Today's marketing landscape is broader, deeper, and more complex than ever before -- more channels, more choices, and more customers who get savvier each day. Marketing attribution provides a better, more comprehensive understanding of customer behavior, revealing insights hidden deep within an organization's marketing data that allow agencies and brands to make smarter decisions about their marketing spend.
While attribution has been accepted as a necessary tool by many marketers, most organizations have been slow to adopt an attribution solution. Like many new technologies, marketing attribution is often misunderstood as being too difficult to implement or too costly to maintain. But according to the wise words of Leonardo da Vinci, "Nothing can be loved or hated unless it is first understood."
Though at first glance attribution may seem to introduce many unknowns, further study quickly dispels most misconceptions, including:
Attribution is too new, and therefore too risky
Experts have been working on attribution models and software for close to ten years, and it is a tested approach. In fact, trusted industry advisors like Forrester Research have dedicated analysts covering the attribution space and actively recommending attribution to their brand and agency clients -- and many take them up on that recommendation. Bottom line: Attribution isn't an untried technology reserved for early adopters. It is a tested approach, firmly based in quantitative analysis.
Attribution is difficult and puts a strain on technical resources
Though aggregating and normalizing all marketing performance data sounds overwhelming, it doesn't require as much heavy lifting from marketing teams as one might think. Attribution is designed to help manage data collection utilizing an organization's existing tagging methodology, so often doesn't require the implementation of any additional technology.
Attribution is so different from the current way of doing things
There are more similarities between traditional metrics and attributed metrics than one may realize; the only difference is the accuracy of the measurement. The way data is analyzed, decisions are made, and changes are identified remains the same. A marketer's role also remains largely unchanged; only the information output is more in-depth and accurate so that more relevant and appropriate decisions can be made when it comes to marketing spend.
Attribution devalues the work of a marketer
Although marketing attribution reveals previously undiscovered opportunities, it does not devalue existing marketing efforts -- it actually builds on them. Attribution provides the insights marketers need to do their jobs better and build upon current baselines. Like any measurement tool, the aim of attribution is to help organizations improve their marketing baseline via iterative optimization.
Attribution is too disruptive to an organization's normal workflow
It's true that there is a mindset shift required to implement an attribution-based approach. Attribution simplifies everything by enabling marketers to see their marketing programs holistically (instead of channel-by-channel or tactic-by-tactic). This means stepping outside the traditional "silo" approach and shifting focus to the goals of the overall marketing ecosystem.
Attribution places too much emphasis on technology at the expense of creative and human elements
While it does have complex technology with sophisticated math behind it, attribution truly runs on the information marketers put into it -- not the other way around. The software does provide advanced recommendations based on the science of attribution, but a marketing team makes the ultimate decisions on what business questions to ask and what optimization tactics to implement, not the solution.
Marketing attribution delivers the data organizations need to make smarter, more informed decisions. Like other marketing evolutions that came before -- including database, search, and social marketing -- marketing attribution is truly a game changer for those who understand and harness its full potential.
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