AttributionAs a marketer, it’s important you understand how marketing campaigns build on each other to drive sales and revenue. In marketing, “attribution” is the process of assigning credit to marketing campaigns for driving revenue.

Let’s dive a little deeper into the specifics of attribution:

  • What are the different types of attribution?
  • How does the Allocadia team think about attribution?
  • And what kind of attribution should you use at your organization?

A Sample Customer Story

Allison is looking for a new software solution for her team. So, she starts searching.

  • She does a Google search and sees an ad for Best Software Ever. She clicks the ad and reads some information on the Best Software Ever website.
  • A few weeks later, Allison attends an event and learns more about Best Software Ever at the company’s trade show booth and a private dinner.
  • When Allison returns from the event, she learns about a budget freeze. All projects are put on hold. She keeps receiving information from Best Software Ever at regular intervals through an email nurture campaign.
  • Six months later, the budget freeze is lifted. Allison gets a timely email from Best Software Ever (the fifth one she’s received), and clicks to respond.
  • Allison is put in touch with a Best Software Ever sales rep. They have a phone call. The sales rep closes the deal.

The 2 Types of Attribution

  • Single-Touch Attribution: If you’re using single-touch attribution, only one marketing campaign gets credit for a sale. The campaign that gets the credit could be the first touch (the Google ad — since it’s the touch that brought the lead in the door) or the last touch (the email nurture campaign — since it’s the touch that caused an opportunity to get generated). Single-touch attribution is easy to implement, low-cost, and provides at least some initial insight into your campaign influence. But, it doesn’t account for all the touches that may have played a part in helping to drive that revenue. And as you increase in sophistication, it’s important to recognize that marketing takes an average of seven touches to truly reach a potential buyer and it’s not as simple as saying that one thing led them to buy.
  • Multi-Touch Attribution: If you’re using multi-touch attribution, every campaign gets credit for the sale. Multi-touch attribution is especially useful for long sales cycles with many touches. There are a few different models. If every campaign gets equal credit, it’s equal multi-touch attribution. If each campaign gets variable credit, it’s weighted multi-touch attribution. You can used fixed weighting (for example, the first and last touches are weighted more heavily and the rest of the attribution is divided among all the touches in the middle) or variable weighting. Standard variables used in weighted multi-touch attribution include the number of contacts, contact type, contact role, response status and time between touches.

What Kind of Attribution Should I Use?

There’s no “right” attribution model. For any given organization, the best attribution model depends on the organization’s maturity in measuring marketing performance.

Two thirds of companies use either no tracking or basic single attribution, according to a 2010 Lenskold Group/eMedia study. The more sophisticated and complex the attribution model, the more expensive it is to achieve.

Here’s the path we recommend:

  • If you’re just starting out, it’s simplest (and cheapest) to use single-touch attribution.
  • If you have some existing processes to track which campaigns touch an opportunity, you may want to consider equal multi-touch attribution. Even if your attribution isn’t perfect, it will give you a more accurate view than you’d get from using single-touch attribution.
  • If you have a well-established process to track which campaigns touch an opportunity, with automated processes, you might want to use fixed weighted multi-touch attribution.
  • If you have enough historical data and can gather agreement on some of the nuances within the above model, you might want to use variable weighted multi-touch.

Another Option: Going Above Attribution

For some organizations, it might make sense to try a different approach to attribution — what we call going “above attribution.” Look at your performance in aggregate in terms of what was spent and generated by the marketing organization as a whole, or by region or team. In other words, you’d look at ROI not from a bottoms-up, activity point of view, but from a top-down perspective.

By going above attribution, organizations can view marketing performance, spend and results in aggregate to get a higher-level view that’s useful for the CMO.

Going above attribution is good for organizations that want to quickly view performance without making the call on specific campaign or activity attribution.

Why Does Attribution Matter in the Big Picture?

Your CMO needs to know what’s working from a marketing performance perspective. CMOs look at the marketing funnel to answer questions about which campaigns are working, which teams are performing and what’s providing the best ROI. Attribution helps marketing leaders make big-picture decisions about marketing strategy and spend.

To learn more about attribution models, read our post about tactic attribution.