Your digital marketing business should have a good Return On Investment (ROI) and that can start paying you within just a span of 90 days.
This goal is both strategic and tactical. At a high level, you want to justify the cost of the system as soon as possible so that there is no question about value. From the digital marketing practitioner to the CMO, it needs to be clear early on what the platform is doing, and why it’s doing it; social media marketers also need to demonstrate that the system is working and has everything required to keep working.
Tactically, it’s important to harness the honeymoon period after the system is live. When you hit the ground running, you take advantage of people’s time and attention, thus cementing the value. If you miss that window, it’s hard to get it back.
While it may seem challenging, this goal is also realistic. Here’s what it takes to see ROI on your attribution initiative within three months.
Be clear from the get-go. Before you even begin implementation, it’s critical to align your system to clear business questions. This should go deeper than “see what’s working and what’s not” (although that’s a good place to start).
In any organization, there are a wide variety of ways that you can drive efficiency. Do you want greater revenue efficiency, more efficient leads, or compounded revenue? If you have to pull a lever, which one do you want to pull? You will have multiple options, and you’ll need to decide which will drive the best business return before diving into the technology.
Cross-channel attribution helps us understand the complex relationships between all of our digital marketing efforts across multiple channels, by definition. But to get there, start with a single channel testing framework. In any one channel, there are almost always reasonably clear and accessible opportunities for optimization that you weren’t aware of.
Take a search, for instance. Attribution in SEO Strategies can quickly identify specific keywords that are far less efficient than you thought. You may have been defending the value of those keywords internally or dumping budget towards them through competitive bidding, but they simply aren’t paying off. At scale, cutting a single failing keyword by 50 percent can pay for your attribution solution.
These early efforts don’t require a huge swing in time, resources, or budget allocation. The idea is to cut the fat, not to make drastic changes. In the search example, that might mean reducing spend on a few keywords, not canceling your branding campaign altogether. When you get your attribution solution up and running, look across things that have lower efficiency than you expected. Then dig in and do precise surgery as appropriate.
Every digital marketing channel returns results in a different, predictable time frame. We call this “time to impact.” For SEM campaigns, that time is short; you can typically see the results of a change within three or four days. If a keyword is in someone’s path, it makes an immediate impact. Video marketing campaigns, however, have a longer maturation time and can take 60 to 90 days before reaching their full potential.
Use time-to-impact to begin expanding your interchannel attribution efforts. Begin with the channels where you’ll see quick results — again, paid search is a great example — then stagger your optimization testing to give each channel enough time in the market to produce meaningful results. In practice, this looks like a flow chart: tackle X channel this week, Y channel next week. This measured strategy isolates the right inventory at the right time and sequences your efforts in a way that makes sense for each channel and your business objectives.
When you have optimized several of your channels individually, start thinking cross-channel. This takes several forms. You can compare each channel’s projected performance based on results in the first 90 days to prioritize your efforts. Say you saved $250K by cutting a specific keyword in the first three months; you can extrapolate that out to a million dollars of savings over the course of the year. How does that compare to the other channels that you optimized?
The SEO optimization tactics uncovered in the initial 90-day window, when pursued strategically, usually generate ROI quickly. That means the system begins paying for itself, and more importantly, you have money left over. This is where attribution really becomes a cross-channel effort. It delivers the insights that allow for cost savings — let’s stick with our search example and say $250K — and shows you the potential returns over different periods of time for your other channels. You can then make informed decisions about where to invest that $250K for maximum impact, without having to worry about ROI on the attribution solution itself.
Think of the first three months of your attribution program as being like the early days of a fitness program (P90X comes to mind). It’s going to be hard at first. You have to show up and do the work every day. But once you do, the results start to pay off both in isolation and as a whole. Your arms are stronger, and your whole body feels better; your individual channels are operating more efficiently, and your entire marketing program sees greater returns.
The 90 days go quickly. But with dedicated, focused efforts, you can not only be ROI-positive, but you can be armed with the knowledge you need to invest your marketing dollars wisely for years to come.