written by
Yves Delongie

Introducing marketing attribution.

Analytics & Attribution 4 min read

Many marketers today are holding on to a processes of ad-spending and channel visitor measuring to qualify the efficiency of their operations. However, as they are becoming under more and more pressure from CEO's and boards to optimise [and predict!] their spending in function of generated return, the need for better visibility arise. As such, the importance of applying marketing attribution — while not always fully understood — become clear. An alternative explanation for the need for marketing attribution is maybe best told by John Wanamaker, seen by many as being a pioneer in advertising: Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half. 🤔😉

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half.
— John Wanamaker, Philadelphia, 1838-1922

Start with tag- and conversion-tracking.

All journeys start with a single first step which we like to call 'first touch'. For your business and many others, visitors could first encounter you on social media, on a blog post or even through scanning a printed QR code. And although many will try to guide these first-touch vistors through a chain of drip email campaigns and pixel retargeting into becoming a customer, ASAP, it is very hard to predict how much 'next touch-points' will be needed. For some, that might be none...others may need just one follow-up email...for others, it just takes ages.

So, to start finding patterns in customers journeys which do not count the same touch-points, there needs to be common ground on the milestones you expect them to take; which events you want to use for comparing journeys!!. E.g. the moment a visitor first left his email; the moment a lead started a trial; the moment a lead choose a paid plan; etc... You could state that most of these events coincide with marketing and sales funnel stages (but not necessarily as you may want to add way more multi-funnel touch-points.)

In a first part blog post The real power of UTM and JTM tracking, we covered the basics of tagging your URLs with UTM parameters to see where your website visitors come from. We then demonstrated the importance of tracking those special moments when an event occurs in a second part blog post: Beyond UTM: tracking conversion events.

Being able to track where visitors came from and which events they have been triggering, you now can apply various attribution models in order to find out which channels/campaigns/ads do offer most bang for your buck!

Applying Attribution

In a nutshell, marketing attribution lets you determine which marketing channels and touchpoints resulted in a certain event happening. This could be an ebook download, a trial signup or a purchase. Or this could a combination such as: downloaded an ebook but explicitly didn't purchase.

This is done through a set of rules, called attribution models, which assign credit to each event along a customer’s journey. Think of each marketing touchpoint as part of soccer game, where each pass is a touchpoint and the final event is a goal!

Think of each marketing touchpoint as part of soccer game, where each pass is a touchpoint.

Here's an example of that the passes could represent in attribution terms:

  • Pass 1: Visitor encounters you on facebook through some friend liking your ad. You click.
  • Pass 2: One week later, through retargeting, you see an ad again on facebook which brings you on a landing page. You decide the proposition is not for you.
  • Pass 3: The next day, you remember the landing page and decide to revisit the landing page. You type in the URL.
  • Pass 4: The same afternoon, you decide to download an ebook by revisiting another landing page, linked to the previous one.
  • Pass 5: The next day, you receive an interesting email and you click on a blog article.
  • Pass 6: Three days have gone by, when you receive a special promotion by email for a software product you thought could be useful.
  • Pass 7: You create a trial account and can start testing the product...but some important features seem to be missing.
  • Pass 8: After 2 more emails explaining product features, you decide to go back to the software platform and do some more testing.
  • Pass 9: You get a call from a sales rep explaining how you could bypass what you though was a missing feature.
  • Pass 10: You decide to buy the basic plan, leaving your credit card details.

That was just one customer journey towards having a new subscriber; imagine having 100, 1000 or even 10,000 goals/events being analysed. By analysing patterns from all first touches towards all event touches (in this case, signing up customers), marketing attribution provides some sort of passes-heatmap on how people become customers.

That way, you can start shifting your marketing budget into the channels and campaigns that are working!

Analysing all first touches towards all event touches reveals patterns of contributing channels.

In a next blog post, we'll be covering the different types of attribution and how ROI is being calculated. If you want to know more, or even become an early-stage MVP customer at special conditions, please visit our launching customer programme page.