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Attribution modelling


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Attribution modelling is a system that allows marketeers to decide how to use their marketing spend by analysing the ways in which their target audience has reached their site, and the journey they took.

Modern internet shoppers are savvy. They don’t always buy the first thing they see the first time they look at it online. Often, they’ll visit the site a number of times and they may arrive by a different channel each time.

This document will go into more detail surrounding the processes involved.

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Attribution modelling

  1. 1. II3 online marketing experts
  2. 2. Contents introduction 2 Search Isn't Dead. .. you just aren’t doing it right! 2 Attribution in Numbers 3 What is Attribution Modelling? 4 Basic Theory 4 Types of Interaction 5 Types of Attribution Model 6 Why is Attribution Modelling Important? 7 Direct Deception 7 Importance of lntroducers 8 The Long Game 9 How do I use Attribution? 10 Analytics I0 Tracking II Attribution in Practice — How Analysis Drives Success 12 Many sides of data — Looking at First Click I3 Attribution Model in Practice — Linear I4 About Hit Search 15 . "'~it5.ori IT l"ilii'i’1ifs: 'i Cl 1;’ CIIT‘
  3. 3. Search | sn’t Dead. .. you just aren’t doing it righ"! In the past couple of years, Google has altered the landscape of search entirely. Updates like Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird hanged the algorithm the search engine uses to rank web pages. As if that wasn't enough, they punished keyword stuffers and link farms by banning them from the list altogether. So, the SEO tactics that once took your website to Page I don't work anymore. But don't believe the harbingers of doom just yet: SEO isn't dead, it's different. That’s why we're putting together a series of publications which aim to dispel the myths and get to the bottom of modern SEO. There are multiple optimisation methods that can have a positive effect on your rankings. An important part of the process is attribution modelling. Throughout this booklet, we'll introduce the concept of attribution and why it is important to your online marketing campaign. We'll also provide a glimpse at how to use attribution to get a bigger bang for your marketing buck. Ok, so Google Penguin ruined our link profiles and ‘Not Provided’ took away most of our keyword data but there are still so many ways to drive traffic to your site, build your web presence and bring you the best possible online marketing campaign.
  4. 4. of companies said attribution . O h 't‘ ' t of UK businesses use [0 ad a posl We lmpac attribution modelling 0 "d h Only look at last click! [0 Sm t e impact was major 3 Main Benefits of Attribution Modelling to Online Marketers Justifying Understanding Optimising marketing customer media mix spend 0 0 journey ’. - Increased interest in attribution 49% of business owners — l_ say the rise of mobile 4 0/ r | : has increased interest in l: . 3 ° Say socla media attribution ‘ " " ' ' ' Online Shopping on the clock 75% of conversions took place more than 3 days after the first click 33% convert more than 30 days after first interaction 42% of businesses don't know how to use attribution modelling . .._that’s where . Hit Search comes in
  5. 5. What is Attribution Modelling? Online marketing is the process of driving traffic to your website and encouraging your prospects to convert. But there are so many ways to do this, the tricky part is figuring out which methods and which channels work best for your business. Attribution modelling can help you to decide what to do with your marketing spend by revealing what works for your site, in terms of offline and online promotion. An attribution model is the rule, or combination of rules, which decides the value of every touch point in a conversion path. Because modern web users are smart: they don't always purchase the first thing they see online. Often, they don’t decide to buy until they've visited your site a number of times, over a period of days or weeks. They might arrive by a different channel each time, so the purpose of attribution modelling is deciding which touch points were influential. If certain marketing tactics are clearly driving more traffic and conversions, while others aren’t pulling their weight, then your marketing campaign can be altered and more budget can be assigned where it works. This publication is called ‘The Bigger Picture’ because that's what Attribution Modelling can provide. You might think you're being proactive by using Google Analytics to assess how users engaged withyour marketing before making a sale or enquiry on site. Unfortunately, this will not always tell you the whole story of a conversion. Ok, you might say that the end of the conversion story is the most important part. But over the course of the next few pages, we'll show you that often the beginning and the middle of the tale are just as crucial. ‘The Bigger Picture’ will introduce you to the various interactions that can form part of the conversion path and .8. we'll rundown the sets of rules or Attribution Models which can be used to tell you what works. vl. «'i. ~v»v. hitsearchlimiteclconn 4 O8OO Oil 9l88
  6. 6. What is Attribution Modelling? If you're going to analyse the conversion paths which brought you business, and choose the interactions to put your budget behind, you're going to need to know what the types of interaction are. There are 4 main kinds of interaction which make up a common conversion path: direct, organic, paid advertising and referral. Direct A direct interaction is recorded when a user types your URL into the address bar on their browser and visits the site without engaging in another online marketing channel. importantly, this doesn't mean they haven't already been influenced by another channel; but more on that later. Organic When a web user searches for your company, or a relevant subject/ industry, a search engine like Google will provide them with a series of links to different sites. These are known as organic search links. Your SEO campaign works hard to ensure that you rank as highly as possible. Paid Advertising Search engines also offer listings in various areas of the page which can be paid for by customers on a cost per click basis. They drive traffic to the site and the more successful they are the more they cost. Paid advertising is also available on major social networks like Facebook and Twitter, while product listing ads work in the same way but appear on popular shopping websites and Google Shopping. Referral While the most common kinds of non—direct traffic are the kinds that come from search engines, it is possible to drive conversions from referral traffic. A referral link is any link to your site from another website or article online. Online PR and non—paid social media line are key examples. ‘~. «vl. ~*i. ~i. v hitsearchlimiteclcom O8OO Oil 9l88
  7. 7. What is Attribution Modelling? Now that you know how a user could land on the site, it's time to decide which methods are working for your business. You can do this using an attribution model but which rule or theory should you choose? There are 5 common attribution models to choose from and we're going to illustrate them all using a simple 4 step conversion path: organic, referral, paid advertising and direct. Take a look at the list and ask yourself which channel is giving you better return on investment? Last Touch — The Last Touch Attribution Model is the default Analytics setting. This method assigns l00% of the value of the conversion to the last method I b h'h ‘dtth‘tTh"th'It t tbI'h y w IC a user arrive a e si e. IS is e simp es way oes a is 1001’ value, but it doesn't give credit to any other touch point, particularly the first. First Touch Many online marketers prefer to credit the first touch point on the conversion path. After all, without this paid ad or link it's unlikely that a user would have found your site in the first place. First Touch Attribution gives i00% to the start of the journey, but we could still attempt to go further. Linear If a user visits your site four times, through organic, referral, paid advertising and direct, Linear Attribution gives equal value to each interaction. Four visits get 25% each, but since conversion paths can range from I to I2+ interactions, we just divide the value by the number of steps. Position Based This popular method assigns some value to every touch point but gives greater value to the first and the last. The most common position based attribution, or bathtub model, divides 80% of conversion value between the first and last interactions and then divides 20% between anything in between. Time Decay Another school of thought offers value to every step, but gives increased value to each progression on the journey. Some of us call this the staircase model. It's most commonly used for short term campaigns and promotions where the purpose is gain a conversion as quickly as possible. . «~. lvi. »i. ~'v hitsoarchlimitod com O8OO Oil 9l88
  8. 8. Why is Attribution Modelling Important? We mentioned earlier that at first glance, your conversion data might be dominated by direct traffic, where customers have punched in your URL for themselves. In turn, this might lead you to believe that your other non -direct marketing channels are less valuable. But with attribution modelling we can uncover how the customer interacted with the site before their final converting visit. It is likely to become very apparent that SEO or PPC plays a much greater part in the conversion process than first assumed. Yes, a visitor might have converted on the back of a direct visit, but they may have first discovered the company through a banner ad, a PPC link or a natural SEO listing on a generic search term. lnternet—savvy consumers interact with a site any number of times before making a conversion, so sitting back and hoping for direct visits is likely to see your traffic levels fall off a cliff. This is especially true if your business does not get a lot of return visits. New visitors who aren't familiar with g your brand are the least likely to arrive by direct. It's virtually impossible. Ok, we're not telling you anything new here. Attracting new visitors is what marketing spend is predominantly for. But attribution modelling is important for telling you which other channels are doing the lion's share of the work that direct is taking credit for. "Nailing down a conversion can take time. "
  9. 9. Importance of lntroducers So, we've established that if you're running a flexible multi-channel campaign comprised of different traffic drivers it is important to look beyond last direct touch to the last non—direct visit; as this will have influenced the conversion and should receive a share of the credit. But it is also important to rewind further and pay close attention to lntroducers which kick off a chain of interactions. This is particularly important when working with multiple paid traffic sources. : Pay Per Click, or PPC, advertising often works as an introducer 7 since it is simpler to earn short term visibility with PPC than it is ' __ with SEO changes which might take time to gain traction with D Google. The big question is, which PPC channel will you choose, or which will receive the majority of your budget? There are a number of proven tactics for driving traffic to your site on a cost per click basis. But a visit to the site does not guarantee a sale, so you could be spending a large amount of capital on paid traffic without improving on, or even covering, the costs. By using attribution to evaluate the performance of each paid traffic source you can make strategic decisions about where you place your spend. You can reallocate budget from an underperforming traffic source to one that you can prove is working better. The more money you put into a well-performing channel, the more you're likely to get back. It's a no-brainer since the average PPC campaign is now made up of many different traffic sources. 5 years ago, things were simple: you bid for keyword search terms on a cost per click basis to receive a prominent listing on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS). Since then a variety of new CPC traffic sources have been introduced such as social , , media advertising, display ads and product listing ads which are e-retail gold. This means that attribution theory is more useful than ever since new channels can be quickly closed down if they don't convert. Bathtub or first touch attribution place the most value in the introducer. A display ad which doesn't convert from that visit might seem too costly, unless attribution can prove that this ad led a new prospect to discover the site and ultimately do business further down the line. As our next chapter explains, nailing down a conversion can take time.
  10. 10. The Long Game There is more to securing conversions for your business than the number of visits that a customer makes to a site. There is also the amount of time that they take to consider their purchase or booking. Naturally, the time taken to consider a conversion will differ from product to product. A major factor in the time taken to complete a conversion is the amount of cost involved but even low ticket value purchases can be deliberated on a number of times. The number of sleeps that the average customer takes to consider your services will tell you a lot about your business and the way that you should spend your marketing budget. We recently carried out some research on an existing client which proved that 50% of conversions were completed on the first day that a user came to the site. That's a considerable amount but just as much came through afterward; a lot of it up to three months after the first touch. With attribution modelling we can track multi—touch conversion paths for up to 90 days whilst customers are still interacting with your site and considering their purchase until that time. In the case of our aforementioned client, i0% of conversions, and roughly i0% of total conversion value, was recorded between 61 and 90 days after the first interaction. If analysis of your site's conversion record shows that a lot of conversions come from return visitors, you might consider retargeting, or basket abandonment software to capture even ‘ - more conversions down the line. The most important point is that you have more tools and more information than ever before to capture impulse buyers and cautious types alike. ‘ ! '~. It all depends on the nature of your products or services. If they're : . low cost comforts paid for with disposable income, they are more likely to convert quickly and a strong and aggressive sales funnel through the site could do the trick. If more money is changing hands over a longer term basis, it's a good idea to fill your site with many points of contact and attempt to build relationships with prospects over several days, weeks or months.
  11. 11. Section 4 - How do I use Attribution? If you have access to Google Analytics, you can delve into the heady world of Attribution Modelling for yourself but a little insight can help you to gain more from what you find. When you use Analytics to look up revenue/ goals, the system is set to last non-direct click but as we have established this doesn’t always tell the whole story. Alternatively, you can analyse your conversion data using multiple attribution models to gain a full understanding of what is working for your campaign and what isn't. The Top Conversion Paths section of analytics shows when people arrive via particular traffic sources. If you have a PPC campaign you can not only identify which keyword targets to bid on but also apply date and time ranges to control when you bid. If users discover your site through PPC but return several times through SEO before they convert, you, or your digital agency, should devote as much time and effort as possible to boosting your organic rankings, because this is an important part of the conversion path. Goog| e's latest algorithm favours useful, original content, so it's over to your content team to draft help guides, FAQ's and must -read blogs; and other useful, creative info. If Analytics shows that a particular traffic source is frequently recorded as the last click, it is important to ensure that this channel is focussed on a strong call to action. Any landing pages which this traffic source directs people to should be optimised for the best possible conversion rate. Analytics allows you to do your homework and gain more information than ever before on the way your customers interact with your site. Then it's over to you, or your digital team, to use all this data to optimise your campaign. It's this marriage of technology with hard work and creativity that helps you get the best from your site. www. hitsearchlimited. com 0800 Oil 9188
  12. 12. Tracking We can learn a lot more from Analytics than which marketing channels drive traffic to the site. We can tell which keyword was punched in to help a user find the site and in PPC we can see which campaign it was a part of. In order to do so, however, the right tracking needs to be in place. Goal and conversion tracking is recommended to monitor the performance of all of campaigns. When you choose to reallocate marketing spend or change marketing tactics, you should be doing so on the basis of real findings and data, not hunches or guesstimates. There are two kinds of goals that can be tracked: micro goals and macro goals. A micro goal refers to a conversion on site which does not directly generate money, such as a newsletter signup, catalogue request or contact page view. These actions matter to the success of the campaign but they don’t directly boost the bottom line. Anything that can generate funds is known as a macro goal, including direct sales and enquiry form submissions. You might wonder why micro goals matter. Well, if you are getting a lot of micro goal completions, but nowhere near the number of macro goals then part of your marketing campaign is likely flawed. If you enjoy lots of newsletter sign ups but no sales, then it's time to improve your newsletter, incorporate more incentives or calls to action; make your products more enticing. Tracking is also important for the purpose of retargeting. Placing cookies on key pages of your site will allow you to follow users who have visited your site on their subsequent journeys around the web. You can then place display ads on these other sites, encouraging them to come back and complete their purchase. Through dynamic retargeting, you can even generate banners which feature images of products you know these users have looked at. It's an incredible development in online marketing and one that e-commerce sites shouldn't ignore. According to retargeting software specialists Adroll, only 2% of online shoppers convert on the first visit to a site. Retargeting can help us to capture the other 98% and learn more about our customers in the process. You could enlist the services of online marketing experts but that doesn't mean that every campaign will be optimised from day one. Tracking allows monitoring of campaigns enabling daily improvements to your plans and the way they work. The longer you spend tracking user activity and conversions, the more your campaign should evolve. www. hitsearchlimited. com 0800 Oil 9l88
  13. 13. Let's think about a fictional large retail ecommerce store. Both attribution reporting and modelling can help marketers understand what marketing channels are driving best value for the site. The table below outlines the client marketing budget for a typical month and how it is split between six digital channels. Marketing Channels Spend % of Budget i: '.~. ‘-_ ‘.1 ; 'T‘. .’T'_~. ' ‘T7’ L‘ -21.’ E ‘. i 3.5.3 If I" IBEEIT’ T 3.31? TE L. “.1 5.1;‘ T? BEEII IEEEIE 3315 ‘H. Li. L. » E 3' ‘J T’ ‘ >)’. < The client uses Google Analytics as its web analytics package and the table below illustrates how much revenue is generated through each channel via the default last click mode that Google employs. Marketing Channels Last Click Conversions Last Click Revenue Spend ROAS Profit a 15% ROI ["'. ."-. 3.’. "ii I . . . ' iv. :' L "C5. : , . .". ".“. TS? l EIIEEI I 33]’ I E0!-Hem-I l. '=B3- -. .'-I-I-1 ' I '' 'Z! -'. .3I-Io. ' I I-iii C-3 "7 3: : . ‘.15.: 2 : _'. .'; ;. ? : v:. .?{: . :3. EEE17 EDIE-I . .'i. .'oI-Io. ‘ Eton‘ 'oIo. '~. .'¥. ':ZoIo. ' La‘ . ’_'Z't L ? {}. '}17. ? .;‘E. :T. ’.. .T. ' T, ."{Z‘ ? .‘. .T. ‘I I; "I El-E-Z "I .3-‘I-Iol 7 IZII-I-I ‘T '2‘ "I K-Z; -I-Z. [. ‘£. ?i. ii’ 7 ? '*7 2'7. . . 7,"‘f". “’. ".. T ‘ 1 ‘=1 I‘_5"'. IIJ=1'. ':U‘-'3 1322‘ V N Google uses the “Last Click” as its default reporting model and when reviewing this model there are some clear winners and losers. Organic search, referral, email and paid search all provide a positive return on investment; Display and Social Networks provide a less than flattering return. The direct marketing channel has a proportion of the clients offline spend allocated to it as they are have a number of press adverts featuring the clients web address. The above table demonstrates that overall the client has more than four times return on investment (4.25) and from the data in Google Analytics via the default last click mode it would be quiet easy to identify and stop spending on mediums that look on the surface not to be providing profitable revenue.
  14. 14. Google Analytics has a number of different models that allows the data to be viewed from a number of different positions. This enables the user to better understand the influence of the marketing channels as a whole, rather than in isolation and their impact on other channels. Below, we can see how each of the marketing mediums can be categorised as either introducer or a converter. i| l‘11J (:1 Iiiiilizani : : Taking data from Google Analytics and looking at it from the point of view of the introducer (first click) rather than converter (last click). Marketing Channels First Click Conversions First Click Revenue Spend ROAS Profit l¢_1l 15% ROI : ... :u. 3.‘. -'. .— ‘U. 3752" Tf. "i'E3'i ? x.-'. .'-171'-'. '-T1-‘.5-1?; 'a': I:'. .': I?i7. IEEEII IE IEKE . .i. oou l3'}IoToSl TEE ['; UCtZ'Ci I‘ 3?. .717. ‘II? "I 310131-I ’ KI-I "I Efiiofoff " . ‘ III-'1" I I >‘. << The first click model looks to give credit to the mediums who would be classed as lntroducers rather than a converter (as in last click). In our example Email, Display, Referral and Social Networks generated £20,500 via the last click model — yet in first click generated no less than £66,500. Our strategies as a marketer would change radically if we were looking at the data in either first or last click; therefore marketers need to have a system that rewards both lntroducers and converters.
  15. 15. Attribution Model in Practice - Linear The linear model is the easiest model to implement when it comes to modelling as it attributes the same amount of weighting to each step along the journey. Linear modelling provides a reporting value to mediums that are not converters and have influenced the buying cycle at some stage. The table below explains illustrates the linear Return on investment for all the channels; resulting in some serious challenges to the established marketing strategy. Using this data we can summarise each of the channels as such and build a strategy for each channel Return on investment figures for each medium First Click ROI Last Click ROI Linear Attribution ROI £2.07 £1.35 £1.68 £0.19 7. I Referral Social Network Dis - la Results driven strategy Reviewing the results across all channels provides data to refine campaign investment for best results on an ongoing basis. Taking into account the results listed above, these are the recommended outcomes for maximising ROI. Paid Search - Both introducer & Action - Look to apply attribution on a converter — returning a positive ROI campaign level to remove keywords that are not influence sales or impressions. Direct - Expensive converting channel Action - look to reduce spend and move the spend to a channel providing a better return Organic Search — Both introducer and Action — Analyse this channel for keywords converter — returning a very positive that are not performing and bring in quality ROI qualified visitors. Email — Both introducer and converter Action — look to test the sales message to - returning a positive ROI enhance and become a much better conversion tool Referral - Steady converting channel Action - look to add more referring partners and look for enhanced listing on performing websites Social Network - introducer of people Action — Work on enhancing the business who did not know the brand; influence profile on each social network of other channels Display - Another good introducer of Action — look to expand out more website in people who did not know the brand the display network www. hitsearchlimited. com O8OO Oii 9l88
  16. 16. When you choose Hit Search for a multi-channel online marketing campaign, we eat, sleep and breathe your industry and all of the ways that we can get you seen online. There are no cookie cutter campaigns, just bespoke, brain stormed actions plans tailored to your needs and the needs of your customer base. Attribution keeps us on our toes and ensures you get the most digital bang for your buck. As online marketing experts, we pride ourselves on our honesty, creativity and accountability. We'll tell you all about it when it's working and we'll use data to show you what doesn’t work so well. Best of all we'll provide the solutions so that you get the best possible campaign. Our happy and hard working team specialise in a wide variety of online marketing disciplines, including SEO, PPC and Content Marketing. Now, as the industry continues to evolve we incorporate social media, CR0 and anything else we believe will generate the right kind of traffic and the most possible conversions. We have also launched our very own real-time reputation management software called Little Birdy. With our help you could enjoy the full picture of your online presence and discover ways to make it better, stronger and more productive. ill I V 5'37: I I‘ '1" ii : i:J: l Ilii ll. ':J - | 'l':1:. r:| Ill l. |ij: i I You'll find out just what makes the Hit Search project so exciting and get a glimpse of the benefits you could enjoy by choosing us for your campaign. uv-~. v'viv. iI‘: l:r: i‘ ill ii‘: i I‘ I111 " . .'lItZ: