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Marketing Attribution: Four Steps for Maximizing Your Return

Volume 6, Issue 1 - January, 2016

Andrew Dorris, Client Partner, Visual IQ

In any vendor engagement, the one thing that a management team will be interested to know is, “What did I get back in return for my financial investment?” The same principle applies to your selection of an attribution provider. In advance of signature, key stakeholders should start to think, “How am I going to prove a measurable lift in marketing performance?” or even, “How can I point this back to some kind of ROI figure?”

Making sure your solution generates a meaningful return starts with vendor selection and continues through the life of the engagement. Here are four best practices for ensuring your attribution provider is held accountable for producing the results you expect.

Select the Right Vendor
While there are a number of factors to consider when selecting an attribution vendor, at a very minimum, they should be able to provide insights and actions at the most granular level for tracking purposes. It is one thing for an attribution solution to be able to provide insights at a channel level. But the true value comes when placement- or keyword-level insights are provided, implemented, and tracked in an agreed-upon format that allows users to see the optimizations being put into market, the estimated impact of those optimizations, and the actual results.

Define What Success will Looks Like
Attribution can solve for a number of complex marketing challenges, so it’s essential to gain alignment on what will constitute success for your organization. Does your vendor need to illustrate a demonstrable lift when comparing last ad metrics to attributed metrics? Do they need to help increase your digital sales by a certain percentage? Make sure you kick off your attribution initiative with a concrete idea of what will constitute a successful engagement.

Determine How ROI will be Calculated
When investing in an attribution solution, marketers want to know if the software is going to pay for itself, or better yet, increase their revenue. However calculating ROI can be a nuanced process – while the math is basic, the components aren’t always easy to figure out. For instance, will you have your vendor take credit for every sale that comes in above a projected baseline? Do you have the average cost per sale ready to apply? Will cost savings from turning off poor performing keywords count towards the bottom line? All aspects of what you will allow the vendor to take credit for should be reviewed and agreed upon to ensure you’re getting the return you expect.

Agree on the Methodology for Tracking Success
Make sure the approach that you and your vendor will take to report the impact of media optimizations are clearly documented so that there are no grey areas when it comes time to identify whether or not the engagement was a success. This includes leveraging an agreed upon template for tracking optimizations, designating roles and responsibilities, formalizing key documents and procedures, determining when the data will be presented to key stakeholders, and defining what the actual equations are for calculating the final numbers. If there are any caveats that need to be kept in mind, such as the impact of budget shifts, organizational restructures, product pricing changes, or other financial considerations, these will need to be addressed as well to ensure a clear ROI can be calculated at the end of the engagement.

Ensuring that your attribution vendor can meet your needs and provide you high quality actionable recommendations is only the first step. Making sure they can also provide you with evidence of their impact on your organization is equally important.

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