Omnichannel Digital Marketing Attribution. It’s Complicated.

October 09, 2018   /   by  Diane Callihan

Attribution has always been a complicated issue for marketers.

The idea is simple – what channel or campaign do we credit or “attribute” for bringing in a lead or triggering a sale?

Back in the days when a lot of companies just focused mainly on print advertising, attribution was at best a guess. You placed an ad in a magazine and could get stats as to how many people received that magazine, but you would never know how many people actually saw your ad, or how many people acted on it.

If sales went up, you’d probably just assume the ad helped.

(That’s a good part of the reason those QR codes came about, but they didn’t really work either.)

Anyway, when digital marketing started, that was the big selling point. Finally, you’d know exactly how many people were acting on your ad. Clicks! Analytics! Provable ROI!

Only it’s not that simple. In today’s omnichannel era, we have a wide range of marketing channels – paid search, display, retargeting, social media, email campaigns, in-store promotions, direct mail and more. And you may be simultaneously running different campaigns across those channels.

When you finally get a lead or a sale, what campaign/channel do you attribute it to?

A few years back the answer would have been that you attribute the sale to the last click – the last channel the buyer interacted with before the sale.

So – someone clicked on a retargeting banner and then bought something from you. Boom! Retargeting gets the sale.

Not so fast. Because maybe that person first read a blog post, then subscribed to your emails, and then visited a landing page…which ultimately triggered the retargeting ad. All of those elements may have contributed to the sale. Shouldn’t they get some credit too?

The answer is yes – they should. But manually coming up with a process to do that is virtually impossible. You need some sort of marketing automation tool that tracks the life of a lead or sale and allows you to divide attribution across multiple sources.

Because if you only go by the last click, you’re missing the point that every sale is a journey. According to Marketing Week, 15 years ago the average consumer typically used two touchpoints when buying an item and only 7% regularly used more than four. Today consumers use an average of almost six touchpoints with nearly 50% regularly using more than four.

And reaching your customers through multiple touchpoints makes them better, more loyal customers. According to Google, omnichannel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel. You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket.

The bottom line: You need to ensure you’re getting the full picture of how your campaigns and various marketing channels are performing. This is vital information when you are putting your marketing budget together for next year.

Want some help creating the right attribution strategy for your business? We’d love to help. Let’s Talk.

Diane Callihan

Diane Callihan

With more than 20 years of experience writing for some of the country’s top brands, Diane helped to shape Roger West’s content strategy, lead generation, and PR efforts as Director of Marketing. She currently serves as President of Callihan Content Creation.