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What's Digital Marketing Got to Do with It? Part Three - Attribution Modeling

In my last blog post, I wrote about “MarTech” stacks and the Stackie award that is part of the MarTech Conference. As it turns out, attribution, as a marketing challenge has improved but also become more complicated as a result of advances in technology. Because we’re a small company, it’s an issue we’re trying to get ahead of as we need to be as efficient as possible with every dollar we spend. Since then, we’ve been working hard on our attribution and I am proud to report that we’ve completed a major internal milestone.

Before I dig into the details a bit more, it’s probably worth noting that a good portion of our digital marketing budget is spent on “search” with Google AdWords. We spend a little with Bing, Twitter and Facebook and work on organic separately but the lion’s share of our spend is on AdWords.

Now, back to the details of the progress we’ve made since my last post. The milestone is an integration between three of our primary tools: Google AdWords, Google Analytics and our Shopping Cart. At a high level, we now have our AdWords campaigns and product signups feeding data into Analytics. That integration gets us the ability to track our campaign conversions through to Analytics so we can cross reference them with our actual sign ups. With this approach, we now know whether or not the conversion was a real sign up. And even better, we know the value of the sign up as that data comes from our cart. As any marketer or business owner knows, that goes a long way to managing your budget. So we’re really excited about being more efficient and putting our marketing dollars to good use.

But…

Although it goes a long way, we’re not across the finish line yet.

One of the things we are still trying to figure out is daily monitoring and reporting. Prior to this integration, we used AdWords as the starting point for evaluating the performance of our search campaigns and it has worked okay but now we have a new challenge. The reality of the data flow is that AdWords and Analytics don’t see the same thing at the same time. That is to say, they aren’t actually in sync in real-time. And although Google probably won’t admit this in print in their product forums, on the phone they have told me that when you notice they aren’t in sync go with the Analytics data. Did I just say that in print?? Obviously, that’s a little frustrating as they are tools from the same vendor but at least we know that now and realize we’ll have to adjust our expectations and habits on monitoring and reporting. So that will be the topic of my next post. And that will likely be a two part post: the social part of changing our habits and the MarTech part of what new tools (if any) we’ll use to bridge that gap.

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