What is Sustaining the Last-touch Status Quo?

Originally Published in: MarTech Advisor

June 8th, 2018

To maximize customer experience and boost ROI, marketers need a holistic strategy that goes beyond last-touch attribution. Veerle De Lombaerde, COO North America, The Exchange Lab, shares how marketers can overcome the barriers preventing them from adopting multi-touch attribution

Marketers understand that hard performance metrics are crucial to link campaigns with real results and continually optimize the user experience. To leverage these metrics, holistic attribution is required to track interactions at every stage of the consumer journey.

So, why are many still relying on approaches that offer limited insight?

According to eMarketer, over 70% of US marketing and media professionals listed improving attribution as a key area for development in their business. Despite this, almost 3 in 5 (58%) are using models that provide a complete view of consumer activity, such as multi-touch attribution. Despite awareness of the need to update campaign measurements, it appears there is a gap between intention and implementation, with a high proportion of marketers preferring to stick with outdated methods, like last-touch attribution.

To close the gap, it’s important to define the issues that cause slow adoption and how they can be addressed. With this in mind, let’s explore the blockers sustaining the status quo.

What’s causing the attribution hold up?

There isn’t one definitive reason for the delay in re-evaluating attribution techniques and this is the crux of the problem: faced with myriad of challenges – the complexity of the issue and the array of offerings in the market – marketers are overwhelmed.

Firstly, there is the issue of prioritization. While marketers understand that the ability to precisely analyze campaigns is crucial, there are often more pressing priorities in their day-to-day role. Finding the time to even plan an audit of internal processes to check what is being tracked, what isn’t, and what needs to change, may seem unrealistic.

Secondly, with the number of channels and users increasing, marketing measurement has become increasingly fragmented. Data is often stored in separate systems by different departments. For example, social media insight is often owned by the marketing team, while offline purchase information is retained by sales. Consequently, piecing these fragmented operations together to determine whether attribution methods are working is a tough task.

Finally, there is cost. Reconfiguring attribution efficiently means acquiring a technology partner that can offer advanced analytical tools. Before such an investment can be made, however, its benefits must be weighed against cost and the drawbacks of existing systems – this is not easy when procedures are disjointed and time is limited.

Why should marketers embrace multi-touch?

Given the complexity of upgrading performance measurement, many marketers opt for conventional last-touch attribution, yet this model isn’t suited to consumer behavior. By assigning all credit for desired outcomes to the final touchpoint in a customer’s journey, it fails to calculate the effect of all interactions and results in a skewed perception of performance.

This is why it makes sense to deploy models such as multi-touch attribution that consider paths to purchase in their entirety. In short, multi-touch unifies all interactions, from first to last contact and tracks the contribution each one makes to conversions. This helps marketers understand exactly what engages an individual and what doesn’t, so they can optimize campaigns.

Removing obstacles to efficiency  

Although numerous, the barriers to better measurement are not insurmountable. A necessary component to address these is an updated toolkit containing technologies that cover two key areas:

1. Cross-channel identification

An increasing number of vendors now offer tools that merge multi-touch attribution models with consumer identity mapping, so they can trace individuals across touchpoints and assign proportional credit. By adopting such platforms, marketers can track responses to messages, techniques and channels, and adjust efforts to enhance individual resonance. Yet with plenty of solutions available, the best route to take is the simplest: picking a vendor that uses just one tool to unify results and allow easy identification of overarching trends.

2. Data consolidation

Despite recent technological advances, cross-channel attribution still isn’t perfect. To ensure maximum accuracy, marketers must take an additional step: creating the right data foundation. By implementing tools with the power to amalgamate multiple strands of information – first, second, and third-party insight – marketers can build an integrated data stack that contains everything they need to know about consumers and their unique journeys. This rich pool of insight can be fed into verification and attribution tools, enabling them to map activity back to individuals and quantify the value of interactions.

Employing these technologies requires an initial investment but the resources marketers invest will be recouped. Gathering and holistically analyzing what drives consumers to buy, allows marketers to build smarter strategies that optimize conversions and minimize wastage. What’s more, by tearing down silos between departments, companies can also achieve more efficient organization-wide use of both labor and insights.

To optimize the consumer experience and maximize return on investment, marketers need attribution tools capable of tracking complex journeys and driving tangible results. Whatever the barrier that stands in the way, marketers must remember that implementation of multi-touch attribution will result in greater dividends for the business. When it comes to robust marketing measurement, there is no longer a place for last-touch status quo.

Written by:

Veerle De Lombaerde

COO, North America The Exchange Lab

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