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How Advanced is Your Marketing Attribution?

by Ina Toncheva

Marketing attribution is the method of assigning values to the different touchpoints of the user journey that lead to conversions, so we can measure the effect of the marketing spend. Connecting and tracking all user touchpoints properly is difficult, because of the combination of mobile and desktop devices as well as on- and offline channels that are part of the user journey. The overabundance of data, analytics and reporting software available and the complexity involved in integrating all systems into a single source of truth are other challenges of creating a marketing attribution model.

Users go through multiple interactions with your brand, product or service before they take action. These interactions can include a number of activities: a website visit, watching a video on YouTube, signing up for your newsletter, talking to a representative of your company at an industry event, consuming a whitepaper, downloading a trial or even receiving a recommendation for your product by a colleague. We call these interactions “touchpoints,” and the desired action is usually a purchase, but it can also be a registration or a download, which we refer to as “conversions.”

Let’s take a look at the most commonly used attribution models.

Various Approaches to Attributing Value

Different attribution models assign full or partial credit to different touchpoints along the customer journey. There are simpler and more advanced ones, but even if you’re tracking website traffic by medium/source, you’re already using a basic attribution model.

Single-touch attribution models: first click and last click

The single-touch models attribute 100 percent of the revenue to one channel. There are two variations: first-click and last-click.

With the first-click approach, all credit is given to the first channel that brings a user to your website, no matter when the conversion happened. If the first user interaction with your website was anonymous, you need to have a cookie technology in place, so that you can connect the first anonymous visit with a later form completion, which will identify users and assign the revenue to the first channel that brought them.

In the last-click approach, full credit is given to the last interaction of the user before conversion.

Both single-touch models focus on one interaction only, completely ignoring the other touchpoint along the journey.

Multi-touch attribution models

Multi-touch models, as the name suggests, attribute revenue to all touchpoints, as part of the user journey. With the linear approach, for example, an equal weight is given to all channels. Others, such as descending and custom approaches, address the oversimplification of both the single-touch and linear approaches, by giving different priority to different touchpoints.  

Which Attribution Model is Better?

The single-touch models are the simplest and easiest to implement and decipher. The first-click model can be useful for new products or services, because it shows which channels are best at creating awareness. And with new products, awareness is usually a priority marketing goal.

Of the two, the last-touch model is often preferred, because it has a higher degree of accuracy; it doesn’t depend on cookies to connect the interaction that led to conversion. Oftentimes, the period between first interaction and conversion can be longer than 90 days, and most cookies have an expiration period within that time frame. Additionally, an increasing number of users tend to delete browser history, cookies included, which makes the first-click model relatively less accurate than the last-click approach. 

The drawback for both models: they create strong first- or last-channel bias and fail to acknowledge the other participants in the complex customer journey. Businesses with longer and more complex buying cycles should take into account all touchpoints that contribute to conversions, so the multi-touch approaches are more suitable.

Which Tools and Platforms Should I Use for Marketing Attribution?

Different platforms and tools offer different marketing attribution capabilities. If you’re using Progress Sitefinity already, you have a serious advantage. Sitefinity Digital Experience Cloud (DEC) is a cloud-based, software-as-a-service solution that enables you to collect data and track audience behavior. It enables you to connect multiple disconnected systems and provides meaningful attribution insight, taking into account all users touchpoint. This blog post Optimizing Marketing and Sales with Sitefinity DEC Attribution explains how to map your customer journey, create your attribution map, set the Attribution in Sitefinity and analyze the data.

Alternatively, Google Analytics lets you test different attribution models. This Attribution Playbook by Google Analytics does a great job outlining basic attribution concepts and providing guidelines to getting stared with modeling in Google Analytics.

Conclusion

Marketing attribution helps us optimize the marketing spend in a way that is most beneficial to the sales cycle. But there’s no one-fits-all attributing solution. Finding the right one and fine tuning it is a rather continuous process that must evolve with your business. It includes identifying your goals, having a good understanding of your customer journey, and testing and comparing different approaches until you find the one that fits best your needs.

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