Blog: The 3 main marketing attribution pitfalls

Do you also want to improve the attribution process?

Daniel Alink

The procurement process has become very complex in recent years. This can be ascribed, in part, to the versatility and variety of the digital marketing tools that are used. Just think about SEA, SEO, affiliates, display, marketplaces, shopping engines and retargeting, amongst other things. This has ensured enormous growth in the complexity of the possible ‘customer journeys’ that can precede the actual purchase. Attribution has therefore also become more difficult. How does one determine which action has the most impact on the eventual conversion, via which channel, and how does one know where to invest more or less? Luckily many businesses are working on improving their attribution process. How does one go about this? Where do you start? Step 1 is to refrain from stumbling into one of the 3 main pitfalls.

Attribution is not data-driven

The first step towards successful attribution is to incorporate all your touch points in the customer journey. However, that alone will not guarantee you success! With a pre-formulated distribution across your touch points, you pass the specific characteristics of your business, and, what is more important, of your customers. One cannot steer towards success without insight into the compilation of the most common customer journeys. It is therefore important to identify all your customer journeys as precisely as possible, in order to subsequently derive your attribution rules from the observed customer behaviour.

External and autonomous effects are not taken into account

From a marketing perspective, it is very tempting to ascribe 100% of your sales to your marketing activities. However, this is a major pitfall. A good attribution model starts with the realisation that marketing accounts for considerably less than 100%. But, just how much, to be exact? This differs per company and depends on a range of factors. Your product pricing, media attention, brand reputation and market developments all exert some influence on your sales. Also, nearly all companies have a fixed group of clients who purchase on a regular basis – even if you made no marketing efforts. These effects are included together under the ‘external and autonomous effects on your sales’ heading. One can and must also include data in your attribution model, for these aspects, in order to fairly evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing strategy.

Costs are not included

Say, for instance, that you have built a data-driven attribution model, in which you have also taken autonomous and external effects into account. The best data scientists have assured you that your sales attribution model is realistic. Does this mean you are now ready to steer based on these insights? The answer is no. In order to convert your channels’ attribution results into effective decisions, the cost component of each channel must also be taken into consideration. Does the achieved margin possibly differ per channel? Price comparison sites, for example, are more expensive than simple AdWords. In order to be able to properly compare the effectiveness of the channels, one must be able to express them in terms of Return on Investment (ROI).

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