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Attribution: A New Mandate for Marketers

The marketer’s role is changing to include accountability for the bottom line.

July 18, 2018

The marketer’s role is evolving. In addition to creating and executing effective campaigns, a critical part of the job is demonstrating the link between sales and a specific channel, message, customer action, or technology.

Today, marketing attribution — giving credit for the sale to a specific touchpoint — has become a new mandate for success.

Customers Count – But Driving Sales Matters More
Marketers have long been focused on customer-centricity, ensuring that every campaign engages the customer along his or her journey. Although meeting customer demand with personalized journeys will forever be important, marketers must tie that customer experience to sales impact.

Showing stakeholders specifics — the number of conversions that came from paid search or display ads, sales that resulted from an email marketing campaign, return on investment (ROI) of a new marketing technology — has become a key performance indicator (KPI) to the marketing professional. Assumptions about customer brand sentiment are being replaced with demonstrable facts, and marketers must now consider how, and to what extent, that customer experience drives revenue.

Technology Enables Attribution
When it comes to the effectiveness of marketing spend on revenue generation, brands want specificity and accuracy. Technology tools that gather business intelligence and data enable the analysis to quantify marketing results, providing insight into spend with unprecedented detail.

Marketing attribution can be measured in a variety of ways, depending on the complexity of the campaign and the number of channels used. Some of the most common measurements include the following:

  • Simple last-touch attribution: crediting the last channel used when a sale is made
  • Simple first-touch attribution: crediting the sale on the first channel the customer engaged
  • Same channel/same vehicle attribution: attributing the sale to the channel in which the campaign is launched
  • Fractional attribution: giving a fraction of the sales credit to each channel used in a multichannel campaign

Attribution modeling provides a precise methodology that can validate and optimize marketing channels and spend. And any program, from the traditional (loyalty) to the emerging (social media) can be measured.

Brands must also consider the ways the program should be set up to ensure that the data is collected so that it can measure the impact (also known as lift) on a key metric, such as the effectiveness of a particular offer or sale.

Attribution Makes Marketers More Accountable
In the simplest terms, marketing is becoming more difficult. The marketer’s role and the performance expectation have evolved into a complex mix of creative strategy, execution, and business development. Brands must consider to what extent sales should be measured based on time, resources, and budget.

The type and amount of data also play roles: the more data available, the more sophisticated the modeling can be. Considering the relationship between the level of effort it takes to execute the attribution strategy versus the overall business impact is a decision stakeholders will have to consider.

As the bar for marketers rises, their relationship with partner agencies also becomes more synergistic and complex. Agencies can help marketers benchmark and optimize their spend to drive effective performance. And everything — from message to channel — will continue to play an increasingly important role in defining business goals.

About the Author

Katie Freeman
Head of Adobe Engagement

After nine years in Ansira’s client partnership department, Katie now leads the Adobe engagement team, aka the strategic hub that supports the Adobe network and our clients that leverage Adobe software.

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