Marketing attribution: You don’t have to compromise

This article is an excerpt from Experian Marketing Services’ 2016 Digital Marketer Report. Download the full report to discover more insights and trends for the upcoming year!

Cross-channel marketing attribution is the key

Imagine that all of your marketing channels work like a symphony orchestra to deliver music to your customer’s ears. To determine the right mix of sound, you need a maestro who will set the tempo and direct traffic for your marketing efforts. Cross-channel attribution is that maestro.

There are a variety of marketing attribution solutions available today, from digital and list-based solutions to hybrids of the two. Solutions that focus only on digital or traditional marketing provide a limited view within those channels and create blind spots throughout.

If you work in digital alone, for example, your marketing attribution results will be comparing the merits of digital campaigns relative to one another. You can’t know how a digital channel fares against a direct mail piece without additional work if you’re only looking at a subset of your marketing efforts rather than the entire marketing environment.

This means that many marketers have been compromising. While you’re probably better off with partial knowledge from one set of solutions than no knowledge at all, the fact is, if you don’t bring all of the relevant channels together, you won’t get a holistic view of your marketing effects.

Closing the gap between digital and traditional marketing

The challenge lies in bringing online and offline data together. Most vendors in the attribution industry are simply not able to do this effectively. Marketers need to work with a company that has expertise in bridging that gap, providing the solution that matches your organization’s needs and maximizing your return on investment.

The hybrid attribution solution – which will be the standard in the future – integrates mass media data with the individual level attribution solutions (digital or traditional), essentially dissolving the online and offline divide.

With hybrid solutions, like many we have implemented for our clients, all channels are connected through modeling, so you’re able learn how TV advertising affects other marketing areas, for example. We also know the impact of your individual-level marketing tactics. We bring them together to give you a sense of how TV performs against email, against direct mail, etc. When this occurs, it opens up an understanding of the data that wasn’t visible before.

The ramp-up approach to attribution

Embarking on cross-channel attribution can be intimidating at first. One way to ease into the effort is to ramp up channel by channel, starting with the two channels that are most critical to your marketing strategy (or have the most accessible data). Let’s say email and direct mail, for example. First, replicate what you’re seeing in the individual channels so there’s a baseline in each. Then, look at the channels in combination to get an idea of how those channels work together.

Marketing attribution experts can help you pinpoint the differences when looking at the single-channel results versus fractionally attributed results. We can help you see the results of customers who engaged only with email or only with direct mail, as well as those who engaged with both, providing a clear frame of reference.

Once this framework is set up, you can easily bring additional or emerging channels into the platform. You can continuously add layers of complexity, but always built on top of what you already know.

The ensemble approach to attribution

Another way to start with attribution is the ensemble approach. Here, several attribution methods such as first touch, last touch, fractional, etc., are applied so you can compare the range of variations by method and combine results. Again, it’s important to work with a team who is well-versed in attribution methodologies. They can help you understand the merits of each option, narrow them down and determine the appropriate methodology based on what’s reasonable for your business and marketing strategy.

Which marketing attribution approach is best?

When working with clients, we ask two key questions to determine which approach to marketing attribution is best for their business.

  1. Can you get all of your marketing data in one place?

If you’re in a very large organization with siloed data, you’re less likely to have a single customer view. You might be working with multiple vendors, which makes accessing data a bigger challenge. You’ll probably want to build your attribution efforts using the ramp-up approach.

On the other hand, if your company already has data alignment, you can implement a full-scale attribution solution and experiment with the ensemble approach to find the best methods.

  1. How much managerial input do you want to have into your numbers?

This determines whether you use a method that is 100% data-driven or one that allows you to incorporate business rules and managerial input not captured by data.

We’ve seen hybrid marketing attribution with a ramp-up onboarding work very well for our clients. It means you don’t have to compromise. In the end, you will have the necessary channel performance measures to guide budget allocation.

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