Sometimes measuring the effectiveness of marketing sources isn’t as clear-cut as we’d like it to be. There are a lot of variables and touchpoints during a complex buyer’s journey, like those we see in multifamily housing, senior living, and self storage. To add even more pressure, in our economically challenging times, most property and community executives are taking an extra-long look at budgetary line items to see if there are any expenses they can take off the list. 

It’s good to remember that businesses shouldn’t cut marketing spend during a recession, and in most cases that hurts your company instead. In fact, most companies who bounced back the fastest from a recession actually increased their marketing budget. This is why being able to show value for your marketing sources, first-touch, last-touch, and each touch within the buyer’s journey is essential to justifying the impact and importance of your marketing program. 

Using the right attribution model can help unlock insights into your marketing sources and provide data-backed recommendations on marketing to your executives. We’re going to debunk a couple myths of marketing attribution covered — by our own G5 Director of Account Management and experienced marketer herself, Katie Gibson — at Futr Forum

Myth: Source is Accurate 

Imagine that your biggest marketing channel seems to be “walk-ins.” Also known as someone walking down the street who decides, without ever doing an online search, that they want to rent at your property. Now, say hypothetically, one of the top values of your property and community is that it is close to nature. Meaning, your property is 20-miles from anywhere (farfetched we know!), and yet, your team continues to attribute “walk-ins” as your leading marketing source… This certainly seems a little suspicious. 

Depending on your marketing source tracking capabilities, your marketing source could be inaccurate. For a more plausible scenario, if you see a large uptick in website generated leads without an upstream marketing source attributed to them, something is probably off in your marketing source tracking. It is rare for a prospect to just intuitively be able to type in your website address. Chances are they saw it on an advertisement, in a past google search, or through a post on a social media channel. By ensuring all of your channels have a tracking mechanism on them such as a vanity URL, or call tracking number, you can identify which channels are driving your most interested prospects. 

Myth: Lead Source Determines Lead Quality

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and for good reason. Jumping to conclusions doesn’t tend to be the most informed decision making. Depending on your marketing channel attribution model, you might not have the full picture of a buyer’s journey. For example, in first-touch and last-touch attribution models, all of the credit is given to either the first or last interaction your business has with a prospect, regardless of lead source.

Multi-touch attribution (MTA) takes into account all of the touchpoints in between first-touch and last-touch and allocates credit to each interaction. Multi-touch attribution helps to create a more holistic picture of the buyer’s journey. But MTA is complex and requires technology to do the heavy lifting needed to make informed decisions. Many marketers just don’t have access to advanced technology, and as a result, they choose to go with first-touch or last-touch models. This can be inefficient and waste marketing spend on channels that may not lead to the fastest conversions. 

To learn more about how single-touch attribution fails to paint the full picture of the buyer’s journey, and how MTA works, watch this video:

Probabilistic multi-touch attribution is the most accurate way to measure a marketing channel’s value in driving leads to your property or community. Basically, without a sound attribution model, you might be spending on channels that aren’t generating more leads — or allocating conversion credit to channels that aren’t as effective as you might think.

So, going back to our myth, if you think certain channels give you better quality leads, and only optimize toward that source, you’re missing some of the deeper insights about what is truly driving the highest-quality conversions. 

Myth: Cost Per Lead (CPL) is King 

Sure, this isn’t a bad metric. However, using CPL as your lead key performance indicator (KPI) is dangerous if you have an inaccurate attribution model. In many cases, CPL can be a misleading metric, since it often ignores all but the first or last touchpoint in a renter’s journey. 

For example, say Rosie Renter Googles, ‘apartments near Shevlin Park in Bend, Oregon’. Rosie clicks on an ad for River Wild Apartments and peruses  the property’s website. But, then Rosie has a few stressful projects come up at work. Next, she pauses her search to take care of a loved one. Finally, a few weeks later Rosie sees a social media advertisement for the River Wild Apartments and picks up her apartment search again. This time, Rosie begins by Googling the property by name, visiting their website, viewing floor plans, and eventually setting up a virtual tour. 

Prospects in senior living, multifamily housing, and self storage have complex buyer’s journeys. There are four touchpoints on just Rosie’s renting journey. In this example, we would need to provide some percentage of cost to each of Rosie’s touchpoints: the first search ad, the social media ad, the branded search, and the high-converting website. But, how do we know the percentage to apply to each? That’s where probabilistic MTA comes in. It determines the likelihood of each touchpoint to contribute to a conversion  — and it is based on Rosie’s unique journey and those that were similar to hers. 

The value and accuracy of CPL as a key marketing metric hinges on your marketing team’s ability to precisely and accurately allocate certain monetary amounts to each of Rosie’s interactions. CPL is only truly helpful if you have an attribution model, like probabilistic MTA, that can consider all of the touchpoints in a complex buyer’s journey. 

Get Your Learn On

Ready to break down one more marketing source myth? Check out the on-demand Marketing Sources session from Futr Forum