What is attribution and how can it be impacting your marketing results?

As digital marketers, we want to align every conversion to a specific channel. Our goal is to say that 100% of online leads came from PPC and/or SEO and prove the return on investment, but we know this is a pipe dream. There are too many ways a customer can get to your website and convert to a lead or sale. Now what if we told you there is a way to get credit for helping direct a customer that ultimately becomes a sale? This is the beauty of attribution!

Across all web traffic, over 90% of customers do not complete a sale or become a lead on the first visit to the site. Customers who complete a purchase or fill out a form, on average, have visited the site 6 times from 2.25 different channels. So how do we make sure we are giving credit where credit is due? Within Google there are currently 5 different types of models that you can implement.

1. Last Click Attribution

The standard out-of-the-box attribution model in Google is “last click.” In this default model, all credit for a conversion goes to the final channel (touchpoint) before the conversion and no other interactions from that customer will get any recognition.

2.  First Click Attribution

In the same way as last click, "first click" gives all credit to the channel/source/touchpoint that initially got the customer to the site, even if they visited multiple times from various other channels before a conversion.

3. Linear Attribution

In the "linear" attribution model, each unique channel/source is assigned the exact same percentage of credit for the conversion.

4. Time Decay Model

With a "time decay" model, each unique channel/source gets more and more credit the closer the touchpoint was to the conversion in the customer journey.

5. Position-Based Attribution

Finally, the "position-based" attribution model will assign 40% credit to the first and last touchpoint channels. The remaining 20% is split across any touchpoints in the middle.

Which marketing attribution model is best for me?

The first step to implementing a marketing attribution model is to uncover what a conversion path looks like for most of your customers. Google Analytics has this information available within the Multi-Channel Funnels portion of Conversions.

From there, you may see that it’s a long conversion path with multiple channels, which is generally ideal for a time decay model.

Or you may see a wide range of path lengths. A position-based model may be the best for this scenario, which gives additional credit to the first click that gets someone to your site along with the last touchpoint that drove the conversion.

Now that you have an idea of what model you think works best for your business, it's time to see the impact on your conversions.

The easiest way to see the impact requires absolutely zero changes to your current set up. This is the magic of the Model Comparison Tool that is available within Google Analytics. This tool will allow you to look at a comparison between models and the impact on each of your channel groupings conversion numbers.

You can see the impact percentage (increase or decrease) that a model will have on the data within your account. It’s important to note that just because a model increases your numbers at one point in time, it could change for the next. Choose the model that best represents the way your business works.

How is a marketing attribution model going to help my business? 

Our job as marketers is to find the most effective methods for getting a brand’s name/product/ideas into the hands of customers. But how can we do this if we don’t know how customers are looking for us?

With an attribution model other than first or last click, credit is given to each touchpoint/channel in the conversion path. From your model, you can see which areas may drive the most conversions and highlight areas that could use improvement.

For example, a brand/product with a longer decision-making cycle may take 4-10 touchpoints for a sale to close. A remarketing campaign could be a great option to keep your company top of mind while incorporating stronger calls to action to reduce the number of touchpoints it takes to get to a sale.

You may notice once people get to your site, they convert, but you only have a small number of conversions and most are direct to the site. With this, you may investigate increasing your organic presence to better reach people who are looking for what you sell but just can't seem to find you.

We are always looking for areas to improve the way we market our goods and services. Without the whole picture, we are ultimately taking a shot in the dark and hoping that the changes we implement work. Looking at an accurate marketing attribution model and giving assisted conversions proper credit enables us to truly pinpoint areas where marketing enhancements can impact the bottom line.

Forthea can help you show the power of a full funnel marketing attribution model

If you aren’t sure which channels are your most powerful or need showing bottom line impact, contact Forthea today. We can tackle your marketing attribution needs and find valuable insights to help grow your business.


Image Credits: Google, 2020.

marketing attribution models
About The Author

Preston enjoys analyzing data and creating reports that help drive business decisions and ROI. When his nose is not in a spreadsheet, you can find him supporting his alma mater Texas Christian University (Go Frogs!) or a local Houston sports team.

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