Retail Analytics

How to determine which attribution model is best suited to your marketing strategy

Written by Tony Loxton
Aug 22

Determining your attribution rate is the first step towards optimising your marketing strategy, decreasing spend and achieving the holy grail of any marketing endeavour – increasing your ROI.

That’s all well and good, but how do you decide which attribution model is best suited to your marketing strategy? After all, if your current attribution model isn’t showing you the data that the efficacy of your marketing strategy depends on, you’re wasting time and money on what’s essentially a futile task. Being able to determine the channels that elicit the best results, as well as the way that they influence your customer’s purchasing decisions (as well as how much klout they have compared to your other channels), is crucial.

Before we delve into the different attribution models available, as well as what they entail, it’s helpful to keep the buyer’s journey in mind before you settle on your preferred attribution model.

Consisting of myriad touch points, a person ‘travels’ through three key stages before actually making a purchase. These three stages are: awareness: “I need a new car”, consideration: “Which car is the best option for me?” and decision: “This car is the best option for me”. Bear in mind, this is a simplistic explanation of the process, and that the average customer will interact with your brand via several channels before finally making a purchase. This typically comprises of a combination of your website, social media page, ecommerce store, mobile app or physical store – in various orders. Now we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s look at the three different attribution models, and the pros and cons of each.

The first-touch attribution model

The first-touch attribution model takes only the first channel a person has “touched” or interacted with into account, regardless of whether or not they became a customer. While this attribution model works for the (very few) companies who have only one marketing method, the majority of today’s marketing strategies are of the omni-channel variety. While a first-touch attribution model is helpful, it’s not indicative of the bigger picture. As this article from That Agency says, “...first click attribution focuses on awareness but potentially undervalues the cumulative effect of branding.” This attribution model serves those who focus solely on demand generation best.

The last-touch attribution model

As you’d expect, the last-touch attribution model gives the credit of a conversion to the channel or touch point a customer last interacted with. This blog by Blue Water marketing explains: “As an example, a user views a display ad for your brand on a website and goes on to visit your brand on Facebook which eventually leads to searching your brand name on Google. The user clicks on the organic listing and completes a conversion on your website. Using Last-Touch Attribution, Organic Search would receive 100% of the credit for that conversion.” Initially the only attribution model used by Google Analytics, this method is often favoured because it’s easy to implement and easy to understand. That said, it can still give you a skewed view of how your customers arrive at the point of purchase as it ignores all of the other touch points that may or may not have played a role in their conversion.

The fractionable or multi-channel attribution model

The fractional attribution model is, as its name suggests, a model that gives weight to all the channels that influence the final action taken by a consumer. In theory, the fractional attribution model sounds like the ideal way to go about establishing the efficacy of your marketing strategy. Unfortunately, the majority of real life applications of the fractional attribution model are a little more complicated. While this model theoretically recognises that a purchase is the result of the influence of several different channels, it fails to take the ads or methods that catered to the initial few steps in the buyer’s journey –  i.e. awareness and consideration – into account. This automatically means that data about clicks on banner ads or Google ads is only a reflection of the final few actions taken by a consumer, as the factors that led someone to click on an ad, for example, aren’t taken into account. As this article  from Digiday points out: “fractional attribution is not perfect. In many cases, there isn’t enough data available to actually guarantee accuracy.” That said, gaining a ‘big picture’ view of the role all of the channels play in facilitating an action is possible, but only if you have the right kind of multi-channel attribution software at your disposal.

Make sure that you’re armed with the right kind of attribution software. Blix Traffic Marketing Reporting enables you to determine the role each of your marketing channels plays by unravelling data from multiple sources and presenting it in a way that’s not only easy to understand, but in a way that’s actionable too. Find out more about Blix Traffic Marketing Reporting  today.

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