When marketers look at customer journeys, the focus tends to be on two things.
- The path itself and what actions lead to conversion.
- The impact of designated touch points along the way.
Multi-touch attribution can provide a more illuminating vantage point.
“The purpose of multi-touch attribution is to help marketers invest in those experiences that are proven to drive growth,” says Kelsey Robinson, a McKinsey partner based in San Francisco.
“And to do that, you need to better understand the role that different marketing interventions play along a consumer’s digital journey, everything from a viewed display or paid social ad to a SEM click.”
Multi-touch attribution modeling lets marketers more accurately measure the collective impact of specific tactics… from split testing email subject lines to making different offers.
Modeling helps the marketer shorten sales cycles, grow customer lifetime value, and more.
But it’s not easy.
Multi-Touch Attribution Can’t Exist In A Vacuum
There’s the sprawling and unwieldy landscape of consumer behavior to consider.
Bonnie Crater is CEO of Full Circle Insights, a lead management technology firm.
“Sophisticated marketers will run several multi-touch attribution models at one time to see campaigns that are best at generating leads at the top of the funnel, which campaigns are the most influential in generating opportunities in the middle of the funnel and which campaigns are most effective in helping to close a deal.”
When this holistic approach is taken, and when optimization takes place in real time, marketing ROI can improve.
The challenge comes with execution. In the B2B space for example, it’s rare for marketers to pay regular attention to their attribution models.
This derails the ability of multi-touch attribution models to accurately measure the impact of marketing expenditures on revenue.
The goal of being able to quantify the results of specific campaigns and determine ROI is largely unachievable.
What About The Unpredictable Behavior Of The Irrational Consumer?
The consumer’s path to purchase can be pockmarked with diversions, distractions, and delays.
Linear customer journeys are easily upended by emotional factors.
“It may be true at an individual level that consumers are unpredictable and there will always be outliers, but our personalization work shows that marketers can be pretty accurate when it comes to creating relevant experiences and offers for customers.” says McKinsey’s Kelsey Robinson.
“But the reality is that marketers tend to have an incomplete (even false) understanding of what motivates their consumers. MTA can help them understand to a much greater degree of certainty what role certain marketing exposures have on broad and deep segments of consumers. For example, exposure to a view of a paid social ad may actually have more impact and influence on a customer’s purchase decision than marketers are giving credit for.”
How Much Value Can Multi-Touch Attribution Deliver?
It depends on the quality of the algorithms used to analyze data.
Many marketers have performed a tune-up that frees them from the limits of last click attribution.
But others find themselves reined in and ill-served by algorithms that fail to analyze data from multiple perspectives.
To fulfill the promise of MTA, an expanded perspective and a more complete view of customer behavior will help marketers make better calls.
There’s also the largely unsolved problem of how the combined impact and intersections of offline and online activities are gauged.
But even with the challenges of aligning these two distinct journeys, one online and one offline, a deeper understanding of funnel metrics can pay off.
“A solution that can do both multi-touch attribution and funnel metrics is important,” says Crater.
“Only having one side of the coin doesn’t give you a full understanding of your marketing efforts.”