Both Marketing Attribution Models and Marketing Performance Management Dashboards visualize important information with the purpose of identifying what is, and isn’t, working and facilitating decisions. Marketing leaders committed to improving effectiveness, efficiency, accountability, and ROI, need to invest in the development and use of both of these business decision tools. Let’s explore the purpose of each, what they entail, what they measure, and how they are used to improve Marketing performance.  

The Importance of Channel vs. Strategy Effectiveness and Why You Need Both

While both attribution models and performance dashboards are vital to optimizing the Marketing organization, they serve very different purposes.  Attribution refers to the process Marketing uses to figure out which channels and touchpoints are directly responsible for converting prospects into customers. Attribution models are created to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of those channels, such as email, digital ads, website, social media, in the customer buying journey.   

Marketing programs have implications to channel choices.  Programs are a result of strategy choices. Marketing strategies support objectives designed to affect business outcomes.  The connection between strategy, objectives, and outcomes falls into the realm of performance management. Marketing leaders create performance management dashboards to determine the value and contribution of Marketing to business outcomes Marketing is expected to impact, such as growth rate, category ownership, market share, product adoption, and expansion within existing customers. Performance management dashboards provide insight into the effectiveness of Marketing’s strategies and associated programs. 

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Develop your Marketing attribution models and performance management dashboards with a focus on using them to make smarter decisions: decisions about channels and touchpoints, decisions about your plan and strategy. Since every business needs to make decisions about both channels and strategies, every business needs both of these tools. 

Customers go through multiple touchpoints within the buyer’s journey.  The goal of your attribution model is to determine which channels and touches produce the best conversions along the customer journey.  Therefore, to develop your attribution model you will need to know have data for all the converting and non-converting channels and touchpoints (online and offline) associated with the customer journey. Once you have an attribution model, the Marketing team can make more informed decisions regarding channels and campaigns. A key facet in the construction of attribution models is to decide how and where you will assign conversion credit. For example, will you use a single-step approach and give the conversion credit to the first touch or the last touch or will you use a multi-step approach?  

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Performance management dashboards help Marketing organizations understand where they are performing well, strategically, and operationally, and what improvements need to be made to achieve the desired outcomes.  Dashboards provide insight into how effective and efficient Marketing is at delivering on customer acquisition, customer retention, share expansion, market traction, and brand and customer value in terms of results, productivity, and investment.  Your Marketing plan and performance targets are key facets in the construction of your dashboard.  

Both tools take data and a significant number of resources. To build an attribution model you will need a complete picture of your customer’s buying journey and their offline and online channel and touchpoint preferences across the journey.  To build a performance management dashboard you will need to know the business outcomes and measures that matter to your leadership team and be able to trace the connections between the work and investments and the outcomes.  Determining which measures are on your dashboard depends on how Marketing contribution to the outcomes will be measured.

Attribution or Performance Management: Is it a Chicken and Egg Question?

We are often asked which is more important to determining and improving Marketing’s effectiveness and efficiency.  Hopefully you have concluded that you need both.  The better question is if you don’t have either, which comes first?  That is a good question.  Regardless of your resources, it is our position that your performance management dashboard comes first.  Performance management dashboards constructed with the right measures takes business acumen.  When Marketing leaders and teams exercise business acumen and develop and implement plans that positively impact the business, Marketing improves its relevancy and credibility.  Relevancy and credibility enable marketers to expand the conversation with the leadership team that can result with markets having more latitude to experiment with new approaches. These new approaches might include channel and touchpoint experimentation.   

When you start with attribution models, the conversation narrows to channels and touch points. It generally turns into a conversation about more for less. A relentless focus on more for less is not sustainable. For business growth to be successful, it needs to be sustainable. Sustainable growth takes a good customer-centric outcome-based plan. 

Is your performance management dashboard in need of an assessment or are you interested in developing a dashboard? If so, we can help. 

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