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2 + 2 > 4: Why cross-channel messaging deserves equal attention for attribution

Most marketers focus on proving the value of a certain channel, but too many marketers fail to show the ROI of cross-channel messaging via email, display, SMS and push. The old method of last-click attribution is stuck in people’s minds, which is completely the wrong way to approach cross-channel impact. In fact, 58 percent of companies use a last-click attribution model, and only 18 percent of companies use a cross-channel attribution model, according to Ignition One. If marketers are doing cross-channel attribution at all, in my experience, they’re not doing it well.

Just as incremental revenue attribution is the number one strategy for measuring the value of the email channel, it’s also the best way to measure cross-channel, orchestrated communications. Marketers can apply this attribution model by creating a treated and untreated group for whichever channels are being measured.

If a marketer were to look at the value of combining email with display, he would siphon off a treated group to receive an email and display ad from the retailer and another untreated group to receive an email and a display ad that is a public service announcement (PSA), often featuring a charitable or non-profit organization not related to the retailer. Depending on the audience size, typically 90 to 95 percent of customers see the retailer’s display ad and 5 to 10 percent see the PSA ad.

The reason a PSA ad is delivered to a customer is because he still needs to receive a display ad for the incremental revenue model to be a true representation. By comparing the number of customers that made a purchase after seeing the retailer ad versus the PSA, the marketer can measure how many additional conversions and how much incremental revenue the display ad drove.

It’s no different when looking at any other direct marketing channels working in concert with each other. Apply the same process to email plus SMS, email plus push, SMS plus display, email plus display plus SMS. The slight difference with display is that marketers leverage a PSA, whereas with SMS or push there’s merely a treated versus untreated group. So with email and SMS, for example, you could setup a scenario where 85 percent of customers would receive an email and an SMS message, 5 percent would receive only email, 5 percent would receive only SMS and 5 percent would receive nothing at all (Note: Be sure to have an analyst calculate how large each of these groups should be to achieve statistical significance).

All of these channels interact and contribute to a conversion since more and more customers are touching multiple channels before making a purchase. More than 50 percent of customer interactions happen during a multi-event, multi-channel journey.

What's standing in the way

Part of the reason that cross-channel marketing isn’t measured and attributed is because marketing teams are commonly segregated based on channel. There are the mobile marketers, the email marketers, the display marketers—the list goes on. Display marketers may be analyzing the display channel by looking at how many people viewed the ads versus the PSA and how much incremental revenue the display ad drove. But for mobile and email, marketers (and executives) are often stuck on last-click revenue attribution.

Before a marketer introduces a cross-channel strategy, he must know how he’s going to measure the effectiveness and return of the strategy because there’s no doubt that he’s going to be asked to quantify the ROI. While a marketer can’t always accurately measure the impact of his efforts, he must be primed to measure it and prove its value.

[Image via Can Stock Photo]

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