This article is part of an occasional series from leading voices about key issues facing marketing today.
In the same way that the advertising industry is handcuffed by faulty attribution models, marketers are struggling to attribute conversions to campaigns that their teams have run.
The reality is, just 17% of people say purchase is their primary purpose when visiting a brand's website for the first time, according to a recent Episerver study, which means there are multiple touchpoints for marketers to lose sight of whether or not audiences took positive action from a marketing asset.
As visitors click from page to page on your site and third-party channels like social media and search engines, the attribution data that shows where they came from starts to pick up more and more characteristics—never again showing marketers clearly that their asset or campaign was what brought in the sale.
Marketers have taken on greater IT power in the last several years—with chief marketing officers outspending their chief information officer counterparts. And with great responsibility comes, as the saying goes, great responsibility. Marketing teams are feeling the pressure to prove that the technology and tactics they use are deriving monetary value for their companies. Proving return on investment (ROI) is, in fact, the second-biggest marketing challenge behind generating traffic and leads, and ahead of securing enough budget.
It is, however, marketing teams' own agendas that got them here. As digitally focused teams rightfully moved past mass media to focus on specific, high-value audiences and spent budget only on the strategies they could track, they lost the ability to move through their organizations without accountability. Heck, even the systems they fought for and implemented have worked against them by failing to connect how they were directly responsible for conversion events.
Like the ad industry's attribution models, the sale could be credited toward the channel that the person first engaged with (first touch), the channels closest to the sale (time decay), and the last item a person interacted with before the conversion, among others.
Although companies do not necessarily organize their wins and losses by those specific attribution models, there needs to be a way to use similar formats to prove ROI internally, to answer questions such as...
- What department was ultimately responsible for the conversion? For example, if a whitepaper is released, was it the team that created the asset that should be able to include conversion reporting as a win for themselves ,or was it the team that heavily promoted the asset?
- What decision ultimately showed results? For example, how long did an asset show on the homepage until conversions started happening?