Retail marketers are focusing more on cross-channel marketing than ever before, especially mobile channels. They are looking to optimise offers, personalise messaging, and provide contextual content through multiple channels.
There is an important reason for marketers to take a cross-channel marketing approach: attribution. In order to make effective decisions around digital marketing initiatives, you must be able to justify them financially. To do that, you must be able to attribute the impact of digital and offline touchpoints upon the purchase to the correct channels.
When retail marketers have been asked, about four in ten say they will implement cross-channel attribution initiatives and test tools for channels and content. While that percentage leads all marketing methods expected to be implemented in 2017, the number should be higher.
Effective attribution is essential to meeting consumer expectations these days. Organisations must know what they want and be able to create satisfying interactions on the right channels. To accomplish this, they need a full view of their customers at a one-to-one scale, which attribution helps to provide.
Attribution modeling is used to assign credit to each marketing touchpoint a customer interacts with. One customer’s journey might look like this:
- Receives an email
- Clicks on a sponsored social post
- Downloads your mobile app
- Purchases in store
Instead of analysing the performance of each touchpoint and channel on its own, cross-channel attribution analysis allows you to see the impact of a touchpoint as it relates to the entire journey. In other words, you’ll be able to identify how many emails were opened before a click was made or whether the interaction with the sponsored ad led to a product page view.
Start by mapping the customer journey
Consumers now expect a fluid experience on their journey with a retail brand. They are using multiple devices to connect with your brand, but they expect a seamless experience, no matter where they wish to go. To provide this fluid experience, you should be measuring which types of engagements, offers, or content types are important.
Throughout your customers’ experiences, you must be able to record each interaction and measure the impact an interaction had on future behaviour. As you map the journey, each interaction should build toward something, whether it is a purchase or a social share of your content. By calculating attribution, you can define how your team’s activities led to that future action.
Bring cross-functional teams together
The key to driving the best customer experience is to break down the silos in your organisation. Traditional multichannel approaches have been built in silos, each with its own management, optimisation, analysis, and reporting structures.
Forrester Research has found that 62 percent of firms “incent and measure only the effectiveness of a single campaign or touch strategy.” And yet 67 percent of marketers indicate that attribution is “highly valuable and helps make smarter marketing and media decisions.” Adequately attributing conversions will be impossible if channels are managed in silos.
All teams must be aligned with the customer. Personalising your messaging, and engaging, convincing, and retaining customers. These achievements come from being able to measure, respond, report, and share customer behaviour.
Integrate your tools
The next step is to have the tools that help you complete effective attribution analysis then push out optimised content through all your channels and platforms. You need to get audience insights, optimise media, collaborate on and manage assets, target and personalise content, and more. Stitching together different systems could work, but an integrated toolset improves timing and decision-making remarkably.
Data has to be shared across your enterprise. Your systems must be able to push out data to stakeholders quickly so teams can take prompt and decisive action. If your systems are not integrated tightly, you may lose valuable opportunities to understand cross-channel attribution.
Ultimately, the tools you rely on should allow you to not only conduct attribution analysis, but be able to react immediately by automating content selection and delivery. This takes a level of integration that few digital marketing vendors can provide.
What steps can you take to improve attribution?
You have to take two important steps to really excel at cross-channel attribution:
- Become data-driven
- Mature into an experience business
The first requirements is to align people and process to become data-driven. There is no more room for unverified claims of marketing success—or lack thereof. Data should permeate every step your marketing organisation takes to improve results. Again, this takes the right set of tools, but also a collaborative mindset throughout the entire enterprise.
Second, your organisation must take the painful but rewarding step of becoming an experience business. It has to start at the top by getting executives to bring focus into driving fluid, responsive experience that leave customers wanting more. Teams should align forecasts, budgets, tools, and objectives so all channels understand and contribute to the entire journey. Give teams incentives to collaborate.
If you think of the emerging artificial intelligence models, they are built on attribution. Using predictive analytics as the engine, machine learning analyses the data and responds appropriately. Data is collected and measured to anticipate future behaviour based on past activity. This is using attribution to the fullest.
What is interesting to note when one thinks of cross-channel attribution is that Forrester has found marketers using a variety of attribution models to improve marketing. While a little over one-third of respondents in its 2014 survey indicated they use a first-interaction attribution model, 30 percent indicated they use an “advanced, statistical approach, specifically regression-based models” or a rules-based model, “specifically a self-defined weighted model.” Over 10 percent cite using game theory models.
There may be no clear answer as to which attribution method works best, but without an attribution strategy, it may be difficult to calculate ROI effectively, putting marketing initiatives at risk.