnel just falls away. Following every quarter, every customer, every conversion — you’re starting all over again.

Learning to fly

The momentum of a flywheel is determined by three primary pieces:

  1. The weight of the wheel

With a physical flywheel, the greater the mass of the flywheel, the greater its momentum and the harder it is to stop. In the customer-focused model, the “weight” looks like an exceptional customer service experience that builds your reputation and brand in ways that create retention, build ambassadors, and deliver value into your marketing and sales segments. The way that you deliver that customer experience will be unique to your business model.

  1. How fast you spin it

The speed in the flywheel model is really about the number of “pushes” you give the wheel. How much content is your marketing team delivering? Which channels are you using to reach prospects? How many leads are coming from the content?

  1. The friction

Reducing flywheel friction is about ensuring customers remain satisfied and keeping your efforts aligned. If poor sales performance is slowing the momentum from marketing — or if poor service is hurting retention of hard-won sales — your flywheel will slow down, and your business will suffer. On the other hand, when everything is aligned, your efforts will feed into each other and keep your flywheel humming along.

Finding alignment and purpose

It’s one thing to draw up a model and another to align cross-organizational efforts in real life. Part of finding alignment is cultural, getting leadership to buy in and coordinating communication among departments. But a huge part of the lift has to be operational — and will be dependent on having technology that enables marketing, sales, and service to coordinate.

At CallTrackingMetrics (CTM), we’ve been thinking this way for some time now — though we only recently discovered the flywheel model. Our call intelligence and management platform brings together all the three segments of the flywheel: marketing, sales, and service.

It tracks call sources, lets agents tag and score calls, helps businesses respond immediately to inquiries, and provides a data-rich environment that can inform stakeholders across organizations about marketing, sales, and service performance. It also helps create reporting to determine returns on investment for content and campaigns, customer feedback, and more. In short, it makes it easier to understand and engage with customers in a meaningful, helpful way.

That engagement matters. A lot. Because, at the end of the day, marketing and sales are all about creating better experiences along your customers’ journeys. And the funnel model has never recognized the important part customer service teams play in generating customer retention, brand building, and developing stronger relationships and alignment between your business and your customers — as well as within the disparate teams in your organization.

In the end, the flywheel ensures that everyone in your business shares the same purpose: keeping the flywheel spinning, in order to create better relationships with and experiences for your customers. However hard it might seem to get it spinning at first, once the flywheel gains momentum and sales start churning, it’s well worth the effort.

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