Using Marketing Attribution to Achieve the Elusive 'Single Customer View'

Volume 3, Issue 8 - August, 2013

Editor, IQ Advisor

Data-savvy marketers understand the importance of deriving the true cost per acquisition (CPA) for every channel in their marketing mix in order to make more informed optimization decisions. Yet many are challenged with collecting an adequate mix of online and offline performance data needed to feed an attribution solution so that it delivers the intelligence that is most relevant to their real-world ecosystem. Here are a few steps that can be taken to ensure you’re getting TRUE CPAs from your attribution solution:

Identify Strategically Important Channels
In today’s increasingly complex and fragmented marketing landscape, a growing number of consumers navigate via both online and offline channels on their journey to a purchase or other conversion. Every organization has its “money spinner” channels, and marketers must be able to identify and integrate these channels into their marketing attribution solution.

Many luxury brands, for example, traditionally spend significant budget on direct mail, sending product catalogs to their target audience. To support these efforts, additional dollars may be allocated to brand-building campaigns in print and on TV. Since attribution only works as well as the data you feed into it, these channels become important touchpoints to consider when performing attribution. Otherwise, marketers are forced to make strategic planning and optimization decisions without a true understanding of how these channels influence each other, or how they impact the overall conversion funnel.

Set Up Offline Data Collection
In the online world, cookies are a simple technology commonly used to uniquely identify users across multiple online channels. However, correlating online activity with offline activity - including direct mail, print, stores, events, TV, coupons, barcode trackers, etc. - is more complex.

One proven method for linking an online conversion with an offline event is to match cookie IDs with customer IDs in an organization’s CRM system. For example, after receiving a direct mail piece, a consumer could be offered a discount in return for going online and entering a unique promotion code. When the promo code is entered, a pixel is fired containing the customer ID, which attaches to the cookie. Another option is to link a customer’s online registration details (like SSN number or email ID) with their offline customer data and generate a unique code that ties them together. Non-converters can also be accounted for simply by counting non-responders. Such approaches enable offline activities for an individual ID to be linked to the online media and behavior history associated with the cookies on that same ID, providing a more complete and accurate picture of the tactics (both online and offline) that produce the best return on investment.

It’s important to recognize that matching rates between online and offline user-level data may initially be low, particularly when sales cycle times and seasonal factors come into play. In the insurance industry, for example, an online form submission may only lead to an offline sale after several months, as the user goes through the long decision-making process before committing to a particular policy. While the preliminary matching rates may not be promising, the longer-term results are well worth the wait; for as more data is fed into an attribution solution, the more accurate results and optimization recommendations it will produce.

Implement the Attribution Results
Attribution provides brand marketers and their agencies with the analysis and recommendations needed to continuously improve marketing results and ROI, but these efficiency gains can only be realized when attribution’s recommendations are put to work in market. Attribution is an iterative process, and it takes effort to regularly monitor the data and learn the best way to implement its recommendations into business, campaign and product strategies.

Consolidating all your online and offline data so you have a single view of the customer may seen like a big undertaking, but the steps above will help to simplify the process. With better and more holistic data and a true CPA, you’ll have a clear picture of where marketing wins come from, how to allocate budgets more effectively, and what changes to make in order to maximize your overall marketing performance.

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