The 4 Best Ideas From SES on Properly Attributing Sales in a Multichannel World

It’s a mistake to silo analytics by channel—multichannel and cross-channel touchpoints should each receive appropriate attribution for sales. That’s the viewpoint many direct marketers and their vendors shared with colleagues recently, despite the fact that all were attending a search-centric conference.

“Be media agnostic,” relates Kevin Lee, CEO of New York-based search marketing agency “Whatever maximizes profit is the way to go.”

Lee was speaking March 24 at SES New York 2011 during the “B2B Lead Generation Management & CRM Integration” morning session.

His sentiments seemed to be echoed throughout the conference, regardless of the session’s original topic.

Attribution doesn’t work “unless all channels are tied in,” says Stuart Bogaty, vice president of interactive marketing at King of Prussia, Penn.-based interactive marketing agency TrueAction Network. He was a session panelist on March 22 at “The AAAA Digital Committee Speaks About Quality.”

These thoughts and actionable advice on attribution were provided by other panelists at the conference:

1. When a budget sits within a product line, siloed analytics can lead to undercounting the contributions of channels—such as how much search can drive the phone calls that may become the conversion, says C. Decker Marquis, senior vice president and director of online marketing for Providence, R.I.-based Citizens Bank. She was a panelist during an afternoon session on March 24 titled “Best Practices and Experiences with SEM in the Financial Services Vertical.”

“So measure in silos, but look at it across the board,” confirms the moderator of Marquis’ session, Chris Boggs, search engine optimization director for Hamilton, N.J.-based interactive marketing agency Rosetta.

One way to attribute sales to the proper channels in such a situation is by watching your welcome emails. If the consumer searches, then converts in another channel or offline by walking into a branch, the search attribution can be confirmed if the bank’s welcome email is opened on the same computer that performed the search, says panelist Rosetta’s Jason Tabeling, an associate partner in search and media.

2. In addition to paying attention to all channels, pay attention to all areas of the funnel. Don’t be a last-click attributor, says Adam S. Goldberg, chief innovation officer at Columbus, Ohio-based marketing technology company ClearSaleing. He participated in the March 23 panel discussion “Channel Surfling: Measuring Profit & ROI Across Channels.”

Almost all of his company’s clients spend more money on search after properly attributing sales to, for instance, branded keywords that they’d dropped due to last click analytics, Goldberg says.

“Brand is a closer,” seconds panelist Thomas Bindl, founder of German-based marketing software provider Refined Labs.

3. Don’t fly blind. Bindl and Goldberg say most of the companies without attribution models find that they’ve been wasting at least 30 percent of their ad spend.

4. Don’t reinvent the wheel, says Anto Chittilappilly, chief technology officer and founder of Visual IQ, a Needham, Mass.-based marketing intelligence software provider, who spoke alongside Bindl and Goldberg during the March 23 panel discussion.

“Use the metrics for which you are already operationalized,” Chittilappilly advises. Then, he says, adopt an attribution process that capitalizes on the metrics’ impact cross-channel, cross-campaign and cross-attribute (an attribute is a data characteristic), and display the results side-by-side in an “apples to apples” comparison.

“You should insist on multidimensional attribution,” he adds.

The next key step, according to Chittilappilly, is to “enable existing processes to capitalize on affinities.” Affinities, or data patterns, between the performance of branded and unbranded keywords would be one area to explore, he says. Another would be the affinity between display creative and search keywords.

After all that, Chittilappilly advises companies to optimize based on the findings and measure again.

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.
Publish date: April 13, 2011 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT