Why Attribution Remains the ‘Wild, Wild West’ for Retailers
With the rise of online retail and an explosion of new paths to purchase, consumers now average six or more touchpoints before making a purchasing decision. With so many channels for consumers to engage with, marketers are challenged to know which channels and messages drive the best results, and where they're most likely to maximize the return on their marketing spend.
Despite the best industry efforts to gain a better grasp of attribution in the digital age, a new survey of Retail Ascendant members, conducted in conjunction with Cuebiq, revealed that true marketing attribution remains an elusive goal.
Among Retail Ascendant members, less than half of respondents currently use attribution. Additionally, no more than 50 percent of respondents agree to a specific way to measure the connection between media spend and results, though the most common ways involve heavy use of consumer data. Reporting within walled gardens is the most common data source for attribution (77 percent), followed by customer data platforms/CRMs (54 percent).
This problem is further exacerbated by a clear divide that exists among retailers when it comes to attribution accuracy. A near even split between those that demand precision (within a 10 percent margin of error) and those that have no strong sense of the accuracy of their attribution analysis (margin of error is 50 percent or greater), whereas 14 percent of respondents aim for a margin of error of 25 percent.
Furthermore, retailers still struggle to get their businesses aligned around attribution. Confidence in the maturity of the organization, staff, data sources and analytics skills are still reported as being in the “learning mode.” Retailers also felt there was little buy in from senior management, as 37 percent of respondents felt they were still in “learning mode” when it came to acceptance of measurement output from senior leaders.
For retail marketers looking to get over the hump in terms of attribution, they must start by mapping the customer journey. Understanding the ways in which a consumer experiences a brand before buying can help optimize marketing spend and pay for the journey mapping in short order. Included in this should be mapping which message leads to each journey by correlating the most compelling versions of each campaign by creative.
Following that, retailers should define the payoff from better attribution beyond cost savings. The early investment in understanding cause and effect of marketing decisions by running tests that tune measurement will pay off as the effort to grow both revenues and profits become apparent.
Retailers must also make the case for attribution with stakeholders in the field — regional- and store-level managers, and vendor partners — to understand what works and why. Showing an analysis that ties a promotion to results demonstrates to the company that data is being used for testing, learning and accelerating the best ideas.
Lastly, marketers must make the case for digital thinking. New options like advertising on over-the-top (OTT), connected TV and more robust out-of-home (OOH) networks give new life to these formerly popular ad mediums. As direct-to-consumer businesses lead the effort to invest in these venues that reach beyond desktop and mobile, all retailers need to consider them as a way to improve attribution and impact from top of funnel all the way to purchase.
Marketing attribution is still a work in progress, but taking these critical steps will get retailers on the path to an attributable future.
Valentina Marastoni-Bieser is the senior vice president of marketing at leading location intelligence and measurement company Cuebiq.
Valentina Marastoni-Bieser is the Senior Vice President of Marketing at leading location intelligence and measurement company Cuebiq.
As head of Marketing, Valentina spearheads all aspects of the company’s marketing and communications. She has managed the development and expansion of the Cuebiq brand since its inception, playing an instrumental role in the growth of the brand from newcomer to leading player in the location space.
Valentina brings over 12 years of marketing and brand building experience in the martech, technology, and advertising industries. Prior to Cuebiq, she worked for leading media organizations NBC Universal and USA TODAY, focusing on integrated marketing and product marketing, leading revenue generating marketing partnerships and groundbreaking programs for advertising clients. Her career began in the tech start-up world where she found her passion for B2B marketing and brand building.
Valentina holds an MBA from Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business.