The Fundamentals of Attribution Wisdom

Applying a Holistic overview to Digital & Traditional Marketing in 3 easy steps

The broad principles outlined in this article apply to some degree whenever a Digital or Content Marketing strategy is actioned; whether it’s a straight-forward (and possibly short-term) ad campaign with clear ROIs and conversion paths, or long-term content engagement programmes.

At 3B we find ourselves increasingly guiding clients - existing and prospective - towards taking a broader and more holistic overview of their marketing strategies; looking less for a clear ROI on each and every ad investment and more towards attributing each potential “touch-point” along the consumer’s journey to conversion with a value according to that event’s perceived or actual influence upon the transaction.

This marketing methodology is founded in the long-standing and well established psychological principles of Attribution Theory as established in the early 20th Century - most notably by the Austrian psychologist, Fritz Heider. His observations regarding the causes of behaviour, and his theoretical models that explain the resulting events, forms the basis of what I suggest ought to be the foundations of any marketing strategy. This is what has become known as Attribution Modelling (sometimes referred to as Campaign Attribution) and there are ways of applying these principles simply and inexpensively to anything that a brand or organisation does - most especially in the digital space.

A “full” and comprehensive Attribution Model can be a very laborious and resource-heavy thing to produce (and adhere to) but the guiding principles can be remarkably straight-forward and quick to define and apply:

  1. Firstly, audit your entire overall marketing strategy - traditional as well as digital. Quantifying your entire ad-spend will give you the opportunity to identify and review your most productive placements. You’re probably already doing something similar pretty regularly anyway, but it’s always a good idea to start integrating this practice into a more overarching strategy that encompasses your entire marketing approach.
    As part of this audit you need to start thinking about ways of factoring your “analogue” exposure (print ad-spots and traditional PR exposure) into your digital analytics by means of clear tracking through to the point of conversion - QR codes, unique URLs and Google Analytics campaign tracking are your friends!

  2. Secondly make sure your conversion goals are properly identified and successful user journeys defined. This really isn’t as difficult to achieve as many imagine, and without wishing to be too brutal these things ought to have been well established long before your websites are even launched… Google Analytics goal tracking is fantastic, but even better is their ecommerce tracking, if you make actual sales on your website. It takes some setting up, but the insights it offers is more than worth it.

  3. Start making some educated guesses! Applying a degree of common sense, a pinch of understanding the marketing channels that have been most fruitful (& comfortable) in the past, and a dash of analytics can form the basics when starting to formulate your own Attribution Model.

    1. Where do you intuitively feel your clients have been exposed to your brand prior to them actually making a decision to either purchase from you or interact with you?

    2. Where have you been most successful in terms of marketing in the past? AdWords, Facebook advertising, Banner campaigns..?

    3. Take a good look through your existing analytics; plot your successful user journeys and try to define what it is that has informed their conversion. How many of them have landed on your homepage? Have most perhaps landed on a product or landing page? These successful conversions have most likely been exposed to your brand long before visiting your site (long in Digital terms; perhaps just a few clicks ago!), and it’s here that we can start to think about attributing “value” to those previous “touch-points”.

Really the trick of applying this sort of rudimentary Attribution Marketing strategy is to begin with educated guesswork and sensible assumptions backed up with tracking and analytics, allowing for a flexible strategy going forward. Whether or not you are looking to attribute appropriate value to your various ad spots, only a truly holistic approach to your digital exposure will afford you a clear overview of where you’re most cost-efficient and how your marketing spend is best allocated in the future.

This approach will also give up some delightful spin-offs, including better insight and understanding of your core audience and customer base. I would suggest that any 5 year business strategy is best informed by the rudiments of attribution marketing; where better to track and analyse your customers’ pre-sale behaviour and effectively predict their procurement behaviour - and the cost of securing that conversion?

Here at 3B we advocate a holistic approach to Digital Marketing at every opportunity. Please do get in touch if you feel that your company & brand might benefit from our services.