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Marketing

Channel attribution and solving the conversion puzzle

Written by Jason Groom
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Originally published
December 16 2014,
updated
November 9 2019

So, your campaign was a success. It worked like a dream. Delivered lots of new leads, converted lots of customers, generated a healthy ROI and made the Sales Director and his team very happy. Congratulations, that’s great news! But if you wanted to build on that success with your next campaign, what would you do differently, and where would you focus resource to deliver even better results? That’s where channel attribution delivers the goods.

What is it?
Today’s marketers are typically juggling 13 channels, so attribution is a vital means of measuring which touch points drive impact, which are responsible for sales conversions, and which just help along the way.

Why would you do it?
Gut-feel, best guess and instinct doesn’t cut the mustard because, sometimes, what actually works is counter-intuitive. Channel attribution delivers the ability to:-

1. Demonstrate the marketing team’s value to the business
2. Determine the impact of marketing spend for each channel
3. Understand marketing effectiveness at all stages of the customer sales/life cycle
4. Recognise how channels and touch points relate to each other and work together
5. Develop the right interactions to increase engagement
6. Map out the optimal customer journey and experience
7. Create more effective campaigns which derive best value from your marketing budget
8. Ensure impartiality through a scientific, data-driven approach to measuring attribution
9. Reduce the risk of over- or underspending on each campaign

Who is doing it, and how?
Channel attribution is well and truly on the marketer’s radar but, according to Forrester Consulting*, only one in nine marketers (around 11%) are currently using advanced or algorithmic attribution methods. While for many that are using it, almost a quarter still give the first or last touch point all of the credit, 35% rely on predefined, rule-based attribution and 31% leverage self-defined business rules.

What are the models?
Technology and systems are available that, using sophisticated algorithms, can apply credit and weighting to individual interactions on a customer by customer basis. Simpler, easy to manually apply models include;

1. First Touch - 100% is attributed to the first touch point
2. Last Touch - 100% is attributed to the last touch point
3. Linear/Equal - equal credit is assigned to every touch leading to conversion/purchase. So, where there are 4 touch points before purchase, each channel gets credit for 25% of the sale.
4. Time Decay - touch points are assigned credit based on their “closeness” to the sale. So the channel the customer interacts with last is credited with the highest percentage and the first the lowest.
5. Position Based - the first and the last touches are assumed to be the most influential with those in between only receiving a lower “score”. In a customer journey comprising 5 marketing interactions this model could give 30% credit to the first and last interactions, 15% to the second and fourth, and 10% to the middle.

Where do I start?
To be effective you need to ensure:-

  • There’s a defined starting point for each journey to ensure no confusion
  • There’s transparency and analytics for each of the channels utilised
  • There’s insight into critical factors such as
  • - how many times a customer is exposed to a message before making a purchase
    - the cost of acquiring a new customer
    - the impact of combining marketing channels to increase revenue

Making every touch count is the key to success and knowing what works, with what and when, gives campaigns the very best chance of that.

* “Cross-Channel Attribution Must Convert Insights Into Action” study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Kenshoo.

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