• Blog
  • May 19, 2018
  • By Jeff Keenan
Is marketing attribution strategic?

With thousands of MarTech products available, is having a marketing attribution tool really necessary? When you realize it builds a reliable bridge between brand and customer, it is no longer a “nice to have.” It becomes indispensable for making strategically sound decisions about customer acquisition at large.

Last month, the 2018 edition of the famous Marketing Technology landscape supergraphic was released. Unsurprisingly, it features even more vendor logos than last year, ranging from big, well-known tools that companies rely on for their everyday operations, to smaller novelty tools that are only used occasionally in forgotten corners of the organization.

As promising as a lot of these MarTech tools look, you can’t use them all. You have to prioritize. This got us thinking about whether it is absolutely crucial to have a marketing attribution tool in your MarTech stack. Is marketing attribution a strategic initiative that benefits the entire company, or is it just a “nice to have” for marketers to plan their media spend?

Is an attribution tool indispensable, really?

There should be little disagreement that using a good marketing attribution tool is crucial for modern marketers to do their job. If they want to get an overview of which touchpoints and which marketing programs work best, they’ll need an attribution tool. They can then decide where to reallocate media spend to realize the best MROI. So far so good.

But if you try hard, you could still make the case that marketing attribution tools are a less-than-essential niche product for ad managers. Some may even think that marketing attribution tools can simply be replaced with Google Adwords to monitor PPC performance. But they would be mistaken.

When you rephrase the question, asking whether marketing attribution is strategic, the answer becomes clear very quickly.

It’s not a tool, it’s a bridge between brand and customer

Good attribution starts with analyzing as many touchpoints as possible, both online and offline. It can include digital ads, direct mail, terrestrial and digital radio, television, tradeshows, and in-store interactions. This allows you to create a complete picture of a prospect’s journey before becoming a customer, and you can monitor behavior of current customers to spot upsell opportunities.

When you monitor behavior across channels and devices, you’ll gain a coherent view of your customer. And that has considerable consequences. Before you know it, your attribution tool isn’t just an instrument to optimize media spend. It will soon turn into a bridge between you and your customers. It connects the dots between customers and the brand, across the entire enterprise.

Important for marketers, indispensable for the enterprise

When we meet with clients to talk about attribution, we usually sit down with influential people from different parts of their enterprise, such as the CFO, CMO, CEO and founders. These stakeholders are there because they acknowledge the importance of measuring the KPIs most important to the business. And although it is only the marketing team that actively uses an attribution tool on a daily basis, the information that the tool extracts is valuable to all members of the C-suite.

When you realize that marketing attribution is the most reliable bridge between the brand and the customer, its importance becomes evident. It’s not just about optimizing ad spend, it’s about getting to know your customers in as much detail as possible, so the entire enterprise can make strategically sound decisions.

So, if we would call marketing attribution “customer attribution” or “lead attribution”, would you even dare to question if it was of strategic importance? When you phrase it that way, your marketing attribution tool is undoubtedly strategic. Maybe the most strategic tool of all.