“So, What Worked?” Deciphering Digital Campaign Attribution Metrics
If you’ve run a digital marketing campaign in the past or hired experts to execute on your behalf, you’ve undoubtedly been inundated by a dizzying array of campaign performance metrics. Getting to know the dozens of success markers that have been widely adopted for measuring campaign performance can be like mastering a foreign language. But the time investment is worth it because becoming familiar with attribution measurements helps you or any advertiser know which strategies are working and which aren’t.
Imagine you’re running multiple ads for your business or client across various platforms like Connected TV, smartphone apps, Facebook, Google, and email newsletters. When a prospect decides to make a purchase or sign up for your service, how do you assign a value to a particular performance indicator or determine which ad or platform led them to take that action? That’s where campaign attribution comes into play.
What is Digital Marketing Campaign Attribution?
At its core, performance attribution is the process of identifying which touchpoints (or interactions) a customer engaged with before taking a desired action, such as making a purchase, downloading an app, calling a business, signing up for a newsletter, visiting a location, or filling out a contact form. It’s like retracing a customer’s journey and pinpointing which marketing efforts were most influential in driving that final decision – often a sale. Understanding attribution is crucial for several reasons:
Accountability: It helps show advertisers precisely where their marketing dollars are making an impact. When marketers or their clients see that a particular ad or email campaign is driving results, they’re more likely to trust and invest in specific strategies further. It’s how managed service providers like NuVoodoo earn repeat business.
Optimization: By understanding which touchpoints are most effective, an advertiser can allocate resources more efficiently across platforms or favor certain ad targeting tactics over others.
Transparency: In a position where you must defend campaign performance when spending Other People’s Money? Having clear attribution data allows you to provide evidence-based explanations. It’s the difference between saying, “Trust me, it’s working,” and “Here’s the data showing where and how it’s working.”
In essence, digital marketing campaign attribution provides a roadmap of a customer’s journey and highlights the stops they made along the way before deciding to act. For those overseeing campaigns, it offers a clearer picture of campaign performance, ensuring that every marketing dollar is well-spent and that you can confidently showcase and defend the results to those trusting you with managing their campaigns.
The NuVoodoo marketing team organizes metrics around various client campaign objectives. Consider slipping what follows into your saved items folder or bookmarking this nuvoodoo.com/articles link for future reference. This collection of key performance indicators is organized into eight distinct categories. It’s your primer for a thorough understanding of attribution terms and for knowing when they’re valuable.
1. Engagement Metrics:
Engagement metrics shine a light on how users interact with your content, offering a glimpse into the initial appeal and relevance of your campaigns.
● Click-Through Rate (CTR): The percentage of users who click on an ad after viewing it. Pros: Immediate measure of ad relevance and engagement. Cons: Doesn’t necessarily translate to conversions or sales.
● Video View Rates: The percentage of users who watch a video ad to its completion. Pros: Measures engagement and interest in video content. Cons: Doesn’t necessarily indicate intent or likelihood to convert. Pros: Direct measure of user interaction and content resonance. Cons: High engagement doesn’t always mean positive sentiment.
● Social Media Engagement: The sum of interactions (likes, shares, comments, retweets) on social media content. Pros: Direct measure of user interaction and content resonance. Cons: High engagement doesn’t always mean positive sentiment.
● Page Views: The number of times a particular page has been visited on your website. Pros: Indicates content popularity and user interest. Cons: Multiple views can be from the same user, inflating numbers.
● Session Duration: The average time a user spends on your site during a single visit. Pros: Longer sessions can indicate deeper engagement. Cons: Might not reflect meaningful interactions.
2. Acquisition Metrics:
Acquisition metrics delve into the effectiveness of campaigns in attracting new users/customers and expanding your digital audience.
● Cost Per Click (CPC): The average amount paid for each click on an ad. Pros: Directly ties marketing spend to user engagement. Cons: Doesn’t account for the quality or intent of the click.
● Social Media Audience Growth: The increase in social media followers or subscribers over time. Pros: Indicates increasing brand awareness and interest. Cons: Growth can be inflated with low-quality or fake followers.
● Website Traffic by Source: The origins of your website traffic, such as direct visits, organic searches, or social media referrals. Pros: Helps identify effective channels driving traffic. Cons: Traffic doesn’t always mean quality engagement.
● New vs. Returning Visitors: A comparison between first-time visitors and those returning to your site. Pros: Balance indicates attracting new audiences and retaining old ones Cons: Multiple devices can skew data.
● Sign-ups or Leads Gathered: The number of users who register or show interest in your offerings. Pros: Direct measure of campaign effectiveness in generating potential customers. Cons: Quality of leads can vary.
● UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) Codes: Text strings are added to a URL or ad unit to track the source of a measured online action. Pros: Provide granular insights into where traffic is coming from, allowing for precise measurement of campaign performance. Cons: Creating and managing UTM codes requires detailed orientation and manual effort, which can lead to mistakes or become time-consuming.
3. Conversion Metrics:
Conversion metrics evaluate the success of campaigns in driving users to take desired actions, from landing page views to buying.
● Conversions: The number of users who take a specific desired action after engaging with content. Pros: Directly measures campaign effectiveness in driving desired outcomes. Cons: Conversion tracking setup can be complex while consumer protection technology restricting tracking can further complicate efforts.
● View-Through Conversions: Conversions resulting from users who view an ad but don’t immediately click. Pros: Captures the indirect impact of ads. Cons: Hard to determine if the ad was the sole influencer.
● Checkouts: The number of users who complete a purchase. Pros: Directly ties marketing efforts to revenue. Cons: External factors can influence checkouts.
● Conversion Rate: The percentage of visitors who take a desired action. Pros: Provides a holistic view of campaign effectiveness. Cons: Can be influenced by factors outside the campaign.
4. Cost Efficiency Metrics:
These metrics offer insights into the financial viability and efficiency of your campaigns, ensuring you get value for your spend.
● Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): The revenue generated for every dollar spent on advertising. Pros: Direct measure of campaign profitability. Cons: Requires accurate tracking of both spend and revenue.
● Cost Per Lead (CPL): The average cost incurred to acquire a lead. Pros: Evaluates the efficiency of marketing efforts. Cons: Doesn’t account for lead quality.
● Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM): The cost to reach 1,000 people with your ad. Pros: Useful for gauging brand visibility. Cons: Impressions don’t guarantee viewability.
5. Email Marketing Metrics:
Specific to email campaigns, these metrics gauge the effectiveness of your email content and its resonance with recipients.
● Email Open Rates: The percentage of recipients who open an email. Pros: Indicates the appeal of your email subject lines. Cons: Email clients can “open” emails, skewing rates.
● Click-through Rate (CTR) for Emails: The percentage of email recipients who click on a link within the email. Pros: Measures the effectiveness of email content. Cons: Clicks don’t always lead to desired actions.
● Email Bounce Rates: The percentage of sent emails that couldn’t be delivered. Pros: Helps maintain a clean email list. Cons: High rates can indicate list quality issues or lead to being placed in spam jail by service providers.
6. User Experience Metrics:
These metrics provide a window into how users navigate and experience your digital platforms, influencing their journey and decisions.
● Bounce Rate: The percentage of visitors who leave after viewing only one page. Pros: Indicates the relevance of landing pages. Cons: External factors can influence bounces.
● Page Views: The number of times a specific page is viewed. Pros: Indicates the relevance of landing pages. Cons: External factors can influence bounces.
● Session Duration: The average time a user spends on your site. Pros: Indicates depth of engagement. Cons: Passive sessions can skew data.
7. Brand and Awareness Metrics:
These metrics assess the digital footprint and reputation of your brand, indicating its standing and perception in the digital realm.
● Brand Awareness and Digital Presence: The extent to which your brand is recognized and discussed online. Pros: Measures the percentage exposed to a campaign likely to remember the advertising over time. Cons: Requires modeling the results of a survey comparing those exposed to those not exposed to the advertising which takes time and money.
● Consumer Sentiment: The general attitude and feelings of consumers towards your brand, captured through reviews, mentions, and interactions. Pros: Gauges brand perception and reputation. Cons: Can be influenced by external factors.
8. Strategic Planning Metrics:
Strategic metrics guide the planning and evaluation phases, ensuring campaigns are aligned with overarching goals and objectives.
● Setting SMART Goals: The practice of defining goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. There are no Cons only Pros.
The IAB provides a deeper dive into attribution metrics and shares industry-standard performance metrics so that you can measure your campaign’s performance against various success benchmarks. The PDF is available directly from the IAB website (here).