With so many different channels making up an integrated digital marketing strategy, it can sometimes be difficult to determine the true effect they all have towards your bottom line.
There’s often multiple ‘touchpoints’ throughout a customer’s journey, with each one playing a part towards that final conversion. So which one gets the glory?
A typical example might be the below..
Touchpoint 1: A user searches for ‘hairdressers near me’ on Google and clicks on a local listing for ‘A Cut Above’. They have a quick initial browse.
Touchpoint 2: Later that week they see a remarketing ad on Instagram from ‘A Cut Above’ which prompts them to revisit the site and look more into pricing / availability.
Touchpoint 3: Later that day, with the brand at the forefront of their mind, the user google’s ‘A Cut Above’ and clicks on a paid for branded ad at the top of the results page. After one final browse, they book an appointment.
There are 3 channels here that all played a part in that user’s booking. Organic search, social media and paid search. The channel that takes the credit will all depend on the attribution model you choose to use, so here’s an overview of each one and the scenarios in which they might be used.
Last click / last interaction
In this attribution model, the last touchpoint gets the credit – the last channel the user interacted with before they made their final purchase / enquiry / booking. Using the above example, PPC gets 100% of the credit.
This is the most common attribution model for a reason – it’s accurate, and we know for sure that this channel played a significant part in the conversion. If a user browses across multiple platforms, over a long period of time and at some point in the process clears their cookies, the touchpoints prior to conversion become impossible to track.
That said, it does ignore all contributing channels, and might not be the best model to use if your product / service is more considered, and takes users a couple of interactions before taking the plunge.
First click / first interaction
The first click model is similar, yet attributes 100% of the credit to the first touchpoint in the user’s journey. In our example above, the conversion would be attributed to organic search – the channel by which the user discovered your brand.
Of course this model doesn’t consider any subsequent channels that may have contributed to a user’s final decision. Would the user above have remembered the hairdresser had they not later seen the remarketing ad?
This can be a great model to use when determining which channels drive the most new customers or those best for ‘top of the funnel’ conversions.
Linear attribution will assign equal credit to each contributing channel. For the above example, organic search, social media and paid search will each get 33.33% of the credit.
This is probably the most fair channel in terms of making sure your all digital marketing channels are getting the recognition they deserve. That said, some channels tend to have a greater emphasis on a user’s decision which isn’t taken into account in the linear model.
Use this model when looking into user journeys as a whole, but perhaps don’t rely on it to determine your strongest influencers.
Last non-direct click / last non-direct interaction
This is the default attribution model used in Google Analytics reports. Often, a user’s last interaction with a site before converting will be direct, ie. they are already aware of your brand and have gone straight to your website’s URL to convert. This can disproportionately attribute all the credit to direct traffic, ignoring any other touchpoint that helped build that brand awareness in the first place.
So, if a user clicked on an organic listing, followed by a social remarketing ad, then several days later went straight to your website to enquire, the last non-direct model will assign 100% of the credit to social media. Again, it doesn’t take into account anything before this social interaction, but it can be more helpful at times when analysing the channels you actually pay for.
Also known as ‘U-shaped attribution’, the position based model gives credit to all contributing channels in a user’s journey, but is more heavily weighted towards the first and last interaction.
40% of credit is given to the first click, 40% to the last click, and the remaining 20% is split between any interactions in the middle. Again, to use our example above, both organic and paid search will get 40% credit, and social media 20%.
This is a good model to use when a customer journey typically has many touch points. It doesn’t ignore any interaction, but it does place more emphasis on what are often seen as the most important two – that first time a user came across your brand, and the channel that ultimately lead them to enquire / purchase.
This model focuses on when users encountered each touchpoint. The closer the interaction was to the final conversion, the more credit it will get. For our above example, the attribution is more heavily weighted towards paid search, followed by social, with the least credit going to SEO.
This model can be useful when the sales process is typically longer and more drawn out. It can help to determine which channels are more efficient from a conversion perspective, which ones are better at ‘closing’ the deal.
Ultimately, the attribution model you choose will depend on your business, the channels you’re investing in, and a typical user journey within your niche. It’s not one size fits all, and often it can be useful to explore all models for your business to get the full picture.
If you’re struggling to see the full value of some of your digital marketing channels, we can help. Contact us today.