Show Me The Money: Attribution and Campaign-Driven Analytics

Let’s increase our spend. Let’s spend more money — now.

Does this statement induce some mild anxiety? A slight clenching of the jaw, perhaps, or a furrow of the brow?

Every performance marketer has heard this phrase at least once. If you haven’t, you will — at some point, soon.

If you’re anything like us, you’re using a slew of different marketing tools to inform your business decisions. You have tools for customer service, email, social, lead generation, paid, SEO and the list goes on.

Track all the things meme
Knowing where to spend isn’t as clear as tracking all the metrics.

These tools come with reports and insights. But this data doesn’t tell you when to turn on the tap on the marketing initiatives that matter most.

Tracking “all the things” doesn’t necessarily give you a clear picture of what is actually delivering the most value or conversions because you’re focusing on metrics, not campaigns.

What do we mean by campaigns? We like to define a campaign as:

“A series of marketing activities designed to achieve clearly defined goals within a specified time frame. Whether the ultimate goal is to acquire new customers, launch a new product, promote brand awareness or generate leads, smart conversion marketers think in terms of campaigns.”

So when your boss innocently nudges you to increase spend, it’s okay to scratch your head. Let’s face it: spending money is easy, but knowing where to spend it can be hard.

It’s critical to understand how to attribute conversions to the most effective marketing campaigns, because spending money blindly can seriously hurt the growth of your business.

To help you avoid the ‘mo-money, mo-problems’ scenario, I’m going to:

  • Explain the limitations of tactic-driven attribution.
  • Illustrate how a campaign-driven approach will let you spend your time and money on marketing campaigns that will grow your business.


What you’re missing with the tactic-driven approach

The truth is that most marketing teams and companies are stuck in a tactic-driven phase. I like to lovingly call this the one-trick pony phase of attribution because you’re focusing your efforts on one key metric.

Marketing attribution at this phase means you’re likely looking at:

  • Metrics like cost-per-click, new subscribers or new leads
  • Multiple platform-specific reports and insights
Connecting different data points
At the tactic-driven phase of attribution you’re connecting lots of dots and data points.

So, you have a ton of data that doesn’t communicate across platforms. Each report offers insights on metrics that are specific to those platforms, but they don’t connect with each other. This type of reporting doesn’t provide you the understanding you need.

As Unbounce’s performance marketer, Duane Brown would say:

“You’ve got 99 problems, but data ain’t one.”

What you need is to get these platforms to talk to each other and show you the whole picture.

The limits of Google Analytics

You’re probably using Google Analytics to gain perspective on your efforts. The thing is, Google Analytics is necessary, but not sufficient.

Each of the different attribution models in GA focuses on metrics that cover one part of your conversion funnel — none gives you the holistic perspective you need.

Google Analytics gives you insights into aspects of your marketing initiatives, but it’s not an oracle.

The Matrix's Oracle has all the answers
If only we could hire the Oracle to make all our data-driven decisions.

Even with Google in your corner, it’s still very hard to answer higher level questions like:

  • How do email clicks translate into revenue?
  • What revenue does paid contribute to the company?
  • What’s the LTV of customers that sign up from my ebook campaign?

So how do take your spend to the next level when your marketing team is stuck in a tactic-driven rut?

How do you start focusing on marketing campaigns that will let you grow your business without spending blindly on metrics?

The benefits of campaign-driven analytics

Moving beyond a tactic-driven approach opens the door to campaign-driven analytics. A campaign-driven approach allows you take a step back and see how all those data points work together throughout your funnel.

You know your team is at the campaign-driven phase of attribution the moment you begin using:

  • Spreadsheets from multiple sources
  • Frequent campaign reporting and assessment
  • Clear ROI benchmarks
  • Developers or an analyst to run reports

It’s a step in the right direction: you’re able to run reports that inform your ROI. You can now focus efforts on campaigns that are increasing revenue, not just fluffy metrics like engagement or bounce rate.

With a campaign-driven approach, you can begin answering those complex questions you couldn’t answer above.

The bad news is you’re still drowning in data. You may still need a developer or a dedicated analyst to access that information.

Frustrated worker
So much data, so little time.

Don’t despair; there is a solution, and it’s more straightforward than you might think.

Our marketing team is currently using what we like to call the Occam’s Razor approach – which means that the simplest solution is usually the correct one. To gain a campaign-level perspective on where our paid marketing fits into the larger picture, we use multiple excel sheets where we pull data from a half a dozen different sources. This gives us a better point of view on what is driving conversions for the company.

At the campaign-driven phase, we know Google Analytics doesn’t have all the answers. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that last click or first click aren’t great attribution models, it’s that they don’t give you visibility into which campaigns will help grow your business. And that’s what driving conversions is ultimately about, isn’t it?

Sometimes, the simplest solution is the correct one. We realize that “use a spreadsheet” isn’t the sexiest advice, but it’s helped us tackle a complex problem in an effective way – and that’s why we’re sharing it with you!

Pulling from lots of data sources and putting them into multiple spreadsheets can be tedious and labor-intensive. However, the beautiful part is that even two or three spreadsheets empower you with a deeper understanding of which campaigns are most valuable.

Not sure how to spend your PPC dollars?

Steal Unbounce's spreadsheet so you can become more campaign driven and begin spending wisely.
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More to the point, taking a campaign-driven approach helps reduce your anxiety when it comes to spending money.

Now you can spend money on the marketing efforts that are truly driving the most value for your company— which is an all-around good feeling.

Catch Unbounce Performance Marketer Duane Brown at HeroConf Philadelphia for more insights and tips into our campaign-driven attribution approach.
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About Helen Arceyut Frixione
Helen is a former Writer and Content Strategist at Unbounce. She’s worked in startup, agency and freelance environments. With a marketing background in social media strategy, community management and user acquisition, she loves using data to inform herself, but also enjoys the occasional animated cat gif. Find her on Twitter @haaf
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