6 min read
Digital Marketing Attribution

Optimize Your Marketing Strategy with Attribution

Today’s marketing professionals are faced with more campaign options than ever before so it's no surprise that many resort to the tactics of an inexperienced pasta cook and desperately toss ideas against the wall to see what sticks.

“With more channels than ever before through which to market your small business—from digital platforms like social media ads and email to more old-school TV ads and direct mail campaigns—it’s difficult for marketers to get a handle on which strategies are effective and which are not,” wrote Meredith Wood for Fundera.

For those of you who do not like their spaghetti – or marketing campaigns – half done, there is the powerful tool of “marketing attribution” which can help you understand the impact of your marketing campaigns and optimize your marketing strategy.

Fine-Tune Campaigns Built on a Proven Set of Facts

“Marketers engage with customers on more channels than ever before. Whether you’re working with influencers or posting short-form videos, it makes marketing attribution essential for continued results,” writes Davis Mastin for HubSpot.

Marketing attribution not only eliminates blind spots from your marketing strategy but can help your organization fine-tune your campaigns to increase brand awareness, generate leads, increase traffic, acquire new customers and boost revenue.

“Armed with [marketing attribution] information, you can start to get a far more accurate picture of ROI and—rather than throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks—craft campaigns built on a proven set of facts about your customers, brand, and industry,” concludes Wood.

By using marketing attribution reports and models, you can gain insights into how different channels, campaigns, and touchpoints are contributing to conversions, and make data-driven decisions about where to allocate your marketing budget.

With the right attribution tools and best practices in place, you can gain a more complete understanding of your customers and their needs and drive better business outcomes.

Marketing Attribution: Track and Measure the Impact of Your Marketing Efforts

Marketing attribution is the process of identifying which marketing efforts are responsible for a particular conversion or sale.

It's a way to track and measure the impact of your marketing campaigns and to understand which channels and tactics are most effective in driving sales or other desired outcomes.

The product team at HubSpot describes marketing attribution as: “Attribution surfaces which interactions a person or group of people took along their journey toward a desired outcome or 'conversion' point."

Marketing attribution allows you to answer questions such as:

  • Which channels are driving the most traffic to my website?

  • Which campaigns are generating the most leads or sales?

  • How are different touch points along the customer journey contributing to conversions?

When marketing attribution shows marketers how a campaign, touchpoint, or channel impacts the number and quality of leads, it is called “lead attribution.”

“B2B marketing attribution” can help companies evaluate marketing efforts in terms of return on investment (ROI) and customer lifetime value (CLV).

By understanding the impact of your marketing efforts, you can optimize your budget and strategy, focusing on the channels and tactics that are delivering the best results.

Attribution Reports Help Analyze Marketing Attribution Data

An attribution report is a tool for analyzing marketing attribution data.

It typically shows a breakdown of conversions by channel, campaign, and touchpoint, along with metrics such as conversion rate, cost per acquisition, and return on investment (ROI).

“There are hundreds of ways to collect customer data and even more methods for analyzing that data,” writes Mastin. “To simplify this analysis, attribution reports use pre-built models.”

An attribution report can help you understand how your marketing efforts are contributing to your bottom line, and where you might need to adjust to improve performance.

Different Types of Attribution Models

There are several different types of attribution models, each of which assigns credit for a conversion or sale to different touch points along the customer journey.

Here are a few examples:

  • First-touch Attribution: Gives 100 percent credit to the first touchpoint a customer has with your brand. This model is useful for understanding how customers first discover your brand, but it may not reflect the full impact of your marketing efforts.

  • Last-touch Attribution: Gives 100 percent credit to the last touchpoint a customer interacts with before converting. This model is useful for understanding which campaigns or channels are most effective at driving immediate conversions, but it may not reflect the full customer journey.

  • Linear Attribution: A type of multi-touch attribution that gives equal credit to all touchpoints in the customer journey. This model is useful for understanding how different channels and campaigns work together to drive conversions, but it may not account for variations in the effectiveness of different touchpoints.

  • Time Decay Attribution: Gives more credit to touchpoints that are closer in time to the conversion. This model is useful for understanding the impact of touchpoints that play a more supporting role in the customer journey, but it may over-emphasize the importance of touchpoints that are close to the conversion.

There are also more complex attribution models, such as algorithmic attribution, that use machine learning to assign credit based on patterns in customer behavior. Other options include:

  • U-shape Multi-touch Attribution: Assigns 40 percent each to the first touchpoint and lead conversion touchpoint, and the other 20 percent is divided between additional touchpoints.

  • W-shape Multi-touch Attribution: Assigns 30 percent credit to first touch, lead creation, and opportunity creation with the remaining 10 percent divided among other engagements.

  • Full Path Multi-attribution: Highly sophisticated and technical model with 22.5 percent assigned to first touch, lead creation, opportunity creation, and final customer close touchpoint with 10 percent to additional touchpoints.

  • Multi-channel Attribution: Like multi-touch but compares the value of channels.

Creating and Using Marketing Attribution Reports

Marketing attribution reports can help you make data-driven decisions about where to allocate your marketing budget, and which campaigns or channels to optimize.

Here are a few tips for using marketing attribution reports effectively:

  • It’s About Time: Decide what time period to analyze with some preferring to do it weekly or monthly.

  • Look for Patterns: Identify which channels or campaigns consistently perform well, and which are underperforming. Use this information to adjust your budget and strategy accordingly.

  • Test Different Models: Experiment with different attribution models to see which best reflects your business goals and customer behavior.

  • Analyze the Customer Journey: Look at how different touchpoints are contributing to conversions and identify areas where you might need to improve the customer experience or messaging.

  • Combine with Other Data Sources: Use attribution data in conjunction with other data sources, such as customer demographics or behavior, to gain a more complete understanding of your audience and their needs.

  • Review and Act: Make your marketing attribution analysis easy to review and once you understand the results, act on the new insights.

Marketing Attribution and GDPR Considerations

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European Union regulation that governs the use of personal data.

When collecting and analyzing marketing attribution data, it's important to comply with GDPR guidelines, such as obtaining consent for data collection and giving individuals the right to access and delete their data.

It's also important to ensure that any third-party tools or vendors you use for marketing attribution are GDPR-compliant.

“Over the past few years, privacy has become mission-critical for organizations around the world. More than two-thirds of countries have enacted privacy laws, customers are not buying from organizations who don’t protect their data, and privacy metrics are regularly being reported to Boards of Directors,” says Cisco. “90 percent of the respondents in our global survey said they would not buy from an organization that does not properly protect its data, and 91% indicated that external privacy certifications are important in their buying process.”

Best Practices for Marketing Attribution

Here are a few best practices for implementing marketing attribution:

  • Start with Clear Goals: Define your business goals and the metrics you want to track before implementing any attribution models. This will help ensure that your attribution data is aligned with your overall strategy. HubSpot agrees, saying it’s important to choose KPIs for attribution tracking early.

  • Use Multiple Attribution Models: Experiment with different attribution models to gain a more complete understanding of your marketing performance. Consider backend tracking, an alternative to client-side tracking.

  • Combine with Other Data Sources: Use attribution data in conjunction with other data sources, such as web analytics or CRM data, to gain a more complete understanding of your customers.

  • Connect Sales and Marketing Channels: Improve lead quality and ROI by connecting marketing and sales channels to marketing attribution.

  • Involve Stakeholders: Involve key stakeholders, such as marketing and sales teams, in the attribution process to ensure buy-in and alignment.

  • Automate: Increase your marketing attribution efficiency by automating repetitive tasks like scheduled social media posts and email workflows.

  • Business Goals Need to be Linked: Business goals should drive all your marketing actions which will make your marketing attribution metrics more meaningful.

  • Continuously Iterate: Continuously review and refine your attribution models and reports to ensure they are aligned with your business goals and reflect changes in customer behavior.

Different Marketing Attribution Tools

There are several marketing attribution tools available, ranging from simple analytics platforms to more complex attribution modeling software.

Here are a few examples:

  • HubSpot: HubSpot dashboard and reporting software is excellent for attribution reporting because it makes it simple to pull marketing, sales, and service data into a single report.

  • Google Analytics: Google Analytics provides basic attribution reporting capabilities, including first-touch, last-touch, and linear attribution models.

  • Adobe Analytics: Adobe Analytics offers a range of attribution models, including algorithmic attribution, and allows for custom attribution modeling.

  • Analytics: is a machine-learning-powered tool that collects and organizes attribution data from a range of other tools.

  • Marketo Measure: Formerly Bizible, Adobe Marketo Engage is a B2B marketing attribution platform that integrates with Salesforce and provides advanced reporting capabilities, including multi-touch attribution and account-based attribution.

When selecting a marketing attribution tool, it's important to consider your business goals, budget, and technical requirements, as well as any GDPR compliance considerations.