The fourth quarter is always the busiest time for consumer marketers. They spend more on media and, in theory, they drive more money through increased holiday sales. This may result in high ROI, but in today’s fractured media landscape, a marketer needs to go much further to better understand how each channel affected the affluent consumer’s path to conversion. There’s no better time to remember that proper marketing analysis requires an attribution strategy, and marketers who want to do attribution correctly need to get involved early in the process, building their quarterly strategies with robust post-campaign attribution in mind.
The case for attribution is simple: marketers who don’t align how they attribute spend compared to return may have little idea of what actually worked and what didn’t. If there is no insight into which channels brought in the most money, high-converting campaigns are difficult to replicate. This practice is important for all forms of marketing, but it is critical for campaigns targeted at an affluent audience with potentially higher discretionary spending and greater lifetime value.Increased competition for affluent consumers’ dollars means marketers need to ensure that attribution is a key component of their strategy from the beginning, setting themselves up so that they can trace their marketing activity, repeat the steps that brought them success and carve out those not working.
Figuring out which media channels resulted in a sale, online or offline, is more important than ever. This October, the National Retail Federation forecasts that “non-store sales,” which includes online and direct-to-consumer, will increase as much as 10% this year, or $117 billion more than in 2015. While online advertising can drive purchases, offline promotions, like direct mail, often drive online conversions, too. This is especially true in instances where the item on offer is the only thing the consumer wants from that retailer and they don’t want to deal with the hassle of visiting a store.
An inability to properly attribute what led to a purchase means missing out on good intel. Marketers who simply follow the money can make an incorrect correlation between online advertising and online purchases, potentially enticing them to invest more in online advertising, even if they can’t prove that it was the online ads that drove the sales. Divert too much budget away from a direct-mail offer that actually drove the sales, and it may be impossible to replicate the results.
With many channels to reach consumers, including mobile, TV, print and out-of-home, it’s important for marketers to take ownership of their attribution strategy. Any advertising vendor that offers an attribution “solution” can supply numbers that look and sound correct, but it’s up to the marketers themselves to fully comprehend what those numbers mean and how they can make them actionable. This works best if the marketer has a good understanding of the audience segments used for targeting affluent customers throughout the campaign. Knowledge of the targeting and how those segments are assembled is crucial, because it reveals how those segments are actually working once the campaign is up and running, including which ones are converting and which aren’t.
When marketers plan well, attribution is much easier. The fourth quarter always feels like a crazy rush, so it’s a great starting place for marketers to begin understanding how well they allocated their budget and where they can improve, both next holiday season and also throughout 2017. By starting early, asking questions about the data segments used to build and deliver a campaign, and capturing all of the sales and behavioral data, marketers can ensure that their learnings aren’t lost, their investment is justifiable, and their successful results are repeatable.