Blog: Marketers, last touch = last century

The time when marketing strategies could be based on a gut feeling, is long gone.

Author: Daniel Alink
Daniel Alink

Published on August 03, 2016

Not just marketers, but managers alike, ask for insight into the effects of marketing activities. The measurement of results provides a basis from which to steer, optimise campaigns and results, and allocate budgets. That said, the manner in which the results are evaluated is often quite primitive.

After all, there is a major difference between simply measuring and truly analysing the origin of your sales. In the first case, one would check how many people used a discount code during a promotion, for example, or one would check the sales figures following a folder promotion. Looking at the output of your marketing activities is a very rough estimation, because how can you know the exact extent to which the discount code convinced your client? Perhaps your client came into contact with other marketing statements or -activities in the preceding weeks, which contributed at least as much to the eventual sale. Attention is hardly paid to this aspect when the results of a promotion are evaluated. The sales results are always attributed to the last promotion or last touch point. This is called ‘last-touch attribution’. If you also base your budget on last-touch attribution, you might be in for a nasty surprise the next time.

Realistic impression

Would the ability to pinpoint the effect per touch point not provide a much more realistic impression? After all, the client encounters various marketing statements and -activities along the route to eventual conversion. To obtain a realistic impression of whether or not these investments provide a return and whether or not they are substantiated, one can analyse how each of these contribute to conversion. However, identification of the customer journey is a requirement. Each step in the journey is assigned a value, allowing you to analyse the touch point’s relative share in the conversion. This is called ‘multi-touch attribution’. By implementing this, one truly obtains a clear impression of the effectiveness of each activity, enabling well-founded investment decisions.

Attributing sales to individual touch points in the customer journey becomes more interesting as your company and the customer journey become more complex. These aspects become complex quite soon in a world of digital marketing. There are many different types of touch points and the information derived from these touch points can be combined with offline client behaviour. In short, if you have different types of marketing activities and multiple product categories, you get so much more by putting together an attribution model.

As a marketer, you obviously do not build these models yourself. It is a typical job for data scientists or customer intelligence experts. If you don’t have such in-house experts, you can also hire them externally. In any event, good collaboration with your colleagues is essential if you want to achieve success. After all, to identify a customer journey you will require more than just marketing data. You will also require information from the retail organisation, amongst others.

Multi-touch attribution is a cross-border exercise that requires different worlds to be united. If this is successful, your marketing department can achieve maximum effectiveness. After all, if you know where today’s sales came from, you can fine-tune your future investments, and the entire organisation benefits from that.

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