Direct Marketing Attribution: Passes, Catches and Dots
While speaking at DMA2010 Conference & Exhibition several weeks ago, I had a chance to meet dozens of direct marketers who were just starting to learn about attribution management. I tried to share some key direct marketing-specific truisms about attribution that would increase their understanding of the topic, as well as enable more informed decisions about pursuing it as a marketing optimization strategy.
This information fell into the following five areas:
1. Passing the Ball
Long ago, traditional direct mail marketers established the quantifiable marketing paradigm that today is at the core of many channels, from search marketing to DRTV. But inherent within direct marketers' mindsets has always been the drive to associate a conversion—and its revenue—with a single initiative that produced it. To calculate ROI, you simply divided the revenue produced by a campaign by its total cost.
But with attribution management, where sophisticated technology now enables marketers to see how certain channels give and receive assists in producing conversions from each other, credit is now shared among channels. In effect, each channel now acknowledges who passed it the ball that enabled it to shoot and score. The objective is for the entire team wins (overall ROI goes up) and not for any one player to score the most points. So the paradigm for direct marketing's ROI has shifted, and so must the mindset of individual channel marketers and their organizations as a whole.
2. Catching the Ball
This shift obviously has its flip-side. Direct marketers now have the opportunity to claim "assists" that their efforts and investments provide to conversions via other channels. Where a direct mail campaign previously might have driven a percentage of shoppers to convert online or in-store without the ability to recognize that direct mail was the catalyst, attribution now provides the ability to connect the dots between that campaign and all the other assists that lead to that conversion. It also monetarily quantifies the influence that each channel (and each assist) had on the eventual transaction. What this means to direct marketers is that they get to catch the ball as well—and get credit for some of their team's scoring.