While the phrase “Attribution” has been supplanted by “Big Data” as the hottest buzzword in digital marketing, it remains a vital concept that few understand, and even fewer are incorporating into channel marketing strategies. Often, the difficulty for many companies is in breaking the concept down into the core components that could otherwise help them grasp and move through the process. Rather, companies think of attribution as one giant problem to solve, which inevitably continues to push the topic into the “next year” bucket on their list of priorities.
Attribution: Who, What & Why?
In its most basic form, attribution is the process by which the credit for “conversions” is allocated across a set of marketing initiatives. Why is this important? If you’re looking to best optimize your spend across various channels, attribution helps us understand the relationships between channels and touchpoints, and then quantify the impact of each.
Contribution -> Attribution
More often that not, the last touchpoint seen or engaged with by a consumer receives 100% credit for a conversion—no matter the number of different marketing initiatives. However, this kind of “last-click” strategy overlooks “assisted conversions” or all the channel touches that occurred before the final touch. These forgotten contributions typically include touchpoints like social and display, as they are generally found earlier in paths to conversions. Additionally, as multi-channel paths get longer and more complex, the value of individual channels is often skewed. In short, developing marketing strategies based “last-click” conversions, limit opportunities, plain and simple.
By focusing purely on “last touch” or even “first click” attribution, you can expect the following: a lower point of diminished returns, higher cost per acquisition, slower growth and limited growth potential, as well as misrepresented metrics such as, higher session conversion rates and lower site-wide bounce rates.
Compare this to a strategy based on channel contributions and you can expect to find: a higher point of diminished returns (ie. more return!), a much higher ceiling and improved performance across all channels.
All that being said, what I’m really recommending is that you take a linear approach to channel attribution. First, determine which channels participate in conversion paths. This is done by collecting, correlating and distilling channel data to discover your channel contributions. Then, determine channel performance and interaction at current spend levels, allowing you to determine what’s working and what’s not. If done correctly, this attribution can provide clear and accurate insights into where, when and how your marketing strategy influenced consumers across devices and channels. With this information at hand, you’re then able to spend smarter and better understand your consumer interactions moving forward.
Andy Batten is director of digital analytics and optimization at Red Door Interactive. Andy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Got a killer digital marketing campaign? Enter it into the 2016 PRO Awards by March 11, 2016.