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What is Marketing Attribution?

July 25, 2022
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15:10 min read
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Laura Browne
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What is Marketing Attribution?

Marketing attribution is actually a very simple concept. It is a way of evaluating and reporting which marketing tactic or channel impacts a specific goal, usually sales related. 

Life science marketers typically use a range of different marketing channels to reach their audience, for example, conferences, LinkedIn posts, blog posts, automated emails and more. How do you know which one influenced your prospect to fill in a form on your website? Which channel is the one that makes someone want to speak to a salesperson? All of this is important to know so you can decide what to do more or less of in order to have a greater impact. This is what marketing attribution is.

Marketing Attribution Models

Marketing measurement is littered with complex sounding language. There are also multiple models for attributing which marketing channel impacted a specific outcome.  This adds up to make this area of marketing seem extremely intimidating. In an attempt to demystify attribution, here is a simple overview of the most common definitions you will encounter:

  • Single-Touch Attribution models the attribution of a conversion to a single touchpoint, often the first or last one engaged with by the consumer 
  • Multi-touch attribution the identification of multiple touchpoints engaged with by the consumer leading up to a purchase (the customer journey).
  • Linear attribution model The simplest multi-touch attribution model, linear attribution gives equal weight and revenue credit to all touchpoints
  • U-shaped attribution model gives credit to two key touchpoints — the first touch and the lead creation — and any in between. Typically, 40% of the credit goes to the first touch and 40% goes to lead creation, while the remaining 20% is divided between any touches that occurred in the middle.
  • W-shaped attribution model like U-shape, but includes an additional touchpoint — the opportunity creation. All three touchpoints receive 30% of the credit, while the remaining middle touches share 10%.
  • Weighted multi-source attribution Weighted touchpoint modeling assigns a percentage of the revenue credit for a customer to an array of touchpoints, as defined by the respective multi-touch attribution model chosen
  • Time Decay attribution The lengthier the sales cycle, the more spread out the touchpoints. The time decay model gives credit to more recent marketing touchpoints as opposed to those earlier in the process, which may not have been as impactful

For other marketing and measurement definitions, visit the Marketing and Media Measurement Dictionary.

Marketing Attribution for Life Science Companies

In the scientific B2B industries, where sales cycles can be very long (for scientific instruments, buying cycles of 18-24 months are common), it can make attributing marketing’s impact on lead generation a challenge. In this case, time decay attribution is often the most appropriate model. For consumables and other faster-moving products, a simple w-shaped model tends to be the most common.

Want to know how you can use marketing attribution to better understand your marketing effectiveness? Book some time with our CEO, Laura Browne, to discuss your challenges.