Attribution Models and the Customer Journey

Direct marketers rely on a multichannel mix for their campaigns, which makes measuring marketing attribution a difficult task. Why? Because if you have display impressions served, emails deployed, direct mail mailed and social ads served to a single individual and they convert, how do you know which channel had the most influence on the conversion?

Was it the first or last touch, first or last click, a Yelp review they read or word of mouth from a book club conversation that had the most influence on the conversion? The fact is you don’t really know for certain what the tipping point was, which is why attribution can be a tricky thing to measure. The good news is that there are models that can help guide marketing decisions and therefore allow marketers to budget accordingly.

We recently discussed how to measure attribution of digital channels using Google UTM codes, and now we’ll discuss how to tie that information together with the direct mail channel to gain a 360 degree view of how your marketing communications touch a prospect/customer.

Mary is your prospect customer. She is an anonymous prospect at this point.

She was an anonymous website visitor, which was the starting point for being able to remarket to her with a display ad and social ad based on her website behavior using retargeting pixels. She sees the display impression and clicks on the creative that was hyper relevant to her previous website behavior.

She clicked through on the Facebook ad, puts a helmet in the cart, and although she abandoned the cart, she still created an account and her information was captured to identify her. The URL behind the ads passed back the campaign ID, creative or offer ID back to analytics.

She received abandoned cart communications and completed the helmet purchase. Since her physical address and email are known, she is suppressed from future retargeting communications. Then she calls to inquire about vehicle availability, and the call center matches her to a nearby dealer.

A very clear buying signal qualified the next likely purchase, and she received a direct mail piece where the creative spoke to the offer and product she was interested in. Using the mobile ID and a geo-fence, we’re able to track her location to a dealer where she redeemed the mailer offer. Ultimately, she is so happy with her purchase that she leaves a glowing review.

In this omnichannel example, there were four touches:

  • Display ad
  • Facebook ad
  • Cart abandonment email
  • Direct mail

And there were three conversion events:

  • Account Creation (anonymous prospect to known/highly qualified prospect)
  • Helmet purchase (shorter sales cycle)
  • Vehicle purchase (longer sales cycle)

The attribution to the conversion can be measured using a model:

  • Last touch
  • First touch
  • Linear
  • Position-based
  • Time decay
  • Customized

A single touch attribution model, either first touch or last touch, is the easiest to implement, track and maintain for small- to medium-sized marketing teams with smaller tech stacks. According to many studies, the most-used single touch model is the last touch – likely because it was the touch just before the prospect arrived at the zero moment of truth (ZMOT) to convert and likely had the most influence of all measurable interactions.

With this example, using the last touch attribution model and the vehicle purchase conversion event, the touch that gets credit for the vehicle purchase would be the direct mail piece.

The DMA Response Rate Report says that 5.1% of U.S. households respond to direct mail. Businesses are responding to direct mail, too. In a recent response rate report, the DMA also found that 4.4% of B2B recipients respond to direct mail based on transactional data from Epsilon and B2B marketing platform Bizo.

Direct mail is a high-performing channel compared to its digital counterparts:

  • Email (0.1% response rate)
  • Paid search (0.6% response rate)
  • Social media (0.4% response rate)
  • Online display advertising (0.2% response rate)

There is a place at the table for all channels. When all channels work together in a multichannel campaign mix, digital impressions qualify a prospect which defines the direct mail audience. This way, direct mail can serve impressions to an optimized audience, with a compelling offer that stands out in the mailbox and speaks to them.

Are you unsure of your channel lineup and your highest-performing channel? If so, let’s talk.

Jenny Lassi • January 15, 2020

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