Marketer’s Guide to Multi-Channel Attribution

Marketers guide to multi-channel attribution -

The ability to view and analyse marketing data across all of your channels is critical for business growth. With Multi-channel attribution, you can see which touchpoints are generating the most value, how they relate to overall marketing ROI, and, most importantly, allows you to make budgetary decisions based on actionable data.

Multi-channel attribution is considered a must-have a solution for B2B marketers, and yet, not many fully understand how it works.

In a recent study, 59% of marketers admitted that a lack of knowledge is the main reason why they haven’t implemented an attribution model.

Well, that is about to change.

With a better grasp of multi-channel attribution, it will become easier to identify which of your marketing initiatives are having the most significant impact on conversions and revenue.

For this article, we’ll discuss:

  • How multi-channel attribution works?
  • The importance of multi-channel attribution.
  • Types of multi-channel attribution models.
  • Common challenges to multi-channel attribution
  • Multi-channel attribution software to help track marketing ROI
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What is Multi-Channel Attribution?

Multi-channel attribution is the process of tracking marketing channels that lead to conversions or sales. It is a set of rules that allow marketers to allocate appropriate values to each marketing channel based on its contribution to the sales cycle.

One of the core benefits of multi-channel attribution is that it provides visibility into the success of each touchpoint across the entire conversion path. It helps you determine which marketing channels are most successful at generating high-quality leads and allocate budget into the areas that have the potential to drive more revenue.


The Importance of Multi-Channel Attribution

Digital marketers are tasked to drive leads and revenue but don’t always get the credit they deserve.

(Sound familiar?)

We’re under tremendous pressure to connect the dots between marketing and sales so that we can prove our impact on ROI.

Company leaders and stakeholders alike don’t want to hear about how many conversions you’ve generated.

They want to know:

  • How many opportunities you’ve added to the pipeline.
  • What channels have generated value and contributed the most ROI.

Multi-channel attribution is crucial, as it helps you evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing and reveals which channels are most successful at driving conversions and revenue.

You can justify why you should be spending money on individual channels and identify where to double-down.


What Are The Different Multi-Channel Attribution Models?

Due to its popularity, there’s been an explosion of attribution models designed to help marketers so that they can track and analyse customers along the path-to-sale.

Marketing attribution models are frameworks that accurately identify how and where your website visitors and customers engage with your marketing channels before completing a conversion.

When it comes to multi-channel attribution, there are several models which you can choose.

Attribution models can either be single-touch or multi-touch (we’ll go into this in more detail in a sec).

First, to explain the most common attribution models, it helps to refer to a sample of a buyer’s journey.

I will be using the following example to demonstrate how each attribution model works:

multi channel attribution - sales cycle -

1. An anonymous visitor clicks on a Google ad and downloads an ebook from your website.
2. The lead goes through an email cadence, clicks a link and returns to your site to learn more about your services.
3. Two weeks later, they visit your website using a brand search via Google organic.
4. Shortly after they click on a retargeting ad on Facebook and convert by scheduling a meeting with your sales team.


Single-Touch Attribution Models

Single-touch attribution models allocate 100% revenue credit to a single campaign or channel.

Typically, these attribution models assign conversion values to either the first or last channel a visitor interacted with before making a conversion.


First-click attribution

100% of the credit for a conversion is attributed to the very first channel that the buyer interacted with.

multi channel attribution - first click attribution -

The first-click model has attributed all of the revenue from the sale to the Google ad that inspired the sales journey.


Last-click attribution

100% of the credit for a conversion is attributed to the final channel that the buyer interacted with.

multi channel attribution - last click attribution -

The last-click model has attributed all of the revenue from the sale to the retargeting ad on Facebook.


Last Non-Direct Click

To explain this attribution model, I’ll need to change our sales journey example.

100% of the credit for a conversion is attributed to the last channel a buyer interacted with—but ignoring direct website visit.

multi channel attribution - last non-direct click attribution -

The last non-direct click model has assigned 100% of the credit to the organic visit and ignored the direct touchpoint.


Multi-Touch Attribution Models

Multi-touch attribution allows marketers to analyse the entire conversion path with more clarity

The purpose of multi-touch attribution is to optimise the allocation of your marketing budget so that you can hone in on the channels that have the most impact on conversions and revenue.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of MTA models, then you can check out my complete guide to multi-touch attribution.

Although, for now, let’s take a look at look some of the most common multi-touch attribution models.


Linear Attribution Model

The credit for the conversion or sale is distributed evenly across each channel a buyer interacted with through the entire buying journey.

multi channel attribution - linear attribution -

The linear attribution model has divided all of the revenue from the sale equally across the entire conversion path.


Time Decay Multi-Channel Model

The revenue from the sale is distributed to all marketing touchpoints, but the most recent touchpoints receive a higher percentage of credit.

multi channel attribution - time decay attribution -

The time decay model has attributed the credit to all of the touchpoints. However, the touchpoints nearer the conversion have received more credit than the earlier touchpoints.


Position-Based Attribution Model (U-Shaped)

The first and last touchpoints both receive 40% of the credit for a conversion and the remaining 20% is spread evenly across any touchpoints in the middle of the journey.

multi channel attribution - position based attribution - ushaped attribution -

The position-based model has allocated 40% credit to the Google ad and Facebook ad. The remaining touchpoints share the remaining 20% credit.

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to multi-channel attribution, and each model comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.

All of these attribution models will generate unique results, as they measure the importance of your touchpoints differently.

The attribution model you choose will depend on the nature of the channels and campaigns you are tracking.

To help choose the right attribution model, you can start by asking yourself the following questions:

1. What is the exact end goal of my marketing activity?

2. Which attribution model will help me measure these objectives best?


Common Challenges To Multi-Channel Attribution

Marketing attribution is a significant challenge for all B2B and non-eCommerce businesses, and successfully attributing conversions to channels can be difficult without the right tools.

It’s said that only 17% of advertisers look at the performance of all their digital channels together.

Crazy right?

Let’s take a look at some of the main limitations that stand in the way of multi-channel attribution.


Online-to-Offline Attribution

The ability to connect offline conversions with online touchpoints is one thing most marketers are yet to solve.

Online-to-online attribution is difficult, but things get increasingly complicated when offline attribution is involved because you can’t often directly measure the process from start to conversion.

Attributing offline conversions is an on-going battle for the service industry and non-eCommerce businesses that rely on digital marketing to promote their services and products.

Google Analytics does a great job of tracking the touchpoints that lead to an online conversion such as a form completion, but when a potential buyer enters into the offline world to make a phone call, things start to get a little fuzzy.

Google Analytics doesn’t provide call tracking. So, if you have a phone number on your website, and you’re using Google Analytics exclusively, then you have no way to collect data about your phone calls.

That said, you can track calls in Google Ads using Google forwarding numbers to track the call duration, time and date and determine which ads and campaigns are generating the most offline conversions.

Although, it’s still impossible to import this data to your Google Analytics, which means that you’re unable to correlate offline conversions with website usage data (sessions, page views and landing page) in Google Analytics to optimise your marketing channels for better results.

Also, call tracking is limited to Google ads only. So, you can’t report on phone conversions from other traffic sources such as organic, direct and social.

If phone calls are an integral part of your lead generation, then there’s a chance that you’re missing out crucial information about your marketing performance.


90-Day Attribution Window

Tools such as Google Analytics only support a 90-day look-back window, which is an issue for businesses that boast long and complicated sales funnels.

Attribution in Google Analytics allows you to assign credit to the marketing initiatives that drive traffic and conversions on your website. As of June 29th 2020, Google Analytics reduced its lookback window from 180-days to 90-days.


Lack of Conversion Data

Google Analytics is a tool built for marketers, so it doesn’t provide much explanation for why your visitors converted on your website.

Setting up Goals in Google Analytics allows you to track conversions and see which marketing activities result in the newest leads.

Although, the issue with this form of measurement is that leads, by their nature, are not sales.

Different traffic sources, keywords and ads produce a different revenue per lead and lifetime values.

Just because your Google ads campaign is generating the most conversions, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s contributing the most revenue.

So, it’s likely that your web analytics is the telling you lots about your website performance, but nothing about your business.


Multi-Channel Attribution Software

25% of marketers cited organisational and structural challenges as the No.1 reason they haven’t adopted data-driven attribution.

Good marketing attribution software will allow you to look at your marketing efforts through the lens of each of these attribution models and help you identify where to invest your time and budget.

Ruler is a closed-loop multi-channel attribution tool that helps you gain a wealth of insight into your marketing ROI.

multi channel attribution - ruler analyytics framework -

It enables you to tie all of your marketing efforts directly to revenue.

Ruler Analytics does this by identifying your website users and tracks their unique journey over multiple touchpoints.

Once an anonymous visitor converts into a lead, Ruler Analytics matches the user’s details to their marketing touchpoints and sends all this data to your CRM.

This populates the sales team’s system with conversion and marketing data, which helps them learn more about each prospect before reaching out to them.

Whenever a lead closes into revenue, the sales data is sent back into the Ruler Analytics dashboard. This allows marketing teams to optimise their marketing activity based on revenue.

multi channel attribution - sales cycle

Ruler Analytics also integrates with Facebook, Google Analytics and Ads so that you can measure marketing ROI straight from your favourite reporting tools.


Final Thoughts

Marketers who are responsible for spending money to generate revenue should have a solution in place to see if their channels are generating real value.

When you understand the benefits and disadvantages of different attribution models and have a solution that can help you collect and filter your performance data, you can use it to improve your campaigns, reduce waste, and prove how your efforts are building revenue for your businesses.

Want to learn more about marketing attribution? Book a call with one of our sales representatives and start focusing on the revenue impact of your marketing initiatives.

Book a demo Ruler Analytics

Written by

Digital Marketing Manager at Ruler Analytics with a background in SEO, analytics, content marketing and paid social. I help people (like me) close the loop between marketing-generated leads and revenue.