Consumer Identity Linkages: Attribution as Science, Art and Less Voodoo
First touch, last touch, multi-touch — the models for marketing attribution are becoming increasingly complex and still in hot debate despite years of discussion, testing and deliberation. Today, marketers are embracing omnichannel efforts to better engage with consumers when and where they are – online, email, social, via inbound calls, etc. And while executives want to see 100 percent of the spend measured against the investments – establishing the consumer identity for attribution is, as a wise colleague once said, still part science, part art and a little bit of voodoo.
Marketers’ challenge lies in determining where to allocate marketing dollars to influence the consumer’s buying cycle which is more difficult as consumers interact with campaigns from a variety of different touch points.
While marketers and data analysts continue to argue over the right measurement models, the key to any accurate marketing attribution is creating a solid foundation of consumer identity data by linking multiple identity elements, such as phone numbers, email addresses and mobile identities back to a clear consumer profile.
Consumer Identity Markers Yield a Clearer Customer Profile and Buying Path
Today a consumer has, on average, three email addresses that he or she uses for different account sign-ups, online communication, etc. Depending on the email that they used to sign-up with a particular company, when the brand targets them and they respond using a different identity marker (a different email, a phone number or mobile ID), the company may not be able to match the consumer to a known profile, thus preventing them from gaining proper attribution for that conversion.
Through consumer identity management, marketers can use all of the email identity markers linked to each customer or prospect to identify and reach a 10 to 30 percent larger digital audience, tie that consumer to a purchase, attribute the purchase to the right marketing channels, and most importantly optimize marketing spend. The same process can be utilized for any of a consumer’s identity markers, e.g., consumer name, physical address, and phone numbers.
Let’s take the automotive industry as an example. Today, an in-market car shopper may be influenced by a variety of different channels including direct mail and programmatic targeting, local dealer websites and even targeted social media campaigns. Similar to most marketers, auto retail marketers care less about the individual data and the arduous data collection process that results from each touch point, and more about what specific impressions drove the car buyer to the dealership and why. Like in auto, marketers across multiple segments and industries are looking to identity data linkages to identify what compelled a consumer to walk through the door, call or purchase online. Built on a foundation of consumer identity, linking multiple identity markers enables marketers to gain a much clearer path to attribution and develop more effective, cost-efficient targeting with future campaigns.
Turning the Unknown Lead Into a Known Consumer
With form and cart abandonment rates reaching as high as 80 percent and declining customer loyalty in many consumer-facing industries, the ability to capture partial identity information from multiple channels, de-anonymize it and link it to a single consumer can provide the key to understanding how each outreach — and subsequent consumer-initiated engagement, contact or purchase — worked to drive the conversion. Consider one customer with a known email address was served an ad on a social media platform. The next day, the same customer is served a cookie-based digital ad based on an email address. The third day this same customer connects with a call center from their mobile phone. By linking these touchpoints with consumer identity markers, marketers can improve outbound targeting and attribution in both digital and offline environments.
For an example, a national pest control company uploaded thousands of customer’s opt-in email addresses to a social media platform to customize a unique audience for a new campaign promoting a new specialized service. Bob Jones — part of this audience — saw the advertisement on the platform but didn’t click through. However, the next day Bob remembered the social media ad, found the company online, filled out a form and made a purchase using a different email address than he uses for social media. Using consumer identity management, the company was able to link the consumer to one email used for the social campaign, and the purchase made when filling out the form using another email address, along with the consumer’s other identity markers including name, physical address, and mobile phone number. This complete view enabled the pest control company to gain multi-touch attribution for this purchase, providing key insights into which channels drove the conversion.
For marketers utilizing a strong consumer identity data foundation, implementing effective multi-touch attribution strategy is absolutely achievable and can provide additional insights to better understand the impacts and ROI of their omnichannel programs. Better yet, they can use those insights to improve their reach throughout the entire consumer purchase journey.
Michelle Tilton serves as director of marketing for Infutor, a consumer identity management expert. Her unique marketing and consumer data insight comes from more than 15 years of experience, including 10-plus years of B2B technology, data, and media marketing expertise. Previously, she served as director of corporate marketing and communications for Source Interlink Companies (now part of TEN, The Enthusiast Network). She holds communications and psychology degrees from American International College.