91% of marketers understand the value of attribution, yet many of the conversations I have suggest that most of them are struggling to justify spend on attribution technology internally.  

In my experience, it is a simple calculation; deploying an attribution solution in the right way will (within three months):

  1. Identify the 15-20% of your marketing that’s simply not working.
  2. Show you where to re-invest this budget.

The first step is to calculate how much that is for your business and prove that the cost is significantly less than the investment.

As you learn more about your customers (and their journeys), you will be able to identify further efficiency savings and build a framework to allow you to be creative about trying new things with confidence.

However, before you can use the results to prove your point you need to persuade your FD, MD or CEO that your business should be investing in attribution in the first place.

This is especially difficult if you haven’t budgeted for it, because the money will come from your media spend.

Here is my four step plan to help marketers build a business case for attribution:

1. Do the math(s)

Virgin Holidays Marketing Technology Manager James Libor:

Budget is often seen as a big blockage, but the way I look at it is just 1% of your budget can tell you what the other 99% is doing. With that perspective the cost doesn’t seem significant.

By spending 1-5% of your media budget on ensuring the rest is spent in the right way, you will be able to prove that you’re managing it effectively. 

As I’ve said, by deploying the correct solution you will find 15-20% of ineffective spend within 12 weeks and identify where to re-allocate it

2. Focus on the most pressing questions

To ensure quick value and buy-in from other stakeholders seek to use your attribution model to resolve their most burning questions.

For example, you could enable your search manager to justify generic PPC once and for all, which will in turn prove to your MD that it is more than just an academic pursuit.  

This is a popular one, but there are many more questions that can be answered with attribution modelling

  • How can I identify the affiliates that add value?
    • I want to encourage content and specialist affiliates that drive value, but with my last click view I can only see the voucher and cashback affiliates
  • What is the true value of Display Ads?
    • I can’t optimise my display unless I can measure it in a way that makes sense – last click is undervaluing it but post impression means I have duplicate sales.
  • What activity drives new customers?
    • My targets are based on driving growth by acquiring new customers at an acceptable ROAS, however because I don’t have this view my teams end up optimising in a way that accentuates retention channels.
  • What is the effect of my online marketing on my store sales?
    • My MD wants to spend more and more money on TV and offline advertising because she says it drives store sales, how can I show that many customers who end up in store start their journey online?
  • How strong is the effect of my brand online?
    • We spend lots of money offline and online to expand the coverage of our brand – how can I see the effect of this spend?

3. Focus the plan to drive value quickly

Many people get hung up on the algorithm and technology that makes marketing attribution possible -you need to step back from that and focus on the value it drives.

Ultimately, a shift in budget from an ineffective activity to an effective one has the potential of both saving budget and at the same time generating additional revenue. 

You don’t need to collect lots of data and construct the perfect attribution algorithm to do this quickly.  A business case should include a plan that allows you to start taking action and answering those burning questions quickly, rather than spending your time searching for the perfect algorithm. 

4. Go for a fixed price model

This is a short point, but one that we often come up against when we speak to businesses. 

The perception in the marketplace is that volume based pricing is standard and the more successful you are, the more you will end up paying. This is no longer the case.  You can now get fixed cost platforms that won’t penalise you for succeeding.

Don’t fall into the trap of a model that will become more costly the more you measure. It also makes it harder to prove the value of your attribution solution if you don’t know how much it will cost in 12 months. 

Do you have a business case for attribution?

In today’s ‘omnichannel’ world, last-click is no longer fit for purpose. Rather than telling stakeholders that they have no choice but to move to attribution try something like: 

In the next few months we are going to have a much better idea of how our marketing channels are performing.

Focusing on the ways attribution makes their jobs easier, and allows them to make more confident decisions will encourage the initial leap and make the project much more likely to succeed in the long term. 

James Collins

Published 5 June, 2015 by James Collins

James Collins is Managing Director for Rakuten Marketing’s attribution solution and contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn

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