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Evidence-Based Marketing

What is revenue attribution?

Posted by Matt Redlon on Jul 15, 2019

Marketers are struggling to understand which customer touchpoints are driving sales. This brief, lighthearted video explains what revenue attribution is, how it reveals your customer's true path to purchase, and how this knowledge results in smarter budgeting decisions.

"This is Tim. Things are going great for Tim. Besides his recent promotion to CMO at Avalanche clothing, he's got winning products, he's gathering massive amounts of information from his customers, and sales are stronger than ever. He's even got a surplus in his marketing budget. It's all about the big picture at Avalanche. So Tim looks at his marketing data, and he does what many marketers do. He throws that extra dough at the marketing channels that led to the most sales. or at least the ones that appeared to. Yes, Tim's pretty sure those were the ones. Mostly sure.

Six months later.

The new report is in, and it's not pretty. Tim put his extra eggs in the wrong baskets, and his marketing budget has vaporized into thin air. Poor Tim. Naturally, Tim's bosses wanna know what went wrong. 

In the past, Tim's life was a lot easier, because he only had one or two marketing channels at his disposal. These days, many touch points help establish the brand and influence the purchase. But Tim has only been giving credit to the last touch point for each sale. This single touch approach to attribution ignores other influences, and leads to the misallocation of marketing dollars, aka, wasting money. Tim has to get a handle on his marketing data, and quick, before his bosses slash his budget, and replace him with a band of psychic number ninjas. His only solution is to get up to date with revenue attribution.

Let's look at web orders, since that's the majority of Tim's business. Tim knows there's more to these numbers. What if he could dig deeper and reveal the whole story? With modern revenue attribution, Tim has the power to do just that. His current strategy doesn't account for the unique and complex paths his customers follow toward each product purchase. Touchpoints often work together to guide the customer toward a purchase. And customers leave a valuable trail of information along the way that we can learn from. Revenue attained metadata generated. Now it's time to figure out what channels get credit for that sale. That's right, portions of the sale can be attributed to more than one marketing channel. By looking deeper, Tim can see that Susie found her ideal dress on a social site, received a coupon code in a marketing email, and searched for both the company and product on the web before making her purchase.

Now, Tim's been in the business for a while, and knows from testing that a portion of web traffic is organic. That is to say, some web orders would have occurred even without any other marketing. Let's set those aside and focus on the more complicated orders. Often, orders can only be attributed to one touchpoint. These are fairly easy to spot, so let's set those aside next. Tim also has evidence of customer behavior from hold-out tests, focus groups, surveys, and common sense reasoning that comes with his years of experience. How convenient. And by tapping into this testing and experience, Tim can set algorithmic rules to further weigh the data.

In this case, Susie was only searching for the Avalanche website because, well, sometimes Susie just can't be bothered to add all those w's and dots manually. So the search term she used didn't really contribute to the sale. No credit for you, web search. And she clicked on a picture of her dress, but didn't buy it until she received a discount code via email. Banner ad with the assist, but email makes the shot.

As Tim works through orders representing the combinations of marketing channels that are strategically important, weights emerge which are then applied to all orders, nice. This attribution process is transparent, exponentially more accurate, and easily adapted to evolving business strategies. Tim can now produce reports summarizing all orders by marketing channel, by time period, or any other way he needs to see it. Yes, you can gain a lot when you dig deeper. And you can also avoid being replaced by psychic number ninjas. Dig deeper, and reveal the whole story with revenue attribution. This message brought to you by Clario, the masters of revenue attribution."

Matt Redlon

Written by Matt Redlon


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