Marketing attribution is an invaluable source of data. Using it right can set your business apart from competitors.


When you invest in marketing, you want to see a positive return on investment. But without accurate marketing attribution, how do you know where that positive return is actually coming from?

Marketing attribution is about tracking and detecting the source of revenues and associating it with a specific advertisement or campaign. If you run multiple marketing campaigns at the same time, on different channels, it’s a way to distinguish what works from what doesn’t.

A visible example of this is on the end of some hyperlinks, especially on social networks, where you might see any of the following common link tracking parameters:

  • utm_source
  • utm_medium
  • utm_campaign

These are ways to pass information to your analytics platform (e.g. Google Analytics) about where traffic came from:

  • Source (e.g. Google, or something more general like ‘newsletter’)
  • Medium (the ‘medium’ of the campaign e.g. email, banner, ppc)
  • Campaign (a specific name for your campaign e.g. ‘summer25’)

Your analytics platform should detect these parameters, allowing it to display numerical data for each source, medium or campaign in your dashboard, and enabling you to set up more advanced filters in your data.

So why does this matter? Whether you use the above method or any other ways to track marketing attribution, here are five of the biggest benefits of making sure you get that data.

1. Credit where credit’s due

As mentioned above, without accurate marketing attribution, you really don’t know if an increase in traffic, sales or revenues is due to your marketing, or which part of your campaign is working best.

In extreme cases, it might be total coincidence that your sales have increased – due to positive word of mouth, for example – and properly attributed marketing data can help you to spot when a campaign is taking the credit for revenues it didn’t really raise.

Going back to ROI, this all helps you to optimise your marketing spend. You can place budgets where they do the best work, and tweak less successful parts of your campaign in an attempt to get better results – a ‘two birds with one stone’ approach to improving your ROI.

2. Keep it simple

Single-touch marketing attribution is much easier to set up and track. Multi-touch marketing attribution is a more complex alternative, which you might want to consider.

Examples of multi-touch marketing attribution models include:

  • Linear: Every interaction with a prospect is valued equally when they convert.
  • Time Decay: The most recent interactions are given a bonus.
  • U-Shape: The first and last interactions are valued most highly.
  • W-Shape: The first, last and middle interactions are valued most highly.

Each of these is a way to assign value across the entire nurturing process, from first contact with a prospect until the moment they convert into a paying customer. But monitoring, tracking and recording that data can be complicated.

Marketing attribution methods like UTM and third-party tracking and analytics tools can all help, by removing the administrative burden and automating the process. The result is simple campaign admin, automated data collection and clear, useful data dashboards.

3. Make it personal

Maximising your audience’s buying intent depends on their unique demographics and desires. As you collect more and more data, you’ll become aware of what works within your bubble – and it might differ from the wider perceived wisdom.

By responding to the attribution data and other analytics data you collect, you can tweak campaigns. Give your marketing messages the right tone of voice and speak to your true audience, not a theoretical or idealised buyer persona.

This all takes time, but the sooner you optimise your campaign, the better. With real-time marketing attribution and detailed data, there’s no need to delay.

4. Tailor your data

Parameters like UTM give you the ability to tailor your tracking data. Want to track one campaign across multiple platforms? Use a consistent utm_campaign parameter and you can bring all that data into one place.

And it’s not just online marketing attribution that can be tracked. There are methods to also track offline marketing campaign attribution, and even to combine online and offline data into a single report. While it can be a little more difficult to track real-world campaigns, and especially third-party word of mouth and verbal referrals, it’s not impossible by any means.

The result is genuine attribution data. For example, if a user copies a hyperlink from your social media campaign, sends it via email to a friend, and that friend clicks the link, a utm_campaign parameter can make sure your social spend still gets credit for the positive ROI.

5. Broader benefits

The benefits go beyond your marketing department. As you learn more about what works in your promotional campaigns, you’ll also identify more of your customers’ characteristics and see which products or services are most in demand.

You can use this information however you choose – keep it within your marketing team, or use it to inform decisions on future services, stock levels and special offers. Instead of keeping your marketing data siloed, allow it to become a broader business development tool.

In the end, positive ROI is the most important outcome, with or without accurate marketing attribution. But attribution gives you confidence in your data, your campaign results, and even in other areas of your business.


Photo by Stephen Dawson on Unsplash

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