All You Need To Know About Marketing Attribution

HomeBusinessAll You Need To Know About Marketing Attribution
All You Need To Know About Marketing Attribution


Key Takeaways

According to a report by the Data & Marketing Association (DMA), businesses that implement advanced marketing attribution models see an average 15-20% increase in marketing ROI. (Source: DMA, “2019 Response Rate Report”)

A study by eMarketer found that 58% of marketers consider multi-touch attribution essential for understanding how different marketing channels contribute to conversions.

Google’s research reveals that 89% of leading marketers use marketing attribution to understand how different channels and touchpoints impact customer journeys, leading to more effective budget allocation. (Source: Google Marketing Platform)

Marketing attribution is not just a buzzword; it can significantly boost your marketing ROI. By understanding which channels and touchpoints drive conversions, you can allocate resources more effectively and achieve better results.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing attribution. Explore various attribution models, such as first-touch, last-touch, and data-driven attribution, to gain a holistic view of your customer journey and optimize your marketing strategies accordingly.

The marketing professionals of today have a lot of work to do. Customer communication with companies has become increasingly fragmented in recent years, with the average consumer using several channels to contact the company. To meet customers’ rising expectations, brands and marketing managers must also step up the heat in their proverbial kitchens.

Marketing research says marketers’ top priorities are to optimise the marketing mix to deliver the best returns and modernise their tools and technologies. These teams are also reformatting certain marketing metrics to align with the current marketing paradigm. According to the survey, 41% of marketing organisations use marketing attribution modelling to measure ROI. How do marketing attributions differ from one another? What is the most common type of marketing attribution used? It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or just brushing up on marketing attribution models; we at Expand My Business have put together this overview to guide people who want some primer on the topic.

1. What is marketing attribution? 

Online Platform 13 2

Marketers have a way of assessing the value or return on investment of channels that connect them to potential customers, called marketing attribution.

The marketing term “consumer acquisition” refers to how consumers learn about and purchase your product or service.

Several marketing channels were responsible for the final decision to purchase, including the Facebook advertisement they initially clicked on or the email they received when they signed up for the newsletter.

A virtual world would allow you to track every step of the customer journey from the beginning to the end, with anecdotes from the individual customers illustrating precisely why they made their decisions.

The operational marketing role is becoming more complex due to the increasing number of touchpoints to be considered. Several marketing attribution models have been introduced and continuously evolved since the advent of digital technology to deal with multi-channel selling.

Various forms of marketing attribution

Choosing the right marketing attribution model that you will utilise and applying weight factors appropriately is very important when working with multiple channels. 

Marketing attribution models are essential for understanding how different marketing channels and touchpoints contribute to conversions. These models help marketers allocate credit to specific interactions along the customer journey. There are several types of marketing attribution models, each with its unique approach to assigning credit. Let’s delve into some of the most common models:

First-Touch Attribution

State of Technology 2024

Humanity's Quantum Leap Forward

Explore 'State of Technology 2024' for strategic insights into 7 emerging technologies reshaping 10 critical industries. Dive into sector-wide transformations and global tech dynamics, offering critical analysis for tech leaders and enthusiasts alike, on how to navigate the future's technology landscape.

Read Now

First-touch attribution attributes all the credit for a conversion to the very first touchpoint a customer had with your brand. This model is useful for identifying how initial interactions, such as a click on a social media ad or an email signup, contribute to the conversion process. However, it tends to undervalue later touchpoints in the customer journey.

Last-Touch Attribution

In contrast, last-touch attribution assigns all the credit for a conversion to the last touchpoint before the conversion occurs. This model emphasizes the final interaction, such as clicking on a paid search ad or visiting the checkout page. While it provides clarity on the last influencing factor, it may overlook the contribution of earlier touchpoints.

Multi-Touch Attribution

Multi-touch attribution models recognize that the customer journey is rarely linear and involves multiple interactions. These models distribute credit across various touchpoints, giving a more balanced view of how different channels and interactions contribute to conversions. Some common multi-touch attribution models include linear attribution, time-decay attribution, and U-shaped attribution.

Linear Attribution

Linear attribution divides the credit equally among all touchpoints encountered during the customer journey. This model acknowledges that every interaction plays a role in the conversion process. It is particularly useful for businesses with longer and more complex sales cycles, where multiple touchpoints contribute to nurturing leads.

Time-Decay Attribution

Time-decay attribution gives more credit to touchpoints that occur closer to the conversion and progressively less credit to earlier interactions. This model reflects the idea that interactions closer to the conversion may have a more significant impact on the final decision.

Data-Driven Attribution

Data-driven attribution relies on advanced algorithms and machine learning to analyze vast sets of data and determine the true impact of each touchpoint. It offers a more accurate and customized attribution model, considering the unique customer journey patterns for a specific business.

Understanding these various attribution models allows marketers to choose the one that aligns best with their goals and business objectives. Implementing the right attribution model helps businesses gain insights into the effectiveness of their marketing strategies and optimize their budget allocation for improved results.

2. How does attribution pose challenges?

Online Platform 14

Although attribution sounds like a good idea on paper, some challenges come with it. These are just a few things you might encounter as you delve into attribution.

Buy-in & Alignment

There must be buy-in and alignment from the organisation, which cannot be obtained without buy-in from the organisation. It’s generally agreed that marketing attribution is good, but if departments have different definitions of what attribution should look like, there will be discrepancies. 

Metrics and Business Objectives

The challenges here are two-fold: first, they cannot be tied to a single metric. Many additional data points are available today, but most organisations do not always provide clear, actionable goals. This can create friction between the various organisations. 

Bad Data

Most organisations have a large volume of less than optimal data. The information may be inaccurate, incomplete, and not reflect the whole picture. Therefore it is very difficult to identify and eliminate those gaps. The marketing attribution model will be improved if you make sure you work with clean, segmented data.

Complex Buyer Journey

The consumer decision-making process is more complex than ever, and it is only getting more complex. The buyer journey can therefore be described as complex. The increasing number of touchpoints makes attribution more challenging as the number of touchpoints increases.


Even though costs can be reduced with open source capabilities such as Google Analytics, Data Studio, and even combining your solution with open source content management systems like Drupal. Attribution still can be very expensive both in terms of people and outsourcing for skills you don’t have on your team. 

As for technology platforms, attribution measurement looks different throughout the different platforms if you use multiple channels, which is likely the case. For instance, Facebook measures differently compared to Google Analytics. Therefore, it is important to understand how attribution differs between channels to make better long-term decisions and achieve higher results. 

3. How to measure marketing attribution?

Online Platform 15

To establish an effective attribution model, you need to understand how all the data that supports it is gathered and measured. Below are some of the main ways that smart, multi-touch attribution solutions can track marketing activities across various channels, platforms, and mediums.

JavaScript Tracking 

This baseline tracking method uses a snippet of code that you can embed into your website to track user movements and activities. The advantage of using this tool as a foundation tool is that your website provides a hub for other marketing activities funneled into your website. 


UTMs are tags added to the end of a URL to track click-based and marketing activity-based metrics. There are several purposes for tracking UTMs. An example of this includes tracking the name of the campaign, the content, the keywords, the traffic sources, and the distribution channels, such as social media, email, an affiliate, a referral, or a referral an ad on Google or Bing.

Third-party applications

Multi-touch attribution contributes a proportion of sales and marketing returns to various marketing touchpoints through application program interfaces. Multiple touchpoints can offer potential customers a wide range of digital tools, platforms, and technologies to provide them with the best conversion experience. 

Furthermore, data from a marketing technology platform can be delivered safely and efficiently to a data warehouse using APIs, making the process faster, easier, and more efficient.

Pixel tracking

This form of tracking is mostly done by advertisers. Here pixels are embedded in the images in a website or email. The pixel is sent to an advertiser when a customer interacts on the website or email.

This allows them to track their behaviour and assign the conversion to the right touchpoint.

Integrations of CRM software:

This is one of the most common and proven ways of collecting data to attribute your marketing channels. CRM software is integrated into a digital marketing platform. Through this, you can track and analyse customer behaviour across various touchpoints. This allows businesses to understand the impact of different channels and campaigns. On this basis, they can create and adapt their strategies accordingly.

4. Best Practices for Effective Marketing Attribution

Online Platform 16

Setting Clear Objectives for Attribution:

Effective marketing attribution begins with clearly defined objectives. Before implementing any attribution model, it’s essential to establish what you want to achieve. Are you primarily focused on understanding the customer journey, optimizing budget allocation, or improving ROI? By setting clear objectives, you can tailor your attribution approach to align with your specific goals.

Moreover, consider the key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter most to your business. Whether it’s conversion rates, customer lifetime value, or sales revenue, your objectives should be measurable and tied to your broader marketing strategy.

Using Multiple Attribution Models:

A one-size-fits-all attribution model may not provide a complete picture of your customer’s journey. To gain deeper insights, consider using multiple attribution models in parallel. For instance, you can utilize first-touch attribution to understand how customers initially engage with your brand and last-touch attribution to identify the final touchpoint that drives conversions. Combining these models offers a more comprehensive view of the customer’s path.

By using a mix of attribution models, you can also cater to various stakeholders within your organization. Some teams may benefit more from specific models that align with their objectives, ensuring that attribution insights are valuable across departments.

Integrating Data Sources for Holistic Insights:

Effective marketing attribution requires data integration across various touchpoints and channels. This integration ensures that you capture the complete customer journey, from the first interaction to the final conversion. To achieve this, consider using marketing analytics platforms and tools that can aggregate data from multiple sources.

By integrating data sources such as web analytics, CRM systems, advertising platforms, and email marketing software, you can create a unified view of customer interactions. This holistic approach enables you to attribute conversions accurately and understand the interplay between different marketing channels.

Continuous Review and Optimization:

Marketing attribution is not a one-time implementation; it’s an ongoing process. To derive the most value from attribution insights, establish a regular review and optimization cycle. This involves continuously analyzing attribution data, identifying trends, and making data-driven adjustments to your marketing strategies.

Regularly assess the performance of your attribution models and adapt them to changing customer behaviors and market dynamics. By staying agile and responsive, you can fine-tune your campaigns, allocate budgets more effectively, and maximize your marketing ROI. Consider leveraging automation and machine learning to streamline this process and extract actionable insights from attribution data.

‍5. Conclusion

Marketers need to implement marketing attribution in this competitive environment to maintain a competitive edge. The key to determining which of your digital marketing campaigns and the fundamental elements that make up those campaigns will perform well and which won’t.

The goal of marketing attribution is to enable you to get the most out of your marketing budget and to prove your return on investment. Unfortunately, the complexity of marketing attribution models makes them difficult to use and apply accurately, as we have seen from our previous discussion. Using these models to collect insightful, meaningful data requires a lot of time and skill, but the payoff can be considerable.

Get in touch with us at EMB to learn more.


Q. What is marketing attribution, and why is it important for businesses?

Marketing attribution is the process of determining which marketing channels or touchpoints contribute to conversions or sales. It’s vital for businesses because it helps them understand the effectiveness of their marketing efforts, allocate budgets more efficiently, and improve ROI.

Q. What are the common models used in marketing attribution?

Common models include first-touch attribution, last-touch attribution, linear attribution, time-decay attribution, and data-driven attribution. Each model assigns credit to different touchpoints in the customer journey.

Q. How does marketing attribution impact decision-making in digital marketing campaigns?

Marketing attribution provides insights into which channels and strategies drive results. Marketers can use this data to make informed decisions about where to invest their resources, optimize campaigns, and enhance their overall marketing strategy.

Q. What challenges are associated with implementing effective marketing attribution?

Challenges include data accuracy, cross-device tracking, handling complex customer journeys, and selecting the right attribution model. Overcoming these challenges is crucial for obtaining accurate insights.

Q. What are some best practices for implementing marketing attribution successfully?

Best practices include setting clear objectives, using multiple attribution models, integrating data sources, regularly reviewing and refining your attribution model, and fostering collaboration between marketing and analytics teams.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Related Post