Digital marketing attribution uncovered: our guide to measuring success

At Customer First Digital we continue to be surprised with the confusion and the lack of adoption of an alternative to a last click wins attribution model. Our latest article answers the key industry questions which continue to be asked.

What is digital marketing attribution?

 

Digital marketing attribution refers to the way that you choose to measure the effectiveness of your online marketing investment. The are many attribution models which could be used including:

 

  • Last click wins – 100% of the sale or lead value is attributed to the last channel which generated the conversion
  • First click wins – 100% of the sale or lead value is attributed to the first channel which generated the conversion
  • Linear – an equal share of the sale value is given to each channel which was part of the lead / sale journey

 

There are other standard models and various custom models which could be applied too however we won't bore you with the list!

Why is marketing attribution important?

 

In the early days of digital last click wins was the only form of measurement used to understand the effectiveness of their digital marketing activity. As data capability grew, the path to purchase was more clearly understood, with the realisation that budget planning an optimisation was being biased by a last click view. No credit was being given to the marketing channels (digital or traditional), which helped to raise awareness and interest about the brand.


This in turn led to under investment in such channels and a focus on direct response sales driving channels which worked at a strong Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) or Cost of Sale (COS). Taking such an approach is more likely to have a detrimental impact on a brands longer term growth.

Why are brands still often looking at a last click wins measurement?

 

Our experience has shown there are three reasons why brands struggle to adopt attribution:


  1. Suppliers in the market
  2. Confidence to change
  3. Lack of knowledge and understanding

 

We have found the main factor is suppliers in the market, who have a ripple effect on a brands knowledge and confidence to change. I will not mention any names, however our experience is that there are certain technology solutions in the market which have sold the dream, however, are not able to deliver. Setup and ongoing costs can be high and time to launch can be between 6 months to a year. Another common challenge is that the technology suppliers do not understand the brands business, including the product mix, what drives profitability, what success looks like and the ins and outs of their digital marketing activity.

 

Media providers also cause confusion when they recommend moving to an attribution model within channel. Not only does this miss the point of attribution, which should consider all digital marketing channels, the data reported in the platforms does not match your single source of truth online analytics platform e.g. Google Analytics, Adobe.

 

As a result, many brands have been scarred by this experience and are left stuck with their last click wins approach.

  

How do I know if attribution is right for me?

 

You do not have to invest in a 3rd party to understand whether attribution will benefit your business. As most brands use Google Analytics, there are certain data views in the Conversion > Multi-Channel Funnels section which will give you a good steer for established brands. These include:

 

  1. Time lag - The number of days it took a customer from the first time they visited your site unit they converted. If 99% of people convert on the same day, this gives a good indication that last click wins is right for you
  2. Path Length – The number of visits it took for your customer to convert. As with the Time Lag view, if 99% of people only need one visit before converting, moving away from last click wins would not be right for you
  3. Model Comparison Tool – You can see how your leads or sales would change at the channel, source and campaign level, when moving away from a last click wins approach to one of Google Analytics standard models.

 

 Which attribution model is right for my business?

 

If the data tells you that your budget and optimisation decision making would change as a result of changing the way you measure success, the big question is what I should do next. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all answer to this question. Each brand invests in digital marketing differently which will affect the choice.

 

The typical customer journey will also impact this and may result in a custom model being required.. For example, a brand selling home furniture will see more steps in the customer journey than a brand who sell fast fashion. The home furniture brand may also have a store, therefore a higher weighting to the activity which activated the customer would make more sense. There may also be two conversion types, with different values to the business, which would need to be considered.


What do I need to put in place to adopt attribution?


In order to succeed at pace, there are 5 areas which you need to ensure are in place

 

  1. Data measurement – determine your single source of truth as a busines, validate your analytics solution to ensure that you are tracking the right metrics and that they are accurate.
  2. External support – ensure you have someone experienced in place to help you. This needs to be someone who understands your vertical, digital marketing and who can analyse rich data sets
  3. Senior team education – make sure they are aware how decisions, especially related to budget allocation will change
  4. Team management – make sure your team understands the change and what this means for them. Bring them on the journey at the start rather than telling them that they have to change
  5. Reporting – ensure you continue to report on last click wins as well as your new attributed metrics. This will ensure that the context behind decisions is clear and how this continues to benefit your trading numbers


Looking for support with your measurment strategy?


We understand the imporortance of having a sustainable approach to measuring the value of your online marketng. If you woukd like support with understanding how you can make the change, get in touch to understand how we can help you.

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