Marketing Attribution

Marketing attribution is the process of associating specific marketing activities to customer sales and conversions. This attribution process provides information about the customer journey. Through specific attribution models, you credit specific marketing channels that lead to sales and conversions. 

Analyzing marketing attribution data provides performance information about each marketing activity and helps organizations better understand the path to conversion. Evaluating marketing attribution helps determine the return on investment (ROI) of each marketing activity and assess which channels and messages had the biggest impact. With marketing attribution, you can justify advertising spend for specific channels and get a complete picture of organic and paid marketing activities.

Types of Marketing Attribution Models

There are several attribution models to consider, including single-touch and multi-touch attribution. Single-touch attribution assigns credit to the first or last touch. First touch assigns credit to the first marketing channel the customer engaged with and last touch assigns credit to the very last marketing channel. 

Unfortunately, first-touch attribution doesn’t consider subsequent interactions the customer had with other marketing channels. The same can be said with last touch, which doesn’t consider the initial interactions the customer had with the brand from earlier marketing activities. Customers rarely make a purchase after a first touch. Instead, it’s often multiple marketing channels and messages that lead to a final buying decision. 

Multi-touch attribution is often a preferred attribution model because it accounts for the entire customer journey. Each marketing channel is given credit for the lead or sale, whether it’s a social media ad or post, newsletter, ad, etc. 

Multi-Touch Attribution Models

There are several multi-touch models, including linear, time decay, position-based, W-shaped, and custom:

  • Linear multi-touch attribution gives equal credit to each marketing channel on the customer journey.
  • Time-decay attribution gives more credit to the channels that were engaged closer to the conversion.
  • Position-based (or U-shaped) attribution gives equal weight to the first and last touch; 40% goes to first and last touch, and the remaining 20% is shared with the remaining channels. 
  • W-shaped attribution is like the U-shaped but it gives 30% credit to the first, middle, and last touch, and only 10% is shared among the remaining channels.
  • Custom attribution assigns credit through a custom model, usually based on industry, marketing channels, and other attributes. This model is best suited for companies with a long customer journey.

Choosing the best attribution model depends on a variety of factors. Keep in mind your marketing goals and which funnel stage you are most focused on, whether it’s brand awareness, sales, or conversions. Your specific business model and the length of the customer journey should also be considered. If you have a long sales cycle, it may be beneficial to focus on a custom multi-touch attribution model. However, if you have a shorter sales cycle, you may want to use linear multi-touch attribution to get a full picture of each marketing touchpoint.

If you want to prove ROI on the efforts of your marketing, you will want to use marketing attribution that can demonstrate how your marketing activities are leading to sales. Based on your findings, you can optimize spend and invest in marketing efforts with higher conversion rates.

Brian Carlson
Brian Carlson
Brian Carlson is the Founder and CEO of RoC Consulting, a digital consultancy that helps brands establish the optimal balance of content, technology and marketing to achieve their goals.

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