All You Need To Know About Marketing Attribution

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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.

What is marketing attribution? 

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Marketers assess the value of marketing channels through marketing attribution. “Consumer acquisition” shows how customers find and buy products.

Many channels influence a purchase, such as the first Facebook ad or a newsletter email. In a virtual world, you can track the full customer journey. Customer stories explain their decisions. The marketing field is more complex. Digital technology brought new touchpoints. New attribution models have evolved.

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

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

Last-Touch Attribution

Last-touch attribution credits the last touchpoint before a conversion. For example, clicking a paid search ad or visiting the checkout page. However, it might miss the impact of earlier touchpoints.

Multi-Touch Attribution

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Multi-touch attribution models recognize this. They know the customer journey is rarely linear and involves many interactions. These models distribute credit across touchpoints. They give a more fair view of how 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 splits the credit equally. It splits it among all touchpoints encountered during the customer journey. This model acknowledges that every interaction plays a role in the conversion process. It is especially useful for businesses with long and complex sales cycles. Many touchpoints nurture leads in these cycles.

Time-Decay Attribution

Time-decay attribution gives more credit to touchpoints. They occur closer to the conversion and get 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 uses algorithms and machine learning. It analyzes data to find the true impact of each touchpoint. This model offers more accurate and customized attribution. It accounts for each business’s unique customer journey.

Marketers can pick an attribution model that best fits their goals. Choosing the right model is crucial. It reveals the effectiveness of marketing strategies. This knowledge allows businesses to optimize their budget for better results.

How does attribution pose challenges?

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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.


Using open source tools like Google Analytics and Data Studio can cut costs. You can also save money by combining your system with open source content management systems. For example, you can use 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 on each one. This is true if you use multiple channels, which is likely. For instance, Facebook measures differently compared to Google Analytics. So, it is important to understand how attribution differs between channels. This will help you make better long-term decisions and get higher results. 

How to measure marketing attribution?

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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.

Best Practices for Effective Marketing Attribution

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 combining data from web analytics, CRM, ads, and emails, you can see all customer interactions. This method also helps you accurately attribute conversions. Additionally, it shows how marketing channels work together.

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 analyzing attribution data. You must identify trends and use them to adjust your marketing strategies.

Regularly assess your attribution models. Change them to match new customer behaviors and market dynamics. By being agile and responsive, you can tune your campaigns better. You can also allocate budgets well and maximize your marketing ROI. Consider using automation and machine learning. They will streamline this process and get insights from attribution data.


In a competitive market, marketers need marketing attribution to stay ahead. It helps identify successful digital campaigns and their key components.

The aim is to maximize the marketing budget and prove the return on investment. However, the models’ complexity makes them challenging to use accurately, as we discussed earlier. They demand time and skill for meaningful data collection. Yet, the benefits are worth it.

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.

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