A Business Technology Place

Channel attribution for a multi-channel world

We are multi-channeled consumers.
More and more we live in a multi-channel world. How many purchases do you research online ahead of the actual purchase transaction? If you are like me then your research involves multiple retailer sites, a search for promotional offers, and reading customer reviews. Digital media makes it all possible. It’s fast and you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

But sales channels are a marketer mindset. Consumers don’t think about channels when they are going about their daily routine ( and that’s a good thing for consumers). It allows consumers to be educated on not only the product they are purchasing, but the company who is selling the product as well. My experience is that in many cases the price of the product is roughly the same. But things like return policy, customer service, convenience of locations, or shipping fees could provide the greatest distinction between choices.

For retailers running a business all these touch points create a set of business questions. Which channel(s) receive credit for the sale? Which channel(s) should be allocated the most budget spend? How many channels did the customer touch before making their purchase? And so on and so on…..

Enter channel attribution to help marketers.
Internet analytics providers are starting to implement features for channel attribution.  I received a monthly product update email from Google that contained a link to their channel attribute support for Google Analytics premium customers and about four months ago I discussed the same features in the Adobe SiteCatalyst platform with some colleagues.

Marketers love attribution because it helps them understand how their efforts affect the entire sales cycle. This enables better decisioning for budgets, channels, promotions, and features.  What this means in practical terms is that all interactions with a customer are tracked for measurement. So for example interactions with email click-throughs, search keywords, promotional offers, etc. The big idea is to correlate all these interactions at the end of a sale instead of just looking at the individual purchase funnel of the last transaction.

Look for a set of niche channel attribution consultants.
Let’s be real though, channel attribution is a complex topic. It requires a significant understanding of how customers interact with channels and a great deal of planning to setup. Once it’s implemented the analysis of the data isn’t trivial either.

This will become a consultants paradise over the next few years. The capability will be closer to companies now that major players in the internet analytics industry are adding the feature to their tools. But the amount of planning required, the expertise to configure the tool, and the ability to interpret the information will be a barrier to entry for many organizations. They’ll need consultants.

This is making us all better.
The gradual changes will be good. Business departments at Universities and Colleges will begin to teach more about how channels coexist, not how they operate in silos. Some industry players now teach that the concept of a channel is outdated. They see customer interactions in touch-points. Businesses will begin to make smarter adjustments to budgets and technology use. Marketers will make smarter decisions for 1:1 marketing tactics with consumers.

This is the perfect area for marketing technologists to fit within an organizational framework. The technologists have a role in system architecture, planning, implementation, as well as operational support for measurement and analysis. It’s a wake-up call for organizations that marketing is becoming more dependent on technology and that technology is only useful if it’s helping marketing bring business to the organization.

Are you thinking about channel attribution in your marketing and technology plans?