Every marketer’s ultimate goal is to generate sales and revenue for the company they work for, but proving the value of specific marketing activities—in tangible numbers—has always been a challenge. Marketing revenue attribution is the best way marketers have to tie specific marketing activities to the profits they help generate.
Marketing revenue attribution in practice
Jordan West, Owner of Mindful Marketing, uses marketing revenue attribution to figure out which tactics are most worth putting his time and budget toward. With his clothing company, Little and Lively, his use of marketing revenue attribution within Google Analytics helped him learn that their paid search tactics weren’t yielding many conversions, but social was—so he shifted their budget.
“Little and Lively’s revenue is up 77% this year, and we attribute a lot, if not most of that, to social media marketing,” he says.
“If we’re seeing that something is actually driving those first and last interaction conversions, then we’ll continue to pump money into it,” he added.
Marketing revenue attribution has played a key role in helping Jordan make wiser marketing investments. Here are his tips on how to address the top challenges of marketing attribution.
Challenge #1: get your attribution set up correctly
The first step of marketing attribution is making sure you have your tracking set up correctly. Make sure you have Google Analytics conversions set up, as well as tracking for social media sites. Set up your pixel on Facebook and set up conversion tracking for both LinkedIn and Twitter.
West also recommends using UTM codes. “Google and Facebook both have UTM code filters,” he explains. “If you have UTM codes set up, it’s fairly easy to see the entire path in Google analytics.”
You can add UTM codes to the end of a URL to tell analytics platforms which campaign, marketing tactic, channel, site, and keyword the URL is a part of. This enables you to better track where each click is coming from and how well specific campaigns are paying off.
“Make sure that everything is set up down to the smallest detail,” West recommends. “Otherwise, you can’t really make educated decisions.”
Challenge #2: capture hard-to-track interactions
Getting the right tracking in place will quickly reveal insightful information about your customers and prospects, but there are still important interactions online tracking can miss, such as friend recommendations or in-store purchases. For marketing revenue attribution to be accurate, you need to find a way to incorporate offline activities into your model as well.
Businesses that have physical stores can use coupon codes to tie purchases back to online marketing activities. “Once that code is entered into the POS system, you can track how many people came in as a result.”
Another option for capturing hard-to-track interactions is customer surveys. “Ask customers to fill out a short form asking where they’ve heard about you,” says West. “That can be really helpful, as long as you have over 100 responses.”
While you still may not be able to track every lead that finds you through a friend’s recommendation or offline ad this way, these tactics will help you add to the data you have for better, more accurate insights.
Challenge #3: find the right tools
For B2C businesses, West recommends using free tools like Facebook and Google Analytics. “For a free tool, Google Analytics is the best out there,” he says. It’s an easy way to gain useful functionality and visibility without a price tag.
B2B brands that have a longer and more complex buyer’s journey to track can often benefit from investing in a more robust product to dig into analytics. West recommends Dux-Soup for tagging all your LinkedIn interactions. To help you track the bigger picture and make connections between different B2B touch points, customer relationship management tools like Infusionsoft, Salesforce, and Hubspot are widely used and worth considering.
Challenge #4: pick a revenue attribution model
There are at least 11 different marketing attribution models for you to consider. That can get pretty overwhelming.
West recommends focusing primarily on the first and last touch in your revenue attribution model, since those are metrics that reveal how your customers first learned about you and what convinced them to purchase. For many businesses, particularly B2C ones, those are the most important sales indicators.
There are cases where other attribution models may make more sense. West says when determining which model is right for you, “consider how fast somebody is likely to make a purchase and how much search goes into it.”
“For example, clothing purchases are usually fast. It’s not going to take someone six weeks to decide which leggings to buy. But if someone’s looking to buy a hot tub, that’s probably a three- to six-month funnel.”
When a decision requires more research before purchase, the touch points in between the first and last interaction play a bigger role. That’s where multi-touch attribution models can be valuable.
Know your value with marketing revenue attribution
Marketing is complex. Understanding what’s behind the decisions a customer makes requires a certain amount of guesswork. But with modern tracking technology, marketers can get closer to recognizing which tactics play the biggest role in generating sales. With that information, you can build a stronger marketing strategy with improved ROI and prove your worth to the company’s stakeholders.