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What Marketing Attribution Looks Like in a Cross-Channel World

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Google recently started focusing on micro-moments of need during which brands have opportunities to provide value to their customers. Those include "show me how," "is it worth it?" and "I want to go" moments. After all,consumer events, queries, and movements are getting more subtle and fragmented.

So, what do those changes do to channel and behavior attribution? Neither first-click nor last-click models hold water as the relationships consumers have with their brands become spread across multiple touchpoints. How do marketers appropriately identify, score, and employ behavior breadcrumbs when ever-growing complex digital paths, intentions, channels, and devices fragment our view of the customer?

The answer lies in an approach that forces brands to intelligently harness their technical and creative teams to ensure campaigns deliver effective messages across the right channels.

The How

As data gets more fragmented, how it is managed and stored becomes increasingly important. For data to be complete and accurate, the database that holds it needs to be flexible enough to add ever-expanding behaviors, channels, and devices. Marketers who understand at a micro-moment level where important new behaviors take place will have a better chance of allocating accurate resources across the right mix of traditional and nascent channels.


At a minimum, the focus of creating a unified customer view should be driven by three critical practices:

  • Identify. To clearly identify your customers across channels, you need to be able to unify data from multiple sources in one house. Email, CRM, ERP, social media, and a website (to name a few) need to be synced while they retain a label indicating their original source. Doing so will give you a holistic view of your consumer and help you identify segment trends across channels.
  • Consolidate. Big Data by itself is meaningless. Though collecting everything is important, marketers must make meaning from the information they collect. The first step in making meaning is eliminating noise. Marketers need the ability to merge and then deduplicate data across channels, especially as new record types are added. For example, adding new list records to your database should always account for customer records already in existence.
  • Expand. Once data is comprehensive and clean, marketers need to use this system to see complex pictures of behavior. Data collection systems should continuously monitor and update customer activity across all channels, tying response rates and consumer behaviors to the consolidated database. Starting here allows marketers to build the must-have foundation for effective cross-channel marketing and sales.

The What

Once marketers have a unified customer view, they need to figure out what they are looking for. Marketing teams must view behavior across multiple channels to understand specifically what is influencing their customers.

Ideally, the marketing technology stack in place can reveal (via a micro-moment) each key touchpoint in the customer journey. Doing so ensures marketers can optimize channels and content mixes to develop informed cross-channel campaigns that will deliver effective experiences and results. However, even without specialty attribution software, it is possible to feed a low-cost business intelligence platform the data necessary to paint a picture of what behaviors your consumers are taking pre- and post-purchase.

Taking the time to really examine what is happening should be the second critical step in effective cross-channel attribution.

The Why

In one of the most popular TED talks, Simon Sinek reveals how critical it is for people to start their journeys by asking themselves "why" to find happiness and success in their lives.

Though much of the world of attribution is focused on how (rules-based, machine-learning, statistical models), brands also need to think about harnessing their attribution efforts to help identify and engage consumers on their own "why." That task is simultaneously analytical and creative.

Marketers need to understand why certain types of people take certain types of actions on certain types of channels. Then marketers need to work closely with creative teams to understand the types of conversations happen across each channel in order to distribute their spend and message in a way that will land.

That idea of connecting the why is deeper than a series of Google Ads that retarget on Facebook and other websites. A great "why" sees the consumer fully, continuously checks in as the consumer grows and evolves, and breaks down the best way to deliver relevant value on behalf of the brand in the right places at the right times.

"A goal without a plan is just a wish," writes French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Brand marketers understand and want to deliver real-time, cross-channel campaigns that satisfy moments of need. But knowing what needs to happen and doing it well are very different things.

* * *

As customers live increasingly connected lives across a growing number of connected devices, the how, what, and why of marketing activities will need to evolve to empower the delivery of meaningful brand experiences. Brands that start with data, take the time to understand it, and apply deeper creative applications in the right moments of need set themselves up for success in an increasingly complex cross-channel world.


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Paul Mandeville is CPO of QuickPivot, real-time cross-channel marketing platform powering lifecycle marketing programs.

LinkedIn: Paul Mandeville 

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