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Ken Magill

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Getting Email the Credit it's Due: Part 2

10/8/13

The following is the second part of a series of answers to the question: “How do we make sure email gets the credit it deserves so we can get the budgetary resources we need?” Access part 1 here.

The answers have been provided by the experts at Bill McCloskey’s Only Influencers email discussion list. They are somewhat conversational because, well, Only Influencers is a discussion list.

First up, we have Dave Hendricks, chief operating officer, LiveIntent:

Email address attribution is the key to getting more credit for email marketing.

It's about CRM. Last-click attribution - mostly crediting Search - is largely regarded as a methodology that is a function of laziness and lack of desire to apportion credit. Email often deserves a large amount of credit for a sale, even if it is not the last thing someone sees. Email is often what is feeding the top of the funnel.

Matching email logs can fix this. Did you send them an email? Did they see or click on your email ad (first or third party). Were they the target of a custom audience campaign? Are they in your database with a matching email address?

It takes some work, but the exercise is valuable if for nothing else than to understand who your multi-channel customers are so that you can market to them and adjust your strategies and tactics.

Ryan P. Phelan, vice president, global strategic services, Acxiom/Digital Impact:

We were having this discussion with a client the other day on just this. It was around that as long as companies and teams rely on last-click attribution, there cannot be a clear path toward success. The challenge with change is that it commonly invalidates the past history and so companies are challenged (if not downright resistant)) to make changes. Additionally, not only is the pressure from a retroactive look at a different model, but the markets’ and investors’ view of success.

In light of this, universal control groups hold one way for companies to look at percentage of lift against programs that they are running. This is problematic in that companies have a hard time grasping the idea that there are people that may not receive materials. Showing that email has X% effect over those that don’t get email can be a solution, but requires buyoff and political alignment to get buy off as a valid metric.

This is such a hard topic because it’s based in a fundamental change in success. While email may actually increase, it may show that search, affiliate or other channels are not as successful, that affects positions and political strength from a funding perspective. Throw in shared attribution methods and you have a can of worms that an email manager cannot fight or start.

Any change or solution from Dave’s idea to any that will be proposed is going to require endorsement of the path from the executives that determine and judge success. If you gain in one area, that means that another is lacking. This challenge must start at the C-Level with a mission and message that true attribution is at the heart of what we want to show success and that complete digital alignment to KPI’s [key performance indicators] must change.

The answer to the question is this. We make sure email gets the credit it deserves when the C-Level will endorse change that looks at shared digital attribution outside of a narrow view and embraces the fact that the customer does not see a silo, they see a shared experience.

Skip Fidura, digital director, dotDigitalGroup:

Both Ryan and Dave are right. To accurately measure the impact of every channel you have to dig into the data and be willing to apportion credit where credit is due. The question that Ken poses however, relates to email only so calculating the marginal impact is mucho re straight forward.
 
The easiest way to measure the marginal impact of email on revenue is to compare the total trackable revenue generated by people who receive your email versus those who don't. The difference is the baseline value generated by email. If you have the need or inclination you can begin to make some assumptions about the offline lift provided by your email program using survey, sample, or good old fashioned SWAG data.

Tim Watson, founder, Zettasphere:

Won’t there be some inherent skew making email look better in that approach?

Three main reasons why someone will be in the group of not getting your emails:
- Never gave permission
- Removed permission
- Bounced invalid address

In all cases those people will likely be less engaged with your brand and thus on average spend less and not just because of the power of email.

What comes first; someone is on your list because they are more likely to spend more, someone spends more because they are on your list?

It’s both of course. But it means your approach has skew.

Fidura:

Perhaps, but there are two things to consider. First, the person asking the question wanted to get more budget for email so there is nothing wrong with a skew. Let the other people fighting for budget find it and bring it up. Nine times out of ten, I suspect it will come across as sour grapes.

If it doesn't however, we get to the second consideration. Your point is valid; people who supply an email address are more likely to buy than those who don't. Email programs start at the point of data capture if not before so it is not a skew but a self fulfilling prophecy.

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