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Marketing Attribution Guide: Who Deserves Credit for the Sales!?

Updated May 6, 2017
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Marketing Attribution Guide - Who deserves credit for the sales?

Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, an SEO and Web Design company focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses, roofers and construction companies.

Marketing Attribution Guide - Who deserves credit for the sales?

What is attribution in marketing? Marketing attribution answers the question where are my customers coming from? What activities, social, paid social, SEO/content, or Google Adwords are bringing in visitors – and more importantly – customers? If we know the answer to these questions we can push more effort and money into the avenues that are working.

What are the best ways to get attribution for digital marketing?

  1. Make sure you’re tracking conversions from Google Analytics
  2. CallRail for phonecalls from your website, and what source they came from.
  3. Attribution and assisted conversions in Google Analytics
  4. Add the page the form was submitted on, on submitted contact forms.

Quick tip: If you want to just get started with one thing for your attribution today

The #1 Most Important thing you could do for your attribution today, is make sure Google Analytics is tracking conversions and go to this screen in Google Analytics:

Assisted Conversions - Guide to Digital Marketing Attribution

Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions

Why is this so awesome? And what’s the first place I’d start if you have conversions already set up in Analytics? It not only tells you the last thing they converted on, but other sources they might have touched.


5 Things to keep in Mind when seeking clear marketing attribution

1. Don’t let some idea of perfection stop you from starting
If you’re reading this – I hope you can find some small way to get started today. Attribution can seem like this big scary ominous thing when you’re first starting out, but it just means FIGURING OUT WHAT’S WORKING. You likely already doing it in your head.

“When I publish blog posts on a regular basis – it seems we get more customers.”

“When I’m tweeting regularly or putting out Instagram posts with product – more people are in the shop.”

“When I redesigned the website – there was a lift in leads.”

“When I added more clear calls to action at the end of each page – leads seemed to go up.”

Now it’s just a matter of making that value explicit – making sure the ROI is obvious to your team, your client, or yourself. But any improvement on attribution is a good thing for your marketing efforts, it doesn’t have to be the perfect funnel where we know what % of our business comes from social, SEO, and print campaigns – in a perfect and linear format and what each customer had each touch, and how many tweets they clicked before becoming a customer.

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This is not impossible to fathom, but one improvement (like adding which page a contact form submission was entered as a hidden field in your forms, so your team can more easily give the customer what they’re looking for, or know what they were interested in) can move you in the right direction – NOW.

2. Just make sure your whole team is on the same page about the important metrics

For instance – if you close 1 out of every 30 contact form submissions that come in through your website (take 10 minutes and do some math on your site) and the average CLV (Customer Lifetime Value) is 16k, than a lead through those contact forms would be worth $530 on average.

This might seem crazy low – but you have to consider spammy contact form submissions and other kinds of ‘fake’ leads that come in through your lead generation forms. For that reason the number might be lower so it can be as accurate as possible. This way you can focus on as real a number as possible when considering what it’s worth on average when people submit that form and can track it.

You can also increase the friction to submit a form (squeezing the funnel) or put forms all over the place and super easy to submit (widening the funnel) – and neither is wrong. Just dependent on what you need at the time for the business.

3. Always keep in mind the CLV of a customer when getting clarity on Attribution, and the percentage of that that you’re spending on CAC – Cost of Acquisition

You need to know what your customer lifetime value is. If your CAC (Cost to Acquire a Customer) or all of your marketing efforts in time and money is less than one third of your CLV, well… you may have room to grow your marketing efforts – but if you have to be honest with yourself if your CAC is TOO HIGH. You want to get the return of the CAC within the first 12 months or so.

If your CAC to CLV ratio is 1:3 that is ideal.

If your CAC to CLV ratio is 1:5 you may be spending too little and missing out on customers.

If your CAC to CLV ratio is 1:1 – you are spending too much on marketing, distribution, and sales, but you likely would know that already.

4. Once you get clear attribution – it will be better to test new ideas and tweak and clarify the process

If you know each lead is worth $530 dollars, and you know which pages are converting, and what percentage of your business is coming from social, search, outbound sales, or other sources – you can trace the golden thread back to the crucial elements and modify landing pages, headlines and pitches in a way that allows for the greatest return. You don’t have to spend all of your time tweaking some landing page that barely converts, and you can drop all efforts in long-dead avenues.

You can also assign a value to each conversion for the amount you’ve determined each lead is worth in Google Analytics.

Your experimentation goes further when you have clear attribution, because you’re experimenting on the key elements and not all of the fluff.

5. Proving ROI was said to be the #2 biggest challenge for digital marketers in 2016 – Attribution to your marketing efforts, proves effectiveness

The number one challenge is generating traffic and leads, and the number three is securing enough budget. GUESS WHAT THE BRIDGE IS from securing budget – > -> to generating more traffic and leads? Proving what’s working – so you can confidently get more budget in the high-return activities and move on with your life. No one wants the same old problem of not having the money to do the marketing activities that you INTUITIVELY KNOW are bringing ROI, but don’t have enough clear attribution to continue getting the money you need and pushing past a marketing stalemate.

Attribution is the key to getting past that stalemate of not enough budget, to knock out the biggest Goliath of all – more traffic and leads 

Most of my posts deal with generating traffic and leads, but this steps back from that. Because proving ROI – with attribution – is extremely important.


Quick tip: Set up an ongoing rolling document or dashboard for attribution

A great way to get into this is DashThis. DashThis allows you to hook up your Analytics account, Search Console and a number of other accounts and arrange a dashboard with all of the top KPI’s you’re tracking – including where your traffic is coming from and where your conversions are coming from.

Ongoing Rolling Dashboard – Attribution Guide for Marketing

Any kind of dashboard that people in the organization can reference on a regular basis is more likely to facilitate ongoing positive change!

Some Important questions answered about Marketing Attribution:

1. What is an attribution model in Google Analytics?

Your attribution model is the set of rules that gives credit to sales or conversions in Google Analytics. You can create a model that uses the last interaction as the one that takes the credit, or the first one, or a mixture of both. You can set 100% of the credit to go to the last click or touchpoint – which is the most common, and thus all credit (or attribution) goes there.

2. What is cross channel attribution?

Let’s say you have social media posts going out and someone is clicking on them and is a fan or follower of yours – then later they search for a product or service that you come up for – and because they had been visiting your content regularly your product or service sticks out and they click in and buy – is that merely coincidence? Or should the social clicks and views count for part of the credit? Cross Channel attribution models attempt to integrate some percentage of attribution to these previous clicks and views.

3. What is last click attribution?

Obviously last click attribution – is attributing – the value mainly just to that last click. Which you could argue is the only real one that matters, seeing as previous visits to the site didn’t actually yield a sale. The way you look at first click and last click attribution will color the way you see marketing in general. If you think content marketing is important, than you may be more prone to advocate for cross-channel attribution.

4. What is an assisted conversion?

Assisted conversions are the actual final click in a chain of touches, that may have started in any number of places – from social, to search, to direct visits. 

I would say this content marketing centric approach – ‘Jab, jab, jab, right hook’ or ‘Give, give, give, ask’ – is the way I see marketing, and I strongly suggest getting your content in front of people even if it takes boosting content related posts on Facebook, being very active on social, and going after non ‘high-intent’ keywords and topics. Even if the person wouldn’t be looking to buy if they searched that topic (high intent) if it’s related to your product or service and you can help them solve that problem – then you are setting them up for a conversion or sale at a later time.

By being THE PERSON to go to on that subject, you’re serving and preparing them to possibly reach out to you to help with future needs along those lines. “This person helped solved my problem before (through content, but still), perhaps I should reach out to them to help me solve this other related problem.” (That perhaps I’ll pay for this time.)

They go directly to your website or search you out again, and convert into a customer.

Boom. Cross channel attribution.

6 Best Articles on Marketing Attributions to read next:

1. 7 Things CMO’s Should Know About Attribution – Marketing Land

2. What is Marketing Attribution – Convertro

3. How to Calculate ROI With Inbound Marketing Attribution

4. Rethinking the Attribution Problem in Digital Marketing

5. All 11 Marketing Attribution Models Explained

6. Demystifying the concept of attribution in digital marketing


Watch this quick video to see how savvy businesses save time and hook better leads:


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Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, an SEO and Web Design company focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses, roofers and construction companies.

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