A Primer on Attribution & Social Media ROI
A group of marketers talking about social media ROI is a lot like a group of 7th graders talking about sex: everyone talks about it, but no one has ever done it nor does anyone have the slightest idea how.
At Argyle, we spend an awful lot of time thinking about the social media ROI conundrum. In particular, we’re most interested in figuring how we can help our customers understand it clearly, measure it consistently, and improve it over time.
We believe that the biggest problem around social media ROI is attribution. That is to say — social media ROI is hard to measure because it is hard to link your social media marketing efforts to business outcomes. It isn’t a big stretch to say that if social media marketers can’t directly attribute revenue, retention, savings, etc. to their social media marketing efforts, then they’re not going to get the budget, resources, promotion, props, etc. that they deserve.
This is a big problem for social media marketers. And while we don’t have a silver bullet, we think that we have insight into the fundamental issues behind the problem and some clever thoughts about how to address them.
A QUICK PRIMER ON ATTRIBUTION IN SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Regardless of channel, it is already hard enough to figure out which marketing efforts are pushing customers over the fiish line to fil out lead forms, purchase, sign-up, donate, etc.
Day 1: Customer searches Google for “widget”, clicks
on an organic link to your site.
Day 1: Customer then signs up for your email list,
clicks a few links over the course of a month.
Day 2: Customer follows you on Twitter, clicks several
links over the course of a month.
Day 30: Customer search Google again for “widget”,
this time clicks on an CPC ad.
Day 30: Customer purchases a widget for $200.
Which Social Media marketing program should get “credit” for the conversion — SEO, email, social, or CPC? Is a single click from CPC more valuable than several touch points via email or social? Is the fist visit more important than the last visit? What about all of the stuff in the middle? Have we done enough to convince you that this is incredibly complex? Have we done enough to make you rethink how you’re making marketing budget decisions?
Most web analytics programs ( like Google Analytics ) employ a “last-touch” attribution model, which means that conversions get allocated to the most recent referrer source for that visitor. So in our example about the widget shopper, CPC would get 100% of the conversion attribution because that was the last marketing “touch” before the conversion. Most marketers already use last-touch attribution and don’t even know it.
Many marketers use a “fist touch” model or “multi-touch” model ( The latter are often called “ballers” and sometimes “baller shot callers” ). In a “fist touch” world, SEO would get credit for the conversion in our little example — the fist marketing touch point was the result of an organic
search result engineered by the SEO geniuses.
In a “multi-touch” set-up, you would allocate the conversion value across all of the marketing programs. The most common multi-touch model is very simple: all touch points receive an equal share of the credit. For example, a $200 purchase with 20 touches would result in a $10 attribution for each touch point. Sophisticated marketers might weight diffrent touch points diffrently – maybe the fist and last split 60% of the value while the remainder gets spread evenly across the middle.
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