The number of ways consumers can engage with brands has exploded over the last decade. Not only have new channels such as social media and streaming video become part of most people’s daily lives, we increasingly access new platforms on-the-go via our smartphones and tablets.
This has created a new class of channels known as “addressable.” These are marketing and media channels where individual, user-level data (such as cookie data) is available to track touchpoints in the consumer journey.
This has also advanced marketing measurement. Brands with more complex customer journeys have found last-touch attribution models lacking and have begun to shift toward more holistic, cross-channel models such as multi-touch attribution.
Multi-touch attribution is a measurement approach that reveals not just where and how a consumer saw your message, but the impact each addressable touchpoint throughout a conversion path had on the final sale, download or other conversion event.
Knowing the value of each touchpoint—and which touchpoints are effective—helps you plan and optimize at a granular level.
Implementing a cross-channel attribution strategy can seem complex for any marketing team, large or small. It usually requires a shift from your current systems and metrics, which puts new demands on your people and processes. But with proper planning and collaboration, multi-touch attribution can have a tremendous impact on performance.
Nielsen has years of experience working with leading brands and their agency partners as they measure marketing effectiveness. We’ve found that setting the stage properly and anticipating any hiccups, before implementation begins, helps ensure a smooth transition.
Based on our experience, we’ve identified five elements of successful measurement practices: vision, champion, process, people, and communication. If you’re considering implementing a multi-touch attribution approach, follow this checklist for a successful kickoff.
Factor #1: Define a Clear Vision
The key to implementing any project that will have a significant impact on your business is having a clearly defined goal. You must have a vision of what a successful measurement approach looks like. This “north star” will help guide team members and serve as the baseline for dependent processes, team structures and platforms.
To define success, ask yourself: What’s not true today and what will be true if multi-touch attribution is a success? What joins these two things together? Once you find the common link, that’s what you should focus on.
These objectives should include both short- and long-term ways the project can contribute to overall company goals. If you can make a visible impact quickly, you’ll increase support for the project and good will from the executive team.
For example: If the focus is on profitable growth for your company, what can you do quickly that leads to this bigger goal?
Don’t try to think five years in the future. Big journeys begin with small steps. Set a first year goal. As the organization grows and shifts, each milestone can build on itself to create more success.
Factor #2. Enlist an Executive Champion
Having a high-level manager in your corner will help you leap over any obstacles and smooth the way for cross-team collaboration. Your sponsor’s public support can help make multi-touch attribution a success.
A critical factor to enlisting a C-level champion is speaking their language. Most executives aren’t interested in nuts and bolts, they just want to know that an initiative will move the company closer to its objectives.
When you can translate the project into this language, you can engage them in becoming your champion. This means knowing your business drivers so that you can be clear about your business outcomes.
Find out what your sponsor expects. Their goals could be one or more of the following:
- Grow revenue? By how much? In what timeframe?
- Reduce agency reliance? By when?
- Gain the ability to test budget and gain media efficiency? At what scale?
- Get insights to share with the board of directors?
Once you’ve Identified your champion’s three to five top outcomes, develop a simple plan for how you will achieve the milestones your champion is looking for, and report on them in a consistent format.
Find out how your champion likes to be updated and how often. Be sure you can answer questions about how you are progressing with implementation, adoption and achievements. This will start a conversation that will allow you to get their input and guidance.
Factor #3: Use an Agile Process
Setting up the right process can be challenging, but it’s critical to success. If your organization has been siloed by channel, you may have to coordinate them for the first time as well as budgeting, reporting and optimization insights.
One way to tackle this is to think of marketing as an agile function. Agile marketing uses short “sprints” to focus on completing a well-defined task before moving on to the next one. The process involves a series of steps: design, develop, test, deploy, review, renew.
When setting up your process, begin by understanding your current workflow—within and between teams and your agency. Then roadmap your adoption plan, identifying who owns each channel and who should be part of the agile “stand up.”
Ask yourself: what is the next action I can take to improve this process? By figuring out what your next step is, then testing, deploying, and moving on, you can focus on small process improvements within your organization that will make a big difference over time.
Factor #4: Motivate Your People
Attribution doesn’t happen on its own, and great process doesn’t occur without buy-in. To roll out attribution successfully and get the most value from the platform going forward, you’ll need to engage people throughout the organization.
As in any aspect of life, one way to motivate someone to change what they do is to answer the question: What’s in it for me?
There are a lot of different answers, depending on the person and their role in the company. Some motivators include helping employees increase their relevance and build their knowledge, accelerate their chances for advancement, or have opportunities to show their contribution to the company’s bottom line.
This most significant element to be aware of is that moving to multi-touch attribution will change what people do and how they do it. Responsibilities may increase, their workload may change, and how they complete their tasks may involve new skills.
Budget owners may become budget sharers. Data must be monitored and someone needs to check it. The bottom line is that it will change how many people do their day-to-day jobs. Success will depend on the goodwill of many stakeholders.
Factor #5: Share Your Success
You will want to share your story broadly, frequently and with multiple teams, including high-level details about the project’s achievements and milestones.
To help with this, you may want to recruit an evangelist to keep everyone informed about project milestones and the positive impact of the new approach. You’ll foster enthusiasm and platform adoption by sharing “wins” and encouraging everyone involved.
Once the attribution platform is in place, continue to share success stories from within the organization. Don’t be afraid to “humble brag”—share news that actually draws attention to something you’re proud of.
For example: We’ve improved our media efficiency so much over the last two quarters and invested in nearly all of our top pilot ideas. We’re having a little difficulty coming up with new ones. Any ideas?
Attribution for a New Era
Implementing multi-touch attribution will have huge benefits for your organization. Learning which channels and tactics drive marketing performance by audience, at a granular level not only helps with planning and forecasting, but also enables in-flight optimizations throughout the duration of a campaign.
Here at Nielsen, we’ve experienced both the benefits and the challenges of executing a successful attribution strategy. Don’t forget to ask your attribution vendor to help you set up the process and roadmap for implementation so you can derive the most value from your solution.
Get More Information
Watch this on-demand webinar to learn five critical steps for executing a successful attribution strategy: Learn the Top 5 Factors for Multi-Touch Attribution Success Webinar.
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