Polytab Analytics Blog

How to pick the best marketing attribution model for your business

Marketing attribution is important to determine what’s working, how well and at what stage of the shopping journey. It is more than budget allocation. It is about allocating budget where it is needed for the right audience. As more marketing channels come into play, the point is not lost that the pool of shoppers is still the same, so are the number of hours available to influence them. Bombarding shoppers with content does not mean that shoppers are more influenced, it just means that the individual impact of each marketing touch is just that more diluted. What if you removed that one marketing vehicle, would it have an impact? Attribution is about assigning what, if any, credit is to be given to a marketing touch and the best way to do this assignment.

First-touch attribution model

  • Who gets the credit?  The first influencer in the shopping path.
  • When is it most relevant? 
    • When the business is new with a weak brand, or
    • the focus is on acquiring new customers, and
    • the sales cycle is short (under one week)
  • When is it misleading? 
    • Always, but especially so when the sales cycle is long and multi-touch
    • When shoppers convert on the phone or in-store
    • when you are also using non-digital channels like TV, radio, flyers.

Last-touch attribution model

  • Who gets the credit?  The last influencer in the shopping path.
  • When is it most relevant? 
    • When you have a single marketing vehicle (usually google paid search). Essentially every shopper goes through the same channel so clarity on the shopping path is not necessary.
    • When you are a small operation with a single person carrying a load of the analyst, marketing manager, e-commerce specialist.
  • When is it misleading? 
    • Always, but it doesn’t matter because you’ve already committed your budget to Google.

U-shaped attribution model

  • Who gets the credit?  Equal weights to the first and the last touch and the balance to everything in the middle.
  • When is it most relevant? 
    • When you acquire shoppers through paid search on non-branded keywords and convert via affiliates like ebates, slickdeals, couponcabin etc. By design you want to give weight to the acquisition and the conversion events.
  • When is it misleading? 
    • Always. I don’t know anyone who uses this.

Time decay attribution model

  • Who gets the credit?  Everyone gets the credit but the influencers near the purchase event get the most credit.
  • When is it most relevant? 
    • When you have too much time on your hands.
  • When is it misleading? 
    • Always, but especially when you have affiliates or social media influencers. Besides, I don’t know anyone who uses this.

Data driven attribution model (via Polytab)

  • Who gets the credit?  The channel that should get the credit. The credit is apportioned based on the pages viewed as part of each session, time on site, the elapsed time between an event and the purchase, and more.
  • When is it most relevant? 
  • When is it misleading? 
    • When the analyst does not have any hypotheses or tests to run. Polytab is a powerful technology, but it’s only as good as the analyst.

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