What is marketing attribution and why is it important?

As marketers, we’re more than aware of the importance of targeting the right people, at the right time, with the right message.

We also know that user journeys can be long. Prospective customers will make numerous touchpoints, before reaching the conversion stage. Knowing these touchpoints is critical, not only when deciding upon your channel mix, but they also give a useful insight into your ideal customer. This is where marketing attribution comes in.

marketing attributionEvery marketer should be using attribution as part of their insights and analytics. Attribution can help you make informed decisions, improve Return on Investment (ROI) and contribute to business and revenue growth.

With this in mind, let’s delve into exactly what attribution is, the types of attribution models available, and why it’s important for your business.

What is marketing attribution?

According to the experts at Mediahawk:

Marketing attribution determines which marketing activities are contributing to lead generation and sales. Best-in-class marketing attribution will show you every touchpoint a prospect has with your business along their buying journey.

In other words, marketing attribution analytics will allow you to understand how, when, and where prospective customers are interacting or engaging with your business.

By using marketing attribution, you can calculate the ROI of your marketing efforts – allowing you to prove how this has impacted sales. It will help give insights into which tactics or channels resulted in leads and/or profit.

What are marketing attribution models?

Firstly, it’s important to know that there’s no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to the model that you use. As we mentioned in the introduction, there are several factors to consider, such as:

If we focus on that final point, we can categorise models into two types: single touch (for short customer journeys) and multi-touch (for longer, more complex ones).

Single touch attribution can refer to one of two points: the first touch (or click) and the last touch (before a purchase).

  • First touch – As its name suggests, this refers to the first touch point in the user’s journey. Regardless of whether this specific campaign produced a direct sale or not, it’s an important insight when determining what drives new customers.
  • Last touch – By stark contrast, this model refers to the final touch point in the user journey – in other words, which channel provided the conversion. This is particularly useful, as you can then capitalise on this bottom-of-the-funnel activity.

Multi-touch attribution can be more complex, as it takes into account all of the various touchpoints in the user journey. Some of the most common models include:

  • Linear – This model recognises all the touchpoints and weights them equally. This is useful to understand how your customer behaves, and the content they best engage with during their user journey.
  • U – This model puts emphasis on the first and last touchpoints.. This is a great way of finding out both what hooks a potential customer, as well as what makes them convert.
  • W – Similarly, this model focuses on the first and last touch points, but also attributes a similar weight to the middle-of-the-funnel activity. This is particularly useful to determine what it is that makes them move down the funnel – from the consideration stage through to the decision stage, with the aim to make a purchase or become a conversion.
  • Time decay – For marketers, it’s all about converting, and that’s where the time decay model comes in. This model shows a gradual increase from the first touch point, placing the most importance on that final touch point, where the conversion took

Why is it important?

By using marketing attribution, you are able to get into the mind of your potential customer. Find out what makes them tick, how they behave online and what they engage with, to encourage them to take the plunge and form a conversion.

Using these insights, you are then able to:

  • Understand which touchpoints lead to the most conversions;
  • Adjust your budgets and/or marketing mix to best suit your customers’ needs;
  • Improve targeting – reach the right person, at the right time, with the right message;
  • Increase conversions and look to improve your ROI.

In short, without attribution, you have no backed-up understanding of performance. It’s the data that backs up your decisions, and consequently, should be a tool you invest in.