Every customer has a tipping point. An ad, an email, an Instagram-sponsored post – each touchpoint a customer comes across may generate interest. But what channel or touchpoint influenced the conversion most significantly? To drive advertising efforts in a data-informed manner, marketers must always know that one ad spend in their campaign which was the most successful in generating ROI. The role of multichannel attribution in digital advertising and marketing is to identify this one specific high-ROI touchpoint.
Today, we talk about multichannel attribution and why it’s vital for any brand that wants to save precious marketing dollars while adopting an omnichannel or cross-channel marketing strategy. We will also cover best practices to help you choose a multichannel attribution platform.
What is multichannel attribution in digital marketing?
Simply put, it is a form of advertising or campaign measurement that considers all the channels a customer interacts with during their purchase journey, from the awareness stage to the purchase.
This helps assess the messaging strategy and ad spend by tracing the value the brand received from each channel. Not just post-campaign, multichannel attribution can power real-time evaluations of each ad dollar on each touchpoint and optimize their channels, messaging, and creatives on the go. Eventually, this effort leads to high ROI – every marketer’s pipe dream, especially in the current economic climate.
So, for example, if you are a skincare conglomerate running native ads, an email campaign, and some giveaways on Instagram, you would have allocated a percentage of your budget to each of these.
You would have also calculated how much ROI you want on each dollar you spend on these channels. Multichannel attribution will help you determine if you meet that threshold. So how does multichannel attribution help you assess your channel performance? By attributing the sale, store visit, or click you received from each of these channels during the campaign period.
Why is multichannel attribution important?
Though multichannel attribution seems like an additional burden on your already overworked team, it’s simply not something you can ignore anymore.
Here are some of the benefits you may be missing out on without investing in a multichannel attribution strategy –
Benefit 1: Multichannel attribution delivers a microscopic understanding of your advertising efforts
The visibility relating to the success or failure of advertising efforts on a channel helps you keep up with what your customers respond best to. If you don’t invest in multichannel attribution, you will not know what worked and what didn’t on a granular level.
You will have an idea of the general ROI of a marketing campaign. But within the campaign, you will not know which channel contributed to this ROI the most. Given that there are around 12 marketing channels with over 99 touchpoints in a single campaign, it would be akin to playing Russian Roulette with your marketing channels and budget if you don’t know which channel is most responsible for a sale.
Benefit 2: Multichannel attribution delivers a powerful 360-degree view of your target audience
Even as you optimize your marketing budget, you will simultaneously improve customer experience since you can trim out all the non-effective parts of your campaigns. These would be what the customer probably considers spam or ad clutter and is never influenced to engage or take action.
On the other hand, multichannel attribution also enables you to understand your customer’s triggers, ensuring that you consistently choose the platforms, messages, and creatives that resonate with them the most.
With these insights, you will achieve a single customer view to understand what parts of your campaign are helping your customers move to the next stage of the buying cycle.
Benefit 3: Multichannel attribution empowers you to answer the more significant advertising ROI questions
The B2C ecosystem is competitive. As a result, marketing teams often have to justify their budget requirements and ad spends. Multichannel attribution will give you the precise insights you need to make these justifications confidently and successfully. For example, you can identify which channels had the highest ROI and how much sales they brought in.
When you can demonstrate hard-dollar business outcomes and revenue from your advertising efforts, you change the role of marketing from a cost center to a revenue center. In the long run, the general perception that your efforts bring in revenue simplifies budget justifications.
Why is multichannel attribution challenging?
Our customers tell us their fundamental challenge in the current advertising landscape is reconciling offline and online channels and other siloed data within a single platform.
Whether marketing, sales, or customer experience, each team has comprehensive datasets on customers and audiences.
These are like scattered puzzle pieces that need to be integrated before you can perform any high-level analysis, such as multichannel attribution. You need a robust customer data platform that gathers insights from siloed systems. What’s important is that your chosen CDP considers online and offline customer data, without which your omnichannel advertising and multichannel attribution will not bear results.
Simply put, your multichannel attribution framework should be backed by a platform that can tell you-
- If a digital ad led to a click or search
- If a digital ad led to a store visit
- If an OOH ad led to a click, search, or store visit
- If an online review led to a visit or search or click
We spoke to Deepak Shukla, the founder of Pearl Lemon Cafe in London and an astute digital marketing expert. Here’s what he had to say.
“We connect offline touchpoints and channels with online ones through review optimization. We ask customers coming in-store to leave reviews on Google, directly or through QR codes. When the customer leaves a reference to the area, the product they liked, and so on, as specifically as possible, it helps with the discovery process. We then use in-store customers to build an online presence. That’s how I connect our online and offline touchpoints.”
Every marketer aspiring to measure campaigns using multichannel attribution needs a robust marketing CDP that unifies data. That’s the very foundation of modern attribution frameworks.
How to choose the right multichannel attribution platform
By now, we know that astute multichannel attribution requires the foundation of technology. A marketing CDP performs much of this work on behalf of marketers. The problem is that the ad tech space is cluttered with CDPs claiming to do this work for you.
How do you choose the right marketing CDP for your specific attribution needs? Here are the top questions you need to ask.
Question 1: Which attribution model does the platform use?
With decades of marketing and advertising evolution behind them, many attribution models now exist within the ecosystem. These include –
- First-click or last-click attribution, which looks at the first or last channel, respectively, which the customer interacted with before converting. These two models focus on one single data point.
- Linear attribution, which places equal credit on each interaction the customer had with your brand before converting. This is usually not very powerful in omnichannel environments because you only record digital interactions and don’t consider offline interactions when placing credit for the conversion.
- Time decay attribution, which places credit across multiple interactions. However, this model considers when each interaction took place, putting maximum credit on the last touchpoint and minimum on the first. Time decay attribution model may not be foolproof in the new buying journey because awareness is the beginning of the journey. If a consumer doesn’t know your brand from that first touchpoint, they may never end up buying from you.
- O2O attribution incorporates every single digital and physical touchpoint and places credit on the one that had the most impact on conversion – both online and at the physical location. We find this model to be most effective in the new omnichannel buying journey, multichannel advertising, and point of sale.
Your attribution platform’s go-to model must be data-driven to comprehensively understand your customer’s behavior throughout the buying journey.
Beyond this, discuss your marketing goals and data strategies with potential marketing CDP vendors to identify which model makes the most sense for your business.
Question 2: What’s the window of attribution?
Some analysis tools only provide insights based on a 90-day window.
That’s not enough because a buying cycle can be far more diverse based on your niche. For example, a typical automotive consumer in the US spends about 3 months in research alone and is typically in the market for 108 days before they make the purchase decision. On the other hand, the buying journey in FMCG food purchases typically lasts 7 days.
Identify which window accurately represents your buying cycle, and see what kind of insights the multichannel attribution platform can generate within it.
Question 3: What’s the range of data used for the attribution model?
We spoke about siloed data and how it can challenge multichannel attribution.
When picking your attribution partner, be sure to gauge how efficiently they can break through these siloes to gather all the data across channels and generate insights.
Multichannel attribution relies on data quality and volume, with data forming the model’s most foundational premise. Therefore, it is crucial that your marketing CDP can ingest data from diverse systems and platforms and have the right integrations for you to be able to make the most of your investment.
Unlock multichannel attribution with ReBid Insights, the contemporary marketers’ chosen marketing CDP
Our customizable marketing CDP, ReBid Insights, puts the power of decision-making in your hands and execution in ours.
We help you navigate omnichannel marketing with a keen eye on channel engagement and performance. ReBid Insights is built for the most prevalent as well as unique marketing use cases like multichannel attribution.