Marketers are failing to overcome the common barriers to true multi-touch attribution – mostly because they aren’t aware of them. Here we explore 7 of the most common hurdles to implementing a true multi-touch attribution model.
1. Data exists in unintegrated silos
Examining your data is a key first step in successfully implementing an attribution model. Customers don’t distinguish between channels, and their shopping paths regularly zig-zag. In line with this, data silos must be broken down, and channel, device and multi-touch data unified into a holistic, consistent format, to ensure that customer journeys can be tracked appropriately. A study by AdRoll (2016) found that a third of companies blame disparate data sources for a lack of progress with attribution. Breaking down these silos is one of the biggest barriers to attribution. Once done, it unlocks significant value and brings significant efficiency gains to marketing budgets.
2. Multi-touch attribution solutions don’t take into account all marketing channels; often ignoring offline activities
When choosing a marketing channel attribution model, it is vital to look at the complete picture. Unfortunately, most models are heavily skewed towards digital channels and tend to give credit for a vast majority of conversions by focusing on online events (clicks, signups, etc.) and the most recent marketing events (promotions, email campaigns, etc.). However, offline channels are expected to continue playing a significant role in the marketing mix for the foreseeable future, and an inability to accurately capture and attribute the role of offline marketing abilities will greatly skew your results. Even those who do examine offline channels only tend to monitor offline to offline changes, and it is vital to integrate online to offline conversions, and vice versa, to ensure the most accurate attribution model.
3. Attribution solutions ignore brand solutions
Many marketers assign full credit for conversions to specific channels, without taking into account the role of their brand i.e. those customers who are inclined to convert simply because of their strong affinity for a brand. As a result, the contribution of certain channels is exaggerated, which can lead to potentially detrimental budget-allocation decisions.
4. A lack of cross-functional communication
Much like data silos create barriers, teams working in a siloed fashion can hinder the success of strategies like multi-touch attribution modeling. The aforementioned AdRoll study found that 40% of companies surveyed are feeling overwhelmed by the complexity of data, which can in part be down to this siloed working culture, as disparate departments can make it harder for information to be passed around manner. For instance, a data team may not consider that their marketing team needs information delivered in an easily digestible manner. Furthermore, when goals and KPIs don’t align across the organization as a whole, success cannot be universally measured, and modeling is hindered by the lack of agreement on what ‘good’ looks like. Investing time and effort into bringing separate teams together to create a full picture of the data and available resources can help ensure that attribution benefits all parties.
5. Lack of resources
In another survey (2017), 76% of respondents agreed that they’re challenged to find the right staff to take advantage of marketing attribution. This gap will continue to pose a challenge, and a focus on building internal skillsets and training employees to feel empowered handling when data is a step in the right direction. Additionally, with many people being short on time and not knowing where to begin in the world of attribution, looking to outsource individuals who are experts in this area is a step in the right direction for companies wishing to bolster their attribution efforts with minimal disruption.
6. Outdated infrastructure
Even with the right team and resources in place, an outdated infrastructure can be the Achilles heel of attribution modeling. This is due to the fact that marketing channel attribution necessitates certain tools and technologies to be successful – you wouldn’t turn up to a football match with a hockey ball. Similarly, you can’t effectively carry out attribution without the right toolkit. These tools often assist in data collection, integration, visualization, interpreting, and forecasting. If companies don’t appreciate the need for these resources, marketers will have a much harder time running an effective attribution campaign.
7. One size doesn’t fit all
The perfect mix and balance of channels vary by business, and marketers must adopt a strategy that aligns with their customers’ behavior. However, this is easier said than done and it can become frustrating that there is no one-size-fits-all attribution strategy. Ensuring you leave room for experimentation and small changes as you move into modeling can help you learn and move closer to your goal, step-by-step. There doesn’t need to be a perfect attribution model; your brand is palpable to your customer at every touch point so the ability to react to each of those opportunities with the utmost relevance is vital to achieving your KPIs.