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Lewis Moulds

The Top 5 Online Marketing Attribution Models – and How to Use Them


Click here to download our FREE guide to Attribution Modelling!

The beauty of online marketing is that there is no single way to drive traffic to your site and on any given day, users will arrive there via different channels. Some will arrive via direct after punching in your URL; others might have typed a generic keyword search into Google and found your site by an organic listing or PPC link. But the plot thickens…

This might not be the first time these visitors have been to your site. So, what is more important: the method by which they arrived the last time, or the method by which the found you the first?

One of the biggest challenges for online marketers in 2014 is how to assign value to each of the marketing channels available. This will inform your strategy, helping you to decide which online marketing channel is devoted the most time; and which burns through most of your online marketing spend. Attribution modelling can help us to decide this.

An attribution model is a formula for deciding the value of each touch point between the user and the site, particularly when the user has been there multiple times before making an enquiry or sale.

Here, we’ve rounded up the 5 main attribution models used to help you decide which is right for your business. We are illustrating each using a simple 4 step conversion path: organic, referral, PPC and direct.


Take a look at the list and ask yourself which channel is giving you bang for your buck?

Last Touch Attribution Model


When reviewing your conversions in Google Analytics, you can see the Last Touch Attribution Model at work. This method assigns 100% of the value of the conversion to the last method by which a user arrived at the site. In our example, this is direct. This is the simplest way to establish value, but it also fails to credit the other ways that a user might have found your site, particularly the first.

First Touch Attribution Model


Many in the online marketing community prefer to credit the first interaction with a site for a conversion. After all, this was the introducing channel, without which the user might never heard of your site and certainly wouldn’t have typed in your URL to find the site. First Touch Attribution places 100% at the start of the conversion path, but there are other formulas which attempt to give value more accurately.

Linear Attribution Model


This formula is a simple one to explain. If a user did visit your site four times, via organic search, referral, PPC and direct, then the Linear Attribution Model assigns equal value to each interaction. With four visits involved that’s 25% each, but considering that typical conversion paths can range from 1 or 2 to 12+ interactions, all marketers have to do is divide their conversion value by the number of steps.

Position Based Attribution Model


This popular method of attribution assigns some value to all interaction points but gives greater value to both the first and last. It has also been nicknamed the ‘bathtub model’ and one look at the accompanying graph should tell you why. The most common position based attribution model divides 80% of the conversion value between the first and last interactions and then divides the remaining 20% between anything in between.

Time Decay Attribution Model


Another school of thought offers value to every step, but gives increased value to each progression on the journey. Some marketers have called this the ‘staircase model’. Time Decay Attribution is most commonly used for short term campaigns and promotions where the purpose is to gain a conversion as quickly as possible.

Depending upon your business and the goals of your website, any one of these common attribution models could be a viable method of assigning value to your various marketing channels and your direct traffic.

As online marketing experts, we incorporate attribution theory into all of our campaigns. This allows us to constantly review and improve our performance throughout the campaign by focussing on the channels that work.

Hit Search could help you to drive more traffic to your site and improve the quality of that traffic in the process. Why not give us a call today on 0845 643 9289 to find out more?

If you have a business in the financial sector and would like to up your marketing game or receive some expert information about digital marketing for financial services, then get in touch with a member of our team!

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