Navigating the Bumpy Road to Cross-Channel Attribution

Cross-channel attribution continues to be a hot topic, and while retailers and vendors alike are eager to talk about it, it seems there are still as many questions and challenges as there are answers. Even as a seasoned marketer with 25 years of retail-specific experience both on the brand and vendor side of the business, I still can’t claim to have all the answers, but I do believe that marketers already have the tools at hand to begin using cross-channel attribution to their advantage.

What retailers can do now to improve the precision of their cross-channel attribution

First and foremost, no matter whether you’re thinking of cross channel attribution as online attribution specifically (i.e., tracking and assigning attribution to email vs. re-targeting) or as in online to in-store traffic and conversion, it is critical that as a retail marketer you maintain a strategic view of your business. Define who your best customers are and use them to deliver acquisition tactics through appropriate channels.

Attribution is often times viewed with a suspicious eye when reporting is generated by a specific marketing solution. An example would be the ongoing struggle between affiliate marketing and re-targeting, sometimes referred to as display marketing.

A familiar scenario goes like this: A customer arrives at the final shopping cart checkout page, sees the coupon code field, promptly searches the web for any available codes, clicks through to an affiliate site and copies and pastes the code into the cart. This event triggers a Last Click Attribution to the affiliate, when the customer may have been led to the cart through another online marketing source.

We have all experienced the sometimes lofty attribution reporting that one online marketing source reports through their own dashboard. After all, the Last Click Attribution model has been the standard for many years. Fortunately, however, many of the deep-dive models – including Last Non-Direct Click, First Click, Linear, Position Based, etc. – are finally allowing marketers to gain better insight into the customer journey.

When analyzing attribution from its highest level – Awareness, Consideration, Conversion and, ultimately, Retention – it’s helpful to review some third party attribution solutions so you maintain an objective perspective. Google Analytics offers more than adequate attribution tools, assuming you have properly tagged your marketing links.

Overcoming cross-channel attribution challenges

As customer journeys become more complex, one of the greatest challenges is identifying customers on their various devices. The ability to assign a unique user/customer ID is. Make sure your digital marketing vendor offers digital solutions to assign these types of customer identifications to track and attribute conversion across the email, re-targeting, display and in-store channels.

Another vexing problem is online to offline, or in-store attribution. To meet this challenge, retailers must make sure that their POS solutions are in line with their CRM and other data bases. The lynchpin in closing the online to in-store attribution model is the customers email address, which is why e-receipts are gaining traction as the loop closer for in-store attribution.

The advantages of accurate cross-channel attribution

Although the work to achieve accurate cross-channel attribution can seem daunting, the results are well worth the effort. Get it right and you’ll be able to do targeted and efficient ad spend budgeting within previous silos, have a clear understanding of unique marketing channel success and achieve improved ROAS and ROI to enhance Customer Lifetime Value.

Arthur Tschopp, is Regional Director for Listrak