How to Set Up Marketing Attribution Analysis

September 1, 2021 Piano Team

Marketing attribution is a method used to identify how much each marketing channel has contributed to your revenue-generation efforts. Effective marketing attribution is a fundamental component for an organization to achieve its marketing objectives. 

Why is marketing attribution important?

By assessing the various marketing methods they use to connect with their customers, marketing teams can effectively measure their performance in terms of opportunities, pipeline and revenue. Here’s how:

Marketing attribution gives you an understanding of all the points of contact with the user

Connecting with a prospect can involve any point of interaction with a potential account throughout the entire funnel, including

  • Web activity
  • Form fills
  • Downloading content
  • Making a purchase

Armed with this information, you can take proactive measures to optimize the marketing mix and provide sales teams with the valuable lead insights they need to tailor their conversations.

It helps you come to grips with the multitude of marketing channels

There is an ever-expanding number of channels that brands can use as a point of contact with the consumer. This means that when consumers convert, it’s increasingly complex to understand which brand-user interactions have truly had an effect. Attribution analysis is the key to unlocking this information, allowing businesses to understand their customers’ behavior and enabling them to maximize the ROI of their marketing campaigns.   

Marketing attribution provides you with the full picture of your users

Attribution is particularly important in the age of omnichannel, where it is vital to leverage a 360° view of your user touchpoints. Through accurate tracking and reporting, you can assess the weight of the various touchpoints in the customer journey and assess which ones have had the most impact.

It allows you to leverage the full value of your data

Marketing attribution brings data together to help marketers understand how they are contributing to down-funnel metrics. Based on a single point of truth, they are better positioned to designate the models, procedures and solutions used in the context of conversion, purchase and subscription. 

You can benefit from the rise in digital activity in the COVID-19 era

Attribution is especially relevant in the context of the current health crisis where commercial activity in the digital realm is expanding rapidly. Digital marketing is reaching and converting an ever-expanding number of users.

What are the advantages of marketing attribution?

Attribution enables marketers to tailor their efforts towards a positive sales outcome. It provides you with:

  • A better way to time your campaigns: Marketers can push the right brand message to the right user when they are most receptive, on an increasing number of channels and devices.
  • The ability to align your marketing and sales departments towards the same goals: Attribution boosts communication with the sales team, enables more accurate forecasting and enhances sales’ ability to meet their targets.
  • An understanding of the true value of your various marketing initiatives: It enables the CMO to prove the value of marketing efforts to the C-Suite and board level to optimize budget allocation and prevent cutbacks on marketing spend.

How to build a step-by-step attribution strategy 

To put in place effective marketing attribution there are a range of factors to consider. Try our six-step approach:

1. Determine the objectives of the study and the most appropriate analysis period

The first step for an attribution strategy is to set out the final objectives of your marketing actions, all levers combined. This will be your main KPI, the prism through which the effectiveness of your entire media mix can be assessed. They can include:
  • Boosting turnover
  • Improving ROI
  • Maximizing traffic

2. Collect and/or store relevant information

Next is making sure you collect and store all the relevant information to manage your activity in terms of campaigns and conversions. This involves understanding the:
  • Campaign detail: Your tagging needs to be aligned with your campaign strategy and allow you to take the relevant marketing actions. If you allocate your marketing budget across your various marketing channels, then you need to tag each campaign separately. This will involve a finer level of granularity as well as a separate budget strategy for each SEA campaign. The level of granularity also needs to be apparent in your campaign tagging strategy.
  • Conversion detail: Similar to conversion tracking, your tagging strategy must be aligned with your business strategy. If you sell two types of products, you need to be able to distinguish between the product types within your tag. This distinction needs to be apparent within the attribution analysis to provide your marketers with a high level of granularity. The more granular the tracking, the more relevant the analysis of the attribution of your levers will be.

3. Focus on consumer behaviour and conversion paths

To understand the consumer-centric behaviour at the heart of your attribution analysis, ask yourself the following:
  • What is the average number of touchpoints required before conversion?
  • What is the average time between the first advertising interaction and the first visit to the site?
  • What is the profile of buyers for each type of product?
These can only be answered by tracking each consumer's path as a whole, linking the different actions of the same user over time. Your users also often interact with more than one of your digital platforms. To maintain 360° visibility of your consumers, you need to have the capacity to measure campaign and conversion events across all your client-facing platforms. You also need to have all the information in one place.

4. Analyze the interactions between the levers and their role in the consumer journey

Once you have established your typical consumer profiles, assess if your digital communication is well adapted to each of them.
 
Consumers don’t distinguish between the networks where the advertising message is delivered but interact with the brand that delivers it. So it’s important to maintain a consumer-centric approach, and reproduce the paths containing all the touchpoints between the consumer and the brand for all the activated partners, both online and offline. This is to make sure you analyze the attribution of each of them in the conversion with the least possible bias.

5. Choosing the right marketing attribution model

There is no right or wrong attribution model. The key is choosing an attribution model that is most adapted to your business strategy and to benchmark your performance against those models over time to make sure you’re improving. A model that is a perfect fit for one company might be totally inadequate for another.
 
Here are a few examples:
  • For businesses that need to acquire new users, choose attribution models that focus on the early stages of the consumer journey. This can be the first touch model or position-based/U-shaped models.
  • If you have a large user base with a famous brand name but are struggling to get users to convert, you should employ a last click, or time decay model.
  • For sites that have long consumer journeys from discovery to purchase and where every touchpoint plays a crucial role in the conversion, aim for a linear or time-decay attribution model.

6. Optimizing the attribution window

The final piece in the jigsaw is choosing the right attribution window, and it is a question of balance. To carry out accurate attribution analysis, you need to capture all the interactions between your consumer and your brand that are relevant to the sale. Your attribution window, therefore, needs to be large enough to capture all of these interactions.
 
However, if you choose an attribution window that is too large, you will start capturing irrelevant interactions between your user and the brand —adding unnecessary noise to your analyses and warping your results.
 
The ideal attribution window is one that’s aligned with the time it takes your consumers to discover your brand and make the purchase. As with the choice of attribution model, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. A real-estate business will have a considerably longer attribution window than a FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) business.
 
As we move towards a digitally-driven world where every dollar counts, the value of marketing attribution to an organization has never been higher.
 
By implementing an effective data-driven strategy, you can reap a wide range of benefits including:
  • Cutting costs on ineffective marketing: Without a solid and finely tuned attribution model, it’s impossible to understand how much of your budget is being spent to drive conversions. Understanding how different marketing approaches influence the path to conversion is therefore vital.
  • Reducing spend while maintaining results: By identifying channels that perform badly, you can cut down on high-cost-per-conversion spending. This way you can focus on channels that maintain your results while reducing your overall spend. You can also conserve resources for new tactics and tools and correct your previous spending without losing the gains you’ve made. 
  • Maximizing your marketing ROI: Simply put, marketing attribution shows you which levers to pull to achieve the optimum ROI. If you have a complete understanding of your most influential channels, you will know where to invest your budget to boost results. Attribution models can also help secure subsequent budget on channels and methods that drive brand awareness and guide a prospective customer along the path to purchase.
  • Understanding and optimizing consumer interactions: As the number of digital marketing channels used to reach consumers continues to grow, from digital display to paid search, organic social, email and more, it’s vital to understand exactly how these channels impact conversion. Attribution modeling not only allows you to see how prospects interact with your channels as they move through the funnel but can also reveal how these channels interact and lead to conversion. 
  • Optimizing your path-to-purchase journeys: The deeper the understanding you have of your customers’ behavior, the better you can serve them. Adopting a finely tuned attribution model will allow you to build the most efficient and effective path to purchase for the maximum number of prospects. This will help you tailor all your marketing efforts to your customers’ needs and meet them at the points at which they are most likely to be influenced. This will enable you to build a stronger connection with your consumers, boost brand loyalty and increase customer lifetime value. 
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