Order Attribution: Giving Credit Where Credit is Due
Attribution management, the science of calculating the contribution of a marketing touchpoint conversion, brings science and reason together to answer the age-old question: What caused a customer to make a purchase? The answer to that question plays a significant role in enhancing the quality and effectiveness of interactions that retailers have with customers and prospects, which translates into increased return on investment. Attribution is even more important these days, as corner offices are closely watching marketing teams, which are operating with tighter budgets, to see if spending is being accurately assigned.
However, despite its importance, many retail marketers simply don't understand attribution management. According to a recent Google Analytics and Econsultancy study, 72 percent of client-side marketers said that attribution leads to better ROI, but a lack of understanding on the topic is hindering widespread adoption. More than 40 percent of survey respondents say a barrier to attribution is being unsure of how to choose the appropriate model or weigh potential advantages.
To get more insight on the value of effective attribution management, Retail Online Integration hosted a "virtual roundtable" with three leaders in the industry: Bill Bass, the co-president and chief marketing officer of Orchard Brands; Kathy Doyle Thomas, executive vice president, Half Price Books; and Howard Wyner, CEO, Scentiments. (Thomas and Wyner are also member's of ROI's Editorial Advisory Board.) Here are highlights from our discussion:
Retail Online Integration: What's your current attribution model?
Howard Wyner: We use a linear model based on the interactions our customers have with different channels — email, SEO, PPC, retargeting, social media, shopping cart abandonment. You have to be where the eyeballs are … or where potentially they can be. We know that there might be some assistance from each process to get them to come back to make a purchase. They may have clicked on an ad, left, then saw a retagged ad, then came back to the site and abandonded their cart, then maybe saw an email the next day from our shopping cart abandonment program, and then eventually made a purchase. We want to give credit to each process rather than just giving it to the customer's last touchpoint. We give credit where credit is due.
Kathy Doyle Thomas: We worry about all aspects of our marketing program. It's really no different than it was in the old days when we were trying to figure out whether the TV or radio spot worked. We're constantly wondering what's actually driving customers to make a purchase, be it online or in our brick-and-mortar stores. We're constantly measuring this stuff, and we can do this because of all of the research and analytics available today. The challenge is trying to figure out how to digest it all and make it into a workable plan
Bill Bass: The key thing here is a feedback loop — trying to understand what are the things that drive customer behavior, then spending money around those things. The problem that you run into is that for any modern brand you have multiple touchpoints with customers, and every touchpoint is a marketing opportunity, whether it's an email, a customer coming into the store or interacting with a customer on the phone. There are a number of slices in the pie. The attribution models that have come up are relatively unsophisticated, so you end up attributing the sale to the last touchpoint. We spent a fair amount of time trying to be more sophisticated around this. We wondered whether what we had was adequate enough, and we actually came to the conclusion that it was. Simplicity is one of the great things in life.