Attribution management is the science of calculating the monetary impact that every targeted prospect has on producing eventual conversions. Once the impact of those touchpoints is known, more informed decisions can be made to optimize future marketing investments across all your channels, leading to improved efficiency and greater yield.
The attribution management process typically produces an abundance of cross-channel insights for brands and their agencies. However, many marketers struggle with interpreting those insights, translating them into actions, and making those actions part of their standard processes for optimizing their marketing portfolio's performance.
Here are six steps to help translate theory into practice:
- Establish common/shared key performance indicators (KPIs)
While every channel may have its own business objective and corresponding KPI to measure success with, many fail to meet on common ground. In order to judge the relative performance of every channel within your marketing portfolio, there needs to be a common set of metrics they all share. So, the first step in this process is to look at your organization's marketing success at a macro level and determine which metrics seem sensible to measure that success. Those will become your enterprise-wide KPIs.
- Translate disparate channel KPIs into shared KPIs
Once enterprise-wide KPIs are established, it's now crucial that you devise formulas or business rules for converting your channel specific KPIs into enterprise KPIs; for those channels where KPIs don't exist or cannot be calculated from existing data, you can create them from scratch. With these formulas and business rules in hand, the second step is to translate the KPI values across all your channels into the values for the enterprise KPI.
- Perform attribution using common/shared KPIs
Once you've created values for the common/shared KPIs for every channel that you'll be including in the attribution process, the third step is to perform attribution (via whatever attribution software or service solution you've chosen) utilizing those KPIs as your inputs. You can obviously include your disparate channel-specific KPIs as well, so long as the shared KPIs are also included in the process. This will ensure that the output enables an apples-to-apples performance comparison.
- Recalculate KPI values to include cross-channel impact
When the attribution management process has been completed, you should insist that your attribution vendor has a set of metrics that mirror the shared enterprise-wide metrics that you've created. These metrics should be recalculated to reflect the impact that every channel, campaign, and tactic has on each other. In other words, the fourth step is to have your KPIs adjusted to reflect either the extent to which they over-contributed or under-contributed, relative to how they would be expressed in isolated channel-specific silos.
- Utilize recalculated KPI values to identify opportunities
Armed with your enterprise KPIs recalculated to reflect the real performance of each channel, campaign, and tactic on your organization's macro-level marketing success, you can properly calculate each section's value. Hence, the fifth step is to compare the performance of the channels, campaigns, and tactics (now in an apples-to-apples manner using shared KPI) in order to identify the sections that additional future budget should be invested in, or eliminated.
- Utilize your pre-existing optimization processes
To implement the spend allocation changes identified in step five, you should utilize your already-operationalized processes for optimizing campaigns on a channel-by-channel basis. This allows you to operationalize your attribution management findings without reinventing the wheel, retraining your staff, or living through painful trial and error.
Attribution is a powerful tool that shouldn't require you to abandon all of the sound operational processes you already have in place. Use these six steps above as a blueprint for your translation of attribution results into your existing processes. These steps could also lead to an improved marketing performance that would minimize the change management required to embrace the power of attribution.
Manu Mathew is co-founder & CEO of Visual IQ.
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