Getting Started With Multi-Touch Attribution

Attribution and multi-touch attribution have become a top priority for many marketers today. Determining how to achieve multi-touch attribution can be a complicated journey and it will take some real work to get to the final destination, but there will be wins along the way.  Here we will provide you with our process and a few tips for getting started with multi-touch attribution.

Case Study: Multi-Touch Attribution

A membership organization client that had historically used direct mail as their primary method of acquiring new customers began to layer on digital as a multi-touch piece to their marketing. This marketing included tactics such as e-mail, search engine marketing (SEM), and paid social.

Their goal was to not only expand their reach, but also understand what the overlap was across channels and the true cost to acquire a new customer. Looking at each of the channels separately it appeared that the digital channels were relatively inexpensive compared to direct mail, however, we needed to determine if there was overlap between the different channels.

Start Small

With attribution, it is best to start small, so we focused on one state and one month to take a deep dive and gain insights. The purpose of this deep dive was to understand the interaction between the channels in two ways:

  1. Expanded Reach: How many new customers were they bringing on who had not received direct mail?
  2. Expanded Response: How many new customers received direct mail, but did not take action without additional digital efforts?

We worked through each channel and estimated what the overlap in response was between the different channels. What takes only one sentence to write in a blog post, took many weeks of analysis and a lot back and forth with the client to accomplish! The truth is that when you are first getting started you will need to make some assumptions and inferences of the different channels.  We came to the realization that Facebook reporting does not make it easy to know exactly who came through that specific channel, but we came up with an algorithm that gave us a starting point.

Review Learnings

Once we had worked out the overlap between the channels, estimated the expanded reach, and expanded response, we reviewed what we determined to be the main learnings:

  1. When taking into account all channels and the overlap – the acquisition costs for digital channels were more in line with direct mail than we originally anticipated.
  2. SEM was the digital channel that was most effective at expanding reach and finding customers who were not receiving direct mail.

Where do we go next?

We had many ideas about next steps but narrowed it down to the top three:

  1. Refine the attribution approach and apply it to the entire organization with on-going reporting.
  2. Use promo codes wisely to help identify which channel people ultimately “bought” from.
  3. Set up tests to learn even more about the interactions between channels.  For example –  split up an audience who in the past would have received direct mail and email into three groups:
    • Direct mail only
    • Email only
    • Both direct mail and email

As you can see, multi-touch attribution is something that will evolve over time at your organization. Get started wherever you can and build from there. It may be challenging at first, but understanding the true value of different marketing channels is a very worthwhile endeavor. In the end, it will help your organization immensely as you start to use it in optimizing your marketing.

To help guide you through the process, download our infographic.

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