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What is marketing attribution?

In most contexts, people want to earn recognition for their work, especially when it results in demonstrably positive outcomes. In other words, they want to have the fruits of their labor attributed to their effort. In a market-driven economy, it's only natural that people want this kind of recognition, especially when there's financial gain to be had.

Translating customer experiences

The most common way of looking at attribution is giving someone credit for performing some act (1). In its essence, the concept is very straightforward. But when applied to a different context, attribution can become quite complex. For a business owner looking to sell their products or services, they need to advertise them to attract buyers.

But how do you know which marketing channel or campaign is best? This is where marketing attribution comes into great use. It helps companies manage the complicated interplay of online and offline interactions with customers to discover the pathways they take to reach the purchasing stage. It's important not only to the marketing team, but also to the business as a whole to ensure the budget is used most effectively.

Locating the path to purchase

Given the prominent role that digital technology has in guiding consumers to an online business, it's easy to reason that the majority of your marketing budget should go to digital channels. However, even ecommerce organizations typically diversify their advertising spend across multiple touch points, including events, email, social media, search engine optimization and pay-per-click campaigns, among many others. And these are isolated channels; they often are used in concert and compliment one another to help motivate consumers when they're making purchasing decisions.

Why should you think about attribution?

Each of the channels you use to attract consumers will generate varying levels of value (2). In an ideal world, each customer would make a purchase directly after their first exposure to an ad. But it's more likely that a person will get an email, click on the link, abandon the session, re-engage through a social media post and finally arrive at a landing page and make a purchase after finding the site through organic search. So, you need to find out what impact each of these channels had on the final purchase decision.

As a result, most companies with an online presence need to consider multitouch attribution if they truly want to look at their marketing expenses and figure out what the most profitable channels are (3). After all, simply giving the first and last touch a customer interacts with all the credit completely ignores the influence the other experiences had on motivating a purchase.

There are a variety of ways that companies can make their marketing attribution strategies more accurate. For instance, tracking keywords with the help of Web tools like Google Analytics will help isolate which search terms were used to draw customers to a website. Additionally, cookies are frequently utilized to track the actual pathways that customers take when they land on a website. Furthermore, URLs that include UTM parameters help track where customers came from. These essentially help business owners know which link, whether it was in an email or in a Twitter ad, led the customer to the ecommerce site.

When you're selling your products online, you want to know how to effectively market them using various channels. Marketing attribution is by far one of the most critical pieces of any campaign in that it helps you track return on investment and improve future strategies.

1. "What is marketing attribution and why do you need it?" 2. "Why you should care about marketing attribution" 3. "3 challenges of attribution modeling: The bad, the bad and the ugly"

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