In today’s complex digital landscape, most of your visitors will engage with your business through multiple touchpoints before becoming a customer.

With the right attribution modeling in place, businesses can identify and attribute which digital assets — from an email to a display ad — resulted in a conversion.

Here’s a brief primer on popular attribution models that you can implement for your business to better track your customers’ journey and use that data to inform your sales and marketing strategy in the year ahead.

“Marketing teams need to optimize their budgets towards the channels and tactics that are the best performers for their clients. In the past, the tools available to these teams have only attributed credit to the last touch in a consumer’s journey.”

katrlyn inman elite sem attribution

-Katelyn Inman, Manager of Insights & Analytics at Elite SEM


What Is Attribution Modeling?


Attribution modeling gives you a way to gather data on your marketing channels and then helps you award credit where credit is due. 

Attribution models can range from simple one-touch models to multi-touch models that award varying amounts of credit to different stages of the buyer’s journey.


11 Attribution Models For 2019


There are multiple marketing attribution models available help you identify what streams of marketing you should credit for a sale.

The good news is that a variety of attribution models have been built into many of today’s most important marketing tools: GoogleAnalytics, Amazon, and Facebook.

“The consumer journey starts with a single touch point, but it can contain a multitude of touches before a conversion occurs,” says Inman.

“In order to truly understand the value of our marketing campaigns, we have to consider the role each touch point in the journey plays leading up to a conversion.”

Here are 11 different attribution models for marketers to consider leveraging in 2019.


1. First Touch Attribution


Like its name suggests, first touch attribution credits the first marketing effort that drove the customer to your website for the first time. The simplest of the attribution models, it is easy to implement but is susceptible to bias and technological limitations.


2. Lead Creation Touch Attribution


Similar to first touch attribution, lead creation touch attribution credits the first marketing effort that leads your customer to lead creation, such as filling out a form or signing up for a newsletter.


3. Last Touch Attribution


This model credits the sale to the last marketing effort the customer interacted with before making a purchase. Last touch attribution is one of the most reliable models because the timeline between the last touch and conversion is considerably shorter than between, say, the first touch and conversion.


4. Last Non-Direct Touch Attribution


Direct data is considered as such when a customer visits your website without any referral source (such as an ad). This can create quite a bit of room for error due to its broad scope, so having a model that accounts for non-direct data can help combat that.


5. Last Marketing Channel Touch Attribution


A versatile attribution model, the last marketing channel touch attribution measures the last touch on a specific channel before whatever conversion analytic you decide to measure. This helps you know not only what channels are driving leads, but also how effective they are at doing so.


6. Linear Attribution


Linear attribution distributes credit evenly to every point of the buyer’s journey, resulting in a multi-faceted way to approach attribution modeling. While this gives marketers more information than a single touch model, it is subject to channel bias.


7. Time Decay Attribution


Similar to linear attribution, time decay attribution gives credit to different touch points of the buyer’s journey. However, it takes into account the varying impact each channel can have on the buyer, resulting in more accurate data.


8. U-Shaped Attribution


This model is also a multi-channel attribution model that uses a 40-40-20 formula. It emphasizes first touch and lead creation, awarding 40% of credit to these two phases, then distributes 20% to any other phases that had a part in lead creation.


9. W-Shaped Attribution


Similar to the U-Shaped Attribution, the W-Shaped attribution awards credit to different parts of the funnel at varying percentages. This model 30% of credit to first touch, lead creation, and opportunity creation, then awards the remaining 10% to any remaining touchpoints.


10. Full-Path Attribution


Full-path attribution awards 22.5% of credit to four different touchpoints: first touch, lead creation, opportunity creation, and customer close.


11. Custom Attribution


Custom attribution involves having a data analyst build a custom attribution model that takes into account the specific buying patterns of your customers and then assign credit based on their past history. The most difficult of the attribution models, this is also the most effective and reliable one as well.

“Choosing the right attribution solution for your business depends on your business goals,” explains Inman.

“You should consider a model that places value weighted towards the last click if you are determined to drive efficiency. If you are aiming to drive growth and acquisition, a model weighted higher towards the first click would be more appropriate.”


What Can You Learn From Attribution Reports?


One of the most common problems marketers face in today’s world is how to analyze and measure data. Attribution modeling helps marketers gather quantifiable data that they can then use to identify what parts of their marketing strategies are working, and what parts need work.

Without attribution reports, you’re basically taking a shot in the dark with your marketing efforts, something that can cost you time, money, and customers.


Be aware, however, that attribution modeling is a constantly changing field that you need to actively work at to stay on top of. One model might work for a certain customer or product, then deliver biased and inaccurate results for the next.

If you’re able to understand and utilize attribution models effectively, the results can be tremendous.

“Different models measure the influence of each individual marketing channel and tactic from a user’s first interaction with a brand until their conversion,” explains Inman.

“Each attribution model can unlock a level of detail that allows marketing teams to make data-driven optimizations by spending strategically to make sure your marketing dollars are being spent as efficiently as possible across all of your top-performing channels.”


Want to learn more?

How to Set Up Ecommerce Tracking in Google Analytics

What is Amazon Attribution?

Facebook Attribution: A New Tool To Track Cross-channel Conversions

What is Google Attribution & Is it a Big Deal for Advertisers?

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