Cross-channel attribution, omni-channel attribution and full-funnel attribution are often used interchangeably to describe the same end goal — the ability to accurately measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns and customer touchpoints, regardless of their channel. That being said, it is important to note that “full funnel” and “cross channel” are actually two different things.

Full-Funnel: tracking all touchpoints, from the first interaction to the final conversion. This could be from one channel, or from many channels.

Cross Channel: tracking all channels across the entire marketing mix, regardless of their place in the funnel.

With this distinction, it becomes possible to be “full-funnel,” but not “cross-channel,” or alternatively, be “cross-channel” but not “full-funnel.”

Here at LeadsRx, we offer solutions that help companies cover both those methodologies, but in this post we will be focused specifically on the importance of “cross-channel” attribution.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the concept. In this article, we’ll look at what cross channel attribution is, what requirements must be in place to unlock true cross channel attribution and the kind of data-backed insights that fuel true growth.

What is Cross Channel Attribution?

Forrester Research defines cross-channel as the strategic coordination of all marketing channels that a company employs in their strategies. For most marketers, these channels include, but are not limited to:

  • Digital Advertising (Facebook and Google)
  • Broadcast Advertising (TV, Radio)
  • Streaming (OTT and Podcasts)
  • Organic (SEO and Public Relations)
  • Affiliates/Influencers
  • Mobile Advertising
  • Social Media
  • Tradeshows
  • And many others…

Every brand has its own unique mix of channels used in their marketing. Cross channel marketing is the holistic measurement of how those channels and touchpoints lead to broader awareness and relationships with customers. Cross channel attribution allows companies to assign credit and measure the impact of individual touchpoints while looking at how that unique mix works together cohesively throughout the customer lifecycle. 

Every touchpoint — whether it be a radio ad, television commercial, tweet, direct mail advert, or Facebook message — works toward establishing relationships with customers and driving them toward conversion. 

Customers today typically engage with a brand through a variety of touchpoints across a handful of channels before making a purchase. Consumers prefer to work with brands that they know and recognize. There is a certain amount of courtship in winning a modern customer’s purchase, and particularly so for high-ticket items.

According to a report from Salesforce, “leads” need a minimum of 6-8 touches on average before converting.

For example — your customer might originally learn about your company through a radio ad. That radio ad causes them to search for your brand in Google. They find your website. They read some content and sign up for your newsletter. There, they regularly engage with the emails that you send over the course of months. They follow your brand on social media, resulting in dozens of touchpoints throughout their customer lifecycle. Then, one day with a new need is fresh on their minds, they hear your radio advert again and finally make the purchase. 

Notice the variety of touches across several channels (this is cross channel) and also take note of the intermediate conversion points, following on social media and a newsletter sign up, which denote the concept of “full-funnel.”

That final radio ad might be the campaign that got them to pull the trigger, but the groundwork for that sale was laid in the dozens of touchpoints that preceded it. That is cross channel attribution — the ability to look at all of the unique touchpoints that a customer engaged with and evaluate their overall impact on the eventual conversion.

Why is Cross Channel Attribution Better for Companies and Consumers?

Cross channel attribution undoubtedly delivers some serious benefits to companies that employ it effectively. It delivers a true holistic top-down view of your marketing campaigns and helps companies to understand which touchpoints are delivering positive results. With full cross-channel attribution, companies are able to identify where to invest their resources and inject complete data-backed strategies into their larger marketing initiatives.

But one area where many underestimate the importance of cross channel attribution is in its ability to deliver better outcomes for customers as well. In knowing what messages and channels are resonating with your customers, you can deliver more of the types of messages that they actively want to hear. 

Part of the beauty of cross channel attribution is that the full picture that it provides allows you to zero in on the touchpoints that previously might have been overlooked because they weren’t conversion-focused. Or how auxiliary touchpoints work together in driving conversions.

For instance, maybe you’ll find that customers that engaged with a particular educational video on your website convert at a much higher rate. That video resonates with your audience. With that knowledge, you can find other ways to inject the video into the nurturing process. 

In the end, yes you’ll receive more conversions, but your customers have a better experience engaging with your brand as well. Positive experiences are endearing and facilitate trust. That helps to fuel purchases of your product, but it also helps to creep up the lifetime value of each customer. 

What Must Cross Channel Attribution Include?

Cross channel attribution isn’t just about measuring campaigns across channels or dividing up credit among engagements. At its core, it’s about understanding your customers and prospects on a deeper level and about how your new insights are deployed and disseminated among your varied campaigns.

Every cross channel attribution strategy must include:

1) A Comprehensive Approach

Marketers must measure all channels – full stop. Just because you don’t “have advertising spend” for something like SEO or your sales rep’s in person meetings, they still need to be evaluated in the context of all your other paid channels. If any activity “touches” a prospect and helps them become a customer then it needs to be included in your cross-channel attribution analysis.

Too often companies hone in on a few specific top-of-the-funnel marketing initiatives. Campaigns that are conversion-focused are easy to track and the results driven are easier to understand. But the benefits of cross channel attribution can’t be fully realized if you only look at a few campaigns or look at each campaign independently. You have to track customers throughout their journey — as they interact with all of the channels — to gain a true understanding of what drove them to convert.

A tweet or blog post on your website might have had more impact than you think. Perhaps a conversion-focused radio ad performed poorly in terms of driving new purchases but was successful in driving interested customers to your website. These types of insights are important for marketing teams to understand.

Cross channel attribution must be employed with a comprehensive approach to include 100% of your marketing efforts to realize its benefits.

2) Connecting Offline and Online

Customers don’t see the world in terms of “online” and “offline” in the way that they once did. Your website is an extension of your brick-and-mortar location. The same is true for social media accounts and other owned media. If a customer can find a product in your store, they expect to be able to find it on your website. 

The relationship should work the same the opposite way as well. If a customer asks a question on a live chat on your website, your in-store rep should be able to access that information to inform future interactions. The wall that separated the online and offline worlds has been torn down and brands that are not tracking customers across those lines are missing half of the puzzle.

3. Connection is Not Enough, You Need Cohesion

An in-store rep being able to tap into online interactions for context is a great example of the type of consistent experience that customers would like to see from brands. However, that context is only actually useful if it is employed cohesively across channels. 

Naturally, the types of messaging that a customer engages with should move through the customer lifecycle with them. You don’t want to be delivering top-of-the-funnel advertisements to a bottom-of-the-funnel prospect if you can help it.

Cross channel attribution isn’t only about measuring effectiveness across those channels, it’s about using that data to inform the strategies employed through them as well.

Keep in mind, we are trying to optimize Return on Ad Spend – not any one particular channel and cross-channel attribution gives us this opportunity.

A Top-Down View of Attribution

Cross channel attribution gives companies a true view of how their marketing strategies work together to deliver experiences to their customers and prospects. 

As one of the only true “cross-channel” solutions, LeadsRx makes it easy for companies to connect and measure the impact of all of their marketing programs – even if those marketing programs are broadcast or “offline.”