String's Automotive Marketing Blog

Advanced Attribution: Track the Car Buyer Customer Journey

Posted by Matthew Kolodziej

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Jun 28, 2013 5:00:00 AM

Your customers don't rush to buy a car, so why rush to attribute leads to a single source? With Google Analytics' new Model Comparison Tool, you can easily pick between a number of attribution models that give credit to all sources involved in generating your web leads.  You'll be able to give credit to marketing activities that serve as "assists" as well as those that score the actual sale.

It's been almost two years since Google Analytics introduced Multi-Channel Funnels into it's reporting, but the past two weeks have delivered two of the biggest and most important changes to this feature since its launch.

Model Comparison Tool

The first big development arrived on June 20 when Google Analytics announced its new Model Comparison Tool.  Previously, it was up to you to assign different weighting to sources along the conversion path. If, for example, the visitor first arrived through a display ad, returned through direct visits, and then finally converted through an organic visit, each touchpoint within the Multi-Channel Funnels report was treated the same way, and that initial display ad is not getting the lion's share of the credit that it deserves. 

With the Model Comparison Tool in hand, you can get an at-a-glance look at the effectiveness of your marketing channels:


Google lets you create "custom credit rules" to tweak the way your traffic channels are weighted, but the standard models that the tool contains are a great start. Take a look at the example above, where we compare Last Interaction conversion weighting (which is what your standard conversions report would look like outside of the MCF) with First Interaction. Just by switching the credit to the first interaction, you see that organic and paid search gain credit for conversions that they would otherwise have missed out on.

In addition to Last Interaction and First Interaction, Google includes five additional models: Last Non-Direct, Last AdWords Click, Linear, Time Decay, and Position Based. Play around with the different models, but start with First Interaction to get an idea of what your best channels are for filling the funnel, and then look at Last Non-Direct to cut direct visits out of the picture altogether.

A Wider Window

In a blockbuster June, Google also smashed open the Multi-Channel Funnels Lookback window from 30 days to 90 days. This may not sound like a big development right off the bat, but if you consider that most car buyers spend up to a year researching and shopping online before making a purchase, getting a three-month look at how they interact with your site before converting means much better insight for car dealers.

Find the expanded Lookback window in any report of the Multi-Channel Funnels section, including the new Model Comparison Tool, near the top of the page:


Expand the window to a full 90 days to make sure you're capturing as many interactions as you can before every conversion that you're tracking. Make use of the Conversion drop down to segment your conversion types.

Between the expanded Lookback and the new attribution modeling tool, Google Analytics can now paint a much clearer picture of which channels are producing for your dealership. Start today and make sure you're giving credit where it's due.

For information on how to use Google Analytics for car dealers, check out our Measure What Matters series. 

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Topics: auto dealer analytics, google analytics, car buyer customer journey, conversions