Friendly Advice
May 19, 2022

A Guide to Incremental Lift To Improve Your Marketing Strategy

Tori Stroup

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

When you create marketing campaigns and strategies, every interaction you have with a customer can lead to a conversion – but not all of those conversions happen during the first touchpoint. 

By tracking and measuring the incremental lift of your marketing efforts, you can better understand the net positive impact of your efforts across the board. This gives you a complete view of where and when your customers are converting with your campaigns and how one marketing channel can impact others. 

In this article, we’ll take a deeper dive into incremental lift and cover the following topics: 

  • What is incremental lift and why is it important? 
  • Fundamentals to consider when measuring incremental lift
  • Three mistakes to avoid with incremental lift
  • How to measure incremental lift and the metrics you’ll want to track

What is Incremental Lift and Why is it Important? 

Incremental lift is a way to test and measure the success and effectiveness of your marketing activities and pinpoint what channels and efforts are making the most significant impact. 

In many cases, it can be challenging to determine whether an increase in activity or conversion is directly related to organic marketing efforts or specific campaigns. Using incremental lift will provide you with an effective way to measure your marketing efforts through causation and identify outcomes that would not have occurred in the absence of a specific interaction. 

It provides you with valuable insights into what marketing channels and techniques part of your marketing strategy generate value. An understanding of incremental lift will provide you with the insights you need to test your channels and make data-driven decisions in your marketing, from budgeting to determining what channels to focus your efforts on. 

Incremental lift is an important way to measure the success of all of your marketing efforts to pinpoint what channels are higher performers and tell you where to focus your time and budget to make the most significant impact. 

Incremental lift will help you get the biggest bang for your buck, but it can also make a big impact on your growth marketing strategy and help you continue to grow your business even further.

Fundamentals to Consider When Measuring Incremental Lift

When it comes to measuring incremental lift, there are a few key fundamentals you’ll want to consider. When analyzing metrics, we often get caught up in how one channel or campaign performed, and it can be easy to forget to look at the big picture. 

But it’s essential to consider all of the different touchpoints and interactions your customers took to reach their final point of conversion – and not every person’s journey will look the same. 

When looking at your marketing channels, these two incremental lift fundamentals will help you keep that big picture in mind and truly understand how your strategies succeed and drive incremental growth. 

Stop Giving One Channel All the Credit for Successful Conversions 

It’s easy to get caught up in the metrics when looking at things like return on ad spend or cost per acquisition metrics – but those things only tell half of the story. 

You have to consider that your customers are taking several different paths to get to a conversion point. There are a number of different ways your customers can interact with your brand and places they can make their final conversion. 

diagram of purchasing journey
Even if your customers start in the same place, the chances of their purchasing journey looking the same are limited. It’s important to consider this when measuring the success of your campaigns and the steps each person takes to convert. Image courtesy of YellowHead

For example, not every user will click on your advertisement the first time they see it, and if they ever do, it may take three, four, or even five times before they click on that advertisement. Sometimes, that advertisement can stick in someone’s mind, and they may take to Google later in their purchasing journey to search for your brand or products a week or two later.

While these conversions may not be directly associated with their initial advertisement, they can still be attributed to that initial advertisement they previously saw. 

This is why we should shift our mindsets and stop giving one channel all of the credit. Knowing that it can often take as many as seven marketing interactions with a brand before a customer converts, there is much more to the story than that final conversion step. 

Understanding High Confidence Correlation Between Channels

Keeping with the mindset of looking at your marketing channels holistically, another important fundamental to incremental life is high confidence correlation. 

What do these mean? It’s as simple as paying attention to how an investment in one area of your marketing strategy affects the other areas. You’ll likely notice that making investments in one marketing channel will lead to increases in others. 

This could look like a drip in organic traffic and sales after cutting off a big Facebook advertising campaign, or revenue decreases after a big sale has been completed. 

By tracking and testing changes in your incremental lift as these channels and strategies change, you can determine if there is any correlation between one event and the other. This will give you the data you need to know where you should put your efforts and what channels will drive the most success for your business.  

These insights will help you make better marketing decisions and increase business growth at scale. Without these insights, it will be harder for you to continue expanding your business, and certain efforts may negatively impact your overall growth strategy.

3 Mistakes to Avoid With Incremental Lift

Companies make a few common mistakes when thinking about incremental lift, including putting too much focus on attribution, return on ad spend, cost per acquisition, and trying to reach everyone with your campaign without proper segmentation. 

In this section, we’ll look at three common mistakes many companies make when it comes to incremental lift. 

1. Valuing Attribution Over Incremental Lift 

Attribution can be an important factor when growing your business, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you think about. It can be a limiting way to track and measure the success of your campaigns and will only give you part of the story. 

The attribution model you choose to use may only capture the first or last touchpoint, and using this model means you miss out on all of the interactions and touchpoints your customer may have taken in between. 

A multi-touch attribution model will give you more detail on the actions your customers are taking, but it also has limitations. Multi-touch models are generally limited to only digital experiences and may not capture metrics like an impression or ad views – leaving a lot of information left unsaid. 

While incremental lift, on the other hand, allows you to measure the outcomes achieved with specific marketing activity. This can give you better insights into the activity's value, including data on impressions, clicks, and other metrics.  

Looking at your campaigns holistically with incrementality, you can see the attribution data and much more to make more effective marketing decisions. 

2. Neglecting to Segment Your Audiences 

When it comes to testing and tracking incremental lift, you’ll want to ensure that you’re segmenting your audiences properly. Setting two audience groups that are two completely different customer segments can skew your test results. 

Segmenting your audiences properly will help you serve more relevant content and ensure that you’re testing campaigns with similar audience groups. If you’re forcing segments that have nothing in common, you may have skewed results that don’t provide reliable results. Image courtesy of Blue Text.

These audiences shouldn’t be complete opposites and should share similar characteristics but not overlap. You can use all kinds of different customer data to help identify the right segments for your testing, including things like general demographics, product interests, location, and more. 

Segmentation plays an important role in the success of your marketing campaigns, regardless of whether they are part of an incremental testing group or not. The more relevant the content is to the audiences receiving it, the more likely they will be to interact and convert along their journey. 

3. Putting Too Much Focus on Return on Ad Spend and Cost Per Acquisition

If you’re running an ad campaign, you’re likely going to focus on metrics like return on ad spend (ROAS) and cost per acquisition (CPA), but they shouldn’t be the only indicators of success that you should look at. 

This goes back to the first incremental lift fundamental around making sure to give credit where it’s due. Just because you ran an advertising campaign doesn’t mean that every single customer converted within that specific ad. 

If you’re looking at the success of your campaigns and feeling like the ROAS and CPA metrics are a bit underwhelming – don’t discredit the campaigns as a total loss right away. 

You should also look at some of your other marketing channels to see if there were any unusual upticks in engagement that may correlate to the ad campaign. Some people don’t always engage with an ad when they first see it, but they may recall the ad a few days later and visit your website directly. 

Without looking at the campaign holistically, you may not notice that these correlations exist and might be underreporting the true success of the campaign. Success isn’t always defined by a singular metric or view, and defining incremental lift helps you see the full picture. 

How to Measure Incremental Lift and the Metrics You’ll Want to Track

When it comes to measuring incremental lift within your marketing efforts, you’ll want to consider the standard metrics like ROAS, impressions, clicks, and any other channel-specific metrics – but don’t let those define your success. 

Many metrics can help you paint a full picture of how your marketing campaigns performed. By taking a step back and using multiple different metrics to measure success, you may find that there were some unexpected areas of growth. 

Key Metrics to Track Incremental Lift

When it comes to measuring campaign success and incremental lift, there are a few key metrics you’ll want to consider. In this section, we’ll look at two metrics that can help measure success and give insights into the incremental lift of your marketing strategy. 

Conversion Volume

Measuring conversion volume can help you better understand the success of your marketing campaigns and track incremental lift. 

When looking at conversion volumes, keep in mind that you should be calculating this metric across all of your marketing efforts since one channel can have an impact or drive increases in other areas. To truly measure the impact, you need to look at conversions holistically. 

If you notice a significant increase or decrease in your conversion volumes during a certain time period, this could be an indicator of what is and isn’t working with your campaigns. These insights will give you the data you need to make effective decisions on how to improve your campaigns moving forward.  


Similar to conversion volumes, revenue is another good indicator of incremental lift.

Tracking revenue increases and decreases will help you identify when and where your customers are converting – allowing you to put more spending and budget behind those campaigns. 

Revenue can be one of the most straightforward metrics to help you better understand incremental lift and identify where customers are most engaged with your campaigns. Looking at how your revenue has changed over the period of the campaign can quickly determine whether it was a success and what channels are working together to drive conversions. 

Tap Into Incremental Lift Strategies to Help Drive More Successful Marketing Campaigns

Tapping into incremental lift data will help you make data-driven decisions that can help improve the success of your marketing efforts. It will allow you to pinpoint how your customers are interacting and engaging with your content and will enable you to improve reporting on the cross-channel interactions your customers are making.