Chart: Why You Don't Need to Endlessly Debate Revenue Attribution

by Michelle McGinnis on Sunday, November 20, 2011 in Marketing Measurement

About 4 years ago, I brought my friend, "Alan" to a party. At this party, he met his future wife, "Emma". At their wedding, I told everyone that I was responsible for getting them together. Annoyingly, the girl that brought Emma to that party also took credit, as did the woman who threw the party. Which one of us is truly responsible for this blessed union?

I often hear people engage in grand, navel-contemplating debates on the “right” attribution models for their Closed Loop Reporting. “What if it was really a print ad that made them buy?” or “What if it was a campaign from years ago”? Well, I have some good news and I have some bad news. The bad news first:

You are not going to get it “right”. You might even “interview” each new customer to detail all the decisions why they bought, and you will still not be 100% certain of its accuracy. It is unknowable. In many cases, even the customer won’t know why they bought.

Now the good news:

It doesn’t really matter that much. revenue-attribution

We looked at over 50 customers and found that the majority of closed deals are only tied to one response. For those, any and all attribution models will give 100% credit to that one campaign. As for the rest, since they represent such a relatively small percentage of responses, they are unlikely to mislead you. Sure, in some attribution models, maybe your 9th best campaign will look like your 11th best in another. But when it comes to good business decision making (the goal of any Closed Loop Reporting effort) the great campaigns will look like great campaigns, and the bad campaigns will look like bad campaigns, no matter which model you use.

So, enjoy the debate if you will, but don’t delay the decision. Implement Closed Loop Reporting with some reasonable model and you will be on your way to a better understanding of your marketing ROI. Changing that decision down the road is not only easy, but the results above seem to indicate that your results will only become more refined, not drastically different.

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