By Ashley DeVan on April 12, 2016
Even in our fast-paced world, digital marketers still rely on data manually compiled from sources like Adwords, Facebook, affiliate networks, and LinkedIn. Most lack real-time insight into spend, trends and results because they have to wait until the end of the month or quarter to get the information they need. Once the data is available, often there are several teams taking credit for the same results. This makes media investments inefficient, incomplete and unreliable.
With a team manually aggregating reports, you are only getting a top-level view. You aren’t able to slice and dice the data to figure out how, where, or why you got results. Further, if this is your approach you’re likely analyzing your media mix based on a last click model, which limits your view. Without insight into who your introducers, influencers and closers are, it is impossible to make optimal media spend decisions.
Don’t worry — it’s not all data doom and gloom out there. There is a light at the end of the marketing tunnel. Advancements in technology, tracking, reporting, and attribution make it easier than ever to wrangle your marketing efforts and gain a holistic view of all channels to find real value and new growth opportunities.
#1 – Do you struggle with fractured data? You’re not alone!
First, accept that the solution is not more spreadsheets and pivot tables. That’s right, step away from the Excel files. Instead, rely on a tracking platform that combines transaction data with every single consumer touchpoint in your consumer journey. You’ll also want that platform to automatically de-dupe your conversion data across all channels so that you have an accurate view of activity. Having all of your data tracked and reported in one large data hub gives you one source of truth where you can monitor your success in real-time. This will streamline workflows, get your team working off of the same data, and allow you to optimize return on ad spend (ROAS).
When shopping for a vendor, make sure you’re looking for a solution that can truly track across all channels — including mobile — and all devices. We live in a multi-screen world, so getting comprehensive, usable data in one place means your platform must support these pathways to conversion. If you have your own tracking but it is not robust enough, you may also want to look for a platform with the flexibility of an open API, postbacks and batch delivery.
#2 – Can you assign value to channels and partners?
Gaining a birds-eye view of the entire customer journey — from first impression to final conversion — reveals the true value of media partners in near real-time. You need a platform that goes beyond high level reports and lets you drill into the details of every channel in your digital marketing mix. That way, you can spot trends, detect drops, adjust crediting, and measure your KPIs. With the ability to look at individual purchase paths, you remove the mystery around conversion.
You will also begin to understand who your introducers, influencers and closers are so that you can invest in the right partners that are delivering on your specific KPIs. Identify partners that are providing true incremental value and reinvest marketing dollars in the channels that are aligned with your needs at every stage of the funnel. Leading-edge platforms deliver visualizations to help you identify actionable insights from your data.
Take it a step further and employ data-driven attribution techniques. Move away from last click methodology and instead implement a more sophisticated model that reflects your conversion path. Rules-based attribution models give you the ability to choose the parts of the consumer journey you value the most, while algorithmic attribution takes your real-time data and applies machine learning to assign value. Testing different models allows you to clearly see “cause and effect” as well as how marketing channels interact.
#3 – The proof is in the pudding – can you prove ROI and forecast revenue?
The value of big data is in unifying your disparate data sets to achieve a seamless 360-degree view of your marketing activities and customers. Using high tech modeling tools, marketers can build an attribution model that works for their business. Algorithmic attribution models use proven statistical approaches that incorporate your data as well as account for business-specific seasonality, saturation, decay and other external factors. As a result, you have insights that reflect your real-world marketing environment and deep analysis of what’s really happening with your marketing mix.
Using artificial intelligence and statistical projections, you can then build plans for future media buys to match your marketing goals. Algorithmic attribution is an investment that helps you spend your marketing dollars more efficiently, shifting budget from one media to another and aligning creative to audience insights.
Attribution doesn’t just allow you to credit media performance. You can use it to assess the overall strength of your marketing mix. Working with data analysts from your attribution vendor, you can leverage these insights to further build your customer segments, craft marketing portfolio recommendations, and help with strategies to reach your business goals. You can also use this information to forecast your future spend, traffic, and revenue.
A marketer’s job is complex, challenging, and hectic enough without tracking, analysis, and attribution problems. You answer to a lot of stakeholders who have a wide range of questions, needs, and goals. You need a reliable data source that can provide the answers you need to prove the value of your investments, team, and results. That’s why marketing technology exists. Let it lighten the load and enlighten your marketing strategy.