A strange thought struck me as I watched the Super Bowl yesterday: football and attribution have a lot in common.
In both scenarios, a highly trained team of professionals executes a series of intricate plays in pursuit of a singular goal: conversions. When played well, football games and marketing campaigns connect to their respective audiences emotionally, and, more cynically, inspire them to open their wallets.
But the similarities don’t stop there. In the spirit of the Super Bowl, let’s look at the process of attributing credit in cross-channel campaigns through the lens of America’s favorite sport.
The Pre-Season. Before your season, or campaign, kicks off, it’s time to get fit. For performance marketers, that means whipping your data into shape. Get ready for a successful season by asking questions like: • What does data governance currently look like, and can it be improved? • How do your strategy and tactics layer within your digital buys? • Can you quickly provide offline reporting from a verified source?
The pre-season is also the time to define and learn your plays, or in this context, your strategy and supporting tactics. You know you need points on the board (a.k.a. sales/conversions), but there are multiple ways to make that happen. Play to the strengths of your team in order to do so most efficiently and effectively.
Speaking of your team: get everyone on the same page before that very first coin flip or media buy. Both football and marketing are team sports. NFL teams employ an army of offensive and defensive staff, special teams coordinators, coaches, players, administrators, cheerleaders, and more, while marketing teams split into SEM, display, social, TV, digital, offline, analytics, and other specialties. Everyone must work together to win.
Before the Snap. What’s your play? The coach must make quick decisions based on data: both team’s strengths and weaknesses, historical information, past experience, current conditions, agreed-upon strategies and last-minute pivots. Performance marketers do the exact same thing. Before launching your campaign, analyze each piece of data thoroughly to ensure that you’re making the best possible call.
The Play Is Live. Mid-play, every second counts. Real-time analysis changes the game, allowing you to build on your training and historical data with a clear understand of what’s happening right now. Just as a quarterback evaluates which receivers are open, marketers assess their business intelligence tools to see which tactics are working.
The Pass Is Caught! You’re moving down the field. The consumer clicked the ad, visited your website, “liked” your post, or filled out a form. All of your hard work is paying off.
The Ball Is on the 20 Yard Line. You’re so close – time to “seal the deal.” Look at your data. What can you learn from the game thus far? Instead of trying to do everything at once, focus on the few activities that will get the ball to the end zone. You can test vendors, scale campaigns, and test creative eventually, but start by seeing which tactics and channels are working, and leveraging that knowledge to continue your forward progress.
Touchdown! You made the sale. By training in the pre-season, trusting your team, converting each down (or touchpoint), and trusting your team, you moved the ball – err, your consumer – toward the ultimate conversion. Your players are proud. Your coaches knew you could do it. And your fans in the board room? Well, they couldn’t be more thrilled to have won the game.