A Complete Guide to Multi Channel Attribution for Brands

By Tinuiti Team

In today’s highly digital world, multi-channel selling is the norm. Most retailers operate on Amazon, their own website and even sell through social sites like Facebook and Instagram. There might even be a few hundred brick-and-mortar locations thrown into the mix.

Though selling on all these disparate platforms can certainly increase reach and sales, it also comes with an added challenge: attributing those sales to the proper venue.

Are you having trouble attributing your various sales to the appropriate channels, campaigns and customer touchpoints? Just want to make sure you’re taking the right approach in your existing attribution strategy? This guide can help.

Why Multi-Channel Attribution Matters


Attribution is crucial in sales. It’s how you discover what’s working, what’s not and where there’s room for improvement — and without it, you’re essentially just shooting in the dark.


facebook attribution
Source: Facebook Attribution

Proper multi-channel attribution modeling can help you track your sales and revenues back to exact touchpoints in the customer’s journey. You can then figure out what helped convert that lead into a sale and, also, which channels and efforts are most lucrative for your business.

This can be helpful when allocating resources, setting budgets and devising future selling and optimization strategies.

Options for Multi-channel Attribution Modeling


There are several options for how you can model your multi-channel attribution:

attribution models google analytics
Source: Google


Linear attribution model.


The most popular is probably the linear attribution model. It operates in a straight line, attributing sales evenly to every touchpoint along the entire funnel. This one is ideal if you’re looking to better understand the customer experience or gauge overall engagement on the sales journal. It’s not best if you’re looking to drill down on which touchpoints equal the most revenue.

Time decay model.


There’s also the time decay model. This one is a more revenue-focused and gives extra credit to touchpoints that happen close to the sale. It’s a good choice if you have a long sales cycle or lots of touchpoints. It’s also helpful if you’re looking to determine which of your efforts are more influential than the others.

Position-based attribution.


Position-based attribution is the third form of modeling you might want to consider. This one approaches attribution using weighted values. For example, the first touchpoint, when a lead gives you their email address, might be weighted more heavily than an opened email or clicked link in between. When a sale happens, it essentially gives more credit to bigger points in the journey, allowing you to home in on areas of improvement and opportunities for change.

Algorithmic attribution model.


The algorithmic attribution model is another popular approach. This one is an ever-evolving model that analyzes your past touchpoints and sales to see which ones are most predictive of revenue. Using that data, it then creates rules for how revenues are attributed to those touchpoints moving forward. Algorithmic attribution can be helpful if you have a very complex customer journey, lots of channels and many campaigns.

Custom attribution model.


Finally, you can always create a custom attribution model that’s specific to your exact sales cycle. These are best if you have many campaigns, many stages and many different buyer segments. They’re also good for large organizations with lots of targets and product lines.

Experts chime in on attribution:


Here’s what Katelyn A. Inman, MPH | Manager, Insights & Analytics at Elite SEM has to say about attribution efforts for brands in 2019:

“Marketing agencies are expected to optimize their budgets towards the channels and tactics that are the best performers for their clients. Often times, the tools available to the teams making these decisions only attribute credit to the last touch in a consumer’s journey.”

“We know that the consumer journey is more complex than “see ad, click ad, buy item”, so why do we continue to only give credit to the marketing touch point that immediately precedes a conversion? The consumer journey starts with a single touch point, but it can contain a multitude of touches before a conversion occurs.”

“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.”



“Attribution solutions allow you to analyze your consumer’s journey in real-time and measure the influence of each individual marketing channel and tactic from a user’s first interaction with a brand until their conversion. This level of detail allows marketing agencies 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 tactics.”

“There are several different types of attribution modeling that are used in marketing. Choosing the right attribution solution for your business depends on your business goals. You should consider a model that places value weighted towards the last click if you are determined to drive efficiency.”

“While on the other side of the same coin, if you are aiming to drive growth and acquisition a model weighted higher towards the first click would be more appropriate. The perfect solution is likely somewhere between the two as many clients want to continue to grow their customer base while being as efficient as possible.”

Tools for Multi-channel Attribution


There are several tools you can use for multi-channel attribution — some free and some paid. On the free side, you can use Google Analytics, though this typically isn’t the best choice if you do a hefty amount of offline sales.

Though Google Analytics can help you track online channels pretty well, it doesn’t integrate with CRMs or offline sales, so you wouldn’t get the full picture of where your money’s coming from.

Salesforce also has attribution tools that can help you attribute revenues to specific marketing campaigns, though it can’t do nuanced, touchpoint-level reporting. It also operates on a last-click attribution model, which isn’t always accurate or helpful.

Many marketing automation solutions also have built-in attribution tools (like Marketo, for example), so make sure to check your specific marketing tool before purchasing anything additional.

The Bottom Line


Regardless of whether you use an off-the-shelf attribution solution or customize a unique-to-your-company custom model, the important thing is that you’re actively tracking where your sales are coming from and which touchpoints are converting your customers.

This will allow you to adjust your strategy and allocate your resources to maximize revenues in the long run.

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