ADOTAS — Smart online marketers understand that you can’t make a sale with a single ad. No matter how compelling the message or image, a customer’s journey from awareness to conversion happens across multiple visits, devices, and touch points. As they travel along the digital engagement path, from ad to website to search engine to blog to review back to website, consumers can encounter your brand many different ways. Each of these channels contributes to the final sale. The complex process of engaging your customer with a consistent message across multiple channels is the challenge for advertisers and agencies in 2013 and beyond.
Marketing attribution is the critical element for success. The right practices, planning and tools allow you to properly credit each channel and impression. This data allows you to understand the role each of your marketing efforts plays as they work together to drive sales and conversions. Attribution enables performance improvements, realistic budget and goal setting and, ultimately, the best results with the highest ROI.
Many marketers recognize that the old ways of measuring are no longer sufficient. According to Google, only 14% of respondents consider last-click analysis to be “very effective.” Yet over 50% are still using last click measurement, most likely because they haven’t yet found or mastered the right tools to take them beyond the last click.
One of the profound benefits of digital advertising is the ability to track the customer engagement path, measure each touch point, and attribute each conversion, lead or sale to its corresponding impression. With the right planning and tools, measurement and attribution can reveal which campaigns are working and which aren’t.
Insight from an Expert
Daniel: As the digital advertising landscape becomes ever more complex, how can brands measure and track their success?
Steve: As with all measurements of success, the first step is defining what success means. For some companies it is online sales, with others it is engagement or awareness. Along the way, KPIs should be identified to foretell success. The key is having a clear definition of the goals and success.
Once the success and path KPIs are identified, there are a number of reputable attribution tracking and optimization technologies including adometry, C3 metrics, and ClearSaleing, that can be engaged to assist. The key is having a unified advertising and marketing program that can respond to the direction indicated by the technologies and a consistent flow of new ideas to feed the program.
What are the current challenges to proper attribution?
The real challenge with attribution management is channel silos, usually budgetary, sometimes distinct functional silos. Fully integrated attribution includes all touch points. When display media, paid search, SEO, social and website management are controlled by separate departments, or people, optimizing against attribution becomes difficult.
Once the organizational issues are worked out, and attribution tracking and optimization are implemented, the next challenge is one of complacency. While attribution optimization is powerful, it is only as good as the inputs. The real power comes from the thinking of the marketing team, creating tests, exploring new creative, improving buy flow and adding channels. Organizations have to guard against relying on computers and algorithms, as these can only do what they are told to do. It is up to the people to test and add new components.
What techniques and tactics for attribution do you recommend?
This really depends on where an organization is in the process of adopting attribution management. If structural challenges prevent cross-channel optimization, then the first step is to create habits that will make implementation easier once the organization is ready. Companies should ensure tagging is complete on all media buys and link creation/building, and the website analytic package is deployed to track all sources and events. At this stage, getting in the habit of collecting data is important. These data points will be valuable for optimization.
The next habit is “Always Be Testing” (ABT). ABT provides for a constant improvement in performance. Each group should create a regimen of testing that is evaluated monthly or quarterly. Once attribution optimization is implemented, the habit of ABT will accelerate performance improvement.
Once attribution and optimization is implemented, the leadership needs to keep the big picture in focus. It is too easy to zigzag month to month. Attribution optimization needs a goal against which to optimize. Optimization algorithms learn over time, improving the ability to hit the goals. If the thrust of activity changes focus frequently, then manual adjustments are made to achieve the short-term objective. Every time there is a change in tactics based on a new objective, then the historical data is disrupted making optimization
The Big Picture
Measuring online activity has never been easier or more complicated. The amount of data available to online marketers is staggering. Web analytics track everything from the initial ad view to a click-through to an incredible range of possible engagement and conversion activities, not to mention associated costs. But without the ability to connect this data to business goals, many marketers cannot translate this information into action.
Attribution is about gathering the data and putting it to work to convert visitors into customers and drive ROI; to quantify the performance of your marketing campaigns and improve them in the future; to identify and target high-value markets. Make sure your marketing attribution is equipping you with the intelligence you need to make the most of your online initiatives.