Digital marketing has become a fundamental aspect of just about any business today. The internet has made it possible to more directly reach out to potential and existing customers at just a fraction of the cost of other traditional marketing options. But just because it is cheaper does not mean you should not seek to spend your digital marketing dollars wisely.

Most businesses take a multi-channel approach to digital marketing. This means they seek to engage with audiences through different channels including social media, email, paid search ads, and more. It is however obvious that different channels will have different levels of influence in turning an online user into a paying customer.

Identifying which channels and types of content have the strongest potential in conversion can help businesses better refine their digital marketing campaigns. They can invest more in content and channels that elicit the best response from clients and figure out how to improve where the performance is not as good.

What Is Marketing Attribution?

Digital marketing attribution is an analytical science that allows businesses to ascertain what kind of contribution different marketing channels are making towards growing sales and conversions.

It does this by evaluating the different marketing touchpoints a customer encounters on their journey towards converting and discerning how each engagement contributes towards that conversion.

Example of how Google Analytics attributes Goal completions

Businesses can then examine how they invest in the different marketing channels and make due adjustments so they can get a better return (ROI). At the end of the day, businesses want to invest in marketing that ensures they are making the best return. Digital marketing attribution helps to determine where they are most likely to find clients to convert, the content that will appeal best to them and when and how to target them.

Benefits of Marketing Attribution

1.     Higher ROI

As said, businesses prefer to spend where they are getting the best return. The marketing environment is fluid. This means that there are new tactics and technologies that regularly emerge. Effective attribution enables businesses to keep evaluating the performance of an investment in different channels to figure out what mix of channels and content will provide the best return. This mix can alter with time, hence the need to keep performing this review.

2.     Optimized Spending

By analysing how different marketing channels and content performs, marketers can identify what specific touchpoints offer the best benefit. They can then adjust their marketing spend to invest more where there is a higher return. This analysis is key to ensuring they make the most of the marketing budget allocated to digital marketing.

3.     Understanding the Customer Purchase Journey

The journey potential buyers go through from the point of the first contact to conversion can be quite complex. There are many ways they encounter the brand message and respond to it.

Conversion paths will highlight the different touchpoints used before a conversion occurs.

From search engine results to Facebook Ads, in-store marketing to online surveys, there are a myriad of ways they get to interact with marketing channels. Attribution models help make sense of how the different interactions impact the decision making of customers and guide marketers on how to better design their marketing strategies.

1.     Analysing Marketing Data

There is a lot of data that can be collected from the different marketing channels used and the content created. It can all seem a jumble of confusion unless you have a system that can analyse it all and present the data in a way that will allow you to draw useful insights. Digital marketing attribution models provide marketers with simple analytical results that tell them how different channels compare and where investing more can prove to be more profitable.

2.     Better Customer Experience

When a business understands what kind of content elicits the best response from potential customers, they can focus on generating even more of the same. This is a win for customers who will be engaged through channels and content that appeals to them, making for a more enjoyable experience and positive interaction with the business. They are more likely to engage and become brand loyal. If satisfied with their journey and the product or service provided, they can also become brand advocates, helping to further boost visibility and profitability.

Types of Digital Marketing Attribution Models

There are different ways by which to measure marketing attribution. The two main categories are the single-touch and multi-touch attribution models. Here are a few examples of the popular models under each. 

Single-Touch Attribution Models

These focus on a specific touchpoint, giving it all the credit for converting a client, irrespective of all other engagement the customer will have undergone in their journey to conversion.

  • First Touch Attribution – This model gives full credit to the first touchpoint the customer encountered on their journey.  No matter the kind of engagement, be it a search engine advertisement or social media video, this first touchpoint is credited with winning the client over, no matter what other content or channel they engaged with.
  • Last Touch Attribution – Gives credit to the last touchpoint the customer interacted with before making their purchase. Full credit goes to this interaction with no acknowledgement of the contribution of anything that came before.
  • Last Non-Direct Click Attribution – Full credit goes to the last touchpoint the customer interacted with that was not on the business website.

Multi-Touch Attribution

These attribution models take a broader view by analysing and giving credit to the various touchpoints that customers engage with leading up to the time of purchase. They are considered more accurate, though they do differ in how credit is attributed to the different channels.

  • Linear Attribution – This model makes a record of each touchpoint the customer engages with and gives equal weight to these interactions. Therefore, an equal portion of the credit goes to each content and channel.
  • U-Shaped Attribution – This model gives the bulk of the credit to the first and last touchpoint leading to conversion. They are each given 40% of the credit, while the remaining 20% is divided amongst the other touchpoints interacted with in the period between.
  • W-Shaped Attribution – This model gives the most credit to three types of content the client interacts with. These are the first piece of content, the lead creation content and lead conversion content. Each one is allocated 30% of the credit, with the remaining 10% divided amongst all other touchpoints along the journey.
  • Time Decay Attribution – the model gives gradually more credit to touchpoints that lead up to conversion.  The least amount of credit goes to the first touchpoint and the most to the lead conversion touchpoint that is presumed to have had the strongest impact in making the client convert.
Google Analytics will show you data based on the attribution model you choose to view.

The ultimate goal of attribution is to help businesses develop helpful insights that will better guide their marketing campaigns in the future. It can be difficult to figure out which attribution model is best suited to your business and industry. There may be a need to use different models at the same time to better understand the outcomes of your marketing decisions.

If you’re looking for some advice on attribution, or some general help with your digital marketing campaigns, feel free to get in touch with a consultant at Phoenix Media today.

  • Published on : Wednesday September 22, 2021

About the author

As the managing partner for Phoenix Media, Rob brings over 10 years’ experience in digital marketing and running successful agencies in the UK, Australia and Thailand. Starting in a sales role he has covered all aspects of the agency from sales and service to technical ad operations. Reach him directly on

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