To understand what an attribution model is, we must start at the beginning. A conversion is a digital marketing term that refers to the positive actions that a user can perform based on our objectives and purposes. Thus, if for example we want the user to buy a product, we will have to follow the user’s journey until the conversion is achieved. Only then will we be able to assess which partner to attribute the conversion to. That is, if it was a press release, an ad on YouTube or sponsored content on Facebook that made the customer perform the action we wanted to achieve with those campaigns or channels.
The whole process or journey that the user makes through the different steps that the company marks is called customer journey. In a simpler way, this term encompasses the steps followed by the potential customer until the conversion is achieved, whether it is buying a product or attending a webinar. Thus, attribution models are the set of rules that help us to assign the conversion to a partner or marketing channel. In other words, they help us to understand which campaign has achieved the user’s objectives.
Marketing channels to which to allocate an attribution model
Within marketing channels, there are traditional and online channels. Due to the diversity of touchpoints, it has become difficult to determine which channel makes conversion possible.
Traditional channels include television, radio, and the press, with the mass media being the channels in the greatest degree until relatively recently. In addition to these, outdoor advertising, direct marketing and promotional marketing are also traditional channels.
As for online channels, these are SEO, SEM, direct links, email marketing, affiliate marketing, social networks and display.
Therefore, within these partners, there will be some that move the user forward in the customer journey and others that cause the user to stagnate. Being able to see which of them are more effective is the main function of attribution models.
Types of attribution models
There are different types of attribution models, and each of them is better suited to a specific business and specific objectives. Thus, there will be some with higher returns for your growth than others.
- Firstly, there is the last interaction model. According to this, the credit for the conversion goes to the last interaction the user had with the business. It is this attribution model that is used by platforms such as Google Analytics.
- This is followed by the indirect last click model. Based on this, the user’s conversion is achieved by the last campaign performed before the conversion. For example, a user finds a company through a Facebook ad that he clicks on. After a few days, he clicks again on a Google ad of the same brand. Finally, a few hours later, he checks his email and sees a campaign from the company. Finally, he performs a direct click, i.e.: he manually enters the business URL. In this case, the indirect last-click attribution model would give the conversion to the email marketing campaign.
- Thirdly, we find the first interaction attribution model. This, as its name suggests, gives the credit for the conversion to the first interaction the user had with the company. Thus, if the person first learned of the company’s existence through Facebook, all the credit for the conversion will go to this platform.
- Another attribution model is linear. According to this model, all the partners that the user passes through during the customer journey take credit for the conversion. Following the above example, the conversion would be divided equally between the Facebook campaign, the Google Ads campaign and the email marketing campaign.
- A model very similar to the linear one is the time decay model. This brings more value to those interactions that have occurred closer to the time of conversion. Therefore, continuing with the same example, the email campaign receives more merit than the Facebook ad.
- Finally, we find the positional attribution model, according to which, most of the credit is divided between the first interaction the user had and the last one before the conversion. Thus, in the case of the person, we have given as an example, the Facebook campaign and the email marketing will divide most of the credit. The rest of the interactions also have value, but to a lesser extent.
Beyond these models, there is a type whose function is to analyze the user’s customer journey to assess the merit of each channel. To date, this is the type of model that offers the most precision. However, it still misses several issues, such as multi-device attribution.
Benefits of attribution models
- To begin with, thanks to attribution marketing, you will be able to know your customers to a greater extent. Because of this, you will have the opportunity to know which channels are preferred by customers and which ones attract less attention. Thus, you will understand the people behind the conversions. Therefore, you will be able to create future strategies that are personalized and oriented to the preferences of your potential customers.
- Another benefit of attribution marketing is to know the correlation between channels, so you will be able to see how they link to each other. This will help you decide which channels are most important for future conversions.
- The last advantage of attribution models is that they reduce the strategy based on intuition, since we can check which messages get the most attention from users. We will also be able to know what is the perfect time to launch a campaign and for it to achieve conversion. Therefore, we will save money, eliminating ineffective campaigns, and we will be able to develop more original ones that, without this study, would not have occurred to us.
Which attribution model is right for you?
Currently, it is very difficult to understand what attribution to give to each channel. This is due to the multichannel and multi-device environment. For example, a person can hear about a company through their favorite radio show, Facebook, Instagram or a banner ad. In addition, today, most people have multiple devices. In their daily lives, they use each of them, being able to access channels from laptops, tablets, or smartphones.
As we have explained above, each attribution model has a series of advantages and disadvantages and will be better or worse suited to each type of business. Therefore, in order to choose the right attribution model, you must first analyze the company’s customer journey. In this way, you will be able to see each of the channels that a user can follow until the conversion is achieved.
Once you have done this, you may want to consider how the attribution models fit the user journey. Thus, for example, for a food business, perhaps the ideal attribution model is the last interaction, since in these cases, the user usually selects one restaurant or another at the same moment. On the other hand, there are other businesses, such as car sales, where the user follows a more complex process, so in these cases the last interaction model would not fit with this type of business.