How to Achieve Accurate Campaign Attribution

May 2, 2019 Brandon Watson

Picture this…

You’re running to make the winning shot with a tied game and five seconds left on the clock. This shot will determine whether or not you win the championship.

3...2...1. You shoot. The ball goes in, and it’s all over! You won!

Or did you? After sinking the final shot, there’s a sudden uproar on both sides, arguing whether or not you shot the ball before time expired. The refs rush to the cameras to review the footage. Unfortunately, the cameras glitched and missed the footage of the shot…

So what’s the outcome?

The long and short of it: You have no way of knowing.

This scenario happens in business all the time. You launch a new product campaign (that “winning shot”), only to find out that the ads you put out weren’t tracking properly. Even if you have the technology (like the cameras), if not configured correctly when launching the campaign, you have no way of knowing how successful the launch was.

Accurate campaign attribution is key to understanding how effective your campaign strategy is. Before going into how you can execute error-free campaigns, we’re going to take a look at some of the most common problems you may have faced with your marketing campaigns and what causes them.

Campaigning Gone Wrong

Obviously, there is no such thing as a perfect campaign. But with the amount of time and money spent making sure your campaign will have a significant impact on your customers and generate revenue, you want it to be as close to perfect as possible, right?

Members of your marketing and analytics team work hard to create these campaigns to promote new products or features, yet somewhere in the process, things go wrong. For example you might suddenly have multiple tracking codes for the same campaign, diluting your campaign attribution and frustrating everyone involved.

Let’s discuss two of the reasons why you may be experiencing problems like this in your campaign tracking (if you are familiar with why things go wrong in a campaign, skip to the solution below):

Multi-User Access Makes a Mess

There are usually two main teams that work on a campaign: the marketing team and the analytics team. Typically, the marketing team has an idea of how they want the campaign to run and what needs to be tracked. The analytics team is there to make sure tracking codes are built and analytics implementations are ready to go once the campaign goes live.

The challenge arises when these two teams don’t clearly communicate their expectations or activities with each other, which unfortunately is a pretty common challenge.

For instance, if your team uses Google Analytics to create tracking URLs, the marketing team  and even multiple teams within the overall marketing team, are able to create URLs as they see fit without consulting the analytics team or each other. And as we can all (hopefully) admit, the marketing team isn’t always the most systematic group, and they are often unaware of the analytics team’s code structuring conventions that help keep elements in the tracking parameters consistent and easy to analyze. This often results in multiple codes being created for the same campaign by adding inconsistent elements, such as “spring_sale” vs “spring-sale” into the utm_campaign parameter.

But beyond creating the codes, another gray area between most teams is who’s in charge of making sure they work? We’ll get to that in a bit...

Large Docs Cause Large Problems

Whether your code creation is being tracked on a very lengthy Excel spreadsheet or Google Doc or maybe you’re even a little ahead of the curve and are using a code generator, it is still a highly manual process. What’s wrong with a manual process, you ask? Well, as you have multiple teams (or even just one person over time) who are manually inputting each URL link and creating the tracking code, you increase the risk of human error.

Here’s how the process usually goes: the marketing or analytics team creates the codes, tests each code before the campaign goes live (again, hopefully), and then goes on with the rest of the campaign prep. Launch day comes and the campaign goes live, via email, advertising, and social. After a few days, you’re looking at the analytics data and it doesn't seem right. There must be a tracking error occurring within your analytics.

But is your analytics the problem or is it that a part of the coded link was input incorrectly?

You go back to your very large spreadsheet or large doc and spend a large amount of time searching for what link isn’t working right, fix it, and then take the time to go back and reconcile the misaligned data that was collected by the incorrect link.

This process can happen multiple times throughout your campaigning process with a large amount of links. All the while you’re unable to analyze the real performance of the campaign because you’re still trying to clean up data to identify which link deserves the attribution.

With the amount of time and money put into creating campaigns and all the revenue that depends on their performance, you’d think there would be something that could automatically check and alert you when tracking errors occur.

*Cue red carpet and deep announcer voice*

CampaignAssurance: Your Campaign Attribution Advantage

If you have started to lose hope in the trustworthiness of your campaign attribution data, I can happily tell you that you’ve come to the right place. ObservePoint’s new product, CampaignAssurance, was created to give the tools you need to make your campaigns successful.

So, what is CampaignAssurance?

CampaignAssurance is a versatile solution that enables you to define tracking parameters, build campaign URLs, and validate the functionality of your campaign tracking—all in one centralized interface.

Admins can eliminate multi-user access problems by setting up user permissions and creating custom templates for each team that builds tracking codes—including or excluding tracking elements and organizing how they’re structured throughout the organization.

Before ever launching a campaign, CampaignAssurance users can scan every campaign URL to verify that the tracking technology on the campaign’s landing pages are collecting data correctly.

By templating and validating these marketing campaign URLs, CampaignAssurance helps marketers and analysts feel confident about campaign ROI data, spot rogue campaign codes, and ensure landing pages are working correctly.

CampaignAssurance provides a single solution to monitor active or inactive campaigns and receive alerts for campaigns that do not pass inspection.

Below are the key features within CampaignAssurance:

How Companies Have Benefited From CampaignAssurance

Use Case 1:

One of the largest magazine industries that contains a global circulation of more than 6.7 million, was looking for an automated platform that would constantly be searching for errors that occurred in tracking code creation.

With ObservePoint’s CampaignAssurance, they found 48 pages were missing campaign tracking, giving misleading information in Adobe Analytics. With CampaignAssurance automatically checking these links and alerting them with errors found, they were able to improve overall ROI and increase traffic to their site.

Use Case 2:

Another customer found 186,000 incorrectly formatted URLs and thousands of links that sent traffic to 404 landing pages. Without the help of CampaignAssurance to test these links, these URLs would have continued to mislead potential customers. Instead, they are directing traffic to sites that work and will help turn prospects into customers.

Don’t wait until after your campaign is launched to discover the major tracking errors that can be found in your campaign. Request a free demo of CampaignAssurance to see how you can start validating campaigns before they go live.

About the Author

Brandon Watson

Brandon Watson is what you would call a “jack of all trades” when it comes to product management. His specialties include UI design, strategic planning, user stories, disruptive technologies, data mining, consumer and enterprise software, and more. With his experience as a product manager for over eight years at four different companies, Brandon provides new insights and improvements that drive results over and over again.

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