Marketing Attribution: Is It Really the Most Important Thing Ever?
As technology advances and consumers’ online behaviors change, you increasingly have the ability to track your marketing efforts in ways that you couldn't before. And with that tracking comes greater opportunities for attribution — or the ability to say that a lead or new customer came from a particular marketing campaign or effort.
In the past, after booking a big job, a home services business owner would often ask themselves:
- Is it because of our billboard?
- Did our technicians get better?
- Did our CSRs step up their game?
Fortunately, with Internet marketing, it’s very easy to track online actions that show how a specific lead or new customer came to a business. For example, someone performs a search for a plumber on Google, clicks on a plumbing business’ pay-per-click (PPC) ad, is taken to the business’ website, and then fills out a form on that site for an estimate.
However, as technology improves our ability to track actions — very precisely, in many cases — it also sometimes tells us a lie.
The lie in marketing is this: Whatever you tracked as the source of your lead deserves all the praise.
There are many theories of attribution. Most companies and business owners use the Last-Click Attribution Model. This model gives attribution to the last interaction point the customer had with your marketing. If the lead was tracked to a PPC call, that is what gets the attribution, and the return on your investment for PPC goes up.
Another theory is the First-Click Attribution Model. Just as it sounds, this theory attributes revenue to the first interaction someone has with your business. It could be the website, a van, a billboard, etc. Accurate attribution is more challenging with the first-click model because it’s subject to a certain level of bias. Oftentimes, this form of attribution relies on the customer sharing where they first saw the business. Sometimes this can be tracked digitally; other times it can’t.
Then, there is Linear Attribution that applies credit to all channels where the business is running marketing. There is usually “time decay,” which credits attribution to every channel and gives more credit to the channels that are closer to the point of conversion.
Does your head hurt? Mine sure does.
Needless to say this can all get pretty cumbersome when you’re trying to figure out your ROI for your marketing. You may have started to look at every channel as needing some form of positive return on investment, and you might throw around arbitrary numbers like 5x or 10x or 20x per channel based on what your peers or business coaches have told you.
Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but it begs the question: what is the best process for knowing how your marketing is really working?
The simple answer? Top-line revenue.
Where to focus
Top-line revenue always has to be the first place you look. This is challenging with the day-to-day demands that we have as business owners. The boards need to be full. The techs need to be working. But if those things are happening and the top-line revenue is flat, where do you as the business owner place your attention?
Some go straight to blaming the marketing, which gets the business into a pickle when the marketing is actually hitting the right metrics.
The key is to look at what we call the three points of conversion:
A click turns into a call,
A call turns into an appointment,
And an appointment turns into a job.
Simply put, if any of those things are not performing, you have a problem.
Here’s a quick example of the three points of conversion at play…
I was working with a large business that had multiple trades, and they were excited about May’s numbers, but then June’s numbers fell off. They were looking at top-line revenue, exactly as they should have been. What was their first impulse? Marketing isn’t working.
However, much to my surprise after I did some digging, I found that our marketing team at Scorpion was actually improving the business’ lead count, traffic, and conversion rates from May to June.
So, where’s the next place I looked? Conversion of calls to appointments. CSR and tech conversion rates were great. They were actually booking MORE jobs in June than in May.
Guess what I did find, though? The average ticket dropped by $200 from one month to the next. That was the golden ticket (no pun intended) to bring the gold back into the business.
With another client I work with, they were having a hard time attributing ROI to their PPC campaign. So, we dove right into the data. We found a number of interesting things in their client relationship management (CRM) system, including leads being improperly categorized.
So, we started looking at how things were matching up in our Scorpion dashboard versus what the client was seeing in their CRM. Guess what we found... multiple interaction points with the business.
We found a customer that our client classified as an organic SEO lead in the CRM, but we had tracked that lead as coming through PPC. We also saw that there was a secondary interaction for the same customer with a different phone number, and that interaction came through our client’s branding campaign.
So, what’s the story?
It turns out the customer had clicked on our client’s PPC ad and contacted the business through that ad, but one of the company’s CSRs reclassified the lead as being organic rather than a PPC lead. Then, further complicating things, when the customer wanted to call back, they ran a Google search for the business name and clicked on one of the business’ branding campaign ads in order to access their site.
Where does the attribution go?
In this second example above, according to both the CSR and the CRM, the business’ organic SEO campaign is the originator of the new lead. But what else actually contributed to the preservation of the client and ultimately the conversion of the business to the top-line revenue? The answer is the organic SEO campaign, the PPC campaign, the branding campaign, and the brand experience that the CSR gave the customer on the phone.
This type of misattribution happens again and again for businesses today, and it’s an important topic to discuss with your marketing manager, business partner, and company as a whole. Why? Because incorrect or incomplete attribution can potentially lead to unwise decisions that cut out advertising sources that are actually producing for your business.
How to avoid the headache of misattribution
Here’s my advice to make sure this is not happening in your business is:
- Always look at top-line revenue first.
- Ensure your metrics are being hit for the three points of conversion.
- Get your marketing team your list of customers you’ve done business with so they can adjust things like geographic targeting and demographic targeting to ensure your marketing efforts are set up to bring you in more of the jobs that grow your revenue.
- Ensure your team is aligned on how to properly classify new leads in your CRM.
- Don’t have too many categories you are trying to track specific ROI from, as this can keep you too far in the weeds and not allow you to have objective focus on the bigger picture.
- Always be innovating, taking advantage of new technology to understand your customer’s journey better.
This is not easy to do, but that is why you partner with a company like Scorpion. We bring the home services marketing experts and technology that you need to cut through all the confusion with your data and uncover what’s really happening with your marketing.
If you have questions about marketing attribution and how to improve the effectiveness of your campaigns, don’t hesitate to reach out to your marketing manager if you are a Scorpion client.
To find out more about how Scorpion can help you if you are not yet partnered with us, head on over to that cell phone and give us a call. We are here to help pave a clearer path forward for you and your business.