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How to Accurately Determine Marketing Attribution in Omnichannel Commerce

by Andrew Reed, on Jul 6, 2021 12:00:00 PM

Daren Limas is the Director of Accounts at Klickly.com, a commission-based marketing solution that allows shoppers to discover products across multiple platforms, while also creating shoppable advertisements for its brands. We sat down with Daren to get his insights on the benefits and challenges of omnichannel commerce and why it means moving away from traditional last-touch attribution.

Digital marketers have long relied on a last touch model as the cornerstone of attribution modeling. But as the digital landscape continues to evolve, so has the number of channels that buyers are using to engage with new brands and products. 

In today’s diverse digital marketplace, if you want to truly understand your marketing ROI, you need to take a more complex approach to attribution reporting, which of course leads to many benefits and challenges.

 

Moving Away From Last Touch Attribution

First and foremost, no business wants to overspend on marketing without seeing a corresponding return on that investment.

Instead, the goal is to optimize your marketing spend by focusing it on the channels that will deliver the best results. 

This focus led to the old-school mentality that focused on optimizing towards the last click of a customer's journey.

The logic was that if buyers converted through that final channel, it must have been the one to have the biggest impact on the sale. 

But the reality is that there is more than a single channel involved in just about every customer journey. 

So as we continue to view digital commerce as an omnichannel experience, it's more important than ever to track your customer’s journey from first to last touch, and really understand which of those channels and touchpoints within the journey has the greatest impact in driving the sale. 

For example, If a buyer comes to your site through a PPC ad, while another buyer comes in through social media, but both convert after receiving an email, this does not necessarily mean the email was the most effective part of your campaign.

Information and awareness can be earned through channels separate from those that cause a consumer to convert. The trick is figuring out which step produces the most value and is most likely to lead to a purchasing decision.

 

How Last Touch Can Hurt Your Attribution and Your Revenue

When mobile advertising was first beginning to grow, most marketers were using last-click attribution models. At the time, desktop was still the most popular place to actually purchase new products and therefore was claiming the bulk of last click attribution. As a result, many brands were hurt by this shift because they weren’t properly catching where their leads were coming from. 

All brands knew was that shoppers were converting on desktop. So of course, their first instinct was to spend their marketing budget on desktop ads, while mistakenly ignoring the mobile channels many customers were starting their journey from.

We now know that mobile plays a big part in the typical customer journey, and often comes first when it comes to brand awareness and consideration.

So if you were to start with 50% of your budget focused on mobile and the other 50% on desktop, and you suddenly shifted nearly all your budget to desktop with minimal mobile, It's likely you would experience a traffic decrease because you're limiting your chances of being discovered. 

Shoppers may not be converting on mobile, because it's a more distracting platform, but that is only one step of the process.

If you adopt a more holistic approach to your attribution and track the entirety of the buyer's journey, you’re going to have a lot more insights on which to base your marketing investment decisions and greater success bringing in customers and leading them through their journey towards conversion

This is because you’ll see the role each channel plays every step of the way, and you'll have a better idea of how to distribute your budget to produce the best ROI.    

 

Challenges with Omnichannel

The biggest challenge you'll have when developing your omnichannel marketing strategy is trying to decide how much value each step has in the buying process.

For example, how much do you value a view-through compared to a click-through? Do you value a view-through on a premium site more than a click-through on a low-quality or rewards point-driven site?

There is no written rule for this kind of attribution. Each brand is going to interact with its customers differently, and each customer is going to interact with your brand differently. 

The next challenge you’ll face is how much you're willing to spend to drive certain types of conversions. You may discover that your most expensive marketing channels are driving the lowest cart value or conversions, or that different customer activities may suggest a better likelihood of a higher cart value.

Again, this will differ for every business. You’re going to have to be patient at first and track as many buyers’ journeys as you can before you’ll be able to build an effective model for your business.

Because of this, it's important to use the same reporting window across your channels. The lifetime value of a customer, or how much you spend and earn with a customer throughout your relationship, is far more important than the cost per acquisition from just one conversion. 

 

Preparing for Multi-Touch Attribution and Omnichannel Commerce.

There are a few things that you can do now to begin the process of updating how you tackle attribution reporting. 

Finding a proper multi-touch attribution tool that is capable of measuring in new and unique ways while also offering you useful insights into each of your channels is the first key step into a successful omnichannel strategy.

It might sound lofty, but there are a number of great solutions out there. 

Second to that is paying close attention to your Google Analytics and building a robust understanding of your own reporting. 

And finally, as we mentioned above, maintaining a consistent attribution window across all your channels will help to ensure that you’re comparing apples to apples when evaluating how your various channels are performing. 

Every brand is going to be different. Because of this, decisions regarding how you allocate your ad spend should be based on a solid understanding of your audience’s behavior and the effectiveness and cost of your marketing, and not the traditional idea of single-touch attribution. 

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