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Marketing Analysis: Touch Points & Attribution

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Professor Mark Ritson says in his article in Marketing Mag that brands and people are going to find themselves in the middle of a marketing frenzy in 2017. These events will follow on from the “Current swirling chaos that exists in the current marketing communications universe and 2017 is going to be the mother of all years for media mix decisions.” Marketing plays a vital role in our responsibilities to plan ahead for opportunities to create new platforms for expanding our businesses, therefore Mark’s comments can help us address the vital points in his cover.

What is attribution? In this context, marketers need to know what communications options work and don’t work for their brand. Mark, “We call this mission to assess the various touch points and channels, attribution.”  The bottom line is to find out which agencies are producing the results. There is not a better starting point. Then, work through the details so that the performance can be established. No bells and whistles in these instances only verifiable fact required to push the momentum in the right direction. Mark, “It’s certainly an essential question to address, but attribution methods have been badly contorted in recent years as the usual nonsense and biases take hold.” 

A common mistake made when searching for the touch points is to move straight to the digital platforms. Abundance is where you will likely find the material to guide you through the process of disseminating the channels. Mark, “Thanks to the more advanced nature of targeting and the ability to monitor and interact with customers through digital channels, it’s tempting to simply monitor the various digital channels you are using and attribute ROI exclusively to these channels.” Further,”The whole point of attribution is being able to compare all touch points you are using, not just the ones that make comparisons relatively simple.”

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Avoiding the temptation to shortcut by examining all the respective channels in the mix and then making comparisons is crucial. This process is not as easy as it seems because many marketeers only consider the ROI of those media channels that deliver the most sales for their brand. Sales drive the process however before you make any sales you must have a preference and prior to preference you need awareness and so on. Mark makes the point showing how marketers often miss the point in the process. “It’s clear that while converting prospective customers into actual customers is a crucial step, so is making them prospective in the first place. But if attribution is myopically focused on which tool will deliver sales, we inevitably end up favouring the touch points at the end of the funnel, rather than those that bring customers through the top or send them through.”

When sales start to diminish it becomes apparent too much attention is given to those customers that form at the end of the tunnel rather than those who pour through at the top, after conversion rates drop because they have neglected the earlier steps in the purchase path. Mark, ” What is needed therefore is a cross media, cross funnel model of attribution that genuinely enables a marketer to see how all respective media interact and impact on the target market.” Mark examines the past and points out where even the most stringent testing using reliable techniques don’t always bring the results expected. The end result is never practically applicable to making marketing decisions. Too many moving parts, segments, competitors, retailers, changes in brand equity, even weather, conspire to make proper attribution all but impossible.

There is a solution. Mark, “First build a proper sales funnel. Ignore those people telling you the funnel is dead. It’s never been more useful. But make sure your funnel is a custom one based on your customers in your market buying your brand, not some generic textbook thing. Next populate your funnel with the proportion of customers that make it to each stage using a big dollop of quantitative market research. Third look at the conversation ratios from stage to stage and work out which stages in the funnel will be your focus for 2017.” Then select the agencies or consultants and proposals that appear best placed to deliver on your objectives with the best return and execution. Further, “When it comes to attribution you are now in a magical place. You have a series of clear objectives and a number of agencies signed up to help you achieve them. Let the campaign begin” At the end of each period of review repeat your processes using this model and see if the momentum is heading in the right direction. The tools of measurement in this case are PR, Digital Ads and Out Of Home Advertising. Focus on what influenced the results most and which offered the best ROI. Mark, “If you achieved your strategic objectives assume all three played their part and pay out accordingly. You may want to tweet the effort in the year ahead based on your overall assessment, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Treat all tools like champions.”

Given all years provide challenges and 2017 looks to be particularly so, it’s time to plan ahead to give our businesses the best opportunities to perform in line with our plans. This review shows the importance of careful detailed analysis of particular areas that affect our ability to run our businesses so that our targets can be made. The funnel example shows that we should examine all data that flows through and not the smaller segments that form the base of our day to day turnover. There are lost opportunities when we pass over the many seemingly insignificant door knocks that come our way.  Therefore look at the top of the funnel and not just the bottom section where all the easy active clients rest. Conduct regular reviews so that we can consider the value of these various touch points and channels. Once we have reached our conclusions we can launch measures to help us maximise our ROI. Remember attribution and apply it. It will keep all our bases covered.

 

Hayley James.

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