How to Choose the Right Analytics Attribution Model: An 8 Step Guide

Campaign analytics is the most used marketing technology by B2B marketing professionals in the US. Even so, a lot of those marketers aren’t getting all the details they can from their metrics.

One of the biggest challenges of marketing online is tying conversions back to the source of the lead so you can see what campaigns are giving you the best ROI. This is where a lot of marketers fall short.

Choosing the right attribution model will help you drill down to the source of your visitors, leads, and sales so you know exactly where to focus your efforts. Let’s look at the eight attribution models and how they work.

What is an Attribution Model?

An attribution model is a way to tie conversions back to the marketing channel that generated it. It helps you figure out what marketing campaign should get credit for the conversion.

If you only have one or two campaigns running, it’s not that hard to figure out on your own. But if you’re running multiple campaigns across different platforms, it’s hard to connect them without the right attribution model.

Eight Attribution Models to Choose From

Google Analytics has eight attribution models built in. It can generate reports for all your goals (leads, sales, clicks, most effective keywords, or anything else you want to measure) based on each of the models.

First-Click Attribution

The first-click attribution gives credit to the channel where a visitor first clicked to end up on your website. It doesn’t matter how many other steps they took between that and the conversion, the original source is what gets the credit.

This model is useful for figuring out which marketing channel drives the most customers. It doesn’t take into consideration any follow-up, additional marketing messages those visitors might have seen and clicked, or any face-to-face work you’ve done. It’s all about measuring the top-of-the-funnel results.

Last-Click Attribution

As you can probably guess, last-click attribution gives credit to the channel that drove the visitor’s last click before the conversion. Similar to the first-click model, it doesn’t matter what else they did or how long it took from the initial point of contact to the conversion, the last click is what counts.

This model is best for measuring which channel drives the most conversions. None of the intermediate work necessary to get them from a cold lead to a customer comes into consideration, it’s all about what pushed the conversion through.

Last Non-Direct-Click Attribution

The last non-direct-click attribution model is similar to the last one but it doesn’t consider direct clicks when identifying the channel that drove the conversion.

In most marketing campaigns, you’ll have several touch-points with a visitor. They might click an ad that takes them to your site, where they sign up for a newsletter or white paper. Once they’re on your email list, they’ll receive one or emails before the conversion happens.

A “direct” click isn’t an actual click. It means they typed your website address into their browser to get there. That usually only happens after they’ve seen those other things – your ad, your emails, etc.

Giving the direct click credit for the conversion isn’t a realistic view of what convinced them to buy.

Linear Attribution

Going through all those stages in your marketing campaign – ad click, reading content on your website, requesting more information, receiving an email, etc. – means they all played some part in taking that visitor from a cold lead to a buyer. Giving all the credit to a single point in the stream discredits all the rest.

The linear attribution model gives equal credit to all the channels a buyer saw your message or clicked a link. This lets you see everything that played a part in the conversion, no matter how many steps there were.

Position-Based Attribution

Position-based attribution is similar to the linear model except instead of giving equal credit to all the steps, it gives more weight to the first and last ones.

The first step is important to know because that’s what brings the visitor into your orbit. Without that step, they might never have heard of you. And the last step is the one that drove the conversion so that’s also worth more in the scheme of things.

The position-based model gives the first and last touchpoints the most credit, at 40 percent each, and distributes the other 20 percent evenly between all the steps in between. If you have two steps, they get 10 percent of the credit each and if you have twenty steps, they each get one percent.

Time-Decay Attribution

The time-decay model puts a slightly different spin on the position-based model. Instead of giving the first and last steps the most weight, time-decay attribution treats the final step as the most important and gives the rest progressively less credit the earlier they are in the funnel.

In other words, the first touch point gets the least credit and the final one gets the most.

Data-Driven Attribution

The data-driven attribution model is the most accurate of them all. In this model, you add your end goal and then assign a weight to each channel based on how much of a part it played in getting your visitors to that goal.

This model takes more work to set up and requires that you have a certain amount of data to help you weight the different channels, but once it’s set up, you’ll be able to get the most accurate metrics for every channel in the process.

This model is only available in Google Analytics 360, part of the Google Marketing Platform so if it isn’t available in your account, you may need to upgrade it to 360.

Choosing from the Google Analytics Attribution Models

There’s no single “best” attribution model. Yes, the data-drive model gives you the most granular data about your campaigns, but you should consider using more than one, depending on what you want to measure.

If you want to know what traffic source drives the most sales, the first-click model will give you better information while measuring conversions is better done with the last-click.

Getting familiar with all the options and learning how to get the best information out of Google Analytics can take some time. If you’d rather focus on what your business does best and leave the analytics and marketing strategy planning to experts, Pro Q can help.

We’ll organize and assess your needs to develop the most effective marketing strategy for your business. Get in touch with us today to schedule a free 30-minute consultation.

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