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Sandra Rand

What Your Agency Wants You to Know About Your Sales Attribution Strategy

Sandra Rand
What Your Agency Wants You to Know About Your Sales Attribution Strategy

If you’re reading this article, I’m willing to bet you have an attribution problem.

I’m basing this entirely on the fact that attribution is one of the biggest issues and conversations we have with the majority of our clients.

Unfortunately, the result of those conversations is often “agree to disagree.”

Why are marketing teams so inclined to stick with their current system in lieu of exploring attribution in a way that is more accurate and more insightful?

What do they say about that quote, “We’ve always done it that way?” They’re the most expensive words in business. Accepting flawed results in favor of the easy approach can cost you millions in the long run.

Earlier this year, Webmarketing123 found that 38% of organizations don’t even have an attribution model in place. And the vast majority of marketers who are analyzing some level of attribution consider only first- and/or last-click sources.

The Problem with Last Click

Relying on a model such as last-click ad attribution without challenging its bias, especially given the amount of information available from your digital channels, ensures your budget is allocated on outdated successes. Unfortunately, we’re still finding a ton of companies citing it as bible, so while I’m sure many of you know the drawbacks of relying on last-click, by all accounts it still needs to be said.

Last-click ad attribution undervalues the rest of your channels, almost always.

If you're running social media ads on Facebook in addition to AdWords, for example, your emphasis on a conversion that may have come from Google can undervalue your Facebook display efforts by as much as 30%.

Datalicous found that display advertising as a whole is undervalued by 830% on average with last-click attribution for financial services companies. That number gets even more absurd when you factor in display retargeting, which is one of the most effective types of advertising for driving sales and leads because consumers seeing these ads have shown a previous intent to do business with you.

In the direct response world, last-click ad attribution means leaving a whole lot of ROI on the table AND it may be inflating your acquisition numbers more than you realize. It also means you’re not properly allocating your budgets by channel, weighing too heavy on what ad your customer “touched” last vs. considering any channels before it that drove the intent.

How Our Agency Approaches It

By not giving credit to other channels, you may be in a constant battle to line up your numbers with those of the agencies or marketing specialists you’re working with.

Let me paint a picture as to why:

Internally, Company A, a monthly food subscription service, shows 60 new subscribers from Facebook advertising efforts over a period of 7 days. We show 100 new subscriptions during the same 7-day period and frustration ensues.

As a third party, we have no visibility into what a user is doing outside of their interaction with or exposure to the ads we’re running on that one channel. Most times, you’re not only running ads on Facebook.

If Jennifer clicks today and gets to the website, adds a subscription to her cart but gets distracted and abandons, a last-click attribution model ensures we get no credit. When she returns two days later because she’s reminded by a display ad on HuffPo and converts through that touchpoint, you’re going to give Google display all the credit.

Company A’s reaction? Pull back on Facebook ads because the channel is underperforming.

On our end, we see that a user clicked and know they converted at some point within the next 7 days. Because we don’t have a view into every channel you may be working with, our reporting focuses on the only click we can see.

The discrepancy between your tracking and ours weighs not only on those overall performance numbers, but goes deeper into CPA and further affects how you view a channel when testing your company’s overall attribution model.

The Best Attribution Model for Your Business

The outlook can be rosy for a company that embraces view tracking or lookback windows. Expanding your tracking bit by bit can help your company get a true view of how each channel is performing while layered with all of the marketing nuances unique to your customers’ path to conversion.

Attribution modeling is as much about common sense and understanding of your business as it is data-driven experimentation. If you have a hunch based on all three of these buckets, test it out and see what it does to your CPAs compared to your current approach. If you are one of the 38% of businesses using pure gut feeling over attribution, you still get to factor in your instincts while utilizing data to make a more educated decision. But relying on something as siloed as last-click attribution, the only instinct you should have is that it’s a narrow view and doesn’t at all paint a full picture of what each channel is doing for your business.

The goal of attribution modeling is not to find the silver bullet perfect allocation of your budget. The goal is to find an approach that gives you the biggest bang for your buck. As a marketing vendor that touts 100% data-fueled decisions, we know that you can’t find the right attribution model for your business without knowing the true performance of each individual channel. And to get to those deep insights, you must expand your tracking beyond the last-click conversion.

Sandra Rand is Director of Marketing for OrionCKB, a direct response Facebook agency serving companies in e-commerce, mobile, lead generation and education, among others. Connect with her on Twitter.

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