Attribution– assigning credit of a sale or other desired action to a marketing touchpoint– has never been more complicated. But it’s also never been more important for marketing leaders whose success is measured in results and ROI.
The explosion of marketing channels and devices has added layers of complexity to what was, a few years ago, a relatively simple funnel. Despite digital marketing’s increasing growing ability to track consumers’ interactions with your company, many organizations still struggle to determine which of their investments are paying off and assign conversions to a specific touch.
If your marketing is one of those without a robust attribution system–or if what you have is producing questionable results– you are most definitely not alone.
The majority of marketers (digital or otherwise) can’t say with certainty exactly how valuable each channel or touchpoint is during each customer’s purchase process. That means they can’t say they’re effectively spending their budget and optimizing revenue, which is the entire goal of attribution. When there’s more pressure than ever on marketing executives to demonstrate their contribution to ROI, this is a scary problem to have.
In an age of accountability, you can’t afford to be in the dark about what’s going on in attribution. Start with these often-misunderstood fundamentals, and grow from there.
1. You’ll Probably Never Get It Perfect
The ability to tie every single incoming dollar to previous expenditure is a marketer’s dream. And a dream it will remain–at least for some time. Every attribution model and tool has its limitations, and there will always be some unpredictability in consumer response.
U-shaped, Game Theory, econometric, Time Delay, etc., are all nuanced and complex tactics, and they certainly give you more insights than simple last-click or point-of-sale attribution. But none of them paint an exact picture.
As industry thought leader Avinash Kaushik put it:
Part of the secret of “mastering” attribution is knowing when “good” is good enough and when the pursuit of perfect is an inefficient endeavor that’s more effort than it’s worth.
Reaching the right balance isn’t easy. But dealing with uncertainty has been a fundamental part of statistics and scientific analysis forever. You’ll rarely be able to definitively claim X sale is due to Y interaction…but eventually you should be able to reliably make that determination with a certain amount of confidence. What level that confidence needs to be (90%? 95%? 98%?) for your company to make a meaningful decision is something you’ll have to work out on your own.
That’s why it’s absolutely critical to perfect your marketing analytics recruitment strategy to have access to expert analytics talent and leadership to effectively gather, process and translate your data into meaningful insights.
2. It’s Not as Hard as You Think to Get Started
Even organizations that have hardly thought about comprehensive attribution aren’t far away from a meaningful start. You just need the right leadership and guidance to get the wheels turning.
Many of today’s most important digital marketing channels– like search engines, social networks, and your own website–already have a lot of the mechanics in place to do some basic attribution.
For each channel, you’re tracking specific KPIs: clicks, time-on-page, shares, conversions. Thanks to tools like Google Analytics, you’re also tracking how users engage with your site–where they enter, where they bounce, how long it takes them to convert.
And if you’re on a B2B model, you’ve (hopefully) tied that info to your CRM (customer relationship management) or other database and can tie that activity to revenue. That means that you’re already assigning some kind of value to marketing interactions– and that you have all the pieces in place for a deeper dive. You can establish basic attribution models (first-click, last-click, even distribution across clicks) using just this data.
For instance, using just the data in these tools, you can understand where in the funnel those digital channels matter most. Do Google clicks lead directly to conversions, or can they be a cost-effective way to feed the top of the funnel? Do Facebook mobile ads work for direct response? These are the kinds of questions you can find reasonable answers to even without an army of analysts at your disposal.
3. Excellent, Advanced Attribution Isn’t Cheap–But the Basics Can Be
Exceptional marketers with proven ability for extremely accurate attribution are incredibly valuable to any organization. But they’re also rare, and come with an appropriate price tag. The same can be said for cutting-edge, insight-offering attribution technology and tools.
When you think of what’s possible with attribution–real-time, cross-device, omnichannel, advanced models and tech, etc.– things start seeming very complex and very expensive (though a small price to pay for dramatically improving the ROI of your marketing budget).
But enterprises can reap some of the benefits of digital attribution with only a modest upfront investment. Indeed, many of the attribution platforms provided by search engines, social networks and CMSs are complimentary of their service.
And with the data you glean from those sources, you can do things like set up your funnel touchpoints across channels; de-duplicate conversions (make sure multiple channels aren’t claiming full credit for one conversation); and develop and test hypotheses about how and where users interact with your brand.
4. Aligning Your Teams
Effective attribution will never happen if your organization is too divided and siloed to communicate and coordinate.
Whether or not your digital teams are working in channel/device silos, one of the absolute requirements of attribution is for all parties to agree on the goals of the attribution program, the key metrics involved, and the models being tested.
Furthermore, attribution isn’t just a marketing issue. Though marketing should typically take the lead on attribution, sales, tech, finance and more will all have a hand in implementation–and they all have a lot to gain if you can do it right.
5. Think Long-Term
Among the metrics your teams need to understand, one of the most important to a good attribution program is the lifetime value (LTV) of a customer.
If you rely only on single-conversion events as the ultimate goal, “upstream” interactions get undervalued. The traffic coming in at the top of the funnel looks a whole lot more important if the end result is measured over time, not one single purchase.
On Attributing LTV
video from Traffika
6. Test, Test, Test
Even if you somehow manage an attribution scenario where each click and impression is accurately translated into a value that informs your marketing budget, you’ve still got work to do. A marketer’s job is never done.
As with everything else in digital marketing, nothing replaces testing. Those clicks could be more valuable with optimized ad copy; that conversion rate from a mobile click to a desktop search could see a boost if it was supported by a sharper product image or reorganized form submission.
Article Source: Marketing Land
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