by Maureen Jann, Erika Heald, and Erin Hryciw
We hate to burst your bubble, but “hope” is not an attribution strategy. And no single approach is going to work for every business. If you’re looking to implement or refine an attribution model – or convince your organization about why it’s important to do so—you’ve got your work cut out for you. But don’t despair! We’re here to share some ideas about attribution that will help you understand its landscape—and some of its common pitfalls—in order to make good decisions (or present a convincing argument to sway decision-makers). We’re also here to offer you moral support. You can do this. WE BELIEVE IN YOU.
First, let’s set the stage by hashing out some terminology.
Attribution Basics: What Are We Really Talking About?
We’ve heard lots of definitions for attribution, ranging from formal to simple to tongue-in-cheek. Google defines attribution as "set of rules, that determines how credit for sales and conversions is assigned to touchpoints in conversion paths." It You could think of it as giving credit where credit is due, demonstrating who drove what in the sales process, or “showing your work.” One of our favorite ways to think about attribution in easy-to-understand terms is:
What's really important about attribution is that businesses need take into account all of the interactions a potential customer has with a brand to understand what's actually working—something that does not always happen, especially with the last touch-only model. The first and last touches are important, but a lot can happen between those two points.
One more (deliciously salty) way of looking at attribution came from #ContentChat contributor @amy_card89: “Attribution [is] the art of justifying the contribution of a piece of content to the act of moving a customer along the pipeline to conversion. Very often to senior execs who still think cold-calling is the key to closing.”
That brings us to the next important question:
How Does Content Contribute to Attribution?
This is where the ambiguous art of attribution takes a turn for the arcane.
As content-oriented digital marketers, we know that it helps at all stages of the funnel – and the more relevant the content you serve, the more stops it can serve along the path to conversion. For example, a sample attribution path could be: Google Search > White Paper > Advertisement > Word of Mouth > Speaker at Conference > Social Media > Blog Article > Case Study > Contact Form. Bringing your customers along through quality content is paramount to the success of your marketing efforts.
What are some of the challenges and pitfalls when it comes to measuring attribution?
If we wanted to answer that question with one tweet, it would probably go something like this:
Digging a little deeper, it’s fair to admit there are multiple, often intersecting, issues with trying to accurately track and measure attribution. Some of these include:
Finally, not understanding the customer process well enough to be able to read the trends in the data that is collected is an all-too-common problem. Community member @BillSkowronski agreed: “I think this happens most often when [a business] only cares about sales/ROI and doesn't value marketing enough to realize how important it is to understand how/why it happened.”
There was far too much information included in the chat to share here. If you’re interested in reviewing the full conversation, you can read the full recap on Erika’s blog.
Interested in joining the next conversation? #ContentChat happens on Twitter every Monday at 12 noon PDT / 3 p.m. EDT / 7 p.m. GMT. We’d love to see you there.
I'm a veteran digital marketer whose career has grown up with the Internet.