Guest post: Attribution, Single Customer View, Mobile, Technology and Data

This is a guest post from The Up Group who recently hosted a series of roundtable discussion groups for marketing leaders. The meetings represented an opportunity for senior marketers to discuss the key challenges they face and share insight on future trends and developments.

During these discussions, the below key themes emerged. What follows is a summary of the points made:

Attribution

Digital Marketing

Attribution, Single Customer View, Mobile, Technology and Data are some of the current key topics for Digital Marketers

Attribution is a massive topic for marketers. With the increase in channels, devices and usage, consumers have considerably more potential touch points than ever before.  A customer can just walk into a shop and buy something, but they could have also have seen the product promoted on Facebook, caught a glimpse of an advert on TV, gone into a shop to try it on and then eventually bought it online. How do retailers decide which channel gets the credit?

The issue is summed up in the famous marketing saying attributed to John Wanamaker’s famous quote: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

At the roundtables not a single participant believed they had perfected attribution modelling, or were even doing it particularly well.

In many cases, marketers are still reliant techniques such as
first and last-click attribution. Several had experimented with regression analysis, with limited success, but distinguishing correlation from causation is inherently difficult given the amount
of noise in the system.

There was agreement that a reliance on a channel-specific analytics tool to attribute value across multiple channels is unwise because the value of the chosen channel (such as Facebook) would be over-estimated.

Many cited the 90-10 rule (for every 10 dollars spent on analytics software, 90 dollars should be spent on analysts) as a useful guide. Although today’s software offers highly sophisticated tracking tools, the data these tools produce needs very careful analysis in order to derive relevant and actionable insight.

Single customer view

Like with the problem of attribution, many marketers are struggling to achieve the Single Customer View. While companies capture more and more data while incentivising customers to provide more information post-transaction, they find joining up this data and linking it to a customer’s identity exceptionally difficult.

In the roundtables it was revealed that some participants considered ‘Single Customer View’ to be a buzzword, with the benefits derived from personalising a marketing message, or delivering a customised user journey often outweighed by the cost of doing so. Other concerns included over-personalisation being potentially intrusive, and super-targeted campaigns meaning that brands’ wider stories were lost.

Many preferred to focus on segmenting audiences, users or customers into manageable slices and targeting those with relevant messages and propositions.

Mobile

Regardless of brand, user base and business model, consumer touch points are migrating to mobile devices at a phenomenal rate. The key to mobile marketing is understanding the customer journey and optimising marketing activities around it. For example, it makes a difference whether the conversion is likely to happen on the mobile device, or somewhere else.

Mobile is particularly relevant to email marketing. The majority of emails are now opened on mobile devices, and messages need to be tailored accordingly. This also presents opportunities for cross-device matching, with email as the key identifier.

Most attendees did not see mobile devices ultimately eclipsing other online channels with the general consensus being that the online world will continue to be a multi-device and multi-screen landscape.  Experian go into mobile measurement in more detail in their free white paper.

Technology

Many attendees regarded vendor and technology selection as a huge headache for a number of reasons

  1. First off, there’s the question of how to deal with the proliferation of vendors claiming the ability to improve marketing performance. Adopting a purely needs-based approach is a useful starting point, but equally if businesses don’t experiment with new technologies, their conception of the possible will be limited to the familiar. Several suggested keeping budgets aside to test new solutions, and giving teams the freedom to experiment with them. One advocated a ‘Dragon’s Den’ approach, whereby vendors are shortlisted and asked to pitch to a panel of ‘judges’.
  2. A second issue is on what basis to choose a solution. Several saw themselves as trapped within a vendor ecosystem, with their choices constrained accordingly. Newer companies have greater freedom to pick and choose solutions across the marketing stack, with many vendors offering simple APIs to ensure interoperability.
  3. Larger groups use individual businesses to test new solutions, and, if effective, roll them out across the divisions. This approach while affective for larger groups is not available for smaller outfits with fewer resources.

Data

No two companies represented at the roundtables were alike in how customer data was managed, analysed, processed and used.

  • In some cases the CFO was ultimately responsible for data integrity, with the functional units deciding what data is required, how it is derived, what technologies are used and who is responsible for which aspects of it.
  • Larger companies often had separate business intelligence teams, but how those teams engaged with the various functions varied considerably.

Few participants believed that they are currently able to easily derive actionable insight through the consumer journey and across the marketing mix. Partly a result of the attribution issues identified earlier but also as a result of a lack of accountability within the organisation for data integrity, relevance, coherence and usefulness.

Organisational silos remain a big issue for many.  In a multi-channel environment, for example, CRM and performance marketing typically exist in completely different departments. Product, Marketing and Technology teams are invariably separated, which can inhibit the ability to properly analyse the customer journey. UX can sit within any of those functions, or in a few cases constitutes an entirely separate unit.

What do you think about the issues discussed at The Up Group’s roundtable events? Do you have something to add? Let us know in the comments below.

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