Marketing Attribution – One size doesn’t fit all

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Marketing attribution is the analytical science for evaluating marketing touch-points encountered by a customer on their path to purchase. The main objective of attribution is to identify the marketing tactics and channels that had the highest impact on the decision to convert and contribute to sales or conversions.

In marketing, attribution is the identification of a set of user actions (“events” or “touch-points”) that contribute in some manner to a desired outcome, and then the assignment of a value to each of these events.

The process involves assigning value or credit for determining the contributing factor across digital channels (social, email, organic/paid search, etc.) that lead to conversion. The conversion is not just sale but also an email sign up, referrals, a paid ad click, or a click-through.

There are several attribution subcategories like:

  • Channel and media performance
  • ROI analysis
  • Customer analysis, and many others.

There are several types of attribution models available. The model selection will depend on the channels analyzed and their connection with the right data inputs across those channels. The correct model selection will provide insights into consumer interaction details with your brand messages, thus allowing marketing teams for alterations and improvisations in campaigns. It will help in customizing your marketing campaign as per the specific requirements of individual customers leading to improved marketing ROI. 

Importance of Marketing Attribution

Attribution plays a critical role in marketing budget allocation. The knowledge of how your conversions are attributed can have a drastic influence on your marketing budget, revenue optimization, and business goals. Attribution helps you in answering questions like:

  • What is the contribution of each channel in conversions?
  • What budget to be allocated to each of these channels?
  • Which is the best channel in terms of cost versus revenue generation?
  • Which channel will give better results if a larger budget share is given?

The answers will help the entrepreneurs in the justified distribution of marketing budget among different channels. Attribution provides a data-driven comparative analytical approach for the success of business targets.

Benefits of Marketing Attribution

There are several benefits of marketing attribution which are discussed below:

Optimized marketing spend

Attribution facilitates a clear understanding of each marketing channel’s performance, thus ensuring the budget allocation to the channel with a maximum contribution towards business growth.

Enhanced ROI

Reaching the right customer at the right time with the right product or service is enabled by effective attribution that results in increased conversions and better marketing ROI.

Improved Personalization

A better understanding of preferred channels and messaging by the individual customers through attribution data helps efficient targeting of a customer’s journey.

Improved product development

Knowing your customer and his preferred choices through person-level attribution allows the entrepreneurs to update their products or services for enhanced targeting.

Creative optimization

Attribution enables the refinement of messaging and visual elements through evaluating the campaign’s creative elements. It also helps in understanding and optimizing the timing and mode of communication with the consumers. 

Marketing Attribution Models

Marketing attribution models are the analytical tools that provide a framework for statistical analysis of touch-points or marketing channels and assign value or credits for a conversion. Every model has a different conversion value distribution process across different touch-points. The analysis of each attribution model can help you in understanding the ROI for each marketing channel. The selection of the marketing attribution model should be based on your business goals and buying cycles. The entrepreneurs should comparatively analyze the marketing campaign performance under various models to understand the significance of multiple touch-points in the customer’s journey.

Factors to keep in mind while selecting the attribution model for your business are:

  • B2B or B2C marketing
  • Number of marketing channels
  • Marketing and sales cycle
  • Marketing spend
  • Marketing to prospects after opportunity stage
  • Omnichannel attribution

The marketing attribution models are categorized into two groups:

Single Touch Attribution Models

Single touch attribution models have become obsolete these days due to their failure in providing a customer’s journey details. As their name suggests, these models attribute to only a single touch-point, mostly the first or the last engagement of the customer. These models are not useful as they neglect the various multiple touch-points a customer engages throughout the customer’s journey.

Multi-Touch Attribution Models

These models are more precise as they take into account all the touch-points the customer engages with during his entire purchase journey. Multipoint marketing attribution provides a platform to evaluate the effective marketing strategy and easy ROI determination of various marketing campaigns. MMA assesses each touch-points impact, i.e., point of contact in the form of an individual, webpage, time, location through a predefined set of rules for sale and revenue across the customer journey.

The efficient multi-touch attribution models give insights about the touch-point that had the greatest impact in making a purchase decision, brand perception and message sequencing, and the impact of external factors.

Types of multi-touch attribution models are:

  • Linear
  • Time decay
  • Position based (W Shape, U Shape, Z Shape)
  • Custom attribution
  • Algorithmic attribution

Implementation of Multi-Touch Attribution

The entrepreneurs and the marketers should consider the following steps for the implementation of multi-touch attribution models.

Customer Mapping

Mapping the complete customer experiences throughout the purchase journey is essential for the effective application of the attribution model. It can be done by bifurcating customer experiences in three stages as before purchasing, during purchase, and after purchase.

Accurate data

Reliable, accurate, and maximum data collection is essential for giving better insights through the attribution tool.

Alignment of attribution strategy with business objectives

Selection of attribution model should be based on the marketing team’s goals as well as core business objectives. You should consider each touch-point as they contribute to progress.

Determining attribution models and KPIs

The marketers should consider factors like the length of the sales cycle and types of campaigns in employing the attribution model. Also, determine the KPIs, metrics to measure success.

Team establishment

The marketers should establish coordination with the key team members, skilled marketing analysts, creative teams, and budget stakeholders to optimize insights-based messaging.

Deploying marketing analytics software

Advanced analytics software is vital for correlating the data into understandable metrics to derive insights. The software must have the capability to provide person-level granular data and also other data indicating the customer’s motivation for purchase.

Insights application

The attribution model’s data and insights will help in a complete understanding of their campaign performance, which can now be applied in real-time to create a better-customized experience.

Continued optimization and testing

The entrepreneurs should constantly assess the attribution data for optimization and not hesitate to change if a particular model is not working. It will be beneficial for determining the best marketing strategies to reach your customers at the right time.

 Types of Marketing Attribution Measurement

Cross-Channel Digital Marketing Attribution

It is one of the first attribution measurements that marketers use to track their data from digital marketing. A machine-based algorithm tracks and assigns the credit value to every cookie-based consumer touch-point.

The advanced attribution solutions integrate additional marketing factors like

  • offline marketing
  • sales data
  • customer segments
  • seasonality
  • Weather and more

Attribution accurately measures the impact of every touch-point and facilitates the understanding of marketing at the user level. It helps the entrepreneurs analyze individual channels’ performance and identify the budget allocation areas for maximum returns and success.

Marketing Mix Modeling (media mix modeling)

MMM analyses aggregated historical performance data and facilitated high-level strategic insights to predict future sales and long-term planning. It calculates every marketing channel’s total effect on sales and performance metrics while controlling the marketing influencers like competition, weather, and holidays, influencing your business performance.

Both the approaches, MMM and MTA working together within a brand, enable the marketers to provide insights and make more informed decisions, as each has its advantages. MMM offers broad recommendations for long term budgeting, while MTA provides short term optimization insights.

9 in 10 respondents were using some form of MMM tool, and 49% were using an attribution tool they either built or bought.


The MMM and MTA models, when working in tandem, enable the marketers to precisely measure individual-level interactions and making decisions on strategic planning. The high-level multi-year revenue and sales view enabled by marketing mix modeling and user-level based intricate insights from attribution are highly valuable for the marketers.

Online to Offline Attribution

The customer’s purchasing journey includes both online and offline channels, including mobile, desktop, and outdoor activities that are difficult to track. However, people-based marketing facilitates the inclusion of sales channels as crucial data points for analysis by attribution and marketing mix modeling. Incorporation of in-stores sales data and CRM systems provides you revenue indicators as well as your customer segments.

Marketing Attribution Software

How to choose the correct software which would suit your business? First of all, no software is PERFECT, as every business has its priorities and limitations. The need is to find the marketing attribution software which suits your business the best. There are a few universal features that should be looked upon for the selection of software.

Range of Attribution models

The option of using a wide array of different attribution models for tracking your models is an effective attribution platform. The marketers should have flexibility and alternatives for switching over to a new platform for integration with their every campaign. 

Full funnel attribution

The attribution platform should be selected that ensures full-funnel attribution, including rate impressions, clicks, and all the engagements of a brand has with a customer deciding to purchase. A clear understanding of a customer’s actions that influenced him to make a purchase decision can be useful for your complete funnel optimization. Authentic full-funnel attribution also facilitates tracking your prospective customers across multiple devices that may include desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet.

Cross channel

Cross channel attribution refers to the ability to track every step of your prospects journey from awareness of your brand to its purchase decision. Each step and click during a customer’s journey is important and provides insights about your customer’s behavior. Cross channel marketing applies to non-digital engagements, also like TV, radio, and other traditional channels.

Broadcast attribution platforms

The attribution platforms that can interconnect online and offline channels should be preferred by the companies that utilize offline channels like TV and radio for advertising. The platform system should detect the prospects who have interacted with offline advertisements through different variables like the response windows, impressions, predictive analysis, and geofencing.

Easy setup and implementation

The marketing attribution platform should be easy for the customers’ understanding and use.

Few other features that should be considered in marketing attribution platform selection are:

  1. Right attribution platform integrations
  2. In-depth attribution platform reporting
  3. Smart recommendations and consulting
  4. Economical software
  5. Link tracking and creation
  6. Channel management 
  7. Omni-channel reporting 
  8. Precision and accuracy

Range of available software products for multipoint marketing attribution is:

  1. Google Analytics
  2. Altitude by Impact
  3. Bizible
  4. Oktopost
  5. Nielsen Visual IQ
  6. LeanData
  7. Call Rail
  8. Engagio
  9. Prismana
  10. Full Circle Insights
  11. LeadsRx
  12. TrackMaven
  13. Ruler Analytics
  14. Sparkfly
  15. Appsflyer

Marketing attribution has proved to be an eye-opener for many marketers, especially those who have been using single touch-point models. The customized algorithmic models and other multi-touchpoint models have enabled the marketers to track the several touch-points a prospect comes across during his entire customer journey. The attribution data allows them to optimize their marketing process by making required changes as per the customer’s preferences and maximizing revenue generation. Thus, marketing attribution is important and advisable to be utilized by every marketer for business growth.

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