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Data-driven attribution is used to determine which marketing channels have the largest impact on conversion. While rule- based attribution can be subjective, as you assign how much credit each channel gets depending on its position in the conversion path, data driven attribution leads to more objective results. This helps to determine which channels are driving the most conversions.

If you’re looking for an attribution solution, you may not even know where to begin. Are you aware of the types of attribution solutions the different providers offer? Are you even ready for an attribution model? What types of questions should you ask internally and to prospective vendors to ensure you get the best solution possible for your business needs?

In this post, we will review some of the key questions you should be asking when gauging the different attribution solutions. Think of this as an attribution procurement ‘pep talk’.

WHAT TO ASK INTERNALLY BEFORE SELECTING AN ATTRIBUTION PROVIDER

Attribution or…?
Attribution is a hot topic in analytics at the moment, but you should make sure that you aren’t acquiring an attribution solution just for the sake of having one. It’s important to assess whether your business is ready for a data-driven attribution solution. It’s also important to make sure that you are aware of the value that attribution will provide  for your business before you dive in. Questions to consider:

  • Are you ready for a data-driven attribution model?
  • What are the big questions that you are hoping attribution will answer for your organization?
  • What level of analytics maturity does your organization currently have?

If you are just getting started with web analytics, perhaps it will suffice to stick with rules-based attribution for the time being. It is  an advanced solution meant for mature organizations with significant ad spend to ensure that the attribution solution will be able to enact large scale change at your organization.

As far as what question it is that you are trying to answer,  you may first need to gather information about the sequence of channels that will best lead to conversions. A bottom-up attribution approach is most likely the best approach, and given the right data, will provide answers to these questions. However, there are many different methodologies for attribution, and they will vary between vendors.

If granular information on channel sequencing is not a prerequisite, a mixed-media model (MMM) or top-down approach may be ideal: using regression of historic spend and revenue information, you can measure the impact of marketing tactics on sales, and use this to optimize your budget across advertising channels.

Rather than focusing on “attribution,” focus on the question you want answered, and select the provider who seems best positioned to answer it.

Actionability and Organizational Readiness
Once your attribution model is built out, you will want to ensure that you have processes in place to allow you to use the recommendations to make the necessary changes. You will first need to make sure that key stakeholders are ready and willing to use the results once they come in. For example, if attribution reveals certain channels are being under or overvalued, you need to make sure that you will be able to shift budgets between them. Attribution solutions can be costly, so make sure that the results will be used impactfully. Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are key stakeholders for different media channels on board and receptive to taking the recommendations of an attribution model into account for budgeting and other decisions?

Data Availability and Technical Readiness
The data required for attribution takes time to collect and isn’t necessarily available right away. There are two basic methodologies for obtaining the data necessary for attribution. One involves deploying tags to your paid media and conversion tracking on your website, and the other involves using historical data that your web analytics platform (Google Analytics, Adobe) and ad partners may already be collecting.

So, are you ready to implement a tag-based solution across all of your advertising platforms? Having an ad server in place to collect data across all of your online channels will often make the implementation process run a lot more smoothly.  Having a tagging infrastructure in place prior to commencing your data collection will help you to ensure that you have high quality data, which is necessary for high quality results.

Alternatively, if the approach makes use of historical data, is it readily available from all of your media channels? It can be time consuming to collect the data necessary to run an analysis, so ensuring that you will be able to get what you need from the start will make the project run much more efficiently. Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you have an ad server in place?
  • Do you have a tagging infrastructure in place?

Do you have access to historic data for all media channels?

WHAT TO ASK A POTENTIAL DATA DRIVEN ATTRIBUTION PROVIDER

Implementation & Data Collection:
If you decide to go with a vendor platform approach (Visual IQ, Convertro, Attribution 360 or other), there may be a step where you have to deploy tags in order to collect impression, click, and conversion data. After this, there may be a data collection period that must pass before you start to see actionable results. Your attribution provider should be able to provide insight into this process. Questions to ask them:

  • How long does a typical implementation take before we get usable data?
  • Have you implemented tags with my specific display, paid search, email, etc. vendors before? What platforms have you had success with? Have you had any challenges with certain integrations that we may prepare for?

Depending on the situation, it could be a lengthy process before you see any results. Make sure your expectations line up with when you expect to receive results.

Model options and requirements:
When someone talks about “attribution,” it is worth making sure everyone is on the same page as to what is going to be attributed. With online and offline channels and conversion points in this cross-channel world, there are many different ways to tackle attribution. Also, attribution requires sufficient data to calculate quality values: make sure you know how much data is needed to get reliable results.  Question to ask the provider:

  • Is your attribution only looking at online marketing channels (e.g. paid search, display) leading to online conversions on a website? This is the classic and most common attribution problem being solved.
  • Do you provide any integration for offline marketing channels (ex. TV) or offline conversions (Ex. In store)? Is there an additional charge for this?
  • Do you execute tracking of conversions across devices, i.e. cross-device attribution?
  • What is the minimum sample size of display impressions, paid search clicks, etc. that you require to accurately calculate attribution values?

With all of the different attribution methodologies on the market, make sure your expectations line up with what results you will be receiving.

Model Validation:
Attribution can be difficult to validate. Unlike forecasting future values (where we eventually see what the true future values are and can compare them to what we have predicted), there is no “true” attribution value to verify our values against – we can only hope that the values the model gave us are the true values! The main way to verify whether the attribution values are “correct” is to see if the recommendations from the attribution lead to lift.

The frequency at which your attribution model will be updated can also impact accuracy. More recent data is often the most relevant, but large quantities of data may be needed to get solid estimates. Questions to ask:

  • Have you previously seen lift in clients after implementing the recommendations from your attribution? Can you provide a case study or another example?
  • Do you provide any metrics on model fit, or show how your model is working to give true actionable values?
  • How often does your model refresh?

Asking these questions can help you get  insight into the success your attribution provider has seen with others, and ensure that you receive an accurate model.

Deliverables:
Some attribution providers will provide support throughout the implementation process up to and including delivering insights presentations. Verify what type of deliverables you will receive and how much support you will get throughout the attribution process. Questions to pose:

  • What level of support is provided during implementation?
  • What level of support is provided for learning how to use the platform/attribution results?
  • How are the results delivered – access in a platform or summarized with actionable recommendations in a presentation?
  • How often are results delivered?

Ensure you will receive the level of support you need to learn how to first get your attribution solution off the ground, and then to achieve the most out of your attribution results.

Conclusion:
It is important to focus in on which questions you are trying to answer, rather than to just blindly choose an attribution provider. Why are you looking to do an attribution analysis? Will you be able to action the results you get from your attribution analysis?

After this, it is  just a matter of asking the right questions to ensure the provider will be able to give you the answers you need and steer you onto the track to getting the best solution for your business requirements.  

Google’s new Analytics 360 Suite of products are designed to give enterprises a truly integrated package of marketing analytics and optimization tools. My personal favorite is Optimize 360. It allows you to run A/B multivariate tests, as well as personalization campaigns on your site. What really makes it stand out from the crowd is that as a marketer, you can define valuable audiences in Google Analytics, and then seamlessly import those audiences into Optimize.

In my recent Marketing Land article, I explain why analyzing test results using the full power of Optimize 360 is such a big deal. You can read the full article here.

Organizations that want to go beyond analyzing and learning from their data and into putting their data to action are progressing from traditional A/B testing into personalization of their marketing content. While “personalization” can sound intimidating to marketers because it may bring to mind creating one-to-one experiences for everyone who interacts with a brand, it’s actually about creating unique experiences for segments of people that are relatively easy to define.

On a recent landing page optimization podcast I discussed making the jump to personalization with host Tim Ash.  We touched on questions like where does personalization fit in the marketing technology stack, how to identify segments that are underperforming, what to explore before making a financial commitment to personalization, what to watch out for when you don’t want to be too “creepy” with your personalized content, and of course how to measure the impact of personalization.

Listen to the full 30-minute podcast.

Studies show that shoppers who buy in-store as well as online have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel. Omnichannel is about more than just cross-channel marketing. It’s really about cross-channel marketing done right, by providing a personalized, consistent, and seamless experience across devices and locations. For a concise explanation of the differences between multi-channel, cross-channel, and omnichannel marketing, check out Adobe’s blog on the evolution of the customer experience.

Consumers have high expectations when it comes to consistency and seamlessness between shopping experiences online and in stores, and organizations are catching up to these expectations but not without struggles.

Join us for a webinar hosted by Internet Retailer on Thursday, April 28th at 11 A.M. Pacific / 2 P.M. Eastern to learn more about enabling omnichannel marketing in achievable, step-by-step ways, and working towards providing the experience your customers want.  Corey Koberg, a founding partner of Cardinal Path, and Chuck Hemann, Director, Digital Analytics for Intel Corporation, will discuss:

  • Data architecture: enabling the collection, connection, and activation of data to support personalization within channels
  • Understanding customer journeys as a critical step of omnichannel marketing
  • Real-life examples of omnichannel programs in action

Omnichannel Marketing Webinar

Register for the webinar.

 

New tools have made online testing easier for marketers, providing opportunities for organizations to activate their data. Instead of simply collecting and reporting on data, marketers are excited to activate it by using it to generate and test hypotheses.

online testing and optimization

Whether you’re just starting with A/B testing, or have been testing for a while but haven’t seen the results you were looking for, here are three tips to help you create a testing strategy that will provide good, actionable results:

Zero in on your top strategic goals. This should be more specific than simply “growing revenue,” and may require a quantitative and qualitative research as well as a thorough understanding of the organization’s business model.

Decide how the testing process should work. Consider the size of your audience, how long tests need to run to achieve statistical significance, and how aggressive the changes need to be in order to yield conclusive results. Doing this research before starting (or re-starting) a testing program will allow marketers to avoid missed opportunities and ineffective experiments that may lead to a lack of confidence in testing.

Don’t forget to stay flexible.  Many testing strategies rest on assumptions that may turn out to be unsound; marketers should be ready to shift focus and re-design their experiments.

For a deeper understanding of how to set up a testing and optimization strategy read the complete article on Marketing Land: To Maximize The Value Of Testing, Start With A Strategy.

Marketing Optimization

Assessing a Data-Driven Attribution Solution

decisions

Data-driven attribution is used to determine which marketing channels have the largest impact on conversion. While rule- based attribution can be subjective, as you assign how much credit each channel gets depending on its position in the conversion path, data driven attribution leads to more objective results. This helps to determine which channels are driving … Read Full Post

What Google Optimize 360 can do for you

Google’s new Analytics 360 Suite of products are designed to give enterprises a truly integrated package of marketing analytics and optimization tools. My personal favorite is Optimize 360. It allows you to run A/B multivariate tests, as well as personalization campaigns on your site. What really makes it stand out from the crowd is that … Read Full Post

Tips for Going Beyond A/B Testing and Into Personalization

Nick Iyengar Associate Director of Digital Intelligence

Organizations that want to go beyond analyzing and learning from their data and into putting their data to action are progressing from traditional A/B testing into personalization of their marketing content. While “personalization” can sound intimidating to marketers because it may bring to mind creating one-to-one experiences for everyone who interacts with a brand, it’s actually … Read Full Post

Webinar: Increase the Value of Your Customers with Omnichannel Marketing

Studies show that shoppers who buy in-store as well as online have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel. Omnichannel is about more than just cross-channel marketing. It’s really about cross-channel marketing done right, by providing a personalized, consistent, and seamless experience across devices and locations. For a concise … Read Full Post

Tips on How to Build a Strategy for Testing and Optimization

online testing and optimization

New tools have made online testing easier for marketers, providing opportunities for organizations to activate their data. Instead of simply collecting and reporting on data, marketers are excited to activate it by using it to generate and test hypotheses. Whether you’re just starting with A/B testing, or have been testing for a while but haven’t seen the … Read Full Post

Benchmark Your Marketing Analytics Maturity

See how your marketing analytics performs against thousands of organizations. (Approx. 5 minutes).