Meaningfully engaging with your customers at every touchpoint is more important than ever. But as companies must adapt to an increasingly digital world, even intelligent leaders struggle to distinguish useful from wasteful marketing efforts. Now more than ever, marketers need processes that help them unveil what truly matters. Thankfully, marketing attribution is just such a process, offering businesses the opportunity to see what encourages (or prevents) sales.
Guiding Your Customers to the Goal
Whether you’re aiming to drive traffic to your website, storefront, or a custom landing page, every business’s goal is conversions. So many things can dissuade visitors from completing a purchase, from ugly website designs to tedious checkout processes. Marketers need a surefire way to determine where they are losing customers (holes in their marketing funnel) and how they can connect better with customers at those touchpoints (patch up the holes).
This is where marketing attribution shines. Attribution allows you to gauge the ROI of each of your marketing channels and discover where your customers are really coming from. Different businesses choose different attribution models, but overall, a model should simplify data collection and help you grasp each customer’s behavior. When this data is analyzed correctly, there’s no question where to focus your marketing efforts or spend your budget.
Marketing Attribution Models
“41% of marketing organizations are using marketing attribution modeling as a measure of ROI.” source
A touchpoint is a precise location where your target audience interacts with your brand. Touchpoints are everywhere. Your homepage, contact form, a call-to-action on a landing page, a push notification, or even your email signature counts as an entry-point to a new customer. The question is, how effectively is each touchpoint performing, and what actions can you take to boost their value?
First-touch attribution models are simple: These models give all credit to the first point of contact with a customer. For example, when a customer clicks a link to visit your website, that click is considered the first touchpoint that leads to the sale. If your lead conversion rates are consistent across channels and you have a short buying cycle, first-touch may suffice in helping you generate more leads through your best channel.
Just like it sounds, last-touch attribution is the opposite of first-touch: It gives all credit to the final touchpoint before the sale. The value of both first- and last-touch attribution models is that they are easy to implement. Determining the first or last engagement that led to a sale is relatively obvious and can provide you with some quick feedback about your audience. Last-touch can assist you in prioritizing the most effective ‘bottom-of-funnel’ activities and discovering what last-minute elements played a role in converting a customer.
If you suspect that first- and last-touch attribution models are limited, you’re right. In many instances, it makes more sense to apply a multi-touch attribution model, which applies credit to all touchpoints of a sale. If a customer clicks your website link, then clicks to read a blog post, then signs up for your newsletter, then makes a purchase from your welcome email, each touchpoint is weighted. This lets you ascribe value to each small step your visitor took to become a customer so you can refine your sales funnel in every way possible.
From here, it gets trickier. Within the multi-touch model, there are several ways to proceed. A linear model allows you to weigh each touchpoint equally (for example, each is 25% of the equation). A time decay model is like a ticking clock — as a customer makes their way to the purchase line, each touchpoint is weighted as more important. U-shaped models give credit to the first and ‘lead generating’ touchpoints, while W-shaped models give credit to the first, lead generating, and the point at which the opportunity was created. Multitouch models may be right for campaigns that are centered around ad spend.
Marketing Attribution Reports
This is where all the information you’ve collected becomes actionable. Attribution reports give your sales team a clear understanding of what to do next (and what to stop doing). Best of all, reports are auto-generated, so minimal effort is required from you or your team. As you glean insight from attribution reports, the story of your customers in relation to your brand becomes clearer. Reports can reveal the most powerful driver of conversions, the average number of touchpoints required to convert, and where your best leads are coming from, making campaign budgeting easier.
Challenges at the Forefront
While attribution is a powerful tool, it comes with hurdles – especially in the wake of tightening data privacy laws. Regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (est. in 2016) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (est. in 2018) have made it more difficult to track consumers as they move about the internet. Data giants like Facebook and Google have also begun to crack down on data privacy, making less data available for advertising purposes.
Still, this doesn’t mean attribution has become obsolete for marketers looking to gain insight into their audience.
Marketing attribution opens up a world of possibilities for businesses of all sizes. It assists you in personalizing your message, decreasing wasteful spending, knowing what drives your customers, and even developing better products in the future.