What You Need to Know About Marketing Attribution
In the latter part of the 19th century John Wanamaker, the father of modern advertising, is reputed to have said: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Marketers today have their work cut out for them. In a 2018 Salesforce.com study, “State of The Connected Customer,” 6,700 businesses and consumers reported that the average customer uses 10 channels to communicate with companies. This means the marketing communications landscape is more fragmented than ever. This same research highlighted that marketers’ top priorities include optimizing the marketing mix for the best return and modernizing their tools and technologies. In addition, study participants are revamping their marketing metrics for a new era, with 41% of marketing organizations reporting using marketing attribution modeling as a measure of ROI.
Marketing attribution is defined as the science of using advanced analytics and key metrics to allocate proportional credit to each marketing touchpoint across all online and offline channels that have led to the desired customer behavior. It is designed to “give credit where credit is due.” Attribution helps brands track the value of specific marketing and media channels more accurately and define their overall business impact. Attribution has become critical because it can provide clear and accurate insights into how, when, and where marketing impacts customer actions across devices and channels. Marketing executives can use the data to do a better job at budget allocation and optimize their marketing mix. Marketers are under continual pressure to do more with less and to have an understanding of which channels, both online and offline, are working most effectively to support budget allocations.
Marketing Attribution: Essential for Understanding the Path to Purchase
There are a number of different approaches to marketing attribution. Examples include:
- First-touch attribution
- Last-touch attribution
- Multi-source attribution
- Weighted multi-source attribution
Every method of attribution has its pros and cons — making it a hotly contested area of marketing today.
First-touch and last-touch marketing attribution are termed single-source attribution models and assign all the credit to one touchpoint, usually first touch (the first channel to capture the lead gets all the credit) or last touch (the last touchpoint before the sale gets all the credit).
In the multi-touch attribution (MTA) model, each contributing channel is given credit for contributing to the final conversion. Since MTA accounts for the entirety of a customer’s journey, attribution is given to multiple touchpoints, which could include everything from ads (whether one or 12) and social posts to webinars and e-newsletters. Different weightings can be used for different touchpoints. In some instances, the most recent touchpoints get more credit, while in others the first and last touch points get more credit.
Weighted multi-source attribution is the third type. These models allow you to account for all interactions throughout the sales cycle with the added detail of weighting the touchpoints that did the heaviest lifting. Though it creates the most accurate depiction of the customer journey, weighted attribution models are extremely difficult to apply.
Which model is best?
The success of each model depends on the company. However, to successfully attribute marketing to revenue requires marketers:
- Record all contact interactions with marketing initiatives.
- Associate known contacts with opportunities in your CRM.
- Weight the value of marketing interactions fairly.
Because of a lack of sophistication in marketing attribution and the ability to leverage channel-related data, marketers are frequently operating in a vacuum. They compensate for the lack of information by spraying their efforts through every possible outlet. Rather than aiming for the bullseye, they’ll take the whole target down and hit all channels equally. To be more strategic about how they connect and provide information to their consumers, marketers need to have a stronger understanding of a customer’s full journey. They need to understand where and when it is best to reach out. Marketers are looking for partners to outsource either all or part of the channel attribution process. Print service providers need to understand that all channels are on and marketers want to know which channels work … including print, mobile, social, and online.
What is a print service provider’s role?
A number of elements come into play in creating marketing that persuades prospects, customers, and the public to engage with a brand. Marketers need to target the correct audience, build trust, craft worthy messages, deliver them skillfully, expand the reach, and (possibly most importantly) produce measurable results.
Marketing has become a results-oriented discipline that will continue to evolve. Strategies and techniques that worked in the past will continue to be important, but they will not be sufficient for marketers or print service providers. For marketers to achieve the mandate of delivering measurable business results, they must invest in new approaches that cut across media types and are consistently monitored for effectiveness.
Forward-thinking print/marketing services providers need to work with clients to measure all touch points in their marketing efforts, both digital and offline, and map them to business results. Print continues to play a critical role in the mix. To “get credit where credit is due,” service providers need to start building the right infrastructure as well as data analytic skills to measure responses and action rates associated with all direct marketing campaign components.
Barbara Pellow is the owner and founder of Pellow and Partners. With her long history focusing on digital communications and print technology, she works with both print service providers and equipment and software manufacturers on the development of strategies to improve revenue and profitability and grow market share.