Attributing Value to Multiple Marketing Channels

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Your prospects may often take a circuitous route on the way to making a purchase decision. When you use multiple channels for your marketing, you must understand what’s working and what isn’t and continually improve your strategy based on those findings. With today’s sophisticated automation tools, you should be able to monitor the data that will help you make better decisions.

**This is an excerpt from Vertical Measures’ new book The Customer Journey: How an Owned Audience Can Transform Your BusinessDownload it for FREE, here.

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One in four millennials share online shopping content on their social networks – which is a rate of nearly four times the average user. It’s useful, too. Their content generates 18 more clickbacks per link, 30 percent above average.

Where do you place value on the channels that assisted in making the sale? That is, how do you assign attribution values to each interaction?

Attribution is the science of assigning values of a sale to the touchpoints that influenced the sale during the customer journey. These touchpoints can cover a wide range of interactions and can be both online and offline, which allows you to take a much more holistic view of your marketing efforts.

The goal is to determine the value of each touchpoint to help decide if you should spend more or less or stop that channel/activity in your future marketing efforts. It allows you to make financially informed decisions for adjusting your marketing efforts.

Too many companies today rely on the same marketing channels they’ve used in the past (read: traditional marketing). Because they have a history with that channel, along with relationships with their sales representatives, they continue to do what they’ve always done without really understanding the value particular media or channels bring to the sales equation. The impact offline channels have on the online purchase has dropped off significantly in the past few years.

Curtis-Tingle

“[Marketers] continue to struggle to prove the ROI of their media plans, especially with their shift toward truly integrated cross-channel campaign strategies. These require a keen understanding of audience profiles, media engagement, attribution, sales lift and efficiency. Understanding engagement, influence and attribution by channel is not easy and is most challenging for traditional media that does not provide the engagement visibility afforded by digital channels.”

Curtis Tingle, SVP Valassis

By assigning value, budget decisions can be made, moving money from one marketing channel to another. With this information, you can justify a current spend or make an argument to move dollars to another channel. Without this information, you’re just guessing on what’s actually contributing to your sale and potentially spending your hard-earned marketing dollars on something that may be very ineffective.

As UCLA marketing professor and MarketShare co-founder Dominique Hanssens instructs, “Knowing what to focus on – the signal rather than the noise – is a critical part of the process. To accurately model their businesses, companies must collect data across five broad categories: market conditions, competitive activities, marketing actions, consumer response, and business outcomes.”

Market-Inputs

Inputs that drive response and action (Source: Harvard Business Review

This image represents many of the inputs that can drive response and action. Where would you assign the most value? Where would you spend more or less? Why consider assigning attribution values? Take this scenario from Google as an example:

“A customer finds your site by clicking one of your Google Ads. She returns one week later by clicking over from a social network. That same day, she comes back a third time via one of your email campaigns, and a few hours later, she returns again directly and makes a purchase.”

If this were your business, would you like to know what assisted in the ultimate sale and where the most weight or impact came from? The above example is pretty simplistic, but what if you have a product or service with a long sales cycle?

The user may do all the above, plus download a white paper on your site, take an interactive quiz on your site and interact with a post on LinkedIn. Without identifying what assisted in the sale and the relative value of each assist, you will never be able to determine the true ROI of your efforts. By determining attribution, you’ll be able to argue your case to management to get more funds for the specific tactics that have the biggest impact on sales.

Assigning attribution can help:

  • Identify inefficient spending
  • Identify under-invested keywords
  • Guide you to make smart changes in the channels you choose
  • Show you where to spend more or less based on hard data

Types of attribution

If you’re struggling to wrap your head around proper attribution for your company, out-of-the-box attribution modeling tools like Google Analytics can help you get started. Be warned, however, that these tools have default values that may or may not apply to your specific customer journey. You will, in most cases, need to edit your account to make it truly valuable for your team.

Some metrics to consider:

First Click

Gives 100 percent of the value to the channel that brought the prospect to your website and disregards all other channels and touchpoints.

Last Click

Gives 100 percent of the value to the channel that closed the prospect to become a lead or a customer based on your marketing goals.

Last AdWords Click

Gives 100 percent of the attribution to your paid AdWords campaign.

Multi-touch or linear attribution allows you to assign values proportionally across all channels and devices both online and offline. Most marketers will give equal weight to each touchpoint when first setting this up. You’ll need to assess the percentages as you analyze data and further measure the overall value of each touchpoint.

The simplest and easiest way to assign value is to use Google Analytics. In order to do that, it must be linked to your Google Search Console and your AdWords accounts. Once you sync the three accounts, you can easily assign attribution for your campaign. In addition, you can assign revenue values to determine which channels are the most valuable to your sales. Again, once you can see the value of a channel, you can decide to do more or less in that particular channel.

As marketers, we’re using both traditional and digital channels. We know they can both be beneficial to the end result – a sale. Remember, radio did not kill print, nor did TV kill radio. Each of these innovations did not kill the previous channels.

There has been an impact on the efficiencies of traditional media, but if you can assign attribution to the various mediums, you’ll better understand the impact and value they have on assisting the sale. This association of traditional and new media will continue to evolve as new platforms are introduced and disintermediation continues to impact the traditional channels.

Read more in our new book!

Read The Customer Journey: How an Owned Audience Can Transform Your Business and get ahead of the competition. Start crafting your digital marketing strategy centered around the customer journey to build an owned audience that you can leverage for real growth.

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