When I think of attribution, I immediately think to my childhood memories of hearing Barry White on the radio singing ‘you’re my first, my last, my everything’. Little did he know that his song would match perfectly for the marketers need for attribution.
What is attribution?
In its simplest terms, attribution is the process of identifying what activity was responsible for a conversion (ie: any given result such as a form fill, a like, a share, download etc). And historically we have attributed this success to a single campaign. But life for a marketer isn’t always that simple. The reality is, that it is rarely only one interaction that causes a successful conversion.
The most common (and usually the easiest) interaction that gets recognised for a conversion is the ‘Last Touch’. Usually the conversion is associated to a form, which is most likely tied to a landing page which is more often than not, associated to a specific campaign. Therefore the data is usually available and accurate. Now, this is an important metric, as this is the last thing they did before they convert. However, there is a good chance that they had in someway engaged with your brand before. A simple example would be that in the scenario above, the landing page and campaign was a retargeting one, and was focussing on an audience of visitors who had at some point in the past been on your site…. So how did they get there before?
When looking at online marketing data such as cookies, audiences, keyword search results, date and time stamps we can associate an unconnected list of touchpoint to a given contact / record / IP address etc. The identification of the first interaction with that contact based on the earliest timestamp will give us our ‘First Touch’ information. So between First and Last Touch attribution, you could argue that in many cases you wouldn’t have had the ‘Last Touch’ without the ‘First Touch’. And so, a lot of businesses will attribute the success of an ultimate conversion to the First Touch.
This brings us to the holy grail for any marketer. As if we look at interactions, in many cases (and especially given the multiple channels a company can engage with their audience) there isn’t 1, or even just 2 touch points, but there could be MANY. To truly attribute the conversion source, you want to know the First, Last and EVERYTHING in-between that got them there.
Why is this important?
Knowing every step in a users journey to ultimate conversion can help us see trends. Journeys that we can see that ‘if someone searched for a specific keyword in google, and clicked on a search result that lead to your website, and that you retargeted those visitors to like your Facebook page and when they had you ran an email campaign to invite them to an event, that when they attended they ‘converted’, means that in the future, you know that if someone has done the first 2 steps, and then you invite them to like your Facebook page the probability of them attending your event if you invite them is high (great for predictability of campaign returns). But you can also use this insight to shortcut the path. You may decide to instead retarget the first search visitors to not just visit your Facebook page, but to invite them to the event. This can reduce CAC (Cost to Acquire Customer) and shorten the conversion time.
It’s clear to say, that knowing the full journey of how someone converted is far better than just knowing the First or Last only touch points. It allows you to really see the trends of what works and for you to build a level of predictability into your marketing activities. But it is hard to do, and thus if you want to do it, is usually a complex and costly activity so most businesses stick with first or second attribution. But it shouldn’t be that way, there is not 100% or 0% only options when it comes to understanding performance and multi-touch campaigns. There are ways where you can see enough of the multi-touch attribution to still make good business decisions without complex and costly projects. Our recommendation is to invest in understanding the full customer journey and all its touch points. The cost to know this will – if done right – easily be offset by the savings you will make by running more effective multi-touch campaigns.
Why not talk to us to fid out how you can know more about your customers interactions.
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