Must-know definition for marketers: What is attribution in marketing?

Moving marketing from happening to performing includes understanding what works and what doesn’t. That’s why we need properly set-up marketing attribution to understand where buyers are coming from. Jenn Mancusi discusses the topic on this episode of “Marketing, Demystified.”

Some of the topics that she discusses include:

  • What is marketing attribution?
  • What are first-touch attribution, last-touch attribution, and multi-touch attribution models?
  • How companies get started with marketing attribution.
  • What systems help attribute marketing correctly?
  • Can everything be measured?

At a high level, marketing attribution refers to tracking where leads and businesses come from. That could include:

  • clicks from ads
  • organic website visitors to a blog post or product page
  • click-throughs from email campaigns and newsletters
  • contact form submissions

Since busy consumers nowadays need multiple touchpoints in their customer journey, it’s important to measure all the different touchpoints and understand how consumers engage with your brand and what contributes to and then drives the sale.

For example, you can track your marketing results through a CRM like HubSpot and get reports on where consumers came from, what they clicked on, and what communication they received. Of course, the trick from there is to analyze what communications and touchpoints are working best to move people closer to purchasing from your brand

Attribution definition

What is attribution in marketing? Marketing attribution refers to determining the impact each marketing channel, campaign, or activity has on driving business results like revenue, leads, and sales. It helps you understand how prospects move through your sales funnel and what tactics influence buying decisions.

With clear attribution, you can make data-driven decisions on where to invest your marketing resources for maximum return.

Common Attribution Models

There are several popular attribution models, each with pros and cons:

First-Touch: Attributes success to the first touchpoint. Best for awareness-building.

Last-Touch: Credits the last touchpoint before conversion. Ideal for optimizing conversion.

Multi-Touch: Considers the impact of multiple touchpoints. Most comprehensive but complex. One example is u-shaped, which weighs first and last touchpoints more heavily. Balances awareness and conversion.

Choose a model aligned with your business goals. Start simple before attempting more advanced multi-touch attribution.

Key Components for Attribution Success

To build an effective attribution model, focus on these elements:

CRM Platform: Your CRM should be the central system connecting marketing, sales, and revenue data. Siloed data restricts attribution.

Campaign Tracking: Use UTM parameters and naming conventions to tag marketing assets for tracking. More granular tagging enables deeper analysis.

Measurement Planning: Define success for each campaign or initiative before launch. Decide which metrics matter most.

Customer Perspective: Consider how customers define progress to identify key milestones for measurement. Customer success enables business success.

Reporting and Analysis: Use BI tools to connect data sources and create always-on, real-time reporting for agile optimization.

Choosing the Right Success Metrics

With endless metrics available, determining which ones matter most is key. Rather than vanity metrics like lead volume, focus on opportunity cost, customer acquisition cost, and other indicators tied to revenue.

Optimize for quality over quantity. A channel producing high-cost leads may still prove valuable if those leads convert to sales at a higher rate. Always track the end goal.

Getting More from Your Attribution Model

An attribution model strategy isn’t just about the initial setup. To maximize its impact:

  • Review frequently, at least quarterly. Models must evolve with your marketing.
  • Use insights to guide budgeting. Increase investment in high-performing areas.
  • Identify low-performing campaigns for optimization. Experiment and improve.
  • Determine which levers to pull when adjustments are needed.

While developing an attribution model takes effort upfront, the long-term payoff is immense. You’ll gain the visibility required to make smart marketing decisions, operate efficiently, and consistently improve results. So that’s the answer to what is attribution in marketing and why it matters.

Read next: Drive Growth: How Account-Based Marketing Tactics Can Transform Your Business



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