By Per Pettersen
It is easier than ever to access customers and directly engage with them across multiple channels. Desirable content, highly targeted advertising campaigns and retargeting have become best practices proven to drive audience interaction with your brand. However, a sea of engaged customers doesn’t necessarily lead to an increase in sales. So what gives?
Data is key to bridging the gap. Today’s rapidly evolving marketing mix makes it increasingly difficult to understand which digital campaign components actually drive that conversion. For example, the modern marketer should be able to identify which media sources deliver new customers versus repeat customers, the average order value or their most common interaction stage in the consumer journey. Understanding how different media sources influence the average purchase process can make or break ROI.
However, most first generation media platforms and tracking vendors rely on last-click attribution, making it difficult to understand the contribution of each campaign. New technologies have changed that, but certain obstacles persist. Here are some of the most common roadblocks brands face when trying to build a data-driven marketing program.
Tracking data can’t be trusted—if accessed at all.
First generation tracking platforms only rely on cookies and tracking pixels. As a result, they fail to track accurately across the myriad of devices—from desktop to tablets to phones. Many media vendors give very limited insight into the data they have and some have an inherent conflict of interest because they benefit financially when reward is given to them or one of their partners/affiliates.
Tracking suites are inflexible and inadequate.
While most tracking technology solutions offer fairly robust reporting capabilities, they give you no ability to control what constitutes a valid conversion. You are left with last click and that’s it. Furthermore, when a marketer can’t dive into the impression and clickstream data to analyze the results from multiple perspectives, they are stuck in a world where they are largely driving blind.
In a multichannel sales funnel, no insight means no intelligence.
The multitude of channels leveraged to access, influence and convert consumers has exploded in recent years. No single one drives a purchase. Channels vary by program, season and region. Old school models do not provide the ability to capture and analyze a customer’s entire path to purchase, leaving marketers without the insight to make future decisions on how and where to spend to get the most out of their ad budgets.
Real-time insights require real-time measurement.
When a marketer has control of the data—meaning they are able to obtain and analyze it as close to real time as possible—they can make timely course corrections. The agility to assess and then adjust saves both time and money. Most old-school point solutions require a manual weekly or monthly spreadsheet compilation to see the entire media mix, costs and results.
In-house data warehousing? Too expensive, too tough to manage.
One workaround to these measurement challenges is to build your own data warehouse that can offer customization. Building and maintaining a data warehouse costs excessive time and money—and most of these types of projects never get to the point of becoming useful to analysts, media buyers and executives. It may reduce the dependence on a third party that owns the data, but for most it is simply too cost prohibitive.
The good news is that there are off-the-shelf technology solutions available to tackle these tough challenges. The industry has grown up and refocused on data and performance using SaaS solutions that put the marketer in control of their own programs. Today, a marketer can accurately gauge cross-channel performance and have the knowledge needed to positively influence the sales funnel and adapt in real-time for maximum results. To do so, they need to be sure their attribution tracking solution is:
- Accurate: The data is uniform and uses reliable, accurate technology that tracks cookies as well as tools that provide a view across devices and channels
- Flexible and comprehensive: The solution should be able to track all consumer interactions and responses in one system so data is not siloed—this includes web, mobile, mobile app, call center or even in-store purchases
- Cross-Channel: The tracking and reporting provides the full consumer journey across various touch points throughout the conversion process with insight into the cost of specific ad buys
Engaging and converting consumers requires marketing agility and conversion strategies based on real-time tracking and reporting. Failure to quickly identify negative trends can wipe out profits of entire campaigns in hours—there is no time to wait for a manual review. Marketers must have control of their data and the ability to manipulate the data view to draw meaningful insights and make intelligent decisions.
It may seem impossible to identify and attribute value to the true points of influence in a conversion, but it is not. You just have to be willing to break out of the old mold.
Per Pettersen is co-founder/CEO of Impact Radius.