One of the things that first drew me to digital marketing was the wealth of data available to analyze user behavior. When I first signed into Google Analytics, I was blown away by the information about user behavior available at your fingertips. For a business owner, this tool becomes even more powerful. Google Analytics (and other data tools), can be used to determine which of the channels you’ve invested in are accomplishing your goals for the business. Enter attribution.


Attribution is the process of assigning a value to each channel that contributed to a sale or conversion. For example, if someone clicks on a Google AdWords ad you are running, then makes a purchase on your website, you would attribute the revenue from that purchase to Google AdWords. If done consistently and across channels, you’d have a clear picture of which channels were bringing in what amount of revenue, and could use this data to guide marketing decision-making and budgeting.


Attribution modeling can range from simple to exceedingly complicated, depending on the tools and data you have available. Here are a few of the different types of attribution modeling you can use to help your business. We’ll use the following example to demonstrate the models:


A prospect clicks on an AdWords ad and is taken to your website, then fills out a contact form. She is added to your marketing email list and receives your e-newsletter three days later and clicks on your website again. Another day later, she sees a Facebook ad, clicks and makes a purchase.


  1. First Interaction Attribution: The first touchpoint a person has with your brand receives 100% of the credit. Here, the AdWords click would receive all of the credit for the sale.


  1. Last Interaction Attribution: The last interaction a person has with your brand receives 100% of the credit; in this case, the Facebook ad.


  1. Linear Attribution: Each touchpoint receives equal credit for the sale. Here, the AdWords ad, e-newsletter, and Facebook ad would share credit (33.3% or so) for the conversion.


  1. Time Decay Attribution: The interaction that happened closest to when the conversion occurred receives the most credit, with the other channels sharing less. For example, the Facebook ad might receive 70% of the credit, the e-newsletter 20% and the Adwords ad 10%.


To use these models, you’ll need to be tracking conversions in Google Analytics, using Event Tracking, Goals or Ecommerce Tracking. None of these are available out of the box in Google Analytics, but can be configured rather quickly by developers. Once your conversions are being tracked, you can access the Attribution and MultiChannel Funnel reports in Google Analytics to apply any of the above models (and others), and unlock a powerful tool for marketing decision making.


As with all analytics, there are limitations (the difficulty in tracking offline channels, for example), but using attribution can give valuable insights into user behavior and the effectiveness of digital marketing efforts.

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