Marketing Attribution – A Primer
June 30, 2017
Did you know that 43% of marketers claim that their biggest business challenge is proving the ROI of their marketing activities? As digital channels and tools for marketing and advertising become more robust and the amount of accessible data increases year over year, it has become harder for marketers to get a clear picture of where all of their clicks, views and shares are coming from, and what path a customer is taking that leads them to purchase. While 72% of consumers are looking for marketers to take an integrated approach and provide them with consistent messaging across channels, determining what marketing content to present along the path to purchase and the value of the investment that should be made per channel requires some thinking on the topic of marketing attribution.
The process of assessing the value of each customer touchpoint along the journey to purchase is called marketing attribution.
Customer Touchpoint: Any opportunity that a customer has to view or interact with a brand’s advertising or marketing messaging.
In the not-so-distant past attributing the ROI of touchpoints was more straightforward since there were significantly less of them. Today, the buying journey is extremely vast and is impacted by activities from digital branding and performance based campaigning to marketing automation programs (i.e. content marketing, email marketing, etc.), social media, mobile application marketing and search marketing in addition to the offline world, i.e. out of home, radio, direct mailing and etc. As the marketing ecosystem continues to grow, our ability to understanding the relative importance and value of individual touchpoints becomes increasingly complex.
So is there an ideal marketing attribution strategy?
The short answer is, no. There are a variety of different approaches, but as of yet none of them paints a full, 360-degree picture of the total impact of marketing activities working in tandem between the offline and online worlds.
However, when it comes to the online world, there are a number of attribution modeling approaches that marketers can take and selecting the right one for you should be dependent on your advertising goals and business model.
The right attribution model is dependent on your advertising goals and business model.
Programmatic marketing technology (i.e. a RTB platform) can be used to support a marketer in his/her need to establish an attribution model and produce the necessary data to analyze the performance of marketing channels.
Regardless of the attribution model you decide to use, test your assumptions by experimenting. Increase or decrease investment in a channel as guided by the model output, then observe your results in the data.
Where does it begin?
For any marketer who is new to attribution and is looking to begin understanding how to attribute ROI to programs leading down the funnel, the first step is to build specific KPI’s for marketing activities and ensure you are tracking campaign based data and making use of that data to the best of your ability. Wading too deeply into attribution models and data sets too early in your understanding of the topic is an easy way to set yourself up for analysis paralysis.
In a subsequent discussion we will take a deep dive into the various marketing attribution models.