When I tell my friends that I work in marketing, most conjure up visions of Brian Kinney spending late nights in the office hammering out new ideas, after a few beers at Woody’s. Well, the best marketers don’t rely solely on the right brain; we use data analysis to inform decisions and focus our creative energies. Marketing attribution is a critical step to maximize the impact of your campaigns.

This post will explain the concept of marketing attribution, walk through a personal injury attorney’s rise to “webrity” status, and provide some great resources to jumpstart your adoption of this powerful yet easy-to-use marketing strategy. Close the loop: Record your marketing activities, attribute sales to them, and watch these efforts propel your results.

What is Marketing Attribution

What Is Marketing Attribution?

The concept is simple: Give credit where credit is due. Marketing campaigns take all shapes and sizes, and it’s important to know which strategies and tactics are actually moving the needle. Some campaigns go after a specific demographic or rely on a timely message — if one is particularly effective, attribution tells you to continue that campaign or create more like it.

Today, attribution comes in many forms, and there are all kinds of SaaS products to help you out. If you’ve worked in digital long enough, then you’ve probably heard terms like UTM Tags, Pixel Tracking, and Cookies. Traditional media (Radio/Print/TV) relies on other metrics like Nielson Ratings to predict market penetration. The specific technology is less important than the practice. Pay attention to past performance in order to yield greater results in the future.

Take a lesson from Jamie Casino. His outrageous Super Bowl ad only aired in Georgia but became an overnight viral sensation (4.7 million at the time I drafted this article, 3 days after the big game #GoSeahawks). After seeing the commercial, I was convinced this personal injury attorney must have had a crackerjack marketing team using data to justify the sledgehammer and rock-n-roll soundtrack that is so uncommon in comparison to the type of lawyer commercials I’m used to seeing.

My Opinion on Jamie Casino’s Campaign History.

Here’s how I picture marketing attribution helped Jamie Casino create a #winning Super Bowl commercial.

In 2011, Jamie started his law practice in Savannah Georgia, apparently after his earlier career as a mobster criminal defense attorney. He knew he needed a catchy URL, and a memorable phone number. Both 877-55-CASINO and LuckyLaw.com were available.

Jamie used an actual recording of himself, where he’s pushing around an insurance representative to get the best possible settlement for his client. And he used client testimonials from four demographic audience segments to show relevance, integrity, and performance history. Of course these TV spots were monitored for their individual performance. Media buys are often manipulated while in-flight.

As new client cases poured in, Jamie’s team recorded information about the cases so that future campaigns could be hyper-targeted in their messaging. His St. Patrick’s Day ad could be targeted to TV shows with higher Irish viewership and be concentrated in the weeks leading up to the annual festival of green beer and cabbage.

Jamie Casino is the way to go. Call (912)355-1500

Analyzing results from the first batch of campaigns, Jamie’s team would rely on data to select which testimonials to reuse inside of this wrestling themed campaign. Along the way he got a new URL and a catchy local phone number jingle.

Objectively measuring earlier campaigns gave Jamie the confidence he needed to make the ultimate marketing investment: a full 2-minute spot in the middle of the Super Bowl. According to the Savannah Morning News, the ad is based on a true story and was met with mixed reviews. Regardless, if I ever need a personal injury attorney in the Savannah area, I know who I’ll call.

Getting Started with Campaign Reporting.

To start, it’s critical to log your campaign activities for later analysis. A well-designed marketing calendar can help ensure your plan is comprehensive and recorded. Read to this post’s end for your copy of dt’s marketing calendar, which will help you plan your campaigns and reduce friction in the creation of UTM Tags for Google Analytics.

Content marketing via the Betterment Blog is dt’s primary marketing strategy. We use UTM tags on shortened links to measure the traction we get from each promotion tactic. For example, when we we mention a brand or product in a roundup post we do a “shout-out” to them on Twitter and link back to our post. Our Twitter shout-outs get recorded with UTM_Source=twitters versus other tweets promoting the same content with UTM_Source=twitter. From the results we saw in Q4 2013, we know we should keep doing shoutouts, and keep experimenting to make other tweets more effective.


Are you starting to see how these small URL query parameters can be useful in analyzing past marketing efforts to help inform your next campaign?

Hammer Your Message Home

Hammer Your Message Home Through Google Analytics.

Once you’ve accumulated some data, you’ll want to dig into the “Campaign” report in Google Analytics (it’s underneath the Acquisition section). Here you can segment traffic by Source/Medium/Content and also narrow your focus to specific timeframes or audience segments. You might find that certain mediums respond best during certain time slots, or tweets get more click-throughs than Facebook posts.

Explore the “Visitors Flow” to gain insight into the paths converting at the best rates. For example, New Relic runs multiple landing page variants and found that one creative variant performed 118% better than the other pages.

Or how about identifying which social platform brings the most “heavily engaged” visitors by segmenting visitors who’ve visited at least 6 pages of your site? Use the “Advanced Segments” feature to gain a detailed understanding of how visitors are consuming your content. Warning: This could rock your world.

Heavily Engaged Visitors

Of course there are many marketing attribution models you can follow. But that’s a post for another day. For now, just continue business as usual, making sure to follow a consistent tagging structure. Spelling and capitalization count! Be sure to establish and follow patterns to avoid a big mess when it’s time to analyze your efforts. After all, “LinkedIn” vs. “linkedin” will show up as two separate records if you get lazy.

Free Resources to Propel Your Results.

This post was inspired by this white paper I found while scouring the interwebz a couple months ago. While I was researching this post, I found a great article by KISSmetrics that does a great job of explaining how to use the Google UTM Tag Generator and transform the medium tag into something really meaningful.

Remember that marketing calendar I mentioned earlier? You can get your very own copy by registering here.

If you know of any great sites or resources please share them in the comments below.

Get your own copy of our marketing calendar.