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Attribution management: You can't afford to wait

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Marketing is obsessed with clicks—how many people clicked on an ad, how many website visitors clicked on the call to action, how many clicks can I show to my CEO for proof that all is working well?

But is the click really your most valuable metric? This is where the attribution question pops up, when we ask ourselves as marketers what really leads to conversions?

I not only feel that it's important for marketers to start using sophisticated attribution management tools, I believe the adoption of this technology is imperative. Here's a list of some of the reasons why.

  • Wasted money, lost conversions. I've seen attribution data from some of the largest e-commerce sites on the Web, and the quantity of waste surprises me. Due to the “last-click' attribution model, Google and other search engines have grabbed a larger portion of the pie than they deserve. For example, a prospect may see repeated targeted ads for a specific product over a period of time but, when he decides it's time to check it out, he may search for it using Google as a navigation tool. A sophisticated attribution tool can prove how the customer was influenced originally and assign credit where credit is really due. When put into action, marketers can start to see which direct marketing campaigns are better-performing, and shift significant portions of their budgets accordingly. Many times, it's the less-expensive campaigns that deliver more conversions and a lower cost-per-acquisition.
  • Wasted time between management and execution. What happens if the C-suite only believes in clicks? It's very frustrating for a marketer, and very common. Why? Because marketers have considered the click as the only metric they had in order to show value to those who don't get marketing. Data (like cash) is king, and attribution management tools give marketers access to more data about how campaigns affect a conversion beyond the click. Implementing such tools can be complicated and not a minor investment. For those seeking to make the case to their bosses, accessing a review of an anonymous set of data from a provider of attribution management tools, such as ClearSaleing, for example, can be eye opening.
  • Need for retention. The marketing industry is too focused on the acquisition of the new visitor and customer, and does not spend adequate time on those who are in the pipeline—or even who are existing customers. Proper attribution tools show if you're overspending on new customer acquisitions and point to where you should refocus those dollars. You might not be surprised to know that shifting part of the budget into customer retention will boost sales.
  • Competitive pressures. It's probably best to assume your competitors are already implementing attribution management tools and are well on the way to marketing smarter. They've learned that this adoption will arm them with newfound dollars they can use to take conversions out of your pocket. So by all means, go ahead and let fear of the competition be yet one more driver helping you get involved in attribution technology.

Chad Little is CEO of Internet marketing company Fetchback, which specializes in retargeting. He can be reached at little@fetchback.com.