Attribution: Are you still stuck on last click?

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What does attribution really mean in the realm of Digital Marketing? Our Director of Digital Paid Media, Macy Edwards, talks us through the customer journey, answering key questions that inform decision-making around attribution.



Attribution: Are you still stuck on last click?

Is your attribution still completely based on last click? I have been posing this question to various marketing professionals and businesses across various sectors over the last few months. What shocks me is how everyone has the same problem – seeking a single customer view to establish a clearer understanding of the customer’s journey. So, let’s start at the beginning. What is “attribution”, and what does it really mean in the realm of Digital Marketing?

What is marketing attribution?

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) defines marketing attribution as; “the process of identifying a set of user actions (“events”) across screens and touch points that contribute in some manner to a desired outcome, and then assigning value to each of these events”.

So, you will note that it doesn’t refer to online or offline. It is simply a holistic view of your customer journey and giving appropriate credit to each interaction that led to a desired outcome (for the purpose of this article we will refer to this as a conversion). Ask yourself - do you understand your customer journey? This is the part we all look to technology to help us with.

What does my customer’s journey look like?

There is already a lot of digital marketing tech available that can help you to start answering this question for free; Google Analytics, Facebook Attribution, Google Ads.

The main piece of advice to consider when deciding which bit of tech is likely to fit your needs is to decide what you want to measure, and then think about where you want to measure it. Everything is moving towards machine learning and automation, so why invest your time into overlaying many data sets and trying to match events up to measure value and portion this up, when you can just compare models to understand the 3 key questions?

The 3 key questions you need to be able to answer

The 3 key questions that inform decision-making around attribution are:

  1. What activity drives the most value on first interaction?
  2. What activity drives the most assisted conversions?
  3. What activity drives the most value on last interaction?

Why are these important? Because your upper funnel activity (otherwise known as prospecting) is invaluable when evaluating end-to-end performance. Assisted conversion activity is part of your mid funnel, and is equally important as it connects your brand and product with the consumer. Finally, your lower funnel activity often involves either direct marketing or re-marketing activity, which drives the final decision and where the ROI is typically higher.

It’s essential for marketers to invest in and analyse every part of the marketing funnel, to ensure that each conversion path is driving customers to purchase. There are many factors to consider here, including competitive market, generic product and considered purchase.

Recently, I used RStudio to collate multi funnel data via the Google Analytics API, which allowed me to analyse data across different channels and campaigns. This data helped me to show clients the impact and value of the marketing mix on their overall revenue, demonstrating the importance of nurturing their upper funnel to drive year-on-year growth.

The process of collating this sort of data can be broken down into 5 steps:

  1. Download RStudio
  2. Copy the code from this article into a new report
  3. Add the GA Profile ID and metrics you want to analyse
  4. Paste the code required to run the script
  5. View the export in the relevant folder

You are then able to view the data in excel and visualise your data. We typically use this to pivot the sales funnel for our clients, so that they understand which campaigns drive awareness, consideration and finally, conversions. This enables clients to quantify the ROI of each element of their overall digital marketing strategy. Of course, impression data and incrementality are also very important factors to consider, but analysing campaigns in relation to driving growth is key.


Do you understand your customer journey? Can you answer the key questions that inform decision making-around attribution? If you want to find out more, book in a conversation with our dedicated team of digital marketing specialists to see how we can help.

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