Revenue Attribution: Tying Marketing ROI to Business Results

March 5, 2018 | Marija Sekularac

Revenue attribution is a modern luxury most marketers ignore. Before attribution, marketers didn’t have any way to reliably tie their efforts to business revenue. This was much due to the nature of the medium. What do I mean? Consider it impossible to accurately credit the impact of a billboard or TV ad on sales unless there’s a drastic spike.

That was then. Today’s marketers can accurately tie marketing ROI to business results. You now have the data to home in on which campaigns, channels and keywords are bringing in the most conversions. It means revenue attribution is necessary to show marketing’s value to the rest of the organization. Sadly, many marketers still have no idea what revenue attribution is nor what it can do for them.

What is Revenue attribution?

Revenue attribution is the process of crediting a conversion or sale to a specific channel or marketing action. The most basic example of this is a promotional email that directly led to a web purchase. The attribution is pretty clear: the customer received the email, clicked on the link, and purchased the item. Therefore, the revenue for this sale—and other sales like it—credit is given to this specific email campaign.

Revenue attribution is key to accurately measuring and reporting campaign performance. It gives CMOs hard numbers with which they can prove marketing ROI.

Different revenue attribution models

Marketers have many marketing channels active at the same time and customers will encounter at least two of them over the course of their purchase. So how do you measure which one gets credit for the sale?

There are different attribution models in place, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

First-touch revenue attribution. This model gives credit to the first touch point a customer encounters. It assumes that the first touch point is what makes the customer aware of your brand and is what starts them down the path to the sale. The problem with this method, it overemphasizes how important the awareness stage of the funnel is. It’s also susceptible to errors, since the true “first-touch” could have been offline.

Last-touch revenue attribution. The last-touch model credits the sale to the last recorded touch point. It’s the simplest revenue attribution model to measure by far, and is what many attribution tools default to. The problem with this method, if a customer encounters your booth at a tradeshow and then goes to your website to do the purchase, it’s the website that gets the credit for the sale. Even though the tradeshow had the most influence.

Multi-touch revenue attribution. 

This revenue attribution model keeps track of every touch point the customer encounters over the course of the buying cycle and gives credit to each. The amount of credit for each touch point varies based on whatever variant of multi-touch attribution you’re using, and it’s still potentially more accurate than the other two methods because you have a better idea of which marketing assets are influencing the overall buying decision.

The missing link in revenue attribution

Most of the methods listed above require some sort of online or digital component in order to capture the required data: website tracking, an online form, or a specific landing page. Offline touch points like print ads, tradeshows, or even word of mouth are overlooked. So how can brands find out which of these offline touch points contributed to the sale?

A proper inbound call tracking solution will do all this and more.

Modern call tracking solutions like Retreaver generate unique phone numbers that you assign to both digital and offline campaigns, and tie them into your marketing automation system. You get an accurate picture of actual campaign performance, and your agent doesn’t have to risk wasting your customer’s time asking intrusive questions.

Visit try.retreaver.com to learn more about how call tracking contributes to your marketing ROI.