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The Attribution Challenge – Part 2

Updated: Oct 18, 2019

Attribution: a key function in marketing.  Identifying your “source” as “last touch” is a lot like operating with blinders on:  you don’t get the full picture of what’s happening.

Last week, I discussed Google’s survey whereby travelers looked at over 38 sites before finally booking. HeR is convinced that it is high time we migrate to models built on the multi-touch approach in  marketing effectiveness analysis.  Looking beyond the last click opens you to previously unexplored areas of opportunity. Unless you both tracking and analyze several touch points, you can’t get a true ROI of marketing dollars.

If you are focused on better understanding the attribution of your marketing efforts, it is essential to identify all stages of the sales process and how each effort contributed to each stage… Point of Sale, Point of Decision, Point of Discovery and Point of Awareness should all be integrated and considered with your KPIs.

HeR recommends taking the time to devise an attribution model which accurately reflects the multiple channels affecting your bottom line.   This approach requires a strategy that includes the following core elements:

1 –Start small, use your resources – Determine how many channels or “Touch Points” should be considered in the attribution modeling effort. If you don’t have an abundance of resources, start with just 2 or 3 channels or points to get a baseline and use the results as your basis for additional resources; you will realize quickly that you need to be modeling across several points.

2 –Attribution plan – Once you’ve decided which touch points / channels your new “multi-point model” should include, don’t neglect the step of drilling down between different offers (i.e., guest clicks on ad for Package A but ends up buying Package B). Valid when your company has multiple brands as well!

3 –Tracking – For each channel in your new “multi-point” attribution model, use the same tracking system. Keep in mind that if one of your channels is display, you’ll want a tracking system that can track view-based conversions vs. click-based conversions. Should you decide to change tracking providers, don’t forget to keep a record of the historical data.

4 – Cookie expiration – Set your cookie expiration to whatever your company’s accepted length of time for the sales cycle. If you’re unsure, it’s best to err on the higher end because you can always filter the data based on the time from the initial impression or click to the conversion.

5 – Filter and Cleaning Data as You Go – Set-up business rules ahead of time for data that’s not appropriate to analyze.  For example, if 95% of your data reveals that there are between 5 and 15 touch points during the life of the cookie, there’s going to be some cut off point above 15 touch points where it makes sense to discard that data.

6Marry the Data with CRM data – After cleaning your data, marry your internal CRM data with your engine and conversion data. Why?  So you can finally determine which purchase path(s) lead to the most desirable (lucrative) customer(s), and, just as vital, which paths lead to the least desirable. This analysis is KEY to your optimization strategy.

7 – Data weighting – This is the most difficult step, but a critical one to determine valuation of your efforts and future strategy.  It can be argued that this is a largely subjective process as it relies on the marketer’s best judgement to define which touchpoints “deserve” more consideration.  However, after initial trial, error and adjustment, proper weighting can translate to a fairly accurate picture of the importance of each.  The easiest way to allocate success across channels is to weight each channel equally. However one can consider the frequency of each channel’s exposure or the placement of each point along the purchase path (first, last, or middle touch point).  Example: target was exposed to a display ad 5 times in a 7 touch-point path so credit given to display should be weighted higher. Alternatively, the display point was the first on the path to the sale thus this channel introduced someone to the brand and should be given more credit than the other channels. Consider also weighing data points based on type of sale made.  Example: is the sale to a new client or to an existing customer? Is the sale an upsell success?  If goals are to increase new clients or increase upgrade conversions, point should weigh heavily.

8 – Reporting – There are an infinite number of report types, but certain ones are critical when compiling an attribution report. For example, you need to be able to see the purchase path (marketing channel, engine, or site, and keyword if applicable) by custom date range.  Alternatively you need to be able to see which channels (and within each channel, which engines, sites, or keywords) introduce new customers to the brand, which influence the decision, and which net the final transaction.  Again, viewing this data by customer type (CRM data) paints a more complete picture which will help you recreate and improve results for future campaigns.

It’s time to dig deeper into the role of each task listed because there IS gold to be found.  The multi touch modelling approach helps you find out where to best invest your marketing budget and keep your eyes on the prize.

How many of you have already implemented such a program?  Share your experiences with us – successes and challenges.

What key lessons have you learned while adjusting your measurement to include “multi-touch” attribution?

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