In a world where marketing is being challenged like never before, attribution is no longer a nice to have. It’s fundamental.
Revenue Attribution is an approach that’s been around for over 15 years, regardless of the innovative tech platforms that have emerged during that time. But understanding the theory behind marketing attribution is one thing – measuring it in your business is quite another.
To help demystify some of the common misconceptions surrounding attribution, I’ve broken it down into the two components that answer all the major questions marketers need answering before initiating a marketing attribution approach:
- What is marketing attribution?
- How do you measure attribution?
So, what is marketing attribution?
Marketing attribution is ‘the most effective marketing measurement’ but ‘adoption is low because it is a difficult task.’1 This might go a long way towards explaining why so many marketers focus on vanity metrics rather than demonstrating real business value.
That said, even the most basic statistics, including Google Analytics and tracking data correctly within each channel, provide a lot of the mechanics needed to undertake basic marketing attribution. So, if you think you’re a million miles off being able to implement Revenue Attribution, the reality is that it could already be within reach.
In simple terms, marketing attribution means:
- Using metrics and language that matter to the CEO and CFO. CEOs and boards don’t care about 99% of the metrics that marketers track – but they do care about revenue and profit growth.
- Forgetting open rates and click throughs. Start talking about margin, cash flow, ROI and shareholder value…
- Understanding what contribution each touch point has made to securing a sale and the value you associate with this.
- Monitoring the lifetime value of a customer (not just the value of an initial purchase).
Ok, so how do you measure marketing attribution?
For starters, don’t think that you need to make huge investments in shiny new tech. Measuring attribution starts with people and process. As a quick guide, these are the key success factors for measuring attribution:
Alignment and integration
This needs to be across the CMO and marketing team, the CIO and IT team, the CFO and finance team, the CEO, and third-party vendors. There’s no point trying to measure attribution if you can’t all agree on the metrics. This is also the time to gain buy-in on the type of model you’ll adopt (find out more on multi touch attribution below).
Quick guide to marketing attribution models
First Touch (FT), Last Touch (LT), Last Non-Direct Click, Linear, Time-Decay, and Position-Based are the most common attribution models, with many organisations choosing to adopt a ‘one-model’ methodology. This is dangerous territory.
Look to develop a multi touch attribution model as this is the only way to account for the many steps in a customer journey.
Utilise existing tools
It’s likely you’ve already got a suite of digital analytics available that can contribute to measuring attribution – without having to allocate budget to additional platforms. Take Marketo for example. Performance Marketing Insights are included in every new roll-out which showcases Revenue Attribution. For any marketer using Marketo, this should be the default ‘go-to’ option as the starting point for moving to a Revenue Attribution model. It’s a low-risk entry strategy that will enable the production of valid statistics and reporting – without the need for any further investment (let’s start demonstrating real revenue value before asking for more martech budget).
Map corporate goals to attribution models
Corporate goals must be mapped to key attribution and data requirements. Most marketers would probably agree that first interaction and last interaction models are a bit antiquated in today’s world of digital, cross channel marketing because they fail to account for the many steps in a customer journey. It also fails to account for the role that marketing may have played before sales takes credit for the ‘last touch’ – which is why alignment across functions is crucial and a multi touch attribution model essential.
If you feel like getting started with attribution is a daunting prospect, you’re not alone. Explore the topic further in our whitepaper: ‘How to ramp up your digital channels in 30 days’.
1 Measure the Impact of Cross-Channel Attribution. Forrester Research Inc. (4 June 2014)