Marketing Attribution – Key to Optimizing Your Sales and Marketing ROI

Updated August 2017

How can you allocate marketing dollars more efficiently and create more targeted and effective campaigns? By using marketing attribution to assess the relative success of your various marketing channels. Here’s how to make marketing attribution work for you.

What Is Attribution in Marketing?

The Meaning of Attribution:

What is an attribution? An attribution (marketing related) involves the determination of which media are successfully driving a company’s sales. Prior to making a purchase, consumers are exposed to a variety of marketing touch points. For example, depending on individual campaigns, these touch points could include email marketing, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), organic search, paid advertising, and direct website visits.  By using sales attribution, businesses can assign a value to each touch point throughout the customer journey that leads to a conversion or purchase.

Here’s a diagram of a possible buyer journey:

  1. A prospect enters search terms in Google for the type of products/services your company provides.
  2. Your pay-per-click ad catches the prospect’s attention, and she clicks on it and peruses your website.
  3. She decides she wants to learn more about your company, as well as read some customer reviews, so she checks out your company’s Facebook page.
  4. While on your Facebook page, the prospect signs up for your company’s email newsletter.
  5. After receiving your welcome email series and an issue of your email newsletter, she clicks through to your website from the email newsletter.
  6. During this visit to the website, she makes a purchase.

Examples of Various Types of Marketing Attribution Models

As this customer journey illustrates – and thanks to the marketing mix now commonly used by companies – sale attribution can be challenging. So how can you determine the relative value of each channel and the multi-touch points in a customer journey? The following are some examples of attribution models used by marketers today:

  • Single-source attribution — All credit is assigned to one channel – typically the first or last marketing touch point in the customer journey (e.g., email attribution). Although they’re easy to track, single-source attribution models tell only a small part of the story.
  • Equal-weighting attribution — Equal amounts of credit are given to all the touch points along the customer journey (e.g., campaign attribution, digital media attribution). A good thing about this model is that it considers every point in which customers engage with an organization on the way to conversion. However, this type of model doesn’t consider the disproportionate role one channel may have over others.
  • Custom-credit attribution — Taking into consideration such information as customer base and marketing strategy, this model analyzes the contribution of each marketing channel in the customer journey. And when done correctly, custom-credit attribution is more accurate compared to single-source and equal-weighting attribution. The disadvantage is that this model involves more work to develop and test.
  • Algorithmic attribution — This model uses advanced statistics and machine learning to determine the impact of marketing touches throughout a customer’s journey to purchase. It essentially looks for patterns in the touch points and the touch sequence of consumers who convert versus consumers who don’t convert. The benefits of using algorithmic attribution include that it is both objective and automated.

Many Marketers Are Slow to Adopt Marketing Attribution Modelling

Although marketers recognize marketing attribution as a valuable tool for getting the most from their marketing efforts, many are slow to adopt the practice, according to a recent eMarketer report.

Lack of knowledge or experience, justification of the cost, and other more important marketing needs taking precedence (e.g., marketing automation, mobile optimization) are among the factors contributing to the slow adoption of attribution modelling by marketers. For example, only 35.4% of marketers said that cross-channel measurement and attribution occupied their time and resources in 2015, while 57.6% anticipated that it would occupy 57.6% of their time and resources in 2016.

In addition, a 2016 study by the programmatic advertising platform Rocket Fuel also demonstrated interest in marketing attribution among senior-level agency and marketing professionals, with 81% of survey respondents saying they were interested in learning more about multichannel attribution. And in their report, eMarketer estimates that more than half of the companies in the United States with more than 100 employees will be using multichannel attribution for their digital marketing in 2017.

Furthermore, in a 2017 data-driven marketing report 69% of marketers surveyed said that accurately attributing value across channels is important for their businesses. Yet, only 45% of the respondents reported that they were determining sales attribution at the channel level, while 82% said they were using a single-touch attribution approach.

Marketing Attribution Best Practices

As you’re striving to make informed budgeting decisions for your marketing investments, sales attribution can make a positive difference. Here are a few best practices to consider, if you’re planning to develop a marketing attribution model or improve your organization’s current attribution strategy:

  • Understand clearly how your customers interact with your organization’s marketing across all channels. Today, a typical customer interacts with companies through multiple channels and devices. For example, a customer may first see a promotional email on a mobile device but purchase online on a different device or at a retail location.
  • Begin by determining attribution at the individual customer level before aggregating data to see the broad view. Your customers are likely taking different paths to conversion. So, start with the sale and work backwards to determine the steps each customer takes along the conversion path.
  • Establish a way to help attribute sales to email-marketing campaigns. This would include the use of promotional codes, specific URLs, or direct phone numbers.
  • Take into consideration the time elapsed between the marketing event and transaction. Though you may have posted information on your organization’s Facebook page a few days earlier, for example, the email newsletter sent hours ago likely had a bigger impact on the click-through that happened today. Plus, it’s also important to determine how much influence each marketing campaign has on the final conversion.

Google Launches Free Attribution Tool

One of the latest attribution-marketing developments is Google’s recent announcement about the launch of a new, free version of its attribution product: Google Attribution. The goal of this new product is to simplify multi-device and multichannel-based attribution by leveraging data that marketers already have by using such Google products as Google Analytics, AdWords, and DoubleClick Search. In addition, Google Attribution will help give marketers a better understanding of the entire customer journey, rather than only using last-click attribution.

At FulcrumTech, we provide our clients with insightful, data-driven marketing to drive sales in the most cost-efficient way. Interested in learning more about how to map your organization’s customer journey and develop an effective sales attribution model? Email us or give us a call at 215-489-9336 and we’ll show you how it’s done.

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