What is marketing attribution?
In a nutshell, marketing attribution is giving credit to the source that leads to a sale.
The source can consist of ads, referrals, campaigns, or even salesmen. And the sale can be anything from an action on your website to a conversion that generates leads to an actual purchase.
What does attribution mean in marketing?
Marketing is more art than science. However, with proper attribution, professional marketers can come closer to making marketing more scientific by collecting and measuring where their sales and conversions are coming from.
By collecting, storing, and measuring the origin of sales and conversions, marketers can allocate advertising budgets based on the best performing campaigns thereby increasing revenue for the company and minimizing waste on marketing efforts that doesn’t generate sales.
What can you learn from attribution reports?
Attribution reports typically consist of either a single source of a sale or multiple sources.
Most analytics platforms like Google Analytics will provide a single source attribution report.
What is single-touch attribution?
Single-touch attribution is the practice of giving credit to a single source.
As an example, Google Analytics relies on what’s called a last-click non-direct attribution model which essentially means that the last source of a visit to your website is given credit for the sale.
First-touch attribution consists of giving credit to the first source that a customer interacted with before making a purchase. Although this seems obvious, most analytics reports do not provide this data.
Last-touch attribution consists of giving credit to the last source that led to a purchase by a customer. By default this is the model used by most analytics providers because it is the easiest to measure and the easiest to understand.
However, most marketers find that a last-click attribution model is insufficient for their needs.
A typical customer comes across a particular product or brand multiple times before making a purchase. And each interaction leaves a different impression on the customer before a sale is made. Therefore, a multi-touch attribution model is necessary to get an accurate view through conversions.
What is multi-touch attribution?
Multi-touch attribution is the science of measuring and giving credit to touch-points in a customer’s journey to a purchase.
It can be as simple as only considering the first and last touch points or as complex as assigning weights based on customer behavior during a touchpoint and calculating which sources deserve more credit.
The most common types of multi-touch attribution are first and last touch attribution, linear attribution or even-distribution attribution, time-decay attribution, and a variety of custom attribution models.
Linear attribution is a common form of multi-touch attribution because it’s the easiest to understand. Due to the many possible ways to calculate attribution, linear attribution or an even distribution of credit to each individual touch-point along a customer’s journey is assigned.
For smaller companies that neither have the budget nor the resources to explore more in-depth models, this model is a step above the typical single-touch attribution model most companies utilize.
However, for larger companies a more sophisticated model is necessary.
Time-decay attribution assigns attribution based on the most recent interactions by a customer or visitor. The further away in time the interaction was, the less credit that source receives for the conversion.
The time-decay attribution model is useful because it reflects the amount of time it takes for people to be comfortable with making a purchase. And often times, the last few impressions have a strong impact on the decision to make a purchase.
However, depending on the type of purchase or conversion, time is often a necessary part of making a decision and doesn’t take into consideration the value of each individual interaction.
Every customer journey is different. And every product or service offered by a company is different. Therefore, every attribution model should fit the unique circumstances of those differences.
In internet marketing a customer journey might including seeing an advertisement on Youtube and clicking through, seeing an ad on Facebook and clicking through, searching on Google and reading about the brand, waiting some time, then searching on Google again when needed and clicking on a Branded Search on Google for that product.
The last-click attribution model will give credit to google / cpc but the more you drill down, the more you’ll discover that the Branded Search ppc campaign should be given less credit.
If brand discovery was the goal, we might discover that the Youtube and Facebook ads should be given more credit for the conversion. And the marketing budget should be assigned accordingly.
Marketing attribution tools
There are some attribution tools available in the market. But considering the fragmented nature of the software and platforms we use, it’s difficult to implement any one tool competently.
Google Analytics is the most common tool available for attribution. They also provide some options for multi-channel attribution and single-touch attribution reports. However, the functionality and insights are limited to Channel Groupings and it’s difficult to actually glean any insight without heavy customization and data processing.
If you have conversion forms online whether it’s a request for quote or simply an inquiry though a contact form, you can collect your visitor’s session data in your CRM like Salesforce or Pipedrive when they convert.
Hubspot has some attribution in it’s marketing platform and is worth taking a look at. Pipedrive analytics and attribution can be achieved with some configuration. All that is needed is the ability to store session data in the CRM’s database.
Similar to CRM Attribution, you can store visitor session data in your ecommerce database when a customer makes a purchase. Assuming that you have collected all of the session data that is valuable to your business, you can run reports based on any attribution model that fits your company’s needs.
The more popular platforms like Shopify can integrate attribution and analytics. Attribution for WooCommerce alongside analytics can also be achieved with the proper configurations, session storage and processing.
You can implement a session tracking tool in popular CMS platforms like Wix for analytics and attribution. Attribution for Wordpress or attribution for Squarespace can also be implemented.
UTM Parameter Attribution
You can store utm parameters for all of your campaigns in sessions in your browser and store that data in your database and process that data for proper attribution. The difficult part of implementing this type of strategy is determining how much data should be stored in your visitors’ browser relative to the data you want to extract.
The point of attribution is to calculate ROI or ROA (return on ad spend). What you can learn from attribution reports is what channels lead to sales. And from there you can either increase your budget for the campaigns that have a good ROA and decrease the budget for the campaigns that have little return.
You can use tools like Google Analytics to do this. Outside of their Ecommerce Tracking, you can either set custom metrics or even goals and send revenue data from your CRM.
You can also use tools within your CRM to calculate proper attribution and ROI.
Depending on how accurate you want your calculations to be, you could roll out a custom solution in your own database so your marketing team can increase sales and scale your company.
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