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The truth about marketing attribution



The truth about marketing attribution

Is marketing attribution a mythical unicorn? Or is it possible to measure the performance of your marketing, including the parts you can’t see?

The fog of marketing

Marketing attribution is the “fog of marketing” that all marketers wrestle with in attempt to square the circle and make sense of the customer’s decision journey. It’s essential for understanding how your marketing is performing and how much each channel is contributing. Proper attribution enables you to maximize your results and your return on investment. But it’s complicated…to say the least.

Attributing success to any initiative or channel is often difficult due to the complexity of customer journeys and the ever-changing landscape of digital media and data privacy. As marketing attribution becomes increasingly difficult, how will marketers decide where — and how much — to invest?

There are many attribution models and high-tech attribution platforms that promise to make it crystal clear where customers came from and how each touchpoint contributed along the way. Unfortunately, none of them are a panacea for the challenges of modern marketing.

The futility of attribution

One of the allures of digital marketing was that much, if not all, activity could be tracked and measured. If that dream was ever realized, it was short lived. Digital certainly makes measurement easier, but there are still dozens of challenges that make accurate attribution near impossible.

Here are just a few to consider:

Data privacy and cookies

Users are fighting to protect their data privacy and the tech giants like Apple and Google are responding accordingly. Marketers are no longer able to rely on these providers for data and insights. Legislation like GDPR continue to create more obstacles towards the transparency and tracking required for attribution to succeed.


Attribution is based on customer behavior, which means it fluctuates with the seasons in line with changes in buying behavior. Attribution can also be significantly skewed by trends. For example, a viral TikTok could make the channel seem like a valuable source to invest in when in reality the value is short lived.

Multiple streams

Companies with multiple product categories or simultaneous campaigns will face the challenge of untangling their attribution data. The customer journey becomes muddy quickly when there is the potential for overlapping or conflicting paths, especially when they can become intertwined and impact one another.

Constant change

Customers and culture keep changing. As technology and trends change, so does customer behavior. There will be new channels tomorrow that didn’t exist today. How your attribution looks today is only a snapshot in time and therefore must be continually revisited and updated.

One thing is for certain: marketing attribution is going to get more complicated, complex, and confusing.

Fortunately, there are three simple parts that, when combined, will help you measure and maximize even the invisible aspects of your marketing.

Part 1: The customer is always right

It’s hard to talk about measuring the customer journey without talking about the customer themselves. If you want to understand how a customer navigates and experiences your marketing, it’s best to start by understanding the customer and taking a walk in their shoes. 

Customer proximity is paramount: Whoever is closest to the customer wins.

Success in marketing comes from an intimate understanding and alignment with your customer, not from meticulous measurement of the ensuing activities.


The better you can truly understand the customer, the more clarity you’ll have around what channels and activities they experience and care about; and you’ll know which channels matter (and how much). Attribution becomes less mysterious the more you know about the customer and what their experience is really like.

There are many ways you can — and should — be understanding your customers, including:

Customer interviews

When is the last time you talked to your customers? Interviewing prospective, current, or past customers is essential, and an easy way to gain insights about what matters to customers and which touchpoints are critical. It’s remarkable the insights that can be generated with a well-prepared set of questions, a skilled interviewer, and a handful of willing customers.

Joining the community

Show up and hang out where your customers congregate. Facebook groups, Discord communities, online forums, YouTube channels, and other social watering holes. Although they might not be talking about your brand or products incessantly, you will discover unique insights and begin to understand your customer’s thinking and decision making process on a new level.

Mystery shopping

Adopt a “beginner’s mind” and act as if you were an average customer of your products or services. What would you do to learn more about the industry, discover your options, and compare alternatives? How would you go about making a purchase decision? You’ll experience firsthand which channels have a bigger impact on your decision making process and most certainly find opportunities for improvement along the way.

Read next: What marketing attribution is and how it identifies vital customer touchpoints

Part 2: Measure in broad strokes

Does data help with measuring attribution? Absolutely. Even partial data is better than nothing. Marketers who disregard the usefulness of imperfect data in attribution fail to realize that marketing is equal parts art and science.

On the other hand, marketers love to dwell and debate over attribution models. First touch? Last touch? Choose any and make the best of it because none of them are right or reliable. 


And don’t fall for the trap that an attribution platform will answer all of your questions, either. All of these — limited data, attribution models, and attribution platforms — are helpful pieces of the puzzle. But it’s far too complicated and time consuming to build a puzzle without stepping back and looking at the big picture.

Attribution is a means to an end, not the end itself. Measure outcomes instead of activities.

Collecting data, analyzing it, and trying to make sense of it is admirable but often wasted effort. When marketers emphasize data too much, they can’t see the forest for the trees. The point of marketing is to generate results. Focus on business outcomes and on the net impact of your marketing efforts instead of scrutinizing the source of attribution.

Instead of trying to measure how the water got in the ocean, pay attention to whether or not the tide is rising or falling.

Part 3: Optimization before attribution

The inherent assumption of attribution is that every channel or activity is performing at an acceptable level (or near optimal) and therefore the only question remaining is how to reallocate resources to maximize return.

In practice, that’s hardly ever the case.

Across all of my clients, I’ve yet to find a channel, initiative, or activity that isn’t rife with opportunities for optimization. In these instances, shifting away resources cuts off the oxygen to profitable growth since optimization is often the fastest and most cost-effective way to increase results, revenue, and profitability. 

Investing in optimization is essential, delivers an immediate ROI, and can often quell any need or appetite for full-scale attribution. Before investing the massive time, effort, and resources into attempting to solve attribution in a major way, focus first on identifying opportunities and optimizing your marketing activities. Optimization before attribution.


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Conclusion: Know and understand your customer

Marketing attribution is complicated and complex and it’s only going to become more so. Instead of exhausting yourself trying to hit a moving target, focus on knowing and understanding your customer, consider the data available to you, and optimize every initiative to its fullest.

The closer you can get to your customers, the more insight you’ll have into their journey and their decision making process, and the more confidence you’ll have about where and how to invest to deliver a remarkable experience and a positive return on your investment.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Tim Parkin is a consultant, advisor, and coach to marketing executives globally. He specializes in helping marketing teams optimize performance, accelerate growth, and maximize their results.
By applying more than 20 years of experience merging behavioral psychology and technology, Tim has unlocked rapid and dramatic growth for global brands and award-winning agencies alike.
He is a speaker, author, and thought leader who has been featured in AdAge, AdWeek, Inc, TechCrunch, Forbes, and many other major industry publications. Tim is also a member of the American Marketing Association, Society for the Advancement of Consulting, and an inductee to the Million Dollar Consulting Hall of Fame.


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8 Effective Ways to Ensure Ecommerce Business Success



8 Effective Ways to Ensure Ecommerce Business Success

It is a known fact that the global consumers are favoring ecommerce, and the reasons for ecommerce business success are many. 

According to a Statista forecast, the retail ecommerce revenue in the US is expected to cross 1.3 trillion dollars by the end of 2025.

Image via Statista

While brick-and-mortar stores are gradually losing their dominance, the digital marketplace is blazing. More and more ecommerce brands, big and small, are coming up and gaining a foothold in this ever-expanding landscape.

If you are one such ecommerce business striving to taste success, you know how demanding and competitive things can be. And you only beat the fierce competition with aggressive ecommerce marketing strategies like digital advertising, content marketing, social media marketing, etc.

In this post, I will be sharing 8 key factors you need to focus on to ensure your ecommerce business success and sustainable business growth. 

Let’s get started.

8 Key Factors for Ecommerce Business Success in 2022

The future of ecommerce is bright and the small businesses that jump on the bandwagon early will reap great benefits. But what does it take to taste this success? 


Here are the 8 key success factors for ecommerce businesses.

1. Target a Niche Audience 

The secret to ecommerce business success lies in understanding your target audience and focusing all your efforts on engaging them. Instead of trying to attract a broad audience on the search engines, select a niche audience specific to your small business, understand their pain points and interests, and position your brand to meet their needs. An SEO tool like Semrush or Ahrefs can help you with your research to build a strong marketing strategy based on real insights.

The goal is to make your product unique and market it to a relevant audience that is more likely to make a purchase. This strategy can increase customer loyalty and win repeat customers for your small business. Therein lies the secret to your ecommerce business success. 

2. Go Mobile-First 

The pandemic has accelerated our shift to ecommerce and given rise to m-commerce. Insider Intelligence estimates that by 2025, m-commerce sales will account for 44.2% of total ecommerce sales in the US.

So it’s clear that the success of your ecommerce business relies on the mobile-friendliness of your site. Having a mobile-friendly online store can help you deliver a seamless online shopping experience to customers on the go.

You can begin by running Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and building a progressive web application (PWA) for your online store. A responsive design for your website will help boost sales and pave the way for your ecommerce business success.

3. Choose the Right Distribution Channels 

Your audiences are active on different channels and if want your products to be visible to them, you need to choose the right distribution channels. 

If your business model focuses solely on your ecommerce website, you should broaden your perspective and consider other sales channels. There are several other options to sell your products like Amazon, eBay, social media, affiliate marketing, and so on. You can manage your sales process effectively with the help of sales CRM tools. These tools integrate your different sales channels and makes your sales process more efficient.

Conduct extensive research to figure out which of these channels are preferred by your target customers. Showcase your products in an attractive way to boost your ecommerce sales. This digital marketing strategy can contribute to your ecommerce business success.


4. Create Unique Content

You heard that right. To ensure that your ecommerce brand stands out in the crowd, you should invest in high-quality and diverse content. 

Today internet users are flooded with content and to grab their attention you need to think out of the box and create content marketing strategies that truly grab their attention. Remember, video content is ruling the landscape delivering great results. You can use Premiere Pro Presets to create unique and impressive videos and stay ahead of the competition.

Gather insights from customer data analysis, see what your competitors are doing, and learn from your previous digital marketing campaigns to create a more targeted content marketing strategy for your small business. 

5. Continually Update Your Email Marketing List 

Marketers rely on email marketing to achieve diverse marketing goals. Emails can be used to generate leads, nurture them, build relationships with customers, ensure customer satisfaction and boost ecommerce sales.

But to leverage the power of email marketing, you need to be smart about your email lists and use the right email tools to manage them. There’s no point in sending a thousand emails when only a couple of hundreds of recipients are your target audience. 

That’s why segmenting your email lists and keeping them updated is crucial to your ecommerce business success. An effective way to manage your email lists is to ask for the recipients’ feedback on your emails and the information they prefer to receive.

By analyzing the responses, you can make more strategic decisions and ensure the success of your ecommerce business.

6. Deliver a Great Shopping Experience 

The expectation of customers in terms of customer experience has skyrocketed and that’s why you need to work towards improving customer satisfaction.


Personalized communication could be one of the biggest game-changers, be it in recommending products, reminding them of abandoned carts, or introducing them to your latest offerings. Creating user story maps can go a long way in making your personalization efforts more effective.

Right from the moment customers land on your page to when they make a purchase, you should strive to create a smooth customer experience. You can also consider incorporating an AI-powered chatbot into your website to take your customer service to the next level.

To make your customers happy, offer them special deals and discounts. Such moves will surely boost your ecommerce business success.

7. Invest in Social Media Marketing

Social media, can be immensely effective in creating brand awareness, extending customer service, and generating leads for your ecommerce business. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube are all marketers’ favorites to reach out to niche audiences and drive traffic for their sites.

Having said that, it is a crowded market, and winning big on social media isn’t easy. As an ecommerce brand, you need to use social media analytics to create digital marketing campaigns that not only generate engagement but also fill your sales funnel with quality leads.

Ecommerce brands should also leverage social selling as it is growing into a prominent trend. This shoppable post by Macy’s allows its Facebook followers to buy what they like instantly. 

Image via Facebook

If invested strategically, selling on social media can act as a profitable sales channel for your business. 

8. Leverage Ecommerce Tools

Your team need not struggle to ensure the success of your ecommerce business. A variety of advanced ecommerce tools are at your disposal to optimize your efforts. 


Some of the must-use tools for you are: 

  • Website tools – to design, set up, and manage your ecommerce site
  • Ecommerce marketing tools – to help strategize and execute your campaigns with ease 
  • Competitor analysis tools – to understand the gaps in your planning and improve it
  • Analytics tools – to help you gauge the performance of your digital marketing campaigns
  • Business tools – to help you manage daily operations, finances, logistics, inventory, and customer service 

Choose the ones that can boost the success of your ecommerce business. 

Final Thoughts

There you have it, a list of 8 key factors you need to work on to ensure the success of your ecommerce business. Gaining this success is hard work but it is worth it. 

If you want to fuel your business growth, I strongly recommend building your ecommerce marketing strategy to enhance customer experience and build your brand identity. Go ahead and give them a try to beat the competition and establish a successful ecommerce business.

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