Is attribution software killing our creativity?

Is attribution software killing our creativity?

3 Phase Marketing CEO and co-founder Sonia Majkic (Provided)

As digital marketing continues to evolve at rapid speeds, businesses have more data and analytics about their campaign performance than ever before. Multi-touch attribution is now seen as a priority for many organisations and CMOs (chief marketing officers).

But is there a drawback? Are we now so focused on metrics that we leave our creative minds on the shelf to gather dust? What about the potential danger that we’ve become so obsessed with the numbers that we’ve forgotten that on the other end of the data are real humans – driven by things that are impossible to measure? It’s not that attribution data is bad, but rather that it never shows us the whole picture and, if we let it, it can limit creative ways of reaching our customers.

The way we gather customer data continues to change. But one thing hasn’t: buyer psychology. When it comes down to it, we’re are still the same species that instinctively follows the herd and makes buying decisions based on emotions and credible connections.

Yes, attribution software can help you identify gaps, optimise your conversion points and personalise campaigns. It can help to justify budgets and jobs but, more and more, it’s failing us when it comes to making impactful decisions as marketers. Why? Because it encourages us to focus on improving metrics over real connection.

Let’s face it, some things you just can't measure on a dashboard. There are so many offline activities that never show up in attribution modelling. From brand equity to literal word of mouth marketing – not everything shows up as a number.

How do you measure the return on investment (ROI) in the following scenarios?

  • A friend tags you in a product post on Instagram and you go into the physical store to make a purchase.
  • You see your favourite sports personality wearing a fashion label you think would look great on you, so you search for the brand on Google and buy directly online.
  • You hear about a wedding photographer in a private Facebook group and, six months later, you give them a call.

The challenge we face with attribution modelling & ROI

According to GA, 73 per cent of our new business leads in 2022 were from Google. But when we ask our customers, how did you hear about us, 50 per cent of new business revenue was attributed to YouTube, LinkedIn, PR, awards and referrals.

It’s easier to give Google all the credit, because that takes our creative, problem-solving minds off the hook. I’m not suggesting Google search isn’t necessary; rather, that a dashboard brimming with impressive Google metrics only paints one picture.

When it comes to marketing creativity, it’s a dangerous game to rely on attribution modelling alone. Our obsession with measuring every social post, brand collaboration or eDM (electronic direct mail) is killing our ability to market or innovate.

We need to get back to human psychology: Buyers trust and are influenced by their trusted peers more than anything else. Yep, even more than Google. That’s why smart B2B companies are starting to completely rethink attribution and the ways they implement their budget distributions. They need to. Because there is no other way to evolve your revenue strategy in line with what actually works today without re-thinking attribution.

Does that mean attribution software isn’t worth bothering with? Absolutely not. It just means that, if we want to get in touch and stay in touch with how customers are really interacting with your business, your budgets need to be evenly skewed across creative, content creation and paid channels. Insights and data about your customers should never just come from attribution software – they need to come from the customers themselves. That is, if you want to see results in the bank, rather than on your dashboard.

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