23rd November 2017 / Marketing Posted by Paul Ovenden

Marketing attribution - what is it and why is it so important?

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The phrase “marketing attribution” is not one of the most commonly used outside of the specialist digital marketing world. We tend to focus far more on metrics or channels or ways of measuring results. However, what marketing attribution does is shed light on the effectiveness of marketing efforts and how those efforts are connected to the results. So, if you’re looking for a way to work out which of your investments has created a return you’ll need marketing attribution to do it.

The role of marketing attribution is key

When you engage with marketing attribution you’re essentially identifying the role that each one of your digital marketing channels has played in influencing the customer journey. This is no mean feat as customer journeys tend not to be linear or predictable. They could be taking place across a range of different devices and could begin with anything, from a PPC campaign through to arriving at your business via a link on Twitter.

How does it actually work?

You’re effectively monitoring each of your marketing channels to get an idea of how customers are interacting with them up to the point that a purchase is made. The idea is to identify which channels had the most influence on getting the customer to that end point. With that kind of information you can devise better marketing strategy that is more suited to your customers and your product. Marketing attribution is more comprehensive than individual channel monitoring and follows the entire customer journey, which will give you a much more accurate picture of how the customer got to the point of conversion – and which of your marketing efforts drove them there.

How does marketing attribution benefit businesses?

A recent survey of marketers identified multiple ways in which real businesses already find great value in marketing attribution.

  • 72% said that working with marketing attribution allowed for better budget allocation and an improvement in ROI.
  • 63% identified the deeper insight provided into digital channels and how they work together as one of the main benefits of working with marketing attribution.
  • 58% appreciated the way that marketing attribution enables marketers to drill down into the brand audience – what kind of people an audience consists of and how they behave.

In addition, the survey identified that marketing attribution played a big role in marketing accountability – it’s often difficult to measure whether marketing efforts have been successful but attribution makes that easier to demonstrate.

Finally, marketing attribution gave survey respondents a far deeper understanding of the relationship between online and offline marketing channels. We have looked before at the importance of a cross media approach to marketing - the application of attribution can make this easier to quantify and understand.

Why consider marketing attribution for your business?

It’s free. Although you might have to pay for some of the more involved and complex processes, setting up basic marketing attribution is often just a question of making new links with existing data. For example, you may already be tracking KPIs and looking at how customers engage with your website via Google Analytics – perhaps you’ve also tied that into a CRM or another database so you already have a link between activity and revenue. With this basic data you can start looking at where these channels impact on the customer journey – for example, are social ads effective for direct response.

There are many different models available. From linear attribution, to time decay marketing attribution and custom models, there are lots of different options for optimising and proving the ROI of marketing campaigns.

You’ll start spending more effectively. Marketing budgets are some of the most often wasted, not intentionally but because of the general lack of insight into impact. Marketing attribution provides perspective on where your spend is actually generating results and delivers powerful data to inform strategy. It also provides a more focused cross-team common goal and can give rise to a much more in-depth understanding of how marketing channels could do more for your businesses.

Marketing attribution is not new but it has become increasingly important as customer journeys have evolved. For those seeking to optimise marketing decisions it is an essential component in strategy development.