Simple Steps to Realize Savings Through Improved Attribution

We’re in an uncertain moment, and the future contains many unknowns. One thing we do know is that smartly reducing operational costs will be critical for businesses that want to survive and thrive during this difficult period. Through accurate attribution, marketers are able to understand which channels, tactics, and messages drive results and thereby reduce wasted spend in areas where it’s less effective. 

The need to improve attribution

Understanding attribution and choosing the right attribution model for your business are vital. But marketers have a ton of competing priorities, so how can you tell if you’ll realize meaningful savings by improving attribution? These are some of the questions you should ask yourself: 

1. Does your data line up? 

When you reconcile the reporting you receive from your media channels and agency partners, does the number of conversions you see align with what you’re seeing in your own sales and CRM system? A big discrepancy between internal and external reporting suggests that you might need to fine-tune your attribution approach to get closer to accuracy. 

2. Are you unsure where to cut spend? 

Any savvy marketer is always on the lookout for cost savings, and that’s truer now than ever. As your investment in profitable channels like branded paid search and remarketing increase, chances are you’ll see diminishing returns on marketing spend over time, which will cause your customer-acquisition cost to steadily rise. Accurate attribution can identify low-performing investments  that can be trimmed  to reduce your overall CPA without adversely affecting your overall results. Understanding the real impact of every tactic and channel will help your team to drive more conversions more efficiently.  

3. Do you need a single source of truth? 

We live in a multi-channel world in which data is often siloed between teams, channels, and tools. When the numbers don’t line up, it can be a challenge to report marketing data to senior management in a way that  feels credible. Proper attribution can help to resolve discrepancies and bridge the gaps in your data — giving you a single set of accurate, universal data around which to build and test your marketing strategy. 

4. How do you optimize? 

In-house media managers and agency partners can continuously optimize campaigns based on data, but what type of attribution model is guiding this optimization strategy? An optimization strategy built on last-touch attribution will produce different results than one based on an assisted-credit model, a.k.a. multi-touch attribution (MTA). 

How to advance

If you’re not satisfied with your answers to the questions above, then it’s probably time to take steps to improve your attribution practices. In most cases, this means moving from a last-touch attribution model to a more holistic, multi-touch model that will better integrate all your data sources. That might sound like a daunting, and costly prospect, but there are three simple stages we recommend to move your business forward. You can roll them out incrementally and see gains at every step without spending five or even six figures on a third-party software solution.  

Audit attribution and underlying data readiness

Before a software platform can accurately perform multi-touch attribution calculations, multiple underlying data integration tools and processes must be in place. Often these preliminary steps represent the “low hanging fruit” on an attribution roadmap, yielding significant business value with relatively low effort and cost. These foundational steps include:

  • URL compliance: QA test your URL and UTM strategy to ensure that all links are consistent and traffic is accurately reported across your website and external channels. This is necessary to understand cross-channel campaign performance at a granular , actionable level
  • Data integration: Assess your ability to integrate data across systems within your marketing tech stack, including web analytics, CRM tools, and sales solutions. For example, connecting marketing touchpoint data (impressions & clicks) to backend sales can yield tremendous insight for many B2B companies or B2C companies with an offline sales component.  
  • Identity graph assessment: In many cases it’s possible to cost-effectively create a custom identity graph to help connect users across multiple devices, or multiple contacts to a single business or prospective customer for Account Based Marketing (ABM).  
  • Post-impression acceptance testing: Many organizations have an inherent distrust of “post-impression” sales, those that occur after a user views (but doesn’t click) a display ad, then visits the website directly and completes a lead form or makes a purchase. In these cases manual testing is required to prove the value of display views before investing time and money into attribution software solutions, which typically distribute conversion credit from bottom-of-funnel tactics like Paid and Organic Search into Display. 

Transition from last-touch to multi-touch

Once you’ve improved data readiness and tracking capabilities, it’s time to begin transitioning away from last-touch attribution and into a more impactful multi-touch model. You’ll need to establish your approach to multi-touch attribution, or MTA, factoring in the touchpoints and actions that are important to your business, and then track via Google Analytics attribution/multi-channel funnel reporting, or a suitable analytics platform featuring MTA capabilities software platform. As with most processes, it’s not as simple as flipping a switch. Organizations that successfully transition to multi-touch attribution — and find savings in the process — generally do so via a strategic roadmap with plenty of testing along the way. 

Bring multi-touch attribution to maturity

Building a multi-touch attribution model that serves your business needs can drive not only short-term, significant cost savings, but also support incremental, cost-efficient growth of sales. However, moving beyond short-term cost savings and fully realizing these benefits will take some time, testing, and investment. You may need to allocate resources over time to build out customer attribution data modeling with Google Cloud and the Google Ads Data Hub and to optimize those models as new data becomes available. 

Once you’ve developed your initial model, it will also be necessary to forecast marketing spend around the new model and adjust assumptions as needed. A fully realized multi-touch model will likely necessitate shifting incremental investment to different tactics and channels over time to maximize value. 

Moving forward

The key to moving your business toward a more effective attribution model is gradual change. We aim to help marketers realize real cost savings that they can prove with trusted, reliable data. We advocate a “crawl-walk-run” approach to ensure that all of your current systems and processes remain in place while you build capacity and support for cross-channel data integration. Our goal is to help businesses build a road map to improved attribution that allows them to realize savings and measurable ROI at every step of the way. 

Contact us today to speak to a Marketing Attribution expert about how we can help you navigate a path to achieve both short- and long-term measurable ROI, in a way that works for your business.

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