Those two words have so much power and influence over the lives of marketers. The phrase is both terrifying and empowering, often at the same time.
But what is attribution reporting?
In a nutshell, it’s how much return on investment did I get on the spend. How well did my campaign perform? And what percentage do my affiliate vendors or publishers get of the sale? The reporting is what is looked at to make decisions on strategy and budgeting. The stakes are pretty high.
Of course there are likely enough topics and opinions to fill a decade of graduate student theses on the nuances and variations of the concept, and we know businesses and industries have been created out of the need for clarification, but for now, let’s just talk about a general point. Touches.
Attribution Reporting is essentially, at its core, what got your customer buy. Some look at the first touch point that got them interested. Some folks base the attribution on the last touch point that finally convinced them to make the purchase. There are business models and programs to support both of those.
First Touch? Last Touch? All?
But I’m a marketer. My interests are broader. I want to know what motivated my customer. I want first touch. I want last touch. And I want every touch point in between. I want, no, I need to know how my customers engage with my products and my brand to ensure I can provide the right content and experiences to convince more of them to buy from me, and to find out where I might be losing some.
Let’s say I am selling a dog bed. The competition is pretty fierce, and there’s a wide variety of offerings, from local stores to online ones, heated beds to orthopedic ones. The prices range from about $10 to several hundred, so I’ve developed my campaigns to reach my very targeted audience in that wide range of opportunities. I have my strategy laid out, and ready to fill in the results.
Fast forward a few months, and the results show that many of my customers started out on one of two specific social media platforms. I had run ads there, purposefully, to gain awareness and interest. Later, customers came to the site and added products to the cart from an email I sent. Many actual purchases, however, had a paid search touch point as the final converter to a sale. If I wanted to know what actually sold the product, many would say the social media promotion didn’t work, and the paid search did.
I would disagree.
I do that.
Customer Engagement & The Customer Journey
The data of a full attribution influence report shows me how the customers engaged with my brand and my products, and what drove THEM to the sale, not what I did to drive them. I could see that they were interested in the topic on the social platforms (because my ads and content were targeted to users) but some social sites are not sales generators, they are sales motivators. They drove the audience to research and consider the options, and increased the discussion and evaluation of the quality of dog beds. Those customers came to the site and researched the product, but also went to the other social sites I was targeting, and found us there, and more content, different content. They also found purchase links. That’s when the added the products to their carts.
But they abandoned the cart. They signed up for emails, on the promise of deals, and then waited. Then they searched, as they continued to see the ads and content I remarketed to them. Eventually they searched for coupons, and a paid search link brought them back to check out, and buy the dog bed.
It took a little longer than point, click, buy, … for the customer. They had to be convinced. They had to be walked through the funnel of Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Intent, Evaluation, and Purchase.
Each one of those stages has at least one touch point, sometimes more.
Optimizing the Customer Experience, Shortens the Customer Journey
If we only pay attention to the first or last touch as the attribution for the sale, we miss all the other opportunities. Reducing the spend or initiatives in those areas would have a drastic impact on the bottom line. And knowing these steps and stages, and how our customers engages with the topic and content at each point allows us to better support their journey, and, yes, shorten the sales cycle.
One quick way? We know they will search for discounts and coupons, so by giving them one sooner, we can convert them quicker. That is, as long as we offer it at the right point!
Are you team ROI or Influence when it comes to attribution reporting?