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Long- and Short-Term Plays CMOs Can Use to Show Marketing Attribution

CMO Showcase: Learn How to Turn Your Marketing Dashboard into a Revenue-Generating Machine

February 23, 2024

By Stephen Lackey

No one likes spending time justifying expenses and trying to prove the revenue impact of their marketing efforts. And it certainly isn’t easy: Determining and proving marketing success requires a specified timeline and access to data-backed insights regarding your campaigns. Enter: your scalable and sustainable Marketing Playbook.

Developing a detailed marketing playbook will help you cultivate a strong, measurable campaign strategy with proven ROI. Your “plays” are your marketing efforts, or the campaigns you put in place to reach and convert your audience. The proper balance of long- and short-term plays can showcase marketing attribution, helping to illustrate what’s resonating with your audience—and where they’re losing interest.

Marketing Attribution Basics: Long-Term vs. Short-Term Plays

Measuring campaign performance through marketing attribution requires first classifying efforts as long- or short-term, then optimizing them based on data-driven insights. Long-term plays tend to be evergreen, and short-term campaigns imply an encroaching expiration date. 

Examples of Long-Term and Short-Term Plays

An example of a long-term marketing play would be the creation and publication of downloadable web content, usually in the form of a template, checklist, or guide. These pieces of longer-form content almost always apply to a wide audience and remain relevant despite how much time has passed since their actual publication. Apart from an occasional copy update or two, these offers should reliably provide value to your audience without significant changes. 

Event promotion is an example of a short-term marketing play. After an event concludes, the content associated with it becomes virtually obsolete, or at least significantly less relevant. Short-term plays are typically more targeted than most long-term efforts. If you’re promoting a leadership conference, for example, your audience is limited to the interested parties, either those who attend or those who want to know about it.


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Understanding Correlation, Causation, and Coincidence

Correlation, causation, and coincidence can blur marketing attribution. Just because two data points appear to be correlate doesn't mean that what they represent is valuable. This occurrence can be a coincidence, or the relationship between these points may be affected by a third, seemingly unrelated factor. In other words, just looking at data won’t prove to be valuable in the long run. Marketers must also understand which factors contribute to their attribution reports and the resulting outcomes.

Truly meaningful data will help validate (or disprove) the thesis that your audience is viewing and getting value from your content. Using a multi-touch attribution model can help to confirm your findings by listing, prioritizing, and assigning value to each touchpoint in the customer journey. This type of report uses interactions, lead creations, and other touchpoints to determine the effectiveness of marketing efforts from all the necessary angles. Such visibility is helpful for tracking the progress of elaborate long-term plays and replicating successful short-term plays.

Marketing Attribution Strategy: Tips for Striking a Balance

There’s no formula for balancing your long- and short-term plays. Although AI tools can help streamline many areas of marketing data analysis, distinguishing the ideal ratio of long- to short-term plays requires an in-depth understanding of your business, your goals, and your audience. 

To fully understand these elements, you need clear and comprehensive marketing attribution data from both short- and long-term plays. Here are a few tips that can help you find that balance as you build your case for the value of marketing to your business:

1. Develop various performance outlooks.

Forecast several realistic outlooks for both long- and short-term campaigns by outlining conservative, moderate, and aggressive outlooks for these efforts. What if everything goes right? What if everything goes wrong? Explore various possible scenarios or performance results, and create contingency plans to course correct if necessary.

EXAMPLE—SHORT-TERM PLAY: A clothing brand needs to optimize its upcoming product giveaway that aims to boost newsletter signups. The marketing team references subscription data from its last three giveaways to forecast likely, unlikely, and highly likely performance results on which to base the budget.

2. Identify risks versus safe bets.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Leverage historical data and attribution reporting to determine which of your efforts go off without a hitch and where you can afford to do some experimenting. Organize your “eggs” based on this data. Don’t over-inflate numbers or make empty promises based on data reports—you’ll risk losing credibility. Despite popular belief, short-term plays are not always a safe bet for attracting or retaining customers.

EXAMPLE—LONG-TERM PLAY: A SaaS company runs its regular marketing report and finds that YouTube content featuring direct contact links consistently converts the most viewers. The business ramps up its video marketing strategy a bit and continues its blogging strategy because these pages also tend to receive significant clicks.

3. Analyze and evaluate often.

The attitudes and behaviors of your audience, as individuals and as a collective, are always changing. The best channel to reach them today may not be the ideal place to reach them next week. As a result, frequent assessment and reevaluation of your efforts is necessary to maintain steady performance. Consider all related factors, including relevant KPIs and ROI per campaign (time and resources spent). Use your North Star metric and historical data to reverse-engineer the results you want. 

EXAMPLE—SHORT-TERM PLAY: A manufacturing company hosts a one-off conference and collects marketing attribution data every Monday for three weeks before and three weeks after the event. The marketing team can now reliably report on how many conversions resulted from the conference.

4. Diversify channels and use multi-touch attribution.

Multi-touch attribution models show which touchpoints in the customer journey are performing well and which ones may need some work. When you strategically diversify your marketing channels, you’re more likely to reach different customers in different places. Multi-touch attribution reporting helps you visualize and understand which channels customers are first interacting with, where they’re dropping off, and where they’re converting.

EXAMPLE—LONG-TERM PLAY: A pharmacy chain develops its own app and frequently prompts users to receive instant alerts via text, email, and push notification. There are also numerous opportunities to follow the brand’s social media profiles and register for its home mailer.

Marketing Attribution Reports: Showcasing Rock-Solid Data

Marketers must revisit their strategies regularly to assess progress and performance. Proper benchmarking helps track and leverage the trends in the data. 

How often should you check in on your campaign performance to see how your efforts are doing? The answer will depend on your unique marketing goals, but the important thing is to perform this re-analysis at regular intervals for a clear timeline. You may want to check in on short-term plays (such as state-of-market reports or PPC campaigns) every week or even every day; in contrast, you might only collect data for long-term plays (such as maintaining your SERP ranking through SEO) every month or so.

Make Sure Your Marketing Strategy Isn’t Missing the Mark

The essential balance between long- and short-term plays is maintained by regular analysis of marketing attribution data. Ideally, this data will reveal where, how, and when you were able to connect with and convert your customers and where you missed the mark. You can then use these insights to recalibrate, optimizing your efforts to fit budget parameters and audience preferences.

Long-term or short-term, all marketing is cumulative. The value of your efforts is greater than the sum of its parts—and they all have some effect on your business. Check out our Marketing Attribution Bundle for everything you need to showcase the ROI of your team’s hard work with data-backed, marketing-sourced revenue.


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Topics: Marketing Attribution, Attribution Reporting