Sales & Marketing

Delving deeper into data: How marketing attribution can empower SMEs

6 min read

30 September 2016

If there is one business function SMEs rely on to drive revenues, it’s marketing. But today’s marketers are facing mounting pressure to keep up with prospects and customers, as well as use data.

Surrounded by a seemingly insurmountable wall of consumer data – and tasked with justifying their advertising spend – marketing professionals can find themselves looking for the quickest and easiest way of analysing a customer’s path to purchase, often focusing on the last interaction prior to converting. This method of analysis is known as last-click attribution.

However, last-click attribution doesn’t give an accurate view of which marketing efforts influenced a conversion or engagement activity, since the customer journey begins long before the final click and every interaction needs to be considered when compiling a marketing strategy. For example, consider a scenario in which a consumer is using a desktop computer to search for a jacket and happens to see an online display ad for a designer brand. He clicks on the ad and browses the products, but remains in deliberation over whether to buy. On his way home from work the next day, he sees the brand’s retargeted ad on his smartphone. This prompts him to check a selection of product reviews on his tablet to help him decide. Finally intent on purchasing, he uses a search engine to find the brand and clicks on a sponsored link, which takes him to the shopping basket.

In the scenario above, all of the credit for the conversion would go to the paid search ad when using a last-click approach. Yet it is clear the paid search ad played a minor role in the path to purchase, and marketing budgets would be more effective when distributed across different touchpoints that influence a conversion. So what can SMEs do to gain a clearer view of the customer journey and allocate marketing budgets more wisely?

Don’t let the data grind you down

Although SMEs understand the value of customer data, it is easy to get bogged down in the details of collecting and analysing information. The increasing number of channels and devices used to connect with consumers is creating more layers and magnitude of data than ever before. While this data can help inform crucial elements of a marketing strategy, it is meaningless if not consolidated and normalised into actionable information that empowers marketers to uncover cost-saving optimisation opportunities and tailor campaigns to an intended audience.

The reason data-driven marketing isn’t common practice among SMEs – as it should be – is that many perceive it to be too costly, complex and time-consuming to implement the technology needed to gain this level of understanding of the consumer journey. In reality, this is not the case.

Optimise campaigns with advanced marketing attribution

Ad campaigns can be a huge investment for SMEs that simply do not have the resource to risk wasting precious ad spend. To get as much out of marketing budgets as possible, SMEs need to be able to “close the loop” on marketing strategies by understanding the true impact of each touchpoint on brand engagement, conversions and other desired business outcomes, and applying these insights to future campaigns. Advanced attribution harnesses data from disparate sources and normalises it into a single currency so it’s easy to track, analyse and optimise marketing across all channels and devices. Having a single currency for measurement and optimisation can be the difference between maximising every pound of budget and blindly spending without insight.

These are exciting times for the digital marketing industry as software has become available that empowers businesses of all sizes to effectively attribute conversion and brand engagement credit across multiple channels and tactics, and apply this knowledge to future campaigns. SMEs can now deploy accessible technology that not only gives a holistic view of marketing efforts, but also delivers the incremental lift in engagement and conversions that justify cost. So for an SME striving to stay ahead of the game in a competitive market, it can be all too easy to drown in a deluge of data. By embracing advanced attribution technology, marketers can delve deeper into customer insights to drive conversions and steer their future campaigns in the right direction.

Ben Sidebottom is director of product management and R&D at Visual IQ.

Image: Shutterstock

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