Today’s marketers have an unprecedented amount of technologies, tools and data available to them, giving them the ability to execute increasingly sophisticated campaigns, better report the ROI of their efforts and inform future marketing plans.
But at the same time that marketing technology has advanced, the consumer shopping journey has gotten more complicated. There are numerous touchpoints with consumers across a variety of channels—how do you know what caused a consumer to make a purchase?
Facing increasing pressures to deliver the most accurate and appropriate metrics, digital marketers must understand how to measure and report on customer behaviors. In partnership with Digiday, we surveyed 250 people from brands, agencies and publishers. Many of those we polled said they struggle to identify which campaign metrics to track, and, frequently enough, they disagree on the best approach to attribution.
Here are three best practices to help you set more accurate and effective goals for future campaigns:
No. 1 The last touch attribution model can be useful when analyzing basic sales metrics, but it often omits important information. Marketers should rarely base their entire attribution strategy around the last touch model.
Email campaigns, online ads, social media and store visits are among the many tools that marketers use to reach consumers. With the last touch model, whatever interaction a consumer had with your brand right before they made a purchase gets the credit.
According to our survey, this approach is the most widely-used marketing attribution method. 41% of respondents said that the last touch method was their most commonly used attribution approach for online channels. The problem is that this model often tells only part of the story.
“Last touch, which is where most people are starting, is wrong,” said Michael Horn, managing director of data science at digital agency Huge. “The reason why so many people prefer last touch is just because it’s instant…that really misses the whole cumulative impact of sequential messaging, multiple channels, and all virtual brand perceptions.”
No. 2 Marketers should place a heavy emphasis on first touch attribution when they’re focusing on brand awareness.
In contrast to the last touch model is first touch attribution. Through this model, marketing attribution is tied to the moment when a customer was first exposed to a brand.
“That first click really shows you where your brand power is. It shows where people are first having a touchpoint with your brand,” said Conor Shea, formerly managing director of global marketing at Discover Financial. The first touch is part of a potential customer’s research process. It’s critical for brands to establish a positive first connection with a lead; a bad impression may mean there’s no second chance for your brand to redeem itself.
First touch attribution is an ideal model to use if your primary goals focus on brand awareness, instead of conversion. The first touch model allows you to zero in on the moment when a customer first interacts with your brand.
No. 3 A multitouch attribution model, when done right, is ideal for effectively tracking marketing attribution across a variety of metrics.
A multitouch model—one that analyzes customer behavior throughout the journey to purchase—provides a lot more data than first touch or last touch alone. Because of this, it’s also more labor-intensive and takes much longer to produce actionable insights.
A multitouch model, of course, would incorporate a healthy mix of channels, campaigns, and metrics, eliminating the blind spots that arise from focusing on just one or the other. Multitouch marketing attribution provides you with a much richer data set across your campaigns and is worth the investment if you have the resources to implement.
But marketers often don’t have the time to sort through all of the data this model provides. Because of this, it is useful to decide what goals and metrics are most important, so you can zero in on the data that matters to you.
The industry may disagree about the best marketing metrics to use, but it is important that brands communicate their goals and align with their partners and agencies, so that everyone is on the same page for success. Almost 40% of brands don’t feel as though their agency and brand partners are aligned on delivering consistent or accurate metrics, demonstrating a considerable need for clearly defining marketing KPIs at the beginning.
To learn more about different digital attribution models and how brands, agencies and publishers are using them download Bazaarvoice’s full research report.