By Michael Foster

One of the great things about marketing in 2017 is just how many ways you can interact with customers. Of course there are Google and Facebook. But there are also Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, WeChat, WhatsApp, Instagram, Reddit, Foursquare, Yelp and a ton of other touch points that you can use to constantly keep a dialogue going with existing customers and introduce yourself to new customers.

Great, but does this translate into sales? In many cases, the answer is a clear and resounding “yes.” But if you want proof – well, that’s a bit harder.

Ironically, technological innovations have made ROI attribution harder. In the early 2000s, it was largely a case of using a cookie to identify when a user clicked on a link and then proceeded to make a transaction. But imagine you’re a microbrewery in Wisconsin using online marketing to get more people in the door. How can you know if the people who show up are the same people who clicked on a link?

What if they never clicked in the first place? What if you paid for an ad to show up in their newsfeed on Facebook, they saw it (but never clicked) on a Wednesday, scrolled on and decided to stop by on the weekend?

If you’re obsessed with analyzing and measuring ROI and look at your Facebook analytics and see no clicks on your ads, you might give up on the campaign – and thus lose future sales from people like those customers who saw (but didn’t click on) your Facebook ads.

This situation is happening to a lot of marketers right now. If you’re a businessperson, it’s a disaster; but if you’re a marketing professional, it’s beyond frustrating – especially if you’re ordered to shut down campaigns that you know are working (but lack the data to prove it) and then face trouble when sales dip.

We need a better way to measure success.

Fortunately, the biggest brands are now developing new ways to measure success that capture those hard-to-measure uplift effects conventional marketing tools cannot easily show us. At this year’s &THEN, C-suite marketing executives will join C-suite technology executives to discuss exactly how brands are launching initiatives to understand every piece of their marketing strategy and all of the hard-to-measure effects that we currently can’t attribute.

By embracing a data-driven approach to understanding marketing ROI that goes beyond the simple last-click attribution approach of the past, brands are now getting a much better picture of the very complex journey customers travel from discovery to sale to repeat visit.

Join us at this year’s &THEN in New Orleans for “The ROI of Becoming Data-Driven: How do You Measure Success?” Alan Gellman of Esurance will lead this session dedicated to unpacking the complex questions of multichannel marketing and the data that informs brands’ media strategies in a complex media landscape.

This article is brought to you by &THEN, DMA’s annual event. Click here to join the leaders of the marketing community and explore how data transforms marketing in New Orleans, October 8-10. Save over $300 when you register online.