Julie Cary, recent CMO at Belk and board member, Jack’s Family Restaurants, led a CMO Club Virtual Roundtable on, Attribution Strategies, where she looked at attribution holistically, centering it around the customer.

Cary said it’s important to get to the heart of the customer, and attribution across the different types of digital marketing. She first discussed the key components of digital marketing effectiveness: customer intelligence from multiple data sources; real-time journey mapping and an optimized path to purchase across media touchpoints; and messaging and personalized content across journey stages to increase conversion.

Customer intelligence, she said, is more than a customer data platform. It helps you use what you know about your customer to get better results from your omnichannel engagement. Gathering that customer intelligence happens through a cycle that includes:

  • Identity Resolution (IDR). Recognize each customer as an individual no matter when or where they choose to interact. Whether a known or unknown customer, do you know how you’re looking at your digital marketing across that journey, Cary said.
  • Ensure your range of marketing activities are getting the best results. 
  • Value your customer by understanding their levels of engagement, products of interest, and likelihood to undertake a desired action.
  • Get a picture of what is driving your marketing results, net of other channels.
  • Data Modeling. Know your best customers – so that you can uncover your next, best customers.

Customer intelligence provides a deeper understanding of your customers so you can make smarter and more effective marketing decisions, Cary said. You’re able to leverage a range of first-party data to get a full view of the customer. If you have loyalty clubs, etc, that can greatly assist in making the actionability happen in real time. Cary said her team combined loyalty data with other data in real time to serve up different messages about topics such as points, actions they could take by creating a booking, and more while at La Quinta hotels.

Other benefits of customer intelligence include determining each customer’s value for marketing efficiencies, providing a 360- degree view of each customer, making customer data actionable for real-time decisions and engagement; and enabling one-to-one personalization in real time, she said.

Customer Journey and Attribution Patterns Address Several Strategic Questions 

Cary noted that many channels assist conversion or work together. She said it’s important to think about how media works in terms of reach, frequency, the types of messages, and when and how often messages are delivered.

“We have to put our customer media hat on first,” she said.

The customer journey and attribution patterns will address a number of strategic questions in the following categories, Cary said.

Cross channel analysis

  • What channels drive and assist conversion?
  • What channels are highest in independence and drive unique conversions?
  • How do attributed, independent, and assisted conversions by channel trend over time?

Customer journey analysis

  • What unique pathways drive the most conversions?
  • What unique pathways have the highest value?
  • What unique pathways are the most efficient?

Attribution and measurement

  • What channels drive the most attributed bookings?
  • Does the current attribution paint an accurate picture of sales driven by each channel?

Cary closed out the discussion with some examples from personal experience.

In understanding cross channel behavior, she talked about examples of reporting used at La Quinta. The team looked at what channels had direct conversion on their own, versus those that were assisted and how they were assisted, and then examined how improvements could be made.

“For us, search marketing was one of the big independent conversions, because it meant people were familiar with the brand, searched and then booked,” she said.

At the same time, they could also look at what else was assisted by search, such as email marketing, display, etc – how often that happened at what those pathways were.

Over time, they found display and re-targeting were losing effectiveness, Cary said.

“Seeing how these pathways and channels change over time can be really enlightening, especially when you do AB tests,” she said.

Check out more CMO Club Virtual Roundtable recaps and join us for upcoming Virtual Roundtables.