Analytics tip – Cross Channel Attribution for Smarter Marketing

Cross Channel AttributionConsumers call the shots. With endless alternatives at their fingertips, they expect pleasant, personalized attention from brands, or they’ll take their business elsewhere.

Don’t shoot the messenger, but right now, one of your competitors is going to great lengths to understand customers’ raising expectations. They’re honing the customer journey, tracking and measuring each engagement on the path to purchase, and refining their approach to ensure every customer is completely satisfied. (If you’re a services company, you’re in the same boat). You need to raise your game to compete.

Integrating this in-depth understanding of every consumers’ competing needs, challenges, and channels is no easy feat. If you’re ready to develop a truly holistic understanding of your customers and their engagement with your brand, it’s time to add cross-channel attribution to your marketing plan pronto.

What is cross-channel attribution?

Cross-channel attribution looks at all of the engagement touch points between our customer and brand on their path to purchase. The goal is to quantify the impact of each engagement to figure out what is successfully motivating a conversion and what isn’t working, so we can tweak and modify our marketing strategy and direct resources to effective channels.

This exercise involves laying out all of your channels (search, social, email, display, affiliate, referral, and others) and using advanced analytics to understand their impact on the conversion path. For example, if you’re a vacuum distributor, one customer journey might look like:

A customer searches for the “best vacuum cleaners 2015” (search). The results include your PPC ad titled: “Top 5 vacuum cleaners 2015” (PPC) and links to a white paper. Anyone who downloads the white paper is automatically added to your email marketing funnel, and will receive 3 emails (email), each linking to the content pieces and/or products on your website. The customer ultimately buys a Dyson vacuum from you. The channel path looks like: Search-PPC-Email-Website.

Where do you attribute the vacuum purchase? Did the emails contribute most to the final conversion? What percentage of influence did the white paper have? What, if ultimately, the customer simply had a friend recommend their Dyson? How did each nurture activity contribute to the conversion? Will repeating the same order of engagements always lead to a conversion?

Understanding the impact and influence of channels delivering real value for your brand helps you plan your budget and resources. When done correctly and regularly, cross-channel attribution can drive your marketing strategy and help you better understand your individual customers.

Cross-channel attribution made easy

There are a lot of attribution models out there to follow, each of them will focus on different variables and give you different insights. You can follow and manipulate existing models or even construct your own. Luckily, there are a lot of tools available to take some of the complexity out of developing cross-channel attribution models.

Google Analytics offers a number of functions to help you visualize and measure the impact of your channels on the bottom line. In the Google Analytics Model Comparison Tool, you can select up to three default models to compare. See the difference between the Model Comparison Tool’s different attribution models.

IBM Journey Analytics Sneak PeekIBM recently rolled Journey Analytics into their IBM Commerce Marketing Cloud. Journey Analytics helps marketers both visualize and quantify the influence different channels have on conversions in an omni channel environment.

When paired with their Journey Designer tool, which allows marketers to create a digital, visual storyboard and map out every engagement, and their execution tools, you can act on all this great data, optimizing the path customers take.

The visual aspect of these tools takes complex analytics and makes it easier to see trends and take action, so you aren’t stopped cold by analysis paralysis.

Use cross-channel attribution to guide your marketing strategy

Cross-channel attribution is tricky, at best. By using analytics and attribution models to measure success across every channel, we get closer to nailing down who our customers are and what they want, so we can tailor future interaction to be more relevant and appealing.