Marketing attribution. What?

Buzzwords fuel the marketing industry. It’s true. We’re creative and strategic and we can’t help but come up with super fancy ways to say things. Even when it’s simply reusing a word that’s been around for years. This time the word is “attribution.”

And now, “marketing attribution” rolls off the tip of our tongues – in a somewhat clumsy way, because the meaning is still somewhat elusive. Here’s the scoop:

Digital marketers spend a lot of time looking for ways to reach customers via multiple channels. We write brilliant content strategies for organic search, paid search campaigns, social media, display ads – the list goes on and on. Our challenge is to figure out which ones are working.

Not that they should, but our customers don’t make it easy. Their journeys aren’t necessarily predictable or logical. And, even the simpler paths travel across devices and channels.

It’s become a fairly common practice to monitor each channel and follow the customer through the sales channel (hopefully to conversion.) And, while helpful, this approach only gives us a piece of the larger puzzle.

Marketing attribution lets us take our analysis and understanding one step further. It looks at each step of the journey to see its value and to understand how channels relate to each other. We can see what’s working and what’s not and we can see the effect channels have on each other.  By doing this, we can see the results of our marketing spend and we can tweak it along the way in response to customers behavior – which may mean straying from that beautiful strategic plan we spent so many hours working on.

E-Consultancy, one of my favorite sources for smart thinking on digital marketing topics, provides this insight from their recent “Valuing the customer journey” report:

Their 401 respondents found some pretty good benefits of working marketing attribution into their business. Consider this new, fancy buzzword as a potential new, effective way to connect with your customers and strengthen your business.