A Journey to Marketing Attribution

Discovering the true impact and value of your marketing spend using attribution techniques has become almost the norm these days. It can be simple and achievable. It can also be complex and arduous.

The nature of the journey may be unknown, so preparation is key. Here are some things to consider on your journey ahead.

What is your destination?

When you first embark on a marketing attribution project, stop and ask yourself what your end goal is. Perhaps the answer will be straightforward:

  • I want to move from last click to an attributed marketing channel report.

However, from experience, it is often more complex:

  • I’m looking to increase my marketing ROI.
  • I want to optimise spend across channels based on the full picture in a timely and effective way.
  • I’d like to understand my customers better and how they use channels to interact with my brand.
  • We are being asked to support additional revenue growth – how can I understand the potential and optimal extra spend needs?
  • I need to justify channel budgets or make recommendations for increased budgets.
  • All of the above!

What appeared to be an initially obvious objective of marketing attribution is not always the best or ultimate destination.

In its simplest form you will arrive at a report that gives an attributed participation value for each channel in a journey and how that contributes towards an objective (e.g. transaction). But challenge yourself to think beyond that in defining what success in attribution really looks like:

  • What’s the right point in the journey to optimise to?
  • How are we going to action the attribution model? It’s likely to be in multiple ways
  • What decisions need to be made based on the insights and outputs?
  • Who are the primary and secondary stakeholders? How will our route to attribution affect them? What areas of the business do we have influence over?

It’s well known that most project failures are caused right at the outset by lack of clarity and insufficient planning. Marketing Attribution is no exception: taking time up front to be clear on goals and requirements and engage all parties will smooth the journey to success and reduce overall effort.

Take time to enjoy your journey

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

The exploration of your data along the way is one of the most powerful parts of analysis.

Always take the time to explore and enjoy the journey as you go. At Lynchpin we are great advocates of the CRISP-DM process where Business and Data understanding are the true drivers of the project success.

Without truly understanding the business, the data and the customer, the model will not only fail to deliver on its true potential to the business, but you will also miss out on important discoveries along the way.

Through data exploration, objectives can be validated or challenged, quick wins can be identified and actioned. Modelling becomes a culmination of all these invaluable learnings on the way.

Equally important is to take the time to explore different modelling techniques. There are many well documented articles about common attribution models, from the simple last click, first click, linear, bathtub to more advanced custom approaches using, for example, Markov or Shapley based algorithms.

It can be comforting to aim for the advanced; it can be tempting to aim for the simple/interpretable models.

The real power of attribution comes from an analyst who takes the time to understand your business and your customers who take that journey.

We have seen powerful attribution models that lie solely in traditional hybrid statistical techniques, built on solid foundations of customer understanding/customer journeys.

We have also seen 2 different approaches, both equally valuable in terms of modelling significance but with differing approaches applicable for different areas of the business that need to be reconciled with business acumen/intelligence/change management.

To choose the right model for you, make sure you balance the pragmatism and actionability against modelling perfectionism and mathematical beauty.

Where will your adventure take you next?

You’ve made it. But what next?

You may already know the answer to this, having spotted the hidden gems and glimpsed the tempting unbeaten tracks while you explored your way to your journey’s end.

What were those unanswered questions you left behind in pursuit of your original goal? Perhaps:

  • Understanding the role of overall marketing journeys in long term customer value -LTV
  • Taking the deep dive into marketing channels for intra channel optimisation at a more granular level
  • Is content just as important in the attribution journey as channel?

And so many more! This is likely to be only the beginning, with far off lands of spend optimisation models and data driven scenario planning tools now within sight.

For our final takeaway let’s go back to the start however. Do not be afraid to take those first steps!

There are many misconceptions that attribution needs to have perfect and plentiful data. Or that you need to be able to track every journey at the most granular level.

It is true that these things help, however the reality is that data is rarely perfect. Embarking on a marketing attribution journey, no matter how simple or complex, becomes the initiator for change and improvements. It will contribute to your overall knowledge and enable the next steps on that journey.

Be brave, intrepid explorers!

 

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

– Lao Tzu

For more information, please visit our Marketing Attribution and Digital Transformation pages and find out more about how Lynchpin can help you on your journey. And to stay up-to-date with all of our latest news, including future blog updates from the team, be sure to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.