Attribution marketing: What you need to know

Anthony Capano, managing director for Rakuten Marketing Australia
By Anthony Capano, managing director for Rakuten Marketing Australia | 1 July 2015
Anthony Capano, Managing Director for Rakuten Marketing Australia

Marketers understand that the steps a consumer goes through to make a purchase make up a complex digital journey, from first to last click. It’s a journey that takes place across multiple devices, pulling together a huge variety of influencing factors.

Marketers need to figure out what is making shoppers buy, and therefore where to spend their advertising and marketing dollars. But there’s an almost infinite amount of data, impossible for any single person to decipher. The CMO Survey conducted by Duke University found marketers are investing heavily in the tools to analyse data and spend on analytics is expected to grow 73% in the next three years.

Attribution is all about using data to determine the true value of marketing activity, break down and understand the customer journey, and grasp the relationships between channels for your brand. It provides a clear understanding for marketers to accurately gauge where they need to increase or decrease spend.

So, what does attribution look like when applied practically? The customer journey has rapidly evolved, influenced by lots of different channels – direct website visits, review platforms, comparison sites, organic search, social networks, or paid advertising such as PPC, banner ads, and content discovery platforms.

Think of it this way - attribution is the method used to assign value to each channel that plays a role in the path to purchase. It answers vital questions such as:

  • Where will my marketing budget be most effective?
  • Which marketing channels are driving new customers?
  • What impact does my display advertising really have?
  • How can I best leverage these influential factors?
  • How do my customers utilise different devices?
  • What influence does my brand have on my marketing?

Such questions uncover the fundamental flaw in the ‘last-click wins’ model, traditionally the default model for online marketing, which attributes 100% of the value to the last click the customer made before they bought. Instead of giving 100% of the value to the last click, attribution tries to ensure that the value is shared according to the influence each channel had on the customer.

Attribution in the age of mobile

We live in a multi-screen age. The proliferation of mobiles means that this device represents one of the most accurate ways to gain insights into the online shopping experience. Marketers must employ software and models in order to quantify and allocate value across the customer journey as they navigate various devices. 83% of marketers say that multi-device attribution assists them in sending more relevant messages to their customers and prospects.

Best practice attribution should always be ‘omnichannel’ – the customer journey across online, offline, and all devices. Omnichannel is also the best way to track the difference between paid and earned media channels, allowing a marketer to view all touch points and weigh them up against each other.

As well as making your marketing modelling easier, attribution will assist you in understanding that most elusive persona: your customer. Attribution assist in understanding the consumer on a deeper level – where and how do they shop? What makes them convert that sale?

Attribution data must be used to make modern marketing as effective as possible. It has taken marketing measurement to the next level. Through understanding the true value of each of your channels, you will be able to prioritise your budget in a way that will be of the most benefit to your team, your brand, and your bottom line.

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