Tailoring Your Performance Marketing for Attribution

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Attribution is one of the most sought-after yet daunting discussions that take place within a marketing team. The question of which channels, what content and where the overlap lies can lead to an often dizzying hunt for a one-size-fits-all solution. At CommerceNext 2019, our panel of industry executives sat down to discuss their teams’ approaches to attribution for performance marketing and beyond. These leaders from Poshmark, Casper, Burrow, and AdRoll delve into the customer journey and how their business goals help define where the new and existing customers intersect. 

For each of our panelists, the attribution plays a large role in their performance marketing decisions. When prompted to define what attribution means to each of them, Barkha Saxena, Chief Data Officer at Poshmark and Jeff Sanders, SVP of Growth at Casper agreed that performance marketing across channels allowed them to identify ways to link and engage their new and existing customers. For Stephen Kuhl, CEO of Burrow and Scott Gifis, President of AdRoll, attribution is unique to the goals of the business and the data they collect surrounding customer experience. Kuhl noted that his team at Burrow looks towards what is the most meaningful component of the sales experience for different types of customers. The panelists agreed that the insights they gain from customer data can tell a lot about different customers and their behavior. However, a team can easily find themselves swimming in data rather than following one tried-and-true route to attribution. Exploring the outcomes of performance marketing from a holistic view allows direct to consumer brands to better understand their customers’ behavior and path to purchase.

The panel also shared some of their recent experiences with performance marketing and the relevance of customer data. Burrow shared that their post-purchase survey receives a 40% submission rate, allowing customers to share what really drove the sale for them. Kuhl mentioned that, without this direct customer feedback, it’s difficult to glean which approach is most effective in driving sales and customer acquisition among Facebook, subway, and email-targeted ads. Burrow implements a test-and-learn culture within their marketing strategy to remove the confusion of multiple channels of data, opting to measure different tactics within their marketing placements, such as the value of placements in different podcasts. Sanders added that his team at Casper aims to analyze the capabilities of the channels together in order to build the best understanding of interactions between channels. Tracking the multidimensional elements that go into performance marketing helps marketing teams follow the development of customer behavior over time. However, Saxena noted that these analytic models, while useful in decoding the customer’s purchase journey, are often complex and difficult to translate into a marketing team’s actionable day-to-day decisions. She advises simplifying these complex models into tools that are simple and easy to understand, creating something that your team will actually use as well as trust. 

After sharing some of their own experiences with attribution for performance marketing, the panel was asked to share their advice for other direct to consumer brands. The group agreed that, when it comes to attribution, one size will not fit all, and there is no golden rule when it comes to creating a “perfect” attribution strategy. As Saxena put it concisely, it’s about finding the “right problem and solution fit.” Sanders shared that many teams are looking back in time for the answers, placing their trust in tried and true modes of direct marketing and direct mail, tools that are increasingly available on marketing platforms. Burrow’s suggestions also tended towards the old school, encouraging the audience to talk to their customers about what worked for them, what didn’t and what they are comfortable sharing. “Having a conversation goes a long way,” says Kuhl. Allowing their customers to paint the picture of their purchase journey provides data beyond the capability of a tool for Burrow’s marketing team. 

As a solution provider, AdRoll aims to level the playing field for direct to consumer marketers to compete with one another. Gifis sees attribution as an obligation, providing insight to marketing teams in order to make the most of each dollar spent. AdRoll helps companies to activate and make sense of their customer data, as well as understand marketing from a holistic perspective in order to analyze consumer behavior. In asking what value they bring to their customers, AdRoll takes on the challenge of aligning all members of the brand team and changing the way executive roles think about attribution, helping them to “unlearn ‘vanity metrics’” and traditional marketing tactics in order to adopt a bigger picture of multi-channel marketing. AdRoll aims to help teams paint a full picture across their different systems, emphasizing the mix that truly makes the impression when it comes to performance marketing. When prompted about internet privacy and competing with big internet players from a perspective of attribution, Gifis stated that while growing pains may be difficult now, ultimately this movement will force brands to really invest in customer data. Their customer base will gain insight into what data is being used, allowing them to feel more secure in sharing their feedback and participating. This ultimately gives the brands a richer view of the individual customer.

Gifis and his team at AdRoll help direct to consumer brands carry out actionable and effective performance marketing strategies by moving away from a last-click model towards one based in multi-touch attribution. All elements of the customer experience become key touchpoints for reshopping, referrals and other hallmarks of customer retention. This customer-centric strategy asks the brand to take ownership of the entire customer experience, and they are rewarded with a rich pool of multichannel data from which they can build their own ideal attribution models.

You can watch this full session on our Youtube channel here