Modern marketers are operating in something of a paradise compared to their predecessors. The sheer range of touch-points, tracking options, and technology available to even the smallest of firms would look like the stuff of science fiction if you travelled back even a decade ago.

It’s not all skittles and rainbows, however. With the massive increase in marketing reach and power that the digital revolution has unleashed, there’s more of a need than ever for rigour when it comes to tracking which parts of your campaigns are working, and why.

Attribution modelling is the technical term to describe the set of rules firms use to determine how best to credit sales and conversions and, as with anything data-related, there are plenty of ways to skin this particular cat. To cut a very long story short, multi-touch attribution is generally the aspiration, and last-touch attribution is very often the reality. The per-firm picture will naturally vary depending on the time, team and technical resources available.

Rather than going down the rabbit hole of individual attribution models in this piece, we’ll concentrate instead on pointing out two classic gotchas that can trip firms up when they first dip their toes into attribution modelling of any kind.

1. You’ll Never Be Dealing with a Complete Picture
The promise of attribution modelling, particularly with some of the more sophisticated multi-touch attribution technologies out there, is to give you total clarity on every marketing touchpoint leading up to a sale or conversion. With a comprehensive and constantly updated picture to hand, you’ll theoretically be able to assign your various budgets much more effectively and double down on what’s working with ease.

The reality is that you’ll never be dealing with a complete picture. Though modern attribution modelling is doing a pretty incredible job, it’s still providing you with an interpretation of what’s going on rather than a definitive record.

This isn’t to decry its use, however – far from it. Just be careful to take this simple fact on board from the outset, and don’t fall too much in love with the numbers along the way.

2. Tracking Offline to Online Remains an Issue
While we’re getting better and better at tracking people across multiple devices, many of the solutions available for tracking offline through online still bear a suspicious resemblance to the type of coupon-based efforts that would have been familiar to marketers back at the turn of the last century.

Tracking a direct path from an offline campaign to an immediate online conversion is tricky at best, and essentially relies on your customer doing part of the work for you. Yes, paths can be inferred, but you’ll inevitably be dealing with a partial picture to at least some degree. If you’re trying to track offline campaigns to and through a further online funnel, things naturally get even more squirrelly.

To sum up, you’re going to have to learn to live with a level of uncertainty when it comes to marrying offline and online elements. Again, you will be able to pull out key data and it’s worth the effort to do so, but forewarned is forearmed when it comes to expectations.

Start Taking a 360-Degree View of Your Campaigns
At MediaSmiths, we’ve put together a multi-disciplinary team that’s perfectly equipped to guide you through potentially choppy waters such as attribution modelling while keeping the bigger picture firmly in focus at all times.

If you’re struggling with matching effort to results and testing and tracking the various steps in between, there’s never been a better time to get in touch!

Angie Smith

About Angie Smith

Angela started the company in 2007 after working in various media including radio, Yellow Pages as well as on the advertising agency side. She has a passion for media planning across channels, strategy, development and negotiation and really loves working with clients in growing their businesses and brands. She has worked with many brands large and small including local, national and multi-nationals. Angie’s pastimes include travel, food, entertaining.