Closing the Attribution Loop

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Before the evolution of digital media, marketing and sales teams obtained leads and sales through traditional forms of marketing such as print, television, radio, and billboard ads, as well as word of mouth. Despite being more straightforward in nature when compared to the vast array of digital marketing channels, traditional marketing has always presented many of the same marketing attribution challenges we face today. And as digital marketing spending increases exponentially, closing the loop on attribution has become more important.

As marketing leaders have embraced the trend toward digital media, they have also struggled to close the loop on attribution. In fact, 87% of marketers consider data their organization’s most underused asset in the digital age. As digital consumers become savvier, marketers must prioritize their data and focus on closed-loop attribution.

With the right tools, closing the loop on marketing attribution is achievable. But first, let’s review the benefits of a fully-closed attribution loop.

Improving ROI and the customer journey with closed-loop attribution

ROI will always be important as it is proof of marketing and sales outreach effectiveness. This is particularly critical as recession worries lead to the expectation of budget cuts. Regardless of whether economic concerns come to fruition, marketers must prepare for increased scrutiny on ROI by adopting tools that improve and quantify those gains.

Closed-loop attribution naturally fits into the equation. This approach to attribution credits each channel, campaign, and ad for its role in converting prospective buyers to customers. After analyzing attribution metrics, marketing and sales teams can identify which interactions are most effective during their customer journey — and which are not.

This is critical because as digital advertising spend increases (or decreases) and organizations manage multiple ad campaigns across channels, it can become more and more challenging to analyze the effectiveness of each initiative. Even if marketers can identify the relative performance of a specific campaign by looking at front-end metrics, they may be unable to point out why it was successful and risk missing out on “lessons learned” from each campaign. 

Or, in the case of ongoing sales efforts, the absence of closed-loop attribution may contribute to the overuse of faulty marketing that drives few customer conversions. For example, say a manufacturing associate often mentions their company’s superior supply chain visibility during sales calls because they believe this is a differentiating factor for the business. However, in reality, the customer conversion rate for “supply chain visibility” is incredibly low. With proper attribution metrics and tracking software in place, this associate would know that customers are instead more engaged by mentions of “supply chain predictability.”  

Once marketing and sales professionals determine campaign successes using attribution insights derived from data, they can pivot or double down on existing initiatives and ultimately drive revenue through increased sales and conversions.

Identifying the right attribution solution and metrics of interest

Regardless of their industry, marketing professionals should seek real-time data insights to inform decisions and identify opportunities for improvement. The ability to be nimble to change and to act quickly from data in real-time gives marketers the ability to improve customer experience (CX) and shorten the sales cycle.

Additionally, marketers should use unified dashboards to consolidate and organize their data so they can spend less time analyzing rows of data and more time improving ROI.

Beyond these commonalities that all marketers should adopt, the right attribution solution — and even the appropriate metrics of interest — will depend on an organization’s existing functionalities and the channels it most often uses to correspond with and convert customers. 

For example, Google Analytics provides campaign performance across websites and social media. Marketers can glean their organization’s most effective website pages by reviewing users’ average session durations and bounce rates. With this information, marketers can improve low-performing pages and use language from their high-performing pages in future marketing materials. 

They can also use a tool like Google Analytics, coupled with a call tracking solution, to accurately measure and close the loop on attribution. By tying online and offline data back to campaigns, marketers can connect the dots and craft an effective customer strategy.

Looking to the future of data-driven marketing

Many marketing professionals know their current strategy contains data gaps. Common concerns include: How can I reach customers with messaging that will resonate? How can sales teams align their efforts with marketing to create demonstrable, interdepartmental ROI?

Sales and marketing teams that continuously work to connect the dots between customer strategy and marketing data should consider the role closed-loop attribution can play in providing the data they need. While marketers cannot speak with every customer to learn about their journey, they can access those insights using the correct data. And that process starts with a fully closed attribution loop.

Lisa Salvatore is senior manager of paid media at CallTrackingMetrics.

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