Attribution Attribution Attribution: Calculating the effect of Email on other channels
Many companies struggle with measuring the impact of email on their organizations. As a result, it’s consistently undervalued as a tool in most marketers’ arsenals. As marketers, one of the most effective ways of showcasing the true benefits of a strategic email marketing campaign is to measure and understand the effects of an email, even when there was no open or click – what we call the halo effect.
Firstly, it’s important to understand the most common attribution models (that determine how sales and conversion are determined) email marketers are using. Typically, the following three measurement criteria are considered.
The type of action – opens, clicks or conversion.
The time frame – do you cut off after days, weeks, or months from send.
Touch – first touch, last touch or any touch.
Most email marketers will choose some combination of the three depending on what works best for their business, typically in relation to its sales cycle, but the popular approach is to focus on tracking conversions via last click.
However, the truth is a click doesn’t necessarily tell a marketer anything. Not everyone that clicks through from an email will actually go on further and make an immediate purchase. It also doesn’t account for the likelihood the clicker might go on to purchase via another channel at a later date. Evidence from the most recent UK DMA 2015 Consumer Tracking report showed that 47% (up from 23% in 2012) of respondents mentioned “visiting the company’s website via another route” as a likely response to an interesting email. Fully 40% said a likely response would be “visiting a shop or retail outlet.”
Clearly, there is value from sending an email that is not being taken into consideration if you just focus on clicks or opens for that matter. The question then becomes, how can we measure this?
My initial advice is to run an analysis of revenue from all channels as a starting point. Then deduct the email specific revenue as you currently attribute it (opens and clicks, first or last touch) and break down this new number into days when emails to the majority of your list were and weren’t sent out. We have done this for a number of clients. The results consistently show the average daily revenue on days in which email was sent to more than 30% of the list was higher for the non-email channels too. We then looked at the source of the lift in revenue, where the lift was most marked based on last touch and first touch. Email had an impact on every other channel search, both natural and paid, affiliate programs, even social.
So what does this all mean? Essentially, our main conclusion was that email is certainly driving sales in other channels and this is one way to prove it. I must, admittedly caution marketers from defining email and the halo effect too broadly and overstating the revenue generated by email or defining it too narrowly and underestimating. However, if marketers can find the right balance and look at email as part of the bigger picture, they’ll quickly see that it can work in a capacity similar to broadcast and drive additional revenue in other channels.
This brings us back to the importance of attribution models. If email is driving sales in other channels on and offline, then marketers need to consider that fact and look for a model that takes this into account. If marketers are able to look beyond simple click-based attribution, and make sure they are tracking and analyzing sales holistically both online and offline, they will find demonstrating the true value of their email marketing and getting additional funding for their activities will become much easier.
I will be speaking on the topic of email metrics and the importance of metrics that give marketers an understanding of the impact of their activities across channels in my keynote “Looking Through the Wrong End of the Telescope: How and Why the Lack of Customer-Centric Reports in your Marketing Platform may be Holding you Back” at the Email Innovations Summit in Las Vegas May 18th. Hope to see you there.