Multichannel attribution: Understanding the metrics behind successful campaigns

Get insights into multichannel attribution, along with key metrics, tools and methodologies for better decision-making.

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Multichannel attribution is the unsung hero of data-driven marketing in a digital landscape teeming with touchpoints. It provides a lens through which we can observe the efficacy of each channel in our marketing ecosystems, giving us further insight into which channel is to thank (or blame) for campaign results. 

This article explores multichannel attribution — covering tips for tracking and improving conversions across various touchpoints and actionable insights for optimizing campaigns.

The basics of multichannel attribution

Multichannel attribution is a term that refers to assigning credit for conversions coming from different marketing channels. Think of it as a scoreboard in a basketball game, showing how many points each team has scored. Likewise, multichannel attribution will provide a clear picture of what’s the most effective channel. 

While the concept is far from new, it gained prominence in recent years due to the proliferation of digital platforms. In addition, marketing is moving away from single-channel strategies to orchestrated campaigns that combine search, social, email and more. This has directly contributed to attribution becoming almost indispensable — 75% of companies implement multitouch attribution models to measure their performance. 

Dig deeper: Measuring the invisible: The truth about marketing attribution

The challenges of multichannel attribution

Instead of a single, streamlined customer journey, you now have to deal with journeys that span various devices and platforms, resulting in a lot of traps, particularly when attributing conversions to a single touchpoint. 

Similarly, difficulties stem from collecting data from various sources, even double-counting conversions. So, in a way, this has made skilled professionals much more effective while increasing the knowledge bar for entry for newbie digital marketers. 

Key metrics for successful attribution

Fortunately, there are several metrics to provide a helping hand on your attributing journey, including: 

  • Customer lifetime value (CLV). Measures the total value a customer brings over the course of their relationship with a brand.
  • Conversion rate. The percentage of completed goals (conversions) against the total number of visitors.
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA). The cost incurred to acquire a customer, calculated by dividing the total campaign cost by the number of conversions.

Using these metrics, you can gauge the effectiveness of each channel and shift your focus and budget accordingly.

Tools and technologies for multichannel attribution

Choosing the right tools for multichannel attribution can be overwhelming. The market is teeming with platforms that promise robust analytics and actionable insights. Among the top contenders are:

  • Google Analytics. A staple for many marketers, Google Analytics is relatively easy to use and offers various attribution models to suit different needs. The platform is especially well-suited for small to medium-sized businesses and offers real-time analytics and customizable reports.
  • Adobe Analytics. While it comes with a steeper learning curve, Adobe Analytics offers depth and customization unparalleled by most other platforms. It’s designed for large enterprises and offers advanced segmentation and analytics capabilities.
  • HubSpot. Particularly beneficial for those in inbound marketing, HubSpot is more than an attribution tool. It provides a unified view of your marketing efforts through its robust CRM, including recently added AI capabilities and a Sales Hub overhaul.

When choosing an attribution tool, consider factors like budget, team size, and the level of analytical depth required. Keep scalability in mind as your business grows and your multichannel strategies evolve.

Methodologies for effective tracking

Attribution models are the linchpin of any effective multichannel strategy. Let’s take a closer look at the most commonly used ones:

W-shaped attribution

W-shaped attribution is a more nuanced approach to attribution modeling that seeks to give credit to three primary phases in the customer journey: initial awareness, lead conversion and the ultimate sale. Typically, the credit is equally divided among these three touchpoints.

However, the base version of this model, U-shaped or positional attribution, was deprecated in Google Analytics 4 in May 2023.

This may have been due to the evolution of digital marketing complexities and customer journeys that are far more intricate than the positional model could handle.

Multi-touch attribution with revenue weighting

Multi-touch attribution with revenue weighting is one of the more advanced models that takes not just touchpoints but also the revenue generated from each touchpoint into account.

This is extremely useful in B2B environments, where sales cycles are long, complex and involve multiple stakeholders.

In this model, each touchpoint is assigned a revenue value based on how much it contributes to the final sale. This dynamic approach requires robust data analytics capabilities to implement effectively.

Companies can precisely measure the ROI of each marketing channel or campaign by taking into account the revenue generated by each touchpoint, even on awareness campaigns.

Algorithmic attribution

Also known as data-driven attribution, this model uses machine learning algorithms to analyze various factors and assign a dynamic weight to each touchpoint. Due to its ML applications, it’s as close to “real world” reasoning as you can get. However, it necessitates a robust dataset and significant computing power, making it suitable only for larger enterprises with an established data analytics infrastructure. 

Your choice of attribution model depends on your specific marketing landscape. Each has strengths and limitations, so the key is finding one that aligns with your goals and available resources.

Dig deeper: Marketing attribution: What it is, and how it identifies vital customer touchpoints

Actionable strategies for optimization

Implementing multichannel attribution is the starting point, not the finish line. To fully reap its benefits, you must continually optimize your strategies based on the insights gained from your attribution models. Here are some actionable steps:

  • Leverage data. Translate your insights into actionable changes. If email campaigns show high ROI, consider allocating more resources to this channel. Don’t hesitate to abandon channels that turn out unfruitful. 
  • A/B testing. Consistently perform split tests on different channels, creatives, and campaigns. Measure how minor tweaks impact your KPIs, including CLV, CPA, and conversion rates. Just make sure the approach is consistent on all channels. 
  • Scale wisely. Once you’ve identified which channels yield the best ROI, consider scaling these efforts. However, scaling should be strategic; understand the limitations and nuances of each channel to avoid diluting your efforts.

Conclusion

In an increasingly connected yet fragmented world, multichannel attribution is the compass for navigating the labyrinthine customer journey. You can untangle the web of data to reveal clear, actionable pathways to marketing success by harnessing the right metrics, tools and methodologies.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About the author

Nahla Davies
Contributor
Nahla Davies is a software developer and tech writer. Before devoting her work full time to technical writing, she managed—among other intriguing things—to serve as a lead programmer at an Inc. 5,000 experiential branding organization whose clients include Samsung, Time Warner, Netflix, and Sony.

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