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Channel Integrations and Attribution

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Integrated media

It's important to recognize that every channel impacts on digital marketing. Social media channels can be utilized in different ways.

  • Customers respond and communicate through digital channels: Somebody may be engaging in a web chat on your website, but then they may flip over to have a conversation with you on social media, for example.
  • Customers are led through a digital marketing journey to purchase: They might start looking at some of your curated content in terms of a blog. They might look at customer reviews, then they might look directly at a site, then they may go on to social media to assess opinions there or to share opinions there. They may be purchasing something online and ultimately doing click and collect to turn up to a store and purchase it.
  • Customers to through multiple channels: Ultimately, there are multiple channels at play here, and it’s really important that digital marketing is set up to be able to deal with the fact that these multiple channels are there.

Consistent message

Consistency of message is absolutely critical. It’s very easy in an organization to promise one thing in your banner ads, in your sales ads and actually deliver something completely different in terms of the customer service experience or the way that the product also is designed. It’s really important to think about that as delivering a consistent message all the way through in the different channels. It’s also important to recognize that, although it’s multiple different channels for you, it’s still one journey for the customer. So if the customer is browsing your website looking at comments on social media, looking at a review site, going to a cashback site, then reading what bloggers have written about you.

Then as far as they’re concerned, it’s still a one purchase journey. And certainly, if they’re interacting with the company in multiple different touch points, it’s one purchase journey and therefore recognizing that, delivering that consistency and not frustrating the customer in that journey is really important.

Personnel resources and training

In terms of personnel resources and personnel training, there’s a really important need to ensure that the right customer needs are being met at the right time. Who would have thought when we started out doing social media marketing that social media would become a major customer service channel? And yet it has. And therefore, the way in which people are trained, the level of resource that you have, the amount of skill that those people have in order to be able to deal with those customer challenges and issues aside from just pushing out positive messages about a product or service is extremely important.

So, level of resources, level of training, thinking about that in a multi-channel environment with customers who are making a journey all the way through the process, it can often be a good idea to map out your typical customer journey. And you probably will have several. Some people have hundreds. But saying, “What are the different journeys that my customers take through my different channels? What are their expectations at each of these channels, and how do I ensure therefore that in the messages that I’m giving them both from a marketing point of view and from a customer delivery point of view, how are those messages consistent and how are they relevant to the channels?” underpins the importance of flexibility and the ability to adapt in digital marketing; but also underpins the development of a skill set that’s much wider than the traditional marketing skill set of “I understand my product or service benefit and I’m just going to talk to people about that.”

Because you can’t do that anymore. You need to have a wider dialogue. You need to be more flexible to adapt to the needs of an individual channel and recognize that people want to engage with you in different ways than just traditional push advertising and marketing.


Measurement in the digital marketing space is obviously much more multivariate and potentially more complex than it is in the offline space.

Single source measurement

Single source being a single business view measuring the effectiveness of a single customer touch point. If you run an ad on Facebook, what is the effectiveness of that? How many people click on that, for example?

Holistic measurement

Because of the rise of multi-channels, we're moving to holistic measurement. This involves getting a whole business view of the effectiveness of the systems, the services, and the customer touch points across media. It recognizes that there are multiple different touch points that a customer will go through on their journey between first becoming aware of or interacting with the brand and actually going and purchasing that.

So holistic measurement is becoming more and more important. Single source measurement still has a role to play because if, for example, if I want to switch in Facebook advertising for another form of media that I was running before, I want to find out if it is more effective. Is it less effective? So you still need single source measurement, but holistic measurement becomes really important when you’re looking at how are you going to allocate your costs, and more importantly, how are you going to allocate the reward to the different touch points and partners that you might be working with along that type of customer journey.

Characteristics of a good measurement system

What characteristics does a good measurement system have?

  • Seamlessly gathers data: It's very important to seamlessly gather the data. We’ve talked about the importance of IT, and the importance of having the right systems to be able to gather that data. Are you are tracking? Are you tracking effectively where people are coming from, referring sites? Do you have a strong affiliate technology program set up? Are you ensuring that you understand exactly what data you are gathering and that it’s robust?
  • Makes it easy to tailor reports for different departments: There are now many, many stakeholders within every organization who are interested in what’s being delivered through different channels. In many organizations, digital and social is incredibly important. From a finance point of view, it’s important because it’s an increasing area of growth and therefore getting you to tailor reports is an important element of a good measurement system.
  • Gives timely access to key information: We’ve talked about the importance of having A/B testing, for example. And we’ve talked about the importance of being able to adapt very rapidly to changes in the marketplace or changes in the effectiveness of how one channel is working versus another. Getting that access in a timely way is extremely important. If you’re having to outsource all your data to somebody else who’s then manually taking three days to sort through it, and give you back a report in a meaningful format, you’ve probably missed a lot of opportunity in those three days.
  • Is accessible to the key people: It's accessible to the people who need it. And those people might be customer service people. Those people clearly might be social media managers, marketing managers, people who need to see how effectively things are working so that they can make adaptations and adjustments as they go in order to make it more effective.

Attribution definitions

So there are different definitions and different ways in which you can attribute and ways in which you can reward the referral in a multi-channel environment.

Multi-touch attribution (MTA)

Multi-touch attribution is basically allowing more than one online ad to get credit for a sale rather than just the final ad that’s clicked before the purchase. So this recognizes the importance of all of the different ads that may have played a role in a journey that a customer has gone through in terms of exposure to the message before they’ve actually bought the product or service.

Last interaction

Last interaction is the last touch point. The last direct channel receives 100% of the credit for the sale. This is why, for example, coupon sites can be very popular because sometimes they can end up taking the last interaction as people refer from a coupon site or from a cashback site into your site.

Last non-direct click

All direct traffic is ignored. So if somebody’s literally typed in your URL, that’s ignored, and 100% of the credit goes to the last channel that the customer clicked through before converting. So that could be email. That could be an affiliate.

Last AdWords click model

The last AdWords clicked receives 100% of the credits for the sale.

First interaction model

A company will have different reward systems for where they want to award the benefit of achieving the sale to during the total purchase decision process. The first interaction model, for example, is where the first touch point receives 100% of the credit for the sale. Fairly straightforward, it tends to favor AdWords clearly and direct links through.

Linear attribution model

This is where each touch point in the conversion path shares. So if there are four or five touch points that the customer has gone through from the first time they interacted all the way through to the sale each of them gets the same share.

Time decay attribution model

This effectively recognizes that the touch points that are closest to the sale are the ones that are likely to have had the most impact. So when a customer was perhaps generally researching about something, reading a blog about something to get general interest or general information that perhaps didn’t have as much weight as the more immediate referring link that actually resulted in the sale. So that assumes there’s an element of time decay. The further away from the purchase something is the less impact it’s had directly on achieving that sale.

Position-based attribution model

This assumes that the beginning of the process and the end of the process are the most important sections. So the channel that first achieved customer interest and the channel that actually drove directly to the purchase and everything else gets rewarded at last in between.

So all of these are different systems that can be used in terms of payment with an integrated media and allocation of success within an integrated media environment. None of them are foolproof. They’re all based on theories because clearly, ultimately, it’s extremely difficult to isolate with absolute definitive precision exactly what role was played by exactly what channel at exactly what point in the process.

But these are standard definitions that tend to be used. And obviously depending upon the industry that you’re in, depending upon the nature of the messaging that you’re putting out, you might decide to allocate into one of those types of areas.

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John Garnett

John Garnett is Managing Director at Bee Dance Consulting. He specializes in advising and helping businesses with strategy, marketing, and innovation challenges.

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

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