How to Attribute Success in Marketing

Attribution as it Relates to Marketing

Attribution – if you are reading this blog you are either looking to understand attribution or you understand it and you are looking for a different (or similar) understanding in how/why this term is used in marketing. Attribution is the understanding of why a customer came to do business with your company. More specifically, how did your customer end up choosing you. What attributed to them making this decision. What was their path?



Attribution can really be looked at as the path the customer takes from the start of learning about your business until they make a purchase. For example, let’s say you own a shoe business and our friend Edward is looking for a stylish new pair of sneakers to help him reach his New Year’s fitness goals. Edward wants to make sure he chooses the right shoes for him. He looks at your athletic wear business’s website, browses around the site, but doesn’t make a purchase. The next day he sees a billboard on his way to work of the same shoes he was thinking about buying. Then at lunchtime, as he’s browsing on Facebook, he sees an ad for the same shoes. Later in the week, Edward decides to go to the store and purchase the stylish pair of shoes he’s been looking for.

How do you attribute the reason your customer decided to act in the buying process? Which marketing piece do you credit for the sale? Edward went through a variety of steps to finally purchasing his stylish, yet functional pair of shoes. He visited the website; he saw a billboard; he saw the Facebook ads. Which one prompted him to make the purchase? These multiple touch points helped Edward make the final buying decision. This information can help us better understand the value of different marketing pieces AND how they work together in the buying process.

Surprisingly in a survey done by CallRail, 39% of marketers admitted they are unsure if their marketing campaigns were effective towards their consumers, while 96% of marketers believe attribution is vital in making a choice in which campaigns will produce effective marketing. In our own case study, (and we have done many more which validate this point,) we had four different types of marketing happening in a specific zip code our client wanted more business from. In looking at the different call tracking results, we could not see any of the marketing pieces were working. Direct mail, newspaper ads, Facebook ads, mobile digital phone ads, and a billboard. None of the direct tracking pieces were showing results. We were about to abandon the entire campaign, until……

We decided to take a closer look at the data. Fortunately, we were able to see the data in the client’s CRM and we started pulling data. This zip code, prior to the launch of the marketing campaigns, was their 6th highest producing area. A detailed analysis of sales and customers some six months later saw this are as their new number one producing area. His company was experiencing 7% customer growth, a reasonable growth for an existing company, but this specific area experienced a 37% growth rate. Of course, there are more details to look at, but in our final evaluation, we continued marketing to this area. It is now their top producing area for their company (and we are looking for other areas too 😊, to keep the overall growth strong).

There are tools which can help understand the consumers path to making a buying decision, and with the internet, there are many tools which help understand the journey. Offline, you have to use more data and it may take a bit more work, but you can learn to better understand the path your customer took in becoming your customer.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to attribute success to one specific avenue as different pieces of marketing and other factors work together to influence buying behavior. If you stop a path in your marketing because you cannot attribute the success directly, you could be hurting your business and spinning your wheels (and wasting your marketing dollars and time). Internet marketing can be a bit easier in understanding this path as there are many tools with this to help see this path. And it can help discover the path the consumer takes in their buying decision.

One of the keys to marketing is understanding your customer and the path they take in making a buying decision. Keep the roads cleared, the scenario beautiful, and smiling faces on your team and you will keep heading in the right direction.