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The business case for attribution marketing

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All businesses, large and small, are driving forwards to secure specific outcomes. You will be looking to sell a product or service, attract customers, raise your brand awareness and boost your bottom line – we all want to see a profitable outcome from our investment in time and hard cash. 

Whatever the goal, companies need to identify what channels and methods are achieving success. This is where marketing attribution plays a crucial role, with technology and insight allowing companies to recognise what activity and which channels are influencing customer action to ensure that real business results are being met.

By realising the potential of attribution marketing, businesses can map customers across all elements of the customer journey – the touchpoints – to identify which marketing initiatives contributed, and how, to an end result. With this knowledge in hand, the CEO or CFO can feel confident in the value of the marketer, knowing what is working best and how to get the most from budgets. There are even cost efficient tools for attribution that help present a business case for broader investment in relevant attribution technologies.

A cost-efficient starting point

Most businesses will already be using specific marketing channels like Google, Facebook and Twitter, which provide free analytics on where and how customers have engaged with content. Through the use of Google Analytics, businesses can track which channel is driving more traffic through to a specific website, and invest in the right advertising for the best-performing channels or tweak campaigns that are underperforming. Using this free tool, advertising campaigns can be adapted to drive the best possible result – all before any big technology investment has taken place.

The dominance of mobile use is putting pressure on businesses to align digital efforts with activities taking place offline – with a need to prove digital activities are providing ROI. How do you know a customer hasn’t seen a Facebook ad online and then gone in-store to purchase your goods? 

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Facebook is one channel that has recognised this and is making connected data available through technology-enabled marketing solutions. This year, the social network announced a partnership with data firm Dunnhumby to see how advertisements that run on Facebook influence sales that take place in-store. Tracking your advertising campaigns with attribution monitored in this way helps to add credence to digital activities that can be reported back to the board.

Attribution: a team game

However, for this to work, departments need to work together in their efforts for the benefit of the overall outcome and centralise marketing activities and data insight throughout. There are multiple sources of data that can influence marketing activities, with separate teams often focussing on each. Businesses can sometimes be guilty of failing to synchronise their activity and defining which department can be credited with the end business result. Teams should not work in siloes. Businesses need to analyse the data available to them, across departments, to truly understand customer behaviour and their purchasing habits – with a focus on bringing together the entire customer journey.

It’s the whole senior team within a business that needs to drive the adoption of attribution marketing, and not necessarily just the marketing lead. CIOs and CTOs, in particular, play a significant role in bringing onboard the necessary technologies for marketing departments to use and streamline their activities. While paid-for tools such as Google Premium, DCStorm, Omniture and Adobe are applicable with larger marketing budgets, they can help to map the customer journey in more detail and accuracy. Just using a robust Adserving solution such as Double Click will increase your accuracy of investment to value, as this service also now integrates with SEO. 

Integrating these systems and methods will come at a cost to a business and require the right skill sets to implement, which is why company board buy-in is so important. Some businesses might initially be sceptical of the investment, but risk being left behind by missing out on a huge drive for growth in customer acquisition and achieving that ultimate business outcome.

As market competition becomes ever more complex across different technologies and marketing channels, and the fight for customer acquisition heats up, savvy companies need to recognise the business case for attribution.

Andrew Burgess is CEO of equimedia.

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