if it works keep doing it

Tracking: Why ignore people like me

Why some marketing channels can’t (and shouldn’t) be tracked and how to avoid attributing sales to the wrong marketing activity

Agents, sometimes you just have to ignore marketing people (like me) who obsess over tracking the crap out of all your marketing activities. If it works, keep doing it.

But how do you attribute marketing activities to your sales so that you can see what’s working and what isn’t?

Let’s start with a definition. ?

Marketing attribution: It is the way in which marketers assess the value or ROI of the channels that connect them to potential customers. In other words, it’s the means by which the customer came to know and buy your product or service [thanks Salesforce]

Let me put into a practical context you’ll recognise… Most of the time estate agencies undertake a wide range of digital marketing activities because, well, others do it. If sales come out the other of all this effort and expense, then they must be working, right? But when you’ve got to cut your costs (pandemic) you don’t know what to stop doing, and in the good times (either side of the pandemic) when you want to scale up the activities you’re not sure what to do more of? [I want more leads!]

You then hire a marketing specialist (like me) to guide you. We will tell you it’s essential to track all your various digital marketing activities so you can properly attribute your sales and see “what’s actually working”.

You stop a bunch of marketing activities which can’t be measured in the conventional sense (the podcast, the magazine ads, the billboard, the sponsorship of the local football team).

But then… Business gets worse, rather than better.

Leads are up, sales are down. WTF!? You think.

The message: ¡CUIDADO! Not all marketing activities can (or should) be tracked in the conventional sense.

In real estate a customer rarely goes straight to your website, enquires and buys. Multiple channels and messages were responsible for the final buying decision.

Let’s look at an example…

Lead comes in via the website after a Google search, then buys.

You attribute the sale to Organic Search. So turns out all those rupees you’ve been spending on SEO are finally paying off, right?

Weeeeeell… not entirely ?

Potential buyer called Mrs Smith listens to your podcast, is impressed by your expertise and then searches on Google for you company name and eventually buys a property from you.

The sale will be attributed to “organic search”.

Weeeeeell… not entirely ?

She searched for your brand name because she listened to your podcast and liked the sound of you.

So the sale should be attributed to the podcast?

Weeeeeell… not entirely ?

She heard about your podcast from a LinkedIn snippet of the podcast that you posted last week.

So the sale should be attributed to LinkedIn?

Weeeeeell… not entirely ?

Mrs Smith was having a coffee in Puerto Banus and recognised your pretty face in a full-page advert in Essential Magazine promoting your podcast

So the sale should be attributed to the magazine ad?

Weeeeeell… not entirely ?

The reason Mrs Smith recognised the name on the magazine ad is that she receives your weekly newsletters.

So the sale should be attributed to the weekly newsletter?

Weeeeeell… not entirely ?

She receives the newsletter because back in 2014 she saw your Google Ad and completed tan an enquiry form on your landing page. She didn’t respond to your follow up, so you added her to your mailing list on MailChimp.

So the sale should be attributed to Google Ads?

YOU GET THE IDEA. I could go on…?

The point is: all of these activities can be partly attributed to the sale. Some of those activities can and should be tracked, but we need to find a different way of measuring the ROI of the rest.

If you really want to try to attribute everything, there are many attribution models such as multi-source attribution which take this into consideration, but that’s a question for your marketing person.

Do I think you should track your activities? Hell yes. Do I think you should attribute your sales to the marketing activities while influenced it? Hell yes.

Just don’t stop doing things just because you can track them or figure out if sales can be attributed to them.

MY TIP: Keep it simple and old school: just have a small questionnaire you fill out when someone buys, where you ask them:

(1) what they have seen (billboard, magazine ad, Facebook, Linkedin, newsletter etc)

(2) If any influenced them the most to come forward on this occasion

…there, solved. No need to complicate life. Just be sure to pass this info back to your marketing person so they can build it into your tech and fell all warm and fuzzy inside.

So if it works, keep doing it. You just need to figure out if it works 😉

Further reading about attribution models:

Salesforce: Everything You Wanted to Know About Marketing Attribution Models (but Were Afraid to Ask)

HubSpot: What Is Marketing Attribution & How Do You Report on It?

…and don’t get me started on brand marketing… for another day.

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