Customer Attribution: What FedEx Can Teach Us

Written by Matt Langie, Senior Director Of Strategic Marketing, Digital Marketing Business Unit at Adobe and Vice Chairman of Education, IMA:

How well do you know your customers? If an individual approached your business, would you be able to quantify the likelihood that she will make a purchase?

We have the capacity to build an infrastructure from direct feedback and indirect cues our customers provide, one that can define what, where, and how they came to be our customers. For many of us, however, the enterprises we serve have yet to establish a solid customer attribution model, one defined by direct engagement and indirect signals.

Have you built a holistic, 360-degree view of your customer? Are you prepared to drive product development based upon direct and indirect signals? Some have been successful at adopting a customer attribution model. Let me share the experiences of a global market leader.

The FedEx Approach
Mike Rude, managing director of customer experience at FedEx for 20 years, sat down with Adobe’s John Mellor, VP of business development and strategy, at this year’s Adobe Summit conference. He explained how FedEx has transitioned to not only a global leader serving its customers, but a global leader that identifies its customers’ needs through attribution modeling.

Mike told us that FedEx has upward of 30 million people per day directly interacting with FedEx brand. The number of indirect interactions, however, is eclipsing direct interactions. This has led the company to develop a customer attribution model comprised of both types of customer engagement.

“What brings customers to our stores?” asked Mike and his team. To answer this question, he chose to model customer interactions using indicators that could signal customer preferences. Once that question was answered, the next question became, “Which products and services can we develop to satisfy the indicators embedded in our model?”

Mike told us that “well over 70% of decisions made about our company are made before they directly interact with us.” This drove the need to understand clearly what most customers wanted and how they viewed the company.

So his interactive marketing group created the Web analytics to discover needs for change within the FedEx business model. They began to reveal opportunities that could not be uncovered without the development of a customer attribution model. One example was the need to provide improved search functionality across the FedEx domain ecosystem. Additionally, they found that mobile activity, social, and search all present opportunities where a customer might indirectly engage with his brand.

As a result of its customer attribution modeling, FedEx has now deployed an omnichannel strategy by connecting its drivers, customer service reps, and other customer-facing agents. “They are bonded by digital,” Mike said. Front-line employees are a part of an interconnected system that can respond to feedback and provide input about the direct and indirect interactions that comprise the attribution model.

As FedEx did, so must we all reinvent ways to define the customer journey and the multiple engagements that occur along the way.

Digital Roadblock Takeaways
We need to identify and integrate direct and indirect interactions along the customer journey.

We now have a 360-degree view of customer preferences, activities, desires, etc. through direct and indirect interactions. So how do we use this information to underpin our digital marketing practices? Let’s look at three ways we can reinvent our marketing approach by leveraging the data we collect.

1. One of the interesting takeaways from Adobe’s 2014 Digital Roadblock report was that 54 percent of marketers believe the ideal marketer should take more risks. While taking risks might seem like a worthy goal for other occupations (like a stunt double), I’m not sure we need to take more risks to achieve digital marketing excellence. We’ve got the people, process, and products to enable a reinvention of our marketing ethos without taking huge risks. We can shift marketing spend to react to information delivered in milliseconds, using predictive analytics enabled by big data. We don’t have to guess.

2. Next, clearly address how we are defining the customer journey. Nearly 80 percent of marketers agree that we need to be more data focused to succeed, but just under 50 percent reported “trusting my gut” as the primary resource for making decisions about marketing budgets. Through attribution modeling, we are provided with a customer profile that can be targeted and followed throughout the customer journey. Again, we don’t have to guess.

3. Adopt an integrated strategy across all channels. More than 60 percent of the respondents to our Digital Roadblock survey see social media as the most critical marketing vehicle to focus on, followed by mobile at 51 percent. We all know about the available channels, but we need to be smarter about how our customers are connecting with our brand. Mike explained how FedEx must interact with customers on their terms, which change by the hour. First, they connect through the smartphone on the way to work, then it’s the desktop at the office, and finally it’s the tablet while relaxing on the couch.

Why do we need to commit to customer attribution modeling? Because the devil is in the details. Customers have experiences with our brands that are measurable. Marketers must curate those experiences, to Mike’s point, in order to develop the products and services FedEx and others provide as well as to shape the customer journey to our doorstep.

We must control the customer journey from first touch point. As such, we need to be proactive in uncovering the steps—both direct and indirect—that are made along that journey.


About Matt Langie

Matt Langie is senior director of strategic marketing for the Digital Marketing Business Unit at Adobe. He gained extensive experience in technology marketing while at Omniture, WebTrends, Datastream, Intel, and Hewlett-Packard. Langie’s responsibilities span go-to-market strategy, messaging and positioning, product pricing and packaging, sales enablement, competitive intelligence, and product evangelism for the Adobe Marketing Cloud.

Leave A Reply