Authored by Andrew Swisher, Marketing Operations Manager

Let’s say you have all the pieces in place for a successful lifecycle marketing strategy – the right tools, the best team members, and a killer strategy. But how do you know what pieces work? How can you attribute success and understand what is valuable and what is not?

That’s where measurement comes in, and why it’s crucial for dealers to integrate effective measurement practices into their overall engagement process and strategy.

This measurement chapter will cover the following:

  1. Engagement: Measuring the Right Metrics to Lead to Outcome Based KPIs
  2. Attribution: Understanding How the Right Metrics Relate to Outcome Based KPIs

Engagement: Measuring the Right Metrics that Lead to Outcome Based KPIs

Outcome Based KPIs (key performance indicators), or the KPIs that measure the output of past activity, such as revenue or leads generated, are the foundation of a successful measurement strategy. Think of these KPIs as the sort of finish line for your measurement program. As we move more and more into the digital age, marketers need to be measuring the right things.

According to the Harvard Business Review, there are three “Cardinal Rules” in choosing the right metrics that will lead to these Outcome Based KPIs:

  1. Metrics should be easy to understand and use
  2. Metrics should be easily replicated
  3. And finally, metrics should provide useful, ACTIONABLE information that impacts business.

“89% of leading marketers use these kinds of strategic metrics to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns.”

For instance, according to Google, 89% of leading marketers use these kinds of strategic metrics to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns.

These are the KPIs that will tell your team “Wow, this thing worked!” If you do not have the correct Outcome Based KPIs in place you will lose sight of what your goals are.

Some examples our dealer partners use include:

  • Linked sales
  • Linked repair orders
  • Gross profit
  • Gross revenue

There are literally thousands of metrics you can look at. You don’t want to get lost tracking and spending time and energy on the metrics that don’t matter.

Here are some common individual consumer engagement metrics that can lead to Outcome Based KPIs:

  • Email Engagement – Clicks and Unique Opens
  • Display Advertising – Clicks
  • Paid Search – Clicks
  • Social Advertising – Clicks and form fill outs
  • Direct Mail – Landing page views and form fill outs
  • Website – Form fill outs, vehicle views, vehicle searches, etc.

Here are some common individual consumer engagement metrics that DO NOT always lead to Outcome Based KPIs:

  • Email Engagement – Reading time on email and email heat mapping
  • Display Advertising – Impressions and reach
  • Paid Search – Impressions, reach, and search volume
  • Social Advertising – Impressions and reach
  • Website – Overall bounce rates and pageviews

When you are reviewing your metrics, it’s critical to ask yourself why is it important that we track this? What do we learn from this metric and what do we get out of it? Once you start answering questions like these and focusing on the right engagement metrics, you need to be able to show how they are connected – that’s where attribution comes in.

Attribution: Understanding How the Right Metrics Relate to Outcome Based KPIs

What is Attribution?

First, you need to know what to measure as stated in section one, now you need to understand what those measurements are telling you.

In its simplest form, attribution is the analytical science of figuring out which metrics and tactics are contributing to overall sales and conversions (or your Outcome based KPIs).

The objective of attribution is to determine what channels, messaging, and overall strategies have a positive impact on a consumer’s journey to convert.

Ultimately, attribution leads to smarter business decisions and, if used correctly, improves overall ROI and helps you understand what metrics impacts your bottom line.

Why Does Attribution Matter?

According to Econsultancy, 81% of organizations are using marketing attribution, but 70% of businesses are now struggling to act on the insights they gain from said attribution.

“81% of organizations are using marketing attribution, but 70% are now struggling to act on the insights.”

Having the right attribution program in place helps you make smarter business decisions when you see a direct relationship between specific metrics and success.

For example, imagine a prospect walks on the showroom floor and purchases a car from you that you’ve been trying to get off your lot for months. Here are some questions that probably permeate through your brain:

  • Why did they look at this specific car?
  • Have they bought from us before?
  • Has our dealership done something to bring them in?
  • Where did they find us?
  • How long have they been looking?

Understanding how your consumers behave and how you can relate that behavior to ROI gives you a unique glimpse into focusing your time and money where it matters most. You can view this by setting up a data-driven attribution model. Here are three popular attribution models you can integrate into your reporting process.

Single Touch Attribution:
This model you assign 100% credit to one touch point (usually the first or last touch). For instance, let’s say you send an email campaign for three months with various interactions by a single consumer. With Single Touch Attribution, you would give credit to the last or first interaction along that journey.

Even Attribution:
Model where you assign equal credit to all touch points on the customer journey path. For example, let’s say there are four different interactions across the customer’s path to purchase. In this case, you would assign credit to 25% (or each of the touch points).

Custom Attribution:
In this model, you can assign random credit to various touch points across the journey. This is not recommended unless you have a qualitative conviction that a certain touch point should be weighted more than others. An example of this would be weighting touch points differently across the journey – i.e., clicks on an email rather than opens on an email.

To understand instances like the one discussed, Outsell recommends you create your own in house attribution system with Google Analytics or through a variety of vendors who do the legwork for you. Obviously, there are pros and cons to doing it in house versus going with a vendor. Here we have laid out our take on conducting your attribution modeling in house versus through a vendor.

  1. Google Analytics
    1. Pros: Free, clear and transparent attribution. Google Analytics gives you a “no bullshit” view of your marketing efforts by attributing interactions and touch points directly related to your website. Used well, Google Analytics can serve as a one stop shop for understanding any interactions to your website.
    2. Cons: Google Analytics only tracks your domain (or web) channels. For instance, it’s hard to track touch points that are not associated with your domain (i.e., a social post or a service visit).
  2. Vendor
    1. Pros: By working with a vendor, you can have the ability to consolidate ALL of your marketing efforts and touch points on one cohesive platform. By combining all your tools, channels, and KPIs, you will have a better chance of setting up an attribution model that makes the most sense for your business.
    2. Cons: Vendors cost money and will do anything to prove their value – that could also mean weighting your models in favor of what works best for their case rather than what works best for your business goals.

Overall, whatever program or process you decide to go with, make sure it is accurate, able to connect content and performance, and include omnichannel tracking capabilities.

Here are some common benefits you can expect from integrating the right attribution strategies and processes:

  • Optimized Marketing Spend and Increased ROI (receive insights into how dollars are best spent by revealing touch points that earn you the most engagements and conversions)
  • Improved Personalization (Understand what channels, offers, and types of content resonate most with your consumers)
  • Better Creative & Copy (Gain insight into the creative and written elements that lead your consumers to engage and purchase)


Having the right measurement program in place is crucial – don’t take it for granted. Without it, you’re essentially the captain of a ship without a compass and nowhere to go.

You’ll be stranded. Understanding the interactions that lead to the successful outcomes you want, backed by a clear system to relate and attribute those interactions, will help you chart a course to successful marketing measurement.

About the Author

Andrew Swisher, Marketing Operations Manager at Outsell

A marketer by trade and entrepneur at heart, Andrew Swisher has experience in leading and scaling start up teams and marketing programs.

Andrew has experience in B2B SaaS marketing, specifically in Account Based Marketing and strategic planning. In his free time Andrew enjoys watching movies, reading books, and exploring historical museums.

Andrew Swisher
Marketing Operations Manager
Mobile: +1 763.300.2765