The right mix… the correct balance… Marketers are faced with the same never ending questions. Are we spending our marketing dollars in the right place? Are we getting the best bang for our buck? Marketing attribution tools help us track our marketing efforts and improve overall ROI, but limitations still exist. In this post I explore common challenges and recommended approaches.

If implemented correctly marketing attribution tools can provide precise insights into how, when and where your marketing efforts influenced a customer’s action or purchase across multiple devices and channels. These insights enable you to spend smarter and help define the optimal marketing mix across all of your marketing channels.


Marketing attribution, or cross channel distribution, should be seen as the new marketing measurement standard. Cross channel distribution modeling requires connecting data with a CRM system, computing large amounts of data from multiple channels and touch-points. Unfortunately, getting reliable cross channel attribution data can be challenging for most marketers.

Attribution is no longer a digital only tool; it is key that marketers look at all of their efforts — both online and offline to properly allocate their marketing dollars. Understanding cross-channel distribution and moving beyond individual channel plans to a more holistic approach will give you better insight into the path to action (or purchase) taken by the user.

TIP:  Don’t forget to account for brand actions/sales within your marketing attribution model.  This can throw your ROI calculations off causing your marketing efforts to look like they are failing when in actuality they are not.

Agility is your key to success.  Marketers need to be agile and be able to dynamically allocate spend across their marketing channel, as appropriate to maximize ROI.

Moving away from last click attribution to cross channel attribution has already occurred in many companies’ attribution dynamics. With the dramatic and continual increase of mobile devices, mobile remains a driving force in cross device attribution, with the hopes of bridging the gap between online and offline channels.

As more and more companies experience success through their marketing attribution efforts other marketers will want to follow in their footsteps. Through cross channel distribution marketing companies will be able to validate their digital marketing spend, obtain a firm understanding of the path taken to a purchase, and optimize their media mix to achieve the best ROI.

Is it really possible to close the loop across your marketing efforts?

In 2015, great strides have been made to improve marketing attribution, but most companies are not there yet. As marketers we are still limited by the tools we have.  For example:

  • Cookies continue to be a limiting factor in how we are able to attribute the conversion back to the original source. Cookies are not able to track offline conversions attribution and do not work across all devices.
  • User IDs are limited by the path to conversion taken by the user, any deviations to this path will pose a challenge to the ability to model the user’s behavior.

Unfortunately, at this time marketing attribution is rarely done well by most companies, but when it is — it can be extremely valuable. Continue to work toward platform integration, enabling you to follow the customer’s path from the first touch point to the last, and allowing you to allocate your marketing dollars appropriately across all channels.

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