The Importance of Digital Attribution in Multichannel Marketing

“Email Empowers” was the theme at EEC15 last week in Miami, as the industry is discovering “it is the integration of email with other channels that is having the most impact.” This theme rang true in a panel assembled to discuss how brands can make the case for digital attribution.

Much of the conversation focused around the challenges associated with gaining traction inside an organization for executing attribution, the flaws in the attribution models and ultimately the value returned for making such an investment. Epsilon’s Dan McDermott, director of product marketing moderated the panel; which included Adrian Olvera, Global eCRM Manager, Dell; Derek Kazee, Director of Retention Marketing, Ebates; and myself (for a little comic relief at Dan’s expense). What was clear was that taking some look at attribution is necessary for brands as it can be a very effective way to create the ideal multichannel experience for the customer.

How do you get started with attribution? If you are starting at square one, here are some major takeaways from the session.

Don’t try to boil the ocean. Not everyone has the luxury of embarking on a multi-year excursion to determine proper data alignment and attribution. Take the approach that Derek’s team is taking at Ebates. Look at what you can control first. The Ebates team largely uses last-click attribution for alignment of revenue but is now looking at the halo effect email has on conversion. According to Derek (and others in the room were nodding their heads in agreement), it was the next logical thing to look at. We all know that email can encourage a behavior that doesn’t result in a measurable open or click, and they plan to determine the impact this halo effect has on conversion.

Find a friend. Once you have done everything you can within your control, find a friend internally to partner with. Consider someone within a different channel who has like-minded goals and with whom you might be able to begin telling a multichannel story with.

Let the data tell the story. It is almost impossible to analyze data without letting your personal bias dictate the outcome, but it is important to really let the data tell the story. Your channel is not always going to be the winning channel and that is OK. The goal is to optimize the experience for the customer and that should be the guiding light for the story.

Determine the channels that make up the fractions. Adrian is looking at ways to leverage fractional attribution to augment (or ultimately replace) the last-click attribution being used today. But one key from him was that it doesn’t mean you have to use every channel to make up the model. Pick the most heavily used or engaged with channel and then start measuring the impact each had on the decision. As Adrian shared, we all know that it isn’t just one channel that ultimately drives the decision to convert, it is a series of interactions, in multiple channels that culminate in the desired behavior.

Know when to say “when”. You don’t want to spend so much time and money on attribution modeling that the expense begins to have a negative impact on the profitability of what you are doing.

Kara Trivunovic
VP of Digital Solutions

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