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Why is Attribution Such an Important Question in Marketing?

January 8, 2021 DJ Team

why is attribution such an important question in marketing

Outside the question of which marketing attribution model to use, some key stakeholders need to take a step back and understand the basics. What is attribution, and why is it important? 

Marketing attribution by definition is the process of understanding consumer behavior by studying how customers interact with your content, especially before a purchase or buying decision. Attribution modeling gives a business perspective on where its marketing efforts are succeeding, and where there is room to grow. 

Before you start to think you can do this without the support of technology and analytics, let’s explore why these tools are so essential to seizing and retaining the competitive edge in your industry. 

Marketing Attribution Definition

Attribution in Marketing Example

Let’s examine the marketing strategy of a hypothetical software as a service (SaaS) provider. The company has a robust marketing strategy, including content marketing. Through once-weekly emails the team speaks directly to their audience about the value of their product, while twice-weekly blog content speaks indirectly to the pain points of their audiences and provides actionable advice.

Social media posts promote the blog content, and also share curated content with news from the industries their audiences work in. In addition to a webinar once a quarter, they also routinely sponsor events and have booths. 

Sounds like a great plan! But when conversions start rolling in, marketing attribution is going to be essential to their continued success. Attribution will tell the team which emails are attracting traffic to the website, which social channels are driving engagement, and help them close the loop between the digital efforts and the in-person impact of the conferences.

Without attribution, they will have to consistently keep up with and invest in all these efforts, when in reality a pivot in the strategy could bring even better results. 

But marketing attribution isn’t just about understanding the successful customer journeys, but also the unsuccessful ones. Without marketing attribution technology in place, many businesses fall into fundamental attribution errors that do more harm than good. 

Fundamental Attribution Error Examples 

The most fundamental attribution error is when we incorrectly assume the reason for a person’s action or lack of action. In the case of the SaaS company, they might assume prospects fail to follow up after a conference or webinar because their interest wasn’t genuine. But in reality, something might have come up in the prospect’s business, or they might have been missing information that would convince them to move forward.

It’s fundamentally easier for humans to assume that others have taken an action because of their disposition or personality, when in reality, a lot more of our decisions are situational. 

The good news for marketers is, while you can’t control someone’s personality, you can control the appeals that can change their perspective on a situation. And with marketing attribution technology, you get a better idea of which appeals are already working, and which ones need to be improved. 

For instance, the SaaS company might assume from audience research that appeals about a manager’s emotional responsibility to their employees will drive interest in the product. If a subject line to this effect is getting a high email open rate, but users aren’t clicking the enclosed link to the blog on the same topic, that isn’t because they don’t care about their employees. Yes, it could be because they don’t have time to read—or because the blog post linked in the email isn’t making the right appeal to follow up on the subject line. After all, when people care about something enough, they will make time for it.

By doing some A/B testing with different emails sent to different segments of the audience, the team may be able to discover a better combination that changes the situation for the user.

But without the insights of marketing attribution, they wouldn’t even know where to start. And, there’s a greater risk of falling into a fundamental assumption about the perspective of the audience, rather than taking steps to better understand their situation.

Media Attribution Made Simple and Actionable

So, we have established that attribution is important in marketing for two reasons. One, it helps marketers understand their strategy better, and two, it helps them understand their audiences better. But turning to a list of attribution tools, you’ll see a lot of free and paid options drowning in buzzwords. We created the DemandJump platform to cut through the noise and get to the practical value faster. 

It’s easy to integrate data from email, social, website, and the sales funnel to get a real-time perspective on marketing success. Plus, the ability to compare different media attribution models side-by-side lets you see which content is getting the first click, last click, and every engagement in-between without the need to run lots of reports. 

Finally, we sum it all up with keyword insights and content recommendations to help you make the most of your marketing budget.

Try it for free and take action on the insights already hiding in your data.

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