For many marketers, just the idea of measuring ROI induces a headache. In fact, 93% of CMOs say they feel pressured to prove ROI.

Measurement is not the "fun" side of marketing - but it is necessary. Without it, there is no way to know the value of your efforts and whether or not what you're doing is successful.

Marketers know they need to measure, but they still aren't really sure how. They struggle with data and don't know how to make sense of it. And attribution models? Forget it.

Attribution allows you to assign value to each touch point across the customer's journey. Sounds simple, right? Well, not exactly. How you assign those values and how much you attribute can make a huge difference in the accuracy of your results.

Seventy-five percent of marketers use attribution, but 55% of them use single-touch attribution. With single-touch attribution, you assign all of the value to either the first touch point or the last touch point in the customer journey. But by doing attribution this way, you aren't taking into account all of the other touch points along the way, all of which have some effect on your customer.

The customer journey is complex and as such, requires a complex, multi-channel approach. To do that, you need the right technology on your side. There are already several technology options out there, but in order to gain the best results you must have these five capabilities:

1. Centralized data

"Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the Web like deer on a freeway," says Geoffrey Moore, author of "Crossing the Chasm."

To get big results, you need to have big data, and that data needs to come from one centralized location. If you're pulling data from a variety of sources, you're wasting time and energy. Moving data from one source to another or trying to accurately measure each source against the other often results in inaccuracies and difficulties.

With data in multiple places, you're working in silos and you aren't able to see the big picture.

Putting the pieces of the puzzle together requires technology that can aggregate all the data you need in one place. This way, you can get all the information you need, across channels and across campaigns, to better measure your results.

2. Online-to-offline attribution

The average customer interacts with a brand 4.5 times online before converting. That's certainly interesting, but if that's all you're taking into account, there's a gap in your attribution model. What's missing?

The fact is, not all customer interactions with your brand will be online. You have to take into account what happens offline, too. Do you use television ads or billboards? These won't be included in your attribution findings if you only focus on online.

Attribution technology needs to be able to track your customers' offline interactions too. If the customer stops in to your store, your attribution model needs to have the data to take that visit into account. Without it, you're only getting a partial view of your brand's impact.

3. Marketing mix modeling integration

While attribution models struggle to measure the effect of offline interactions, marketing mix modeling excels at it. By using a combination of attribution modeling and marketing mix modeling, you can get an even clearer picture of a customer's journey.

Marketing mix modeling uses historical data as well as sales data to analyze performance and provide insight, while attribution models rely on user data and real-time information. Putting these two together means more insight from more places.

The right combination will depend on your business and your needs. There is no one-size-fits-all in attribution. What works for one company will not always work for yours. So that means you can't just copy someone else's results. You have to customize your solution for your business.

4. Cross-channel attribution

According to Daniel Kehrer, managing director of, "Done right, attribution can provide clear and accurate insights into how, when and where marketing influences customers across devices and channels. Marketers can then use those insights to spend smarter and define the optimal mix of customer interactions. In short, with cross-channel attribution, marketers can do more with less because they understand their customers better."

Customers today aren't just using one device or interacting with your brand on one channel. They're using multiple devices on multiple channels and using them interchangeably or even simultaneously. So if you're tasked with tracking a customer's journey from start to finish, how can you take into account each device and each channel?

Attribution technology needs to be able to fill this gap and find ways to follow customers across devices, screens and wherever they go when interacting with your brand.

5. Real-time attribution

The digital landscape is constantly changing, and what your customers are doing today isn't necessarily what they will be doing tomorrow. Actually, minute by minute your customers are doing something new.

Marketing attribution needs to be able to track the customer journey in real time, so that you can make adjustments in real time. The more flexible and adaptable you can be, the more likely you'll be to find success.

Attribution technology still has a long way to go, but by first recognizing and understanding the biggest problems it needs to solve, we're one step closer to actually doing it. Petar Bozinovski, president of Crucial Interactive and Contobox, says, "As these technologies are utilized and improved in attribution, marketers will get a much clearer picture of which advertising disciplines have actually resulted in lifting brand metrics."

What are your biggest marketing attribution challenges? What steps are you taking to solve them? Let me know in the comments below:

Published on: Jun 17, 2017