Reducing Attribution Uncertainty

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I’ve talked about measurement’s unsolvable problem before. Attribution is quite impossible with all of the complex and untraceable connections between our offline and online lives.

That being said, there is still plenty you can do to reduce your attribution problem. While you won’t be able to give credit to each and every piece of marketing or activity that led someone to purchase your product or visit your site, you will be able to reduce a great deal of uncertainty.

  • Use unique URLs, codes and phone numbers: When you draft content calendars for Facebook or Twitter, include unique URLs that you can easily track to each separate channel. Use different URLs for emails and advertisements, and so on. For different ads in traditional channels, give unique codes if you offer a deal or coupon. Or use unique phone numbers within each different channel if you are trying to drive phone calls. Ensuring each channel or tactic has it’s own trackable piece of information, you can begin to attribute sales and conversions.
  • Build web properties with integrated tracking code: As you adjust websites, Facebook tabs and mobile properties, be sure to include tracking code for your web analytics program. Use the different types of codes to track different web pages or types of activities that lead to sales and conversions. The more detailed and granular you can get with your tags, the better and easier it will be to accurately assign credit later on.
  • Maintain a customer database: If your company does not already have a database or system to track consumers, build one. Even if it’s rudimentary, try to track customers across channels and points at which they interact with your company. Make sure you understand which customers call your customer service line and use the online help forums, and which customers only look for help online. While valuable for other reasons, these databases can also be used to understand how many times a customer interacted with your company before they make a purchase or complete some other task.
  • Ask customers themselves: The best source of attribution information will be the customers themselves. Use survey questions to glean insights. After a purchase, ask what interested them or brought them to their decision. When someone signs up for your new website, ask then how they heard about it. Use any opportunity to seek answers from your consumers themselves (without overdoing it). And be sure to give them the chance to give you multiple answers. This will allow you to see how many consumers are driven to a final decision by multiple channels or just one.

Using these techniques, you will get an idea of how different pieces of a campaign or marketing push affect conversions and sales. While the actual numbers may not be correct, the trends and overall insights should give you an idea of what is working and what is not.

This will still not take into account all other offline influences and interactions among customers, but it will get you a lot closer to understanding what really drives customers to buy or sign up or otherwise convert.

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  • http://twitter.com/John_Trader1 John Trader

    Good post Rebecca. As you pointed out, a smart tactic for marketers is to ask people how they heard about you to determine which entry portals are most effective and how to allocate your efforts and resources appropriately when putting your best foot forward for campaigns. I’ve always been amazed when attending public events where marketing information is flush how few people will ask me how I heard about the event or have a form to fill out providing this information so they can gain insight to a target market. It may seem like an obvious thing to do, but mostly forgotten.

    • http://rebeccaadenison.com Rebecca Denison

      You’re so right, and it is so strange! It seems to be the easiest thing in the world to ask folks who have already taken an action (attending an event, making a purchase, etc.) what drove them to their final decision. There is no better way to get answers than from the horse’s mouth! I don’t get why more don’t do it.

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