How to Achieve Accurate Campaign Attribution

June 29, 2020 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 a few 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.

Manual Processes Limit Insights

Even if everything above goes according to plan (which is unlikely), manual campaign tracking efforts are often limited to tracking a small set of broad attributes. If only the standard UTM parameters are used to track your campaigns, many potential insights about your marketing efforts—including how well specific messaging strategies or calls to action are performing—are lost. 

Insights may also be limited by an inability to holistically track all interactions with your campaign. When campaigns are managed manually, web and mobile data are often tracked separately. Similarly, many companies use CRMs to effectively track their offline data, but struggle to bring this data together with their digital data. When data is siloed in these ways, it is difficult to act on big-picture insights.

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 predefine and unify your data to prevent costly errors and ensure complete, timely insights.

*Cue red carpet and deep announcer voice*

Touchpoints: 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. Touchpoints by ObservePoint  was created to give your team the tools to make your campaigns successful.

So, what is Touchpoints?

Touchpoints is a cloud-based solution that allows you to standardize your collection attributes and taxonomy to create consistent and complete campaign data before you collect it—all in one centralized interface.

By organizing and unifying your data before it exists, Touchpoints eliminates the need to cleanse and compile fragmented data across silos after collection. Rather, admins can use Touchpoints to create and manage campaign tracking URLs at scale, and then follow up by validating that links are functioning properly and tracking beacons are present. 

Unlike manual tracking spreadsheets, Touchpoints can systematically manage dozens of attributes, allowing teams to look for out-of-the-box insights about subject lines, headlines, images, or even font color—so they can know exactly what’s working and why. 

Touchpoints also integrates with other AdTech, MarTech, and analytics providers, so teams can unify web, mobile, online, and offline data collected by other agencies and view their complete analytics results using whatever reporting tools they currently have in place. 

Use Case: How A Software Company Benefited from Touchpoints

A project management software company with over 4,000 customers, was looking for a solution that could resolve inconsistencies in metadata and eliminate human error in their campaign launch processes.

By integrating Touchpoints with the rest of their MarTech tools, they were able to use Touchpoints’ standardization and unification processes to address these issues, give their marketers access to the right data, streamline workflow, and increase campaign velocity. 

Don’t wait until after your campaign is launched to discover major tracking errors and unify your data. Request a free demo of Touchpoints to see how you can start collecting complete, standardized data for focused insights right when you need them.

 

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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