Discover Your Top Channels With Attribution Models

Tracking customer journeys is an essential part of marketing, and in the digital space it is both easier to do and far more useable. Understanding where customers are coming from and which marketing channels are working is an absolute must for intelligent use of marketing spend.

And when it comes to tracking your customer journeys, you can never have enough data. Attribution models help businesses better understand what digital activities are really working and provide you with better insight into the nature of customer behaviour.

What are attribution models?

An attribution models are rules that determine how credit for online sales and conversions is assigned to touch points in conversion paths.

They allow you to see how your customers are finding your website and which channels are most effective for achieving conversions or the completion of website goals.

Attribution models are only the ruleset that determines the value of an interaction or touch point in a number of different scenarios. They don’t tell you anything themselves.

But by applying these rules to different activities, and comparing the value that each activity returns against the amount it costs to deliver, you can identify the return on investment from each of your digital marketing channels and campaigns.

Most businesses who track their website users’ behaviour look at a Last Interaction attribution models. Last Interaction attributions show which channel a user interacted with immediately before a website visit with a successful conversion action.

For example, someone might Google your brand name, click on your organic search listing and enter your website before completing a conversion.

A Last Interaction attribution model would assign all the credit for this conversion to natural search regardless of all steps that led to the moment they Googled your brand name. But what about all the steps and marketing activity that led to this point?

Don’t limit the scope of your data

The problem is that Last Interaction models are a simplified view of the conversion funnel and can lead to some very bad business choices.

Often times, businesses will look at Last Interaction attribution, see which channels are driving conversions and invest only in these areas.

If one channel is monopolising the last step in a customer journey, it can be easy to over invest in that channel. In the example above, it might be a fair assumption – given a Last Interaction attribution model – that it is worth investing heavily in SEO.

But if that search is actually a by-product of great brand awareness activity then this could easily be a poor use of marketing budget.

Types of attribution model

Last Interaction attribution along with its polar opposite, First Interaction, are simple to understand. They show you the first time your customer finds you and the channel they used to convert. But to get a clearer picture, you have to dig deeper. Very few customer journeys are so simple.

Research shows that it can take between 7 and 13 touch points with your brand before a conversion happens. With so many channels available from social media, digital advertising in its myriad forms, organic search and so on, today’s customer journeys are extremely complex.

Add in the variety of devices customers use to engage with brands and you start to appreciate how convoluted a typical customer journey can be.

So, how do you know where best to assign your marketing budget? Which channels are most effective?  That’s where multi-touch attribution comes in.

Multi-touch attribution allows you to see the value of each customer touch point leading to a conversion. This helps you figure out which marketing channels or campaigns should be credited with the conversion, with the ultimate intention of allocating future spend to acquire new customers.

You can think of multi-touch attribution as a set of rules that give variable credit or “weight” to different marketing channels.

Key attribution models include:

Last Interaction

Last Interaction is both the most commonly used model and possibly the most inaccurate model in anything but the simplest of customer journeys. Last Interaction models assign 100% of revenue generated to the last customer touch point before a purchase.

First Interaction

First Interaction attribution attributes 100% of revenue to the first user touch point. For example, if a customer first comes across your brand by clicking on an organic search listing, and then later spends £100 on your website, organic search is said to have driven £100 of revenue.

Linear

A Linear model states that every step of the customer journey is equally responsible. It holds every touch point equal to the success of the conversion and assigns an equal portion of the revenue a customer spends.

Therefore, in a customer journey where the consumer had five interactions with the brand, each interaction will be credited with 20% of the revenue from that customer.

Positional

In order to buy something from you, the customer needs to know you exist. To successfully convert, they need to actually visit your site.

This philosophy supports the idea that, while the elements of a customer’s journey vary, they do not have as much value as the First Interaction and Last Interaction.

The Positional model follows this logic and represents it by combining aspects of First Interaction, Last Interaction and Linear.

Essentially, it says that the first touch point and the last touch point are worth X percent each, and all the other touch points in between have the remaining percentage divided up evenly among them.

Time Decay

Time Decay attribution models assign a percentage of the credit for conversion depending on how close in time to a conversion a touch point triggered.

How to change attribution models in Google Ads

If you want to change the attribution model for an existing conversion, follow these simple steps from your Google Ads account…