Figuring out how your company will grow is one of the biggest challenges facing marketers.
The playbook is clear: Choose a high-value audience, execute relevant and creative campaigns, and voilà, results and growth for your brand, product or service.
But setting your marketing team up for success is tougher than ever. One reason is that, at many companies, the individual players aren’t using the same playbook. They choose a lower-value target, or the wrong one altogether, launch campaigns without insight and watch growth and ROI sputter.
Getting on the right track for growth is easier said than done. If you’re not seeing the number of leads, conversions, sales or other key metrics you’re looking for, finding out what’s not working and knowing how to fix it is tough.
The issue may not be your marketing tactics at all. It might actually be how you’re measuring performance. Without accurate measurement that de-duplicates results across customers and gives each touch point the proper credit toward a desired outcome, you really don’t know what’s working and what’s not.
This makes it almost impossible to invest in the channels that are driving results and avoid wasting spend on those that aren’t.
Digital marketing is complex
This is a common problem for today’s marketer. For decades, marketers have used traditional channels such as print, radio, TV, yellow pages and outdoor ads to reach consumers. But the digital revolution has proved disruptive to traditional marketing approaches. TV, radio, print and outdoor now work alongside digital marketing — search, organic and paid search, email, social and video.
An explosion of digital channels, platforms and tools have made marketing more complex than ever. There are more touch points as consumers take control of the funnel, interacting with brands across multiple devices, niche media outlets and streaming TV.
Being able to reach and engage your best customer as they move along a tangled digital path requires sophisticated understanding of tools and tactics and clear strategy and vision. But the strategies and technologies that marketers have relied on for years to target, analyze and optimize their marketing and advertising campaigns have not evolved fast enough to keep pace with these demands.
Marketing teams don’t share goals
Another challenge to growth is that it’s common for marketing teams to operate in silos. Most marketing organizations are split between marketing (direct mail, website, mobile, email, SEO, social, PR, events) and media (display, paid social, SEM, affiliate, print, radio, TV).
This split is compounded by multiple layers up and down the org chart: CMO, VPs, and directors, each with a team of managers and specialists under them, executing tactics and managing spend for each channel. Every organization also has multiple agency and vendor relationships.
That’s a lot of people in the pool. This complex structure often leads to individuals or teams working toward independent key performance indicators (KPIs) and incentives, leading to fragmented, ineffective optimization — by channel instead of across channels.
Aligning your organization toward common goals is challenging, especially when the goals change. Organizational silos and the complexities of the digital era have created measurement challenges that make it more difficult to maximize marketing effectiveness.
You may be hurting rather than helping performance
When goals, metrics and incentives align, teams can work together to boost performance and enhance the consumer experience along the entire funnel. But when they don’t, channel managers may unknowingly be working at odds.
Assuming that every part of the organization is doing all they can to feed the funnel and drive results is no longer enough. If your organization sets individual goals and incentives by silo, you may be hurting rather than helping performance.
That’s because each silo has its own metrics. Your Paid Search Manager is optimizing keyword performance while your Email Marketing Manager is tracking opens and click-through rate. How can you be sure they’re looking at the right numbers to achieve company goals?
Aligning metrics to a common goal is key
To truly understand the value of each consumer interaction with your brand, it’s not enough to count impressions or eyeballs or to measure the effectiveness of your marketing using last-touch metrics. You need to know the effectiveness of each marketing touch point in every consumer journey, regardless of where those touch points occur.
No matter which goal you’re focused on, you have to make sure your metrics align so that you’re tracking the right indicators. From a marketing perspective, this is critical. Marketing teams and management need to align on objectives and the KPIs that track progress toward achieving them.
Multi-touch attribution: New measurement for all channels
Many brands are reluctant to use advanced attribution methods that accurately assign fractional credit to marketing and media touch points, yet they’re spending millions of dollars annually measuring performance using last-click metrics they know are flawed.
To be effective, marketing organizations and their agency partners must rely on a data source that offers a holistic picture of performance and makes it possible for everyone to work toward shared goals. At the same time, each team member has different needs for actionable marketing intelligence at a different cadence.
Multi-touch attribution is an approach that makes sure all members of the organization are working together. Multi-touch attribution integrates disparate marketing performance data to establish a single source of truth.
By collecting, consolidating and normalizing performance data into common measures and taxonomy, this methodology supplies the insights your team needs on a consistent, holistic basis. Some multi-touch attribution solutions even integrate third-party behavioral and demographic audience data to provide tactical performance insights by audience segment.
Five attribution use cases
Here are five ways multi-touch attribution helps make sure your team is looking at the right numbers.
CMO: Budget allocation
It’s budget-planning time. The CMO of a large retailer needs to justify current marketing spend to other C-suite leaders and decide how to allocate budget and coordinate messages and experiences across online and offline channels.
Because they use multi-touch attribution, s/he knows VPs of marketing and media can report on which channels are driving business objectives for each target audience. The CMO uses that information to reallocate budgets to achieve higher top-line growth and better bottom-line efficiency.
VP: Cross-channel interaction
It’s the end of Q2. Last quarter, the brand launched a new multichannel campaign to drive sales of a new product, but the campaign fell short of its performance goals. The VP needs to know how to best allocate spend in order to increase sales by 20 percent in Q3.
Since a business rival is launching a competing product, she knows the marketing messages need to resonate with target customers and compel them to take action. She asks the managers of paid search, display, email and their e-commerce site to use multi-touch attribution to report on cross-channel interactions before deciding how to best allocate her quarterly budget to reach Q3 targets.
Channel manager: Email
It’s Monday, and there are campaigns rolling out on Tuesday and Thursday to different audience segments. The email channel manager needs to boost click-through rates to meet the weekly KPI.
Using multi-touch attribution, he checks the response to last week’s campaigns and sets up A/B tests for the emails going out this week, tweaking creatives for each audience segment to see which raises CTR. He then optimizes the email by segment and pushes those out to generate a higher return.
Channel manager: SEM
At the agency, the SEM channel manager sees via multi-touch attribution that the effectiveness of her Tier 1 campaign has suddenly dropped off because a new competitor has started aggressively bidding on the same keywords with an enticing offer that’s stealing click share.
She directs the SEM specialist to increase max bids by 10 percent and asks for an update on impact to performance in 24 hours. In the meantime, she asks the media analyst to report on which ads in the rotation are driving conversions at the highest rate for that campaign so she can direct her SEM specialist to pause the weaker performing ads.
Media analyst: Dimension analysis
At the agency, the media analyst pulls the numbers gathered via multi-touch attribution from yesterday’s mobile app, digital video, display and paid search ads. He compares creatives, ad sizes, offers, devices, geography and publishers to see which ones are performing well. He notices that last night’s new creative is working well across publishers, but only in the bigger size. He alerts the media buyer to boost ad size across channels.
Getting the marketing performance you deserve
Digital innovation has created a new set of opportunities and challenges for marketers. As a result, many brands today think they have a performance problem. The truth is that they actually have a measurement problem. If they can solve the root of the issue — poor measurement — they’ll get better results.
Multi-touch attribution allows brands in all industries to tackle the daunting task of properly measuring and optimizing the results of their marketing efforts. This makes it a whole lot easier for your organization to work together toward shared goals and grow.
To learn more about how you can be a better marketer in the digital era, download the Nielsen Visual IQ e-book: Crossing the New Digital Divide: Your Guide to Marketing Effectiveness
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