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On-Demand Webinar: Cross-Channel Attribution & Optimization

On-Demand Webinar Overview

You know attribution tracking is important, but how do you get started? During this webinar we will:

-Define attribution tracking and outline how it benefits a campaign
-Identify accessible sources of data and options for integration, tracking and analysis
-Discuss the importance of transparency, targeting and scalability
-Share insights about traditional media tracking, different types of attribution models, campaign optimization and more

Our goal is to get you on the path to an entirely measurable, integrated, cross-channel marketing campaign.

Note: After the recording of this webinar, the Sparkroom agency was rebranded to DMS Digital Agency. Our award-winning. performance marketing technology retains the name Sparkroom.

Presented By

Akeel Haider - Vice President of Innovation and Strategy @ DMS

Akeel Haider is the Vice President of Innovation and Strategy at Digital Media Solutions (DMS), an industry leader in providing end-to-end customer acquisition solutions that help clients grow their businesses and realize their marketing goals. In this role, Akeel leads the product and service development strategy for Sparkroom performance marketing technology. 

Anthony Nater - Product Manager @ DMS

As a product manager, Anthony blends his strong focus for pixel-perfect, user-centric product design with his online marketing sensibilities to stay on the cutting edge. While keeping a close eye on inquiry generation needs and continually assessing market trends, his most recent priorities include road-mapping and developing the integration, mapping and display of cross-channel marketing data to provide marketers with actionable attribution data.

Webinar Transcript

Kathy Bryan:      Good afternoon. My name’s Kathy Bryan and I’m the Vice President of Marketing and Communications here at Sparkroom. I’d like to welcome everyone to today’s webinar: Finding, Identifying and Tracking Your Cross-Channel Marketing Data for Campaign Attribution and Optimization. Originally presented at LeadsCon New York in August, today’s live webinar is an encore presentation. Our speakers today are Akeel Haider, the Sparkroom Vice President of Audience Marketing and Anthony Nater, the Sparkroom Product Manager, focused on advancing our marketing software.


Together, Akeel and Anthony have been researching and innovating to discover the best ways for marketers to track performance, analyze, and optimize cross-channel marketing campaigns. Throughout the process they’ve realized there’s a lot marketers could be doing right now starting today, if only someone pointed them in the right direction. Before we get started, let me quickly tell you about Sparkroom. Through a combination of marketing services and marketing software, we help higher education institutions maximize their marketing efforts to quickly boost enrollments.


Our award-winning marketing software integrates campaign data, automates processes based on performance, and provides effortless analytics and reporting, solving many of the challenges higher education marketers face on a daily basis. Thanks for joining us for today’s webinar. Now I’ll pass things over to Anthony and Akeel.


Akeel Haider:     Thank you, Kathy, and thank you for joining us, everyone, today. My name is Akeel Haider and I’m the VP of Audience Marketing at Sparkroom. My team is in charge of all first-party in-house media buying and campaigns that we do on behalf of our agency clients. My team is dedicated to helping our clients meet our acquisition goals through cross-channel, holistic media plans, strategy through execution, and providing valuable insight along the way, and that’s what me and my team do and handing it over to Anthony.

Anthony Nater: Yeah, I’m Anthony Nater, Product Manager at Sparkroom. A lot of the products I primarily manage help Akeel’s team [inaudible] [00:05:58] marketing team, drive some of their marketing efforts around some of our marketing reportings and web capabilities. So, today we’re gonna dive right into talking about cross-channel attribution. Akeel’s gonna go over some of the basics on why it’s important, why you should be paying attention to it, and he’s gonna go through some examples that him and his team have done for some of our clients.


Then, I’m gonna go more into what you can do today to really get started to help give you some of the cross-channel marketing attribution view with some of your current campaigns and your current marketing mix. So, go ahead, Akeel.


Akeel Haider:     Thank you, Anthony. So we’ll start and feel free, during the presentation to put your question in through the panel there, and we’ll be able to answer them at the end of the session. When I start talking about [inaudible], I think we all know that there’s a challenge there today. And what is that challenge? All marketers and brands that run various marketing campaigns across multiple channels face this challenge. It’s a dilemma that’s represented pretty much in how do you attribute your marketing dollars correctly through the channels that are producing the most valuable performance for you?


The issue is that most of us currently, and today, and from the beginning of advertising are mostly able to see what we call the “Last Click Attribution.” The final point that led that person to becoming your customer or to do that sale, but not necessarily all the touch points that have helped throughout the journey of that prospective student or customer to becoming a student. So the dilemma is that pretty much that’s what we’re facing, and so what can we do about it? In reality is, a lot of the marketers and the brands out there recognize this problem.


The issue is that when Google and IBM did a joint study and they found that, maybe in 2012 there was a recognition about it, but only 15 percent had answered that they did something beyond the last click attribution. They were able to provide insights beyond just that last touch point that led to the customer acquisition. In 2015, that definitely got better. Thirty-five percent, but we still have a long way to go, and maybe that’s why it’s a timely topic today. For ourselves, when we look at performance holistically across channel, we’re able to do some cross-channel attribution correctly, and we’ll talk about exactly what that means, we’re able to see an incredible lift in performance. That includes a decrease in effective CPA, increase in volume, and quality. So understanding it in today’s complex, digital, pragmatic marketplace, it’s really very important to achieve your goals both on the bottom of the final acquisition goals, but also on the, why it’s related really to the business at the end of the day. So, before we go any further, let’s define what attribution is. So, we talked about the customer journey or the prospective customer to become a journey, attribution has evolved.


The evolution has been in trying to understand what that journey is. Attribution, the definition of it, at least the way we’d like to put it, is trying to assign a value and credit where the value is due. So it’s trying to understand which events, touch points, interactions, have happened with that customer along the way, and which combination of those have led to actually that person becoming a customer or leading it, resulting into sales. Attribution itself is not a technology on its own, it’s a process. When we talk about the process, it’s really the process of tracking all those touch points correctly.


It’s the process of collecting that data and housing it efficiently be able to find it and process it. It’s also about measurement techniques. How do you measure this data and how are you gonna be able to visualize it and digest it? To come out with a valuable insight that then you can apply in some sort of attribution modeling that will enable you to be more efficient. It’s also about bridging the gaps. There’s nothing today that can bridge all the gaps 100 percent, and we’ll talk about why. When we say cross-channel and multi-channel attribution, we’re really talking about three different things.


We’re talking about someone, are you able to track and measure on a user level the interactions that are happening within the same device, but let’s speak digitally. If that person has seen your ads in multiple places, Facebook, Twitter, your website et cetera, are you able to track that and report on it so it becomes part of that journey. So that’s multi-channel attribution within the same device, and it’s probably a good place to start and an easier place to track. Then you add another layer on top of that, which is cross-device distribution, and now that person who’s interacting with your brand and with your messaging, and with your ads, is crossing devices as well as being touched by various channels. So now you add, there’s a challenge in trying to do the attribution here because we lose the tracking once they switch devices and what can you do about that. There’s multiple methods available, but nothing is 100 percent, right? And then you add to that complexity, offline media and the impact of that on your online media, right? That TV flight that added a lift to the rest of the channels and vice versa. Maybe that TV or that online ad that actually resulted in a person calling in by dialing or walking in through the door to your school, for example.


So, that’s what we mean, it’s good to break it down, to have a little bit of a basis for us to go and tackle these various parts. All right. So, a lot marketers and brands today, when we talk about attribution, I think they won’t understand everything, the holistic view. It’s also important to know which one of the channels you’re running in your media mix are the top of the funnel, the starting channels, the channels that are starting that prospective user or customer on their journey, right? And then which ones are the influencer that are moving them down the funnel. And finally, which ones are the closers.


There is no one way or one path. There are no two users that take the same path to get to you, and so based on your media mix and your own set up of how you do your marketing efforts and brand and all of the various factors, you’ll see that specifically for you at that specific time, that there are specific channels that will be those starting channels and influencers and attributors. And the analogy here is similar to a sports team that has to pass the ball. Someone has to initiate that pass and then pass it along until the forward will score in this example of a soccer team.


So understanding the user behavior, the modern user behavior, is the first part in understanding how to do or to get a handle on cross-channel attribution. We talked a little bit about the multi-touch, and how users will basically – for them, they will choose the path that’s convenient to them. It’s doesn’t matter to them what device they use or what they were influenced by, what matters to them is what’s convenient and what they expect is consistency across all of that. A lot of studies show they wanna see the brand being communicated and interacted with the same way across devices and channels.


So really, for marketers and for brand strength, to design a customer experience or a journey experience is really important from that matter. Now you add to that, things like offline channels, call centers, inbound calls, and you can see that the challenge of tracking, it does become overwhelming, but again, we’re here to talk about some of the ways you can overcome that. So some of the things that I’ve seen that, unfortunately, brands sometimes just go by without thinking about the bigger picture, most CRMs only capture the last click attribution, only capture that last touch point, right? There’s one or two fields and doesn’t tell you more than that.


Also, there’s a lack of understanding of what channels have impacted other channels. So, maybe doing a social campaign will actually boost your paid search campaign, but to what extent. Trying to have, what I call an effective distributed frequency, the principle of trying to, because of the fragmented digital marketplace we live in, it’s vital and important to reach out to your audience where they are and in the formats they expect the media to be consumed, right?


You being on one or two channels that the audience is in, but you’re ignoring the other channels that they’re interacting with, for example, they’re on Instagram and they watch a certain channel at a certain time and you’re only approaching them in one way, you’re not really having the effective frequency principle apply because now it’s a distributed effective frequency. You need to reach out to them on those multiple channels to be able to get the right results for them to be influenced by the brand and eventually move down the funnel.


Simple things sometimes, like having a view through inquiries being tracked is something that I haven’t seen in some clients that we take on at the beginning and try to help them with that. Just to define that for those that may not know what that is, you’re seeing an ad, you’re clicking on an ad, let’s say it’s a digital ad, you’re clicking and interacting with it and you’re going to the website and you’re inquiring or buying, that’s direct, that’s last click. Now if you just see the ad, then somehow forget about it or don’t click, but you’ve been, it stays in your mind, you’re influenced by it.


Then you go and do a search click or you somehow type in the website directly and you’re able to track those inquiries, those are view-through inquiries. Those are people who have seen the ad, but not necessarily interacted with it directly to inquire. They came so through other means, right? So it’s important to track as simple as that method of tracking, and it’s an available thing through additional media today. It’s an important one because you can see, lift your website through some the digital channels, that’s just one of the examples. The other thing I like to talk about is that if you’re used to just buying leads today or inquiries and that’s your model, you’re really missing out on the entire funnel. You have, your brand has to have had a top-of-the-funnel type campaign to influence that user, whether it’s a referral or somebody they know or TV or radio ad.


Then they’ve done their research. They’re now at the point where they have the intent and they’re buying. If you’re just capturing the intent and just applying to dollars to say, “Yeah, my users, my CPL, and my enrollment is equaling just based on the amount of spend I spent on those, media dollars to acquire through a paper lead channel,” you’re really missing out on the entire user journey here. Which is very important to optimize that entire funnel horizontally and vertically. So, to give you an example of what I’m talking about in this last distribution, I’m just going to go through a few examples that we’ve done recently, both on display media and on email campaign, just to show you what I mean in terms of numbers.


We’ve done, this is one of our large brick-and-mortar clients that have campuses across the country, pretty large school. We’ve done a display campaign that is mostly a web banners and video campaign, to show the impact of that campaign on the, on enrollments, right? If you’re familiar with display, and if you’re doing media buying through things like demand-site platforms and ad networks and so on, with the exception of Facebook in this case, you’ll see that there’s a trend. The trend is that 99.9 percent of the people who are seeing the ads are not going to click on it.


That doesn’t mean they’re not influenced by it, it just means that the behavior of interacting with that is different. In this case, we’ve built a look-alike audience for one of our, for this client. It’s basically a method where we take a seed of conversions from our client’s database, we add to it an enrichment process, we enrich that data with third party data, and sort of filling the gaps and add a little bit more insights into that audience. Then through predictive algorithmic factors, we’re able to say, “Who are the similar audiences in the United States that look exactly like the students that I have?”


And how can I reach out to them? Where do they live? What type of media do they consume?” So we build a profile and it’s a look-alike profile, and then we try to target these guys across various media, right? It’s a one-on-one; it’s an audience-based targeting and not a website-based targeting, without getting into the details of it. We went and bought programmatic distribution against [inaudible] [00:20:27] where we’re trying to reach out with that inventory that we have to promote three specific programs for that school, in this case, and so we bought the media against exactly that audience.


To give you an example, we took 5,000 conversions from the client, we, through the look-alike modeling, were able to amplify it to like 4.5 million, so now we have a nationwide look-alike audience and then we apply layers on top of it, whether it’s interest or things like geography, to make sure it’s within the accepted geography, and that’s how we restructured them. So they were seeing ads and videos on various websites online and on their mobile devices. So what are the results from there? Here’s what we found: people who have interacted with those ads, like I said, only 2 percent of those who were, who did some sort of interaction with the ad, did it directly.


Meaning, they clicked on the ad and went to either the landing page or the website. But the other 98 percent and we rounded the numbers here, it was a little bit more, but the other 98 percent really were influenced by the ad later on, meaning, they’ve seen the ad and then they went on their own path. Instead of clicking on that banner and that video, here’s where they ended up, and this is the interesting part. So, they, first of all, before even doing this close-look analysis to understand where they ended up, they’ve, we’ve seen an immediate lift in Google brand-term search volume.



What does that mean? Is that, we’ve enhanced our influence right away and gave a lift to people who were searching on Google for that specific brand. So now we know that we had an impact immediately because about a week after, we’ve seen that lift. So those ads were not useless. Ninety-eight percent of the users didn’t click on it, it didn’t mean that wasn’t successful. There’s a percentage immediately start looking for the brand on Google. But when we did the close-look analysis, and that means, hey, those people that we targeted, did they end up becoming a student?


Ninety days after when we did our analysis, we’ve realized that we’ve first provided a lift of 27 percent in inquiries, meaning those guys ended, there’s a 27 percent lift that was attributed to this campaign from users who have ended up, in other channels, inquiring about this school. Also, a bottom-of-the-funnel lift of 11 percent in starts. The campaign, if you look at it just from a last click attribution, was really, from an ROI perspective was a failure, but then when you do a close-look analysis and you do a holistic view of it and you try to understand what is the impact on the bottom line and have I influenced users to become students?


I’ve seen that out of the 90 percent of users that I’ve reached and had influence on them, yeah, they came in and they basically came in directly through the website, they came in through paid search, they came in even as referrals, and most interestingly, they’ve ended up with vendors that the school was buying leads from and we know we’ve served them an ad, but yet they came in through vendors through a PPL channel. So that’s what’s important to know. You are having influence every time you have a marketing campaign.


Not measuring doesn’t mean that it’s not successful, it just means that you need to understand what is that influence resulting in and sometimes you’re able to measure it, and that’s what we’re here for, and sometimes you don’t, but doesn’t mean that it wasn’t successful. So jumping into another campaign now. We had an email reengagement campaign. These are inquiries in the funnel that have inquired about a specific school, this is a different client, never materializing in enrollment. So about 2-3 years after, we took everything from six months back to three years, and we said, “Okay, what if we reach out to them through an email campaign and automated, personalized, mobile-optimized, responsive-type email campaign?”


We reached out to them and said, “Are you still interested?” So we created to automated campaign and we tried to reach out to these inquiries. These are guys that just never materialized, I think, while they were interested, they maybe result in an application, just never enrolled. What we’ve seen is something, again, when we did that analysis on the users that ended up becoming a student, here’s what we saw: first of all, which is very interesting, only 40 percent of those who inquired came in directly through the email.


The email created itself. So they clicked through a last click attribution, they came in, and inquired on the landing page directly. Okay, great, if you’re doing last click attribution ROI, then that’s your ROI there. But the reality is 60 percent of those who became students who saw the email, or, sorry, who became inquiries again, who saw the email came in through other channels again. And these are the channels that they came from. Yes, the email landing page resulted in most starts and enrolls, as we should expect because it’s somebody who we ignite their interest again and they were ready to reply, but we’ve seen also that, again, organic and other landing pages of the school, and vendors, and content pages.


To the extent that we can track it, we’ve seen that other starts enrolls came in and inquiries came in through other channels as well. So it was an eye opener, and frankly I see this everyday every time we do a case study for every campaign we’re on that we’re able to track beyond the last click. We’re able to see this type of behavior. It’s very important that we understand that and look at that. So, now that I gave you some examples and we talked about what the definition is, there are standard attribution models that you can apply, and those are things that you can do, and Anthony will talk a little bit more about that in the second part of this presentation.


But if you think about the definition when we talked about trying to assign value, or the right value, to those touch points based on the yield that they’re giving us, then maybe applying one of these standard attribution models, not really as applied to the definition, but it can definitely help you do a comparison, If you’re configured correctly with some simple software, like GA which, again, Anthony with talk about, then you can see immediate decrease in ECPA based on these various models. But first of all, we establish one important thing here, is that last click attribution is not a good way, if it’s the only way, it’s better than nothing, but it’s not definitely the best way to look at campaign performance or your marketing effort performance.


Now based on the definition, yes, you can apply these other standard models, time decay, first click attribution, linear so you can assign value equally to all the touch points or maybe most of it to the first touch point or most of it to over time. Those are good things to compare the results from, but based on the definition, also, not good. What we need at the end of the day is a data-driven attribution model that is customized for the brand and the marketing mix and effort that you’re currently doing. But don’t be overwhelmed or intimidated or disappointed by all this because there’s a place you can start. And this is what Anthony will show you is where you can start. This is just a starting place that we’ll be talking about and he’ll talk, maybe a little bit at the end, about where do you go from there. But handing it over to Anthony.


Anthony Nater: Thanks. Thanks, Akeel. That was really great and just some examples about what Akeel and his team here can do to apply some of these principles. We’ve seen some great success around all this. Like you mentioned, don’t really be intimidated by all this. This is something you can actually start today. What can you really do? What does it really take to set up your organization for some kind of cross-channel attribution tracking? So you could create that most optimal marketing mix, put you on that path to drive your conversion metrics up while providing the optimal ROI for your spend.


First of all, I just wanna establish it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. I just wanna go over some basic things here that we need to establish just to get started. You need to have a baseline understanding really of what is your current digital marketing mix? What channels do you currently have within that mix? Are you thinking about adding channels in? Maybe removing channels? You need some kind of data behind it to justify those changes. Do you have some kind of understanding about the current average touch points that users are taking before they actually convert? And what are your conversion goals? Having clearly defined conversion goals for your marketing efforts is extremely important. What are your measurements for success?


Do you really wanna just measure the, that last touch point where it’s someone turns into a conversion or prospective student? Or do you wanna measure deeper down that funnel? Do you wanna attribute enrollment and starts in applications to some of your pre-lead marketing efforts? So having a clear understanding of some of these baseline metrics is an important place to start. So establishing this and then moving on to what can you do to get started. At a very high level, some of the tasks you need to get started, and Akeel mentioned this before, we need to really track everything.


We need to identify the different data sources that all of your marketing efforts are coming from. So, display or page search or social or even offline, and then how are you tracking all of this? How are you recording all this in some kind of unified software solution? So when we talk about data and tracking, we’re talking about three main groups of metrics you really need to capture. A lot of that is your event data, you have contextual data, as well as your cost-and-spend data. An event data encompasses everything from the impressions, to clicks, to how is the user actually engaging on your website your landing page, or just with your brand in general and then eventually becoming a conversion.


And then moving along to the contextual data, that helps to identify where those impressions, clicks, and conversions came from. What’s the specific campaign that drove this conversion? What are some key words that may have driven this conversion and this specific channel or source? And then tying together your cost-and-spend data to attribute some kind of CPA or CPL to these conversions or prospective students that you’re driving with all these marketing efforts. Again, like Akeel mentioned, a lot of the value behind this is being able to determine your ROI for that overall marketing mix. So you need to be able to incorporate your cost data. So, digging a little bit deeper into each of these high level tasks, tracking everything. So how are you going to track everything? This is the most essential starting point for any kind of attribution. If you’re not tracking your data as accurately and as cleanly as you possibly can, you potentially can set yourself up for risk for drawing some of the wrong insights from the data that you’re gonna eventually be reporting on.


So you really have to ensure that your tracking is set up completely, as properly as you can, and close some of those gaps that Akeel mentioned as much as possible. Some of the standard ways of tracking your data, like pixels and cookies, they still apply here. From a digital standpoint, they still apply, there are some gaps, but you need to be able to track a user across the different channels.


If you have some kind of business model where you have some kind of unified login, that might be another way to track, as well as some URL parameters with all of your tracking and URLs that are driving to your landing pages or some of your forms or affiliate sources, making sure that they’re tracked through URL parameters or pixels is absolutely imperative. So how are you integrating all these data sources? Like I mentioned before, you have – I don’t think it switched there. Oh, yeah, it did – so how are you integrating all these data sources?


So identifying those data sources so you have Google Adwords, you have Bing, you might have email, maybe some offline metrics that come in to play. All of these various data sources, where are they coming from? How are you collecting them? Do you have some kind of software solution where you can pull all of this data together and then track and report on it? So how are you going to track this? Where all this data is coming together, it really insures, really insuring your channels are being tracked with as little to no gaps as possible between those channels, at least down to a user level.


Being able to start to get the reporting that helps you draw some of these insights to really optimize your marketing mix. Really start to drill down and gain those insights from this new information to help you answer the questions; what channels are directly lifting the performance of others? What campaigns, earlier in that conversion path, deserve more credit than others? And this is where you can look at those different attribution models that Akeel was bringing up earlier to help you determine is best representative for your current marketing efforts?


If you’re investing a lot of time and dollars into more top-of-the-funnel branding, like TV or display, maybe some of those earlier touch points need to carry more weight in your evaluation of this data. It’s also gonna help you identify what low-hanging fruits are there that I can quickly change in my current marketing mix to drive up those conversions and drive down my overall spending? We talked about this before, Akeel mentioned this, so say you’re all set up and you have some kind of attribution software at your fingertips, everything is being tracked, but you have to understand that some of these paths are not going to be 100 percent.


There are gaps, and some of those gaps, like Akeel mentioned, are between cross-device or even view-through or even offline tracking. Acknowledging these gaps exist enables you to be a little bit more creative in how you approach your tracking and how you’re reporting on it. Especially with offline tracking. You might want to be a little bit more creative to help close that gap.


And one example of being creative with offline tracking is if you have a TV ad or billboard or anything non-digital, radio, you might be driving those users or listeners to a specific URL and you can use a vanity URL, so then when they go to their laptop or they go to their mobile phone or tablet, they might search for that URL which then will redirect and apply some tracking parameters to identify, “All right. This user now within my digital marketing mix, originated from this specific TV ad, this specific campaign or billboard.


So being a little bit creative around how you’re driving people from offline to online digital channels is one way to really help close that gap. Some of the traditional ways that people have been doing this for a while, so you have baseline metrics for your website or landing page and then you have a TV flight that’s aired during a specific period or a specific geo, which then you can overlay on top of the baseline metrics, and then you can calculate the lift, based on your conversions and interactions on, say, your website or organic search during that specific time frame.


So then you can attribute that to your TV ad. This is something people have been doing for a while, and it still applies here. So what can you do to get started today? So most of us, most of our digital marketing efforts, even offline, we’re driving people to our website or our landing page, might even have affiliates driving to our website, so a great place to start is obviously your website. And you should have some kind of tracking already on your website. So we’re gonna talk about today, using Google Analytics.


It’s a completely cost-effective solution. It’s free. Again, most of you should have it on your website already. And they provide a lot of these cross-channel attribution reporting capabilities right out of the box to really help you, again, get started to understand your current marketing mix, and where some of those low-hanging fruits lie so you can optimize and move your success forward. Diving a little bit into Google Analytics, by the fall, any sources coming from Google, like Adwords or the Google Display Network, automatically will integrate within Google Analytics.


But what about some of those non-Google sources? So, Bing, maybe you have specific email campaigns, specific social network campaigns you need to identify, this is where some of that URL tagging can really be helpful. So Google allows you to, they have a standard tagging method where you apply, you can identify the campaign, specific medium or even maybe specific content, like Newsletter One or Fall Newsletter, so when someone converts through that URL on your website or even on an affiliate’s website, that information gets pushed into your Google Analytics and you can easily filter by some of those data points within your reporting. So tagging is an essential way to track, in addition to things we talked about before, so things like pixels and cookies, to track some of those non-Google sources. Hopefully, all of you who do have Google Analytics installed on your website, you’re upgraded to the most recent version, so Universal Analytics. Again, this is a great place to start. It’s a little bit more manual, but you all should have this at your fingertips. Some of the configurations you need to consider using Google Analytics to do your cross-channel attribution reporting or making sure, again, all your URLs are tagged properly.


If you have affiliates driving traffic to your site that are converting or even they’re converting on their own sites, so a third-party website, you can provide them with custom conversion tags which also will push data into your own Google Analytics interface so you can report on that. Make sure you have your conversion goals correctly configured within Google Analytics as well. So if someone lands on a page and they convert, and then they get taken to a thank-you page, make sure you have that set up as a conversion goal to say, “All right. This person converted. They were brought through a thank-you page. This counts as a lead in our system.”


Then even, do you need to integrate with a CRM or a lead-management system or even import some offline data? The free version of Google Analytics allows you to do all this. What they do to allow you to integrate with a CRM or LMS, they have what is called measurement protocol. It allows you to ping some of this campaign data and push it back into your Google Analytics and then tie it using their client ID which is assigned by the Google Analytics cookie to some of that pre-lead marketing channel or marketing path.


This is really helpful in our case. If you wanna track some of those more downstream conversion metrics, so things like enrollments or applications, this can be one way to do that and pushing those conversion goals from a LMS or CRM into Google Analytics and then tying that to some of those previous campaigns using some kind of unique identifier or client ID, you’re able to get that full end-to-end view and make those attributions. So saying these conversions that happened beyond just the lead, can be attributed to this specific marketing mix, these specific user journeys or user paths. This slide really represents some of the reporting capabilities that Google Analytics provides right out of the box. If you’re tracking everything correctly, you’re identifying your sources correctly within Google Analytics; you can easily just go to sections within there to see these multi-channel funnels and conversion paths. It even allows you to see what kind of assist each source contributed.


In the example here, paid search had 45 assisted conversions. What does that exactly mean? So paid search was part of a conversion path that translated into 45 conversions, but they were not that last click, they weren’t that final touch point in that conversion path. So you can attribute they assisted 45 other conversions. It also allows you to assign some value to those different paths. It allows you to apply different attribution models. So, like I mentioned before, last click or time decay allows you to see those different attribution models side-by-side. Again, this is all right out of the box within Google Analytics.


Some of the other reporting that they show you allows you to maybe overlay your marketing mix in this nice little Venn diagram to see where your different channels intersect. It allows you to really quickly determine your average path link to conversion as well as assigning the value and your ROI for some of those conversion paths. Again, this is just a starting point. If you’re interested in getting into cross-channel action, if you’re interested in learning how your overall marketing mix and marketing channels are impacting one another, where those lifts are occurring, this is a great place to start because we all have a website.


We’re driving most of our traffic or digital marketing efforts to a website or landing page and a lot of this is readily available for you, you just need to configure things and track things properly. This screen, from a starting point, once you’re starting to look at some of this attribution data, at least I think, provides some really good value that you may not have had before. In this example, we’re looking again, specifically at paid search, we’re seeing the different user journeys or paths that your prospective leads have taken before actually converting. You can see all the way down there, No. 11, there were six conversions where somebody organically searched for your brand, and then they came through directly typing in your URL in their browser, and then they eventually converted, but through a paid search channel. And then you can see other channels that paid search also can be attributed converting.


In No. 2 at the top, somebody directly typed in or directly came through the website and converted, was about 14 percent of overall conversions, they originally came through a paid search channel. This can help answer that question: “I wanna cut budget from Channel X, but is this really gonna impact one or more of my other marketing channels’ performance? What is that actual return?” It helps you with some of those budget decisions you need to make. Or maybe if you want to adjust some of your marketing efforts to one channel to another. Google Analytics is a great starting point here.


Akeel Haider:     Yeah. Thank you. That’s fantastic and if you want to go back to the last channel, just to clarify one thing very quickly before we go to questions. When we do this for clients, and again, this is just a starting point, we needed to start seeing insights that are very valuable, so if 70 percent of your users are coming through a specific path, then know that that path is important, just like Anthony mentioned. But what I want to say here before we go into questions is that Google Analytics allows you to do multi-channel reporting within the same device for things other than Google searches.


To the extent that Google can track cross-device, say within paid search or organically, they will show you that, if the user has logged in through multiple devices, that’s already included. But, in most cases, either users are not logged in or you’re configuring all of your other media to come in to Google Analytics. This is a place where you see that view for the first part we mentioned, mostly, which is the multi-channel, digital attribution within the same device. It’s a great starting point because you can save a lot there.

Obviously, if you wanna go more, in a more sophisticated way where you can apply very sophisticated attribution modeling that are maybe predictive and so on, based on your own data, then you might need other software. Like you might implement third-party software to bridge the cross-device gap, to bridge the offline gap, where can import your post logs and see all the visuals and so on. So, anyway, that’s all that I wanted to add, and –


Anthony Nater: Oh, yeah, you’re totally right here, so it’s just a starting point, right? It helps you assess if you need something more enterprise-level to help reach those attribution goals. But, yeah, this last slide, Rest in Peace Last Click Attribution, Died While Crossing from One Device to Another.


Akeel Haider:     And yeah, we’re happy to take your questions and back to you, Kathy.


Kathy Bryan:       All right. Thank you, Anthony and Akeel. We’re gonna take questions from the attendees now, just like Akeel was saying. Please type your question into the question box on your webinar control panel. If you don’t see the control panel, look for the orange box with the arrow, click on that arrow, and the control panel will expand. We got a few in while you guys were presenting, so I’m going to read them in the order they were received. First, do you tend to see one vendor outperforming all the others? Akeel, this was in reference to the slide when you were talking about results that had the bar chart with the different vendors. Do you typically see one vendor outperforming the others?


Akeel Haider:     Yeah. No, it’s a great question and the question goes to the matter of the core of what we’re talking about here which is, can you really say, “This vendor outperforms based on, say, just the last click.” You really need to look at it holistically. For us to say this vendor is outperforming, is see what is their influence on all the other channels and on that path to become a customer or student or sale. Once you determine that, then yes, so to answer the question is, we’re seeing things like paid search, organic which is your brand effect, the top of the funnel, and social are having impact across the funnel.


So they’re becoming starters, influencers, and closers. No question that these are the most important channels. When it comes to a vendor, I cannot say one vendor or a website or a publisher. It’s really your own effort. The way I look at it in my daily management of our team and the campaigns is that we say brand is everything. That’s No. 1 and then audience is the other piece. That’s what you really need to look at to determine what best performs.


Kathy Bryan:       Okay. Again, referring back to one of the case studies you presented, is email reengagement effective with the traditional age student base?


Akeel Haider:     It is more effective than you can imagine, actually. We’ve seen conversions happen from people who have inquired about three years ago. To us, it was, again, an eye opener. We really wanted to, in many cases sometimes we say, “Let’s not go beyond two years because what’s the effective, what’s the possibility of somebody re-inquiring and actually starting from three years ago?” We have a case study on our website and also, I linked to it through my LinkedIn as well, but if you go there, you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. The reality is we do have conversions from those campaigns for that specific type of students.


We’re talking here, this is a for-profit type college with the demo being over 25 years old. Without getting into too much specifics, it definitely has an impact. Hopefully, that answers the question.


Kathy Bryan:       I don’t think it did, actually. So traditional age student base being more the 18-year-olds, so if you’re going –


Akeel Haider:     Ah, yeah. For those type of the younger demo, sorry, I didn’t understand the question initially, we like to do multi-touch campaigns. Yes, Instagram and Facebook and combination of that with email, that’s where we see the effectiveness of that. Do they convert? Yes, but a multi-touch campaign is most effective.


Kathy Bryan:       Awesome. Next question is, what software do you recommend to integrate data sources?


Akeel Haider:     There’s a combination of systems, and I’ll give just a very quick thing and then I’ll let Anthony answer it in more detail, I guess. There’s a combination of systems in play. If you’re a school, you have your own SIS system, then you have your CRM on top of that, then you have your marketing automation on top of that, then you have an LMS system. What do we recommend for data integration? For multi-touch cross-channel attribution, I think GA is a great place to start, so hopefully you have that in place. If you have that in place, is it talking to your CRM, and if it’s not talking to your CRM, do you have an LMS in place that it can talk to? Which is a lead management system. Anthony, you wanna –


Anthony Nater: Yeah, you address it there. As far as Sparkroom goes, we can, so some of the other things that we’re exploring, GA is a great place to start, like I mentioned. We’re able to pass information, or GA allows us to pass information from something like Sparkroom posted back into Google Analytics. Whereas, when the conversion is actually happening, we can actually capture some of those Google Analytics metrics and post it into Sparkroom. That’s really where the joining of the two data sources will really occur. I mentioned, not to get too technical, but I did mention Google Analytics for a specific user on a specific device.


It’s not gonna address the cross-device gap that we identified, assigns a unique client ID for a user. We should be able to capture that and pass that into and LMS system like Sparkroom and then bind that with that user’s data and then pass that client ID with our LMS ID back into Google Analytics. So then we’re not really pushing personally identifiable information back and forth between systems, we’re joining the data between some kind of identifiable number that’s randomly generated for that user.


Akeel Haider:     Yeah. The last thing about that is that, for us, we created Sparkroom to become hub where the joining of those data points can happen to a certain extent, but in reality, it’s connect to GA, to Google Analytics, but some, in most cases, we also need a third party which we’re also integrated with for more sophisticated attribution. But there’s no way around not having your CRM or LMS system being connected to one of these channels and a place to see that data.


Anthony Nater: Yeah, and it’s definitely something we’re exploring and we’re getting a lot better at.


Kathy Bryan:       So, a perfect segue into the very next question is, what plans do you have to integrate attribution into the Sparkroom product? You mentioned some of those, is there anything else that you wanna add to that?


Anthony Nater: Yeah, we discussed, so we’re totally looking to integrate with GA right now. We’re prototyping that out, and we have successfully prototyped most of this out with one of our beta clients. We’re also about to prototype out with a third-party solution, integrating with Sparkroom and another client. If we have interested –


Akeel Haider:     We already have dashboards when it comes to single channels, so you can see that impression to enrollment with you within that same channel. We have a paper lead dashboard that can show you from that point on, but we also have a paid search dashboard, so basically we’re integrated with Google Adwords and with GA.


Anthony Nater: Right, yeah, and we’re already showing that impression to start now that complete representation end-to-end of a campaign, all the way ending up to a start in enrollment. Now we’re just trying to make those attribution points to other sources, and that something we’re actively working on as a prototyping app.


Kathy Bryan:       So, I’m gonna skip to a very related question that I think you can probably quickly answer based on what you’ve already said. How do we share the conversion data with Google Analytics?


Anthony Nater: So posting back, I’m assuming then, from there.


Akeel Haider:     Yeah.


Anthony Nater: So Google Analytics has what they call measurement protocol. It’s nothing more than a post that you post back into Google Analytics. So once the data gets into Google Analytics, you have to ensure that on the GA side of things are also configured properly to identify, “All right, this data that I’m pushing back is identifying an enrollment as another conversion metric that also shows within that reporting.”


Akeel Haider:     And cost data as well.


Anthony Nater: And cost data as well. Exactly.


Kathy Bryan:       How do you find out if a lead has already seen an ad?


Akeel Haider:     That’s a very good question. That’s where tagging comes in place and pixeling and cookieing and all those good things. It really depends on your channel and what you’re doing. There’s an impression tagged wherever we can place that to make sure a specific person’s specific device without, obviously, knowing who they are, I have seen an ad identified them with the user ID. That’s where that happens. It’s all impression tagging. An impression is literally just a viewability of a specific ad, and that can happen on any channel. Sparkroom is, just to give you an example, one area where it’s really hard to do this is Facebook. We’re white-labeled for Facebook for impression tagging, one of the very few platforms or media teams. Then you have tagging within display, which we also do for the impression. There are a few gaps that still exist, but again, we try to connect dots through things like Google Analytics and Adwords where the impression data is relatable to some sort of a click data eventually.


Kathy Bryan:       Okay. We’ve got two more important questions. Is direct, within Google Analytics source data, becoming more or less meaningful? This person is saying that they’ve read that direct is now more of a catchall category and not a true measure of users who type in your URL in their address bar.


Anthony Nater: Yeah, I wanna say it kind of is a catchall and that comes down to, again, making sure any data you have coming into Google Analytics is tagged properly either through the URLs or through any data your posting or uploading into Google Analytics, but overall, yeah, if you start digging into that direct channel, you’ll see, “All right maybe this came from a vendor,” and that’ll at least help you identify, “All right, we need to get this vendor some kind of conversion tag,” which then pushes into GA so we could start to pull them out of those direct grouping.


Akeel Haider:     Yeah, I think it’s an actually very good and important question because Google Analytics tend to group things into direct when they don’t know or they don’t wanna show the source, and so we’ve done a lot of experiments when we realized they’ve grouped things together into direct. So who’s ever asking, you’re absolutely correct, that’s the case. As Anthony mentioned, the way to configure Google, you need to configure it to begin with Google correctly with the right filters to start with and how you have it set up. So that’s one area you start with, and then tagging everything that’s coming in separately.


Kathy Bryan:       Okay. More questions are coming in, so the Google Analytics solution is a great one to get started, but it’s digitally based. So if you’ve got traditional channels that are running, what solutions do you suggest for the attribution tracking?


Anthony Nater: Yeah, it’s totally more focused on digital attribution and tracking. They do allow you however, to upload, or I should say, import data. If you can understand how to do that and tie that to that digital information you have


Akeel Haider:     Yeah.


Anthony Nater: But, yeah. Akeel, if you wanna elaborate a little bit more on what else is out there, what third-party solutions can do.


Akeel Haider:     Yeah, so there’s a lot of, there’s various third-party solutions out there that allow you to create baselines a little bit more scientifically and overlay the offline data to understand what impact it had online, down to say, the spot, the time of the day, all of those things, if you’re talking about TV. Of course, each channel is different, but we are in the process right now of integrating with a couple of those sources.

Without giving the names of who they are, please email us and we’ll tell you, give you a list, but if you’re looking just at Google, Google has [inaudible] [01:00:26] as you should have an upgraded enterprise version, but then you would have, from a cost perspective you really have to be buying a lot of impressions to be able to make that cost-effective. So there are other solutions out there that can achieve that, but yeah, at the end everyone uses different algorithms and different methods and we’re happy to discuss that offline and send you a list if you email us, for sure.


Kathy Bryan:       Awesome. Great. What is the success rate that we’re seeing with, for tracking attribution of affiliate networks?


Akeel Haider:     I’m sorry. Can you repeat that?


Kathy Bryan:       Yeah. I’m trying to actually, I think for affiliate networks, how are we able to track the attribution there?


Akeel Haider:     Oh, sure. It’s another very good question because what are you doing with the affiliate networks? Are they driving to your website? Your landing pages? And if they are, are you tagging the URL? Are you giving them a tracking URL to begin with so you know all the traffic that’s coming from there? Are you tagging that so when it comes into your website it’s going into the right bucket into Google Analytics, for example? And then, are you tagging their impressions? So, whatever system you’re using, whether it’s Google Analytics or others, as long as you’re able to tag and pixel instead of [inaudible] around someone, then you can add to that mix.

I think if you’re just buying a lead and you’re not hosting the landing page, and they’re doing their own traffic and they’re just posting the lead to you, you really have no pre-lead data other than the lead itself, and you have no visibility into that pre-lead data view. If you want to have that view, you can absolutely track it, you just have to let them post or drive traffic into your own pages.


Kathy Bryan:       Great. All right, well, we are out of time, so if you have any additional questions or would like any further information, feel free to reach out to us at And lastly, I wanna let you know that next week’s Sparkroom webinar, the 2016 Year-to-Date Higher Education Inquiry Generation Review, will be presenting topics based on the Q2 2006 Inquiry Generation Review that was published earlier this week. It’s next Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. You can sign up for it at So, that’s it. Thank you, everyone for joining us and enjoy the rest of your day.

About the Author

Digital Media Solutions

Digital Media Solutions® (DMS), the largest single entry point for martech-enabled digital media distribution, deploys a robust database of consumer intelligence and leverages massive proprietary media distribution to provide customer acquisition campaigns that grow businesses, offer visibility into the customer experience and provide accountability for every media dollar spent. DMS continues to experience explosive year-over-year growth, with continuous recognition on the Inc. 5000 list, securing its sixth consecutive ranking in 2019, and the Entrepreneur magazine 360 list. Named one of America’s “Best Places to Work” by Inc. magazine and awarded the 2018 Excellence in Lead Generation Award by the LeadsCouncil, DMS brings together some of the industry’s most knowledgeable people, efficient processes and sophisticated technology across the digital marketing spectrum. For more information about DMS, visit Keep up with DMS news at and connect with us on LinkedIn at

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