on August 3, 2022 • 26 minute read
The main goal of any marketing campaign is to convert the people that see your online advertisements into customers. This directly increases ROI, revenue, brand awareness, and overall campaign success.
To do this, you will need to optimize the steps in your customer journey and analyze them to identify any weak spots.
The best way to achieve this is through marketing attribution dashboards.
Marketing attribution helps you determine which marketing efforts generate the most conversions and sales, which makes it easier to pinpoint the specific activities that drive results.
With that kind of insight, you will be able to efficiently optimize your customer’s sales journey and increase conversion rates.
However, that’s easier said than done.
In this article, we will go over what marketing attribution dashboards are, show you how to build them, and list some of the best tools and practices that the marketers we surveyed pointed out.
Marketing attribution or multi-touch attribution is a way to learn the ROI of the marketing channels you are using to get potential customers.
Put another way, marketing attribution tells you how a customer discovered your product or service in the first place.
Was it a specific landing page? Blog post? Facebook advertisement?
Marketing attribution helps us understand which campaigns actually drive results.
Marketing attribution dashboards are one of the best ways to figure out precisely which marketing efforts in each of your sales cycle stages have the highest success rate.
These dashboards gather all the relevant data from your customer’s journey through pre-built models to help you pinpoint which content and channels are contributing the most to your marketing objectives.
Each interaction your buyers had during the journey is important, and marketing attribution dashboards measure them separately and thoroughly.
Once you have this type of information at your disposal, you can make better decisions and strategies regarding your company’s resources.
For instance, if you want to find out how a specific social media post affected your sales, you can use a marketing attribution dashboard to assess its precise financial value.
Related: 7 Helpful Insights You Can Learn From a Data Attribution Report
A marketing attribution model shows you the touch points of channels your prospects come across before buying from you. This helps you understand the key points that are encouraging conversions.
There are six attribution models that businesses typically use:
There isn’t a ‘best’ marketing attribution model that fits all businesses. Each attribution model runs on a hypothesis that you’ve set for your business.
Below, you will find out what the experts we surveyed shared, and how they do it.
To better understand how your website performs in terms of customer conversion and acquisition, you probably use Google Analytics 4 to learn how people are finding your website, what your most profitable traffic sources are, and how successful specific marketing campaigns are in attracting website visitors. You may have to navigate multiple areas and reports within GA4 to get the data you want though. Now you can quickly assess your website performance in a single dashboard that monitors fundamental metrics, such as:
Now you can benefit from the experience of our Google Analytics experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template that contains all the essential metrics for understanding how successful you are at attracting visitors from different channels. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in management reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your Google Analytics 4 account with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
Here’s what the experts we surveyed had to share:
Attribution is made much easier these days with the number of software solutions out there that help. They streamline the entire process and provide you with accurate pain points.
However, seeing that there are hundreds of different attribution tools currently on the market, choosing one for your company might be a bit harder than it seems.
To help you decide, we asked contributors to share some of the best marketing attribution tools they’re using.
Here is what Matt Woicik of Digital Marketing Extreme had to say.
“On your website, you might have a website form to have visitors enter contact information or request more information. The form will typically send the information to you as an email. But, there is no marketing attribution with the email. However, if you use Campaign Tracker for WordPress by HelpForWP, you can add different marketing attributes.”
So, how does this work?
“The WordPress plugin allows you to add fields for Google Analytics UTM tracking fields like Source, Medium, and Campaign. These values will be added to the email that is sent from the website form. You can also add the GCLID variable from Google Ads. The presence of this value will let you know that the email was a result of a Google Ad,” says Woicik.
Robin Madelain of Ranksoldier International suggests an attribution tool that works like a charm for mobile (device marketing) attribution.
“Out of many tools which contribute to marketing attribution, ‘AppsFlyer’ tops the rank of being the most trusted platform to achieve, measure, and elevate app user acquisition plans for mobile for high and loyal Return on investment (ROI). It’s translucent and even-handed. It generates compelling effects in B2C businesses, gaming, and retail, etc. AppsFlyer works like a hybrid while you are performing monitoring of mobile apps and mobile attribution.”
Single-touch attribution models equal fewer efforts. It can be either working with the first-touch or last-touch model.
First-touch attribution gives credit to the first advertisement that the customer ran into. Even if there were some additional channels that they encountered, the full attribution goes to the first touchpoint.
On the other hand, last-touch attribution assigns all the credit to the last campaign that the customer encountered before purchasing a product. In this case, previous engagements aren’t taken into consideration.
Both of these attribution strategies have their own perks.
For instance, the first-touch model helps you realize which channel drives the top of the sales funnel, while the last-touch model provides insight into which content converts a lead into a customer (bottom of the funnel).
Single-touch attribution appeals to new businesses since it’s very affordable and simple to implement. However, you won’t be able to acquire much more than some basic data insights with it.
As we said, last-touch attribution focuses solely on the last channel your customers engaged with before they made a purchase.
While some may prefer the first-touch model, it clearly depends on the type of marketing and your company goals. Here’s what experts have to say on when to use the last-touch model.
Alex Birkett from Omniscient Digital shares a tip, “If you’re not running a ton of paid ads and if you’re a relatively small business, worrying too much about attribution modeling is probably a mistake. Just use simple last touch (or last non-direct click, like used in Google Analytics) and look at your top-line business metrics.
However, if you’re running tons of multi-channel campaigns and have dozens of potential conversion or signup paths, look into data-driven models (the premium version of Google Analytics includes algorithmic modeling, or you can code your own using Markov chains in R or Python).”
Sam Olmsted of DC Social agrees and points out why the last-touch model works the best for them, “The most effective way to measure marketing attribution is through the Last Interaction model where the last touchpoint a customer has with a company receives the credit for the sale.”
“We find that this model provides us with the most up-to-date information about a customer’s buying behavior and allows us to tweak our strategies to make sure that the last touchpoint happens sooner and sooner for each customer.”
The linear attribution model tracks each touchpoint that the customer encountered on their way to the purchase. The credits aren’t attributed to one specific touchpoint, but to each one equally.
For instance, if a lead opened your website, signed up for a newsletter, made a phone call to your company, and then purchased a product; it would be a total of 4 steps prior to conversion.
Using the linear attribution model, each step will be assigned with 25% credit.
While this model is fairly simple, it does have some weaknesses.
The biggest problem is that, in reality, not all touchpoints carry the same amount of value. In the example we mentioned above, the direct phone call to your company would’ve probably had a much bigger impact than the newsletter.
Time decay attribution is essentially a multi-touch attribution model that assigns credit to the interactions that happened prior to the conversion.
While it does consider the early touchpoints as well, it assumes that they had a smaller impact on the sale.
Each touchpoint in the customer journey is measured differently, and each user activity is credited along with preference given to ‘when’ the event takes place.
Melanie Musson of CarInsuranceComparison opines this is the simplest when you’re looking to get started with marketing attribution.
“This model is simple. It may not be the most accurate, but it is easy to understand and good for beginners. Once you grow familiar with attribution, you can work toward Custom Attribution. Custom Attribution is best for experts but can be a bit dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing,” says Musson.
Opposite to linear attribution, the position-based model (aka U-shaped attribution model) gives value to touchpoints separately, knowing that some have more effect than others.
To be specific, the first and last touchpoints are given 40% credit, while the ones in between are attributed with 20% credit.
This model works best for companies that mostly focus on lead generation for generating ROI.
Closed-loop reporting by its name means tracking all the metrics that close the buyer’s cycle from discovering a product to becoming a customer. The data that you gather from this can be used for your marketing attribution.
Alejandra Melara of SmartBug Media explains, “It allows both, your marketing and sales team to have full visibility of your data, from prospect to deal closed. It ensures that you have everything stored in one single source of data, and it allows us, marketers, to connect all our marketing efforts back to revenue, connecting every lead, opportunity, and customer to their first point of contact (first marketing campaign) with the company.”
Perhaps the most sophisticated and accurate attribution model, custom attribution provides marketers with the chance to give credit to different touchpoints, depending on the analytics that they find the most significant.
For instance, if you already know that a specific marketing campaign is generating a large amount of conversion, you can assign more value to it through custom attribution.
Custom attribution is most commonly used by experienced marketers that have a deep understanding of how valuable each touchpoint is.
This model isn’t recommended for beginner marketers since they often make the mistake of inaccurately attributing credit where it isn’t due.
However, it is a model that they should strive for in the long run due to its accuracy and efficiency.
“This is mainly a strategy used by advanced marketers with a deep understanding of the actual value of different marketing touchpoints. The custom attribution process must be framed out of consistent data, and not mere assumption.”
“As assumption could foster erroneous credit attribution. I do vouch for this model, as it is a custom pattern that is aligned with your unique sales pipeline. And such a model will only yield accuracy more than any other standard model,” says Srish Agrawal of A1 Future Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
Jenny Coupe from ActiveCampaign explains in-depth why custom attribution will help.
“Most companies start with a single touch attribution model, based on the first or last customer interaction. This is problematic because it gives full credit for a purchase to a single point of engagement, which is incomplete since the customer often has many pre-purchase interactions.”
“Instead, a weighted model, applying percentages to different touches throughout the journey based on time of engagement or importance of engagement, is more accurate.”
“One way to start is to apply a weight of 40% to the first touch, 40% to the last touch, and 20% to everything in between, optimizing these percentages further as you learn more about how your customer’s purchase.”
“Another important factor in managing attribution is standardizing fields to track engagement in your CRM, often through a field called “member status” that reflects the engagement of the campaign member.”
“For example, a webinar campaign may have member status values such as invited, registered, or attended. These member status fields can then be factored into your attribution model and different weighting can be applied based on the likelihood that the action causes a purchase.”
“In this case, you may decide to apply less weight to someone who registered for a webinar versus someone who attended the webinar. Most importantly, ensure fields and data are standardized across your systems to ensure you are comparing apples-to-apples and enabling data-driven decisions.”
While it’s undoubtedly easier to focus only on one marketing attribution model, it’s much more efficient to use multiple ones.
This allows you to identify the channels that are the most efficient in both the initial acquisition and conversion.
Two birds with one stone situation, right?
Oeuyown Kim of Portent says, “Analyze conversions through multiple attribution models to discover when certain marketing efforts might play a role in a conversion path. Neglecting to do this analysis could cause you to cut budgets for channels that acquire large volumes of new users who are likely to convert in a subsequent session.”
Bonnie Crater of Full Circle Insights also suggests, “Instead of picking a single attribution model, use multiple attribution models to best understand how your marketing campaigns are performing”
“For example, if you’re trying to fill the top of the funnel, a first touch model can be useful to see which campaigns are driving the newest leads that reach a closed/won stage. If you’re trying to attract a particular role, a CIO, for example, builds your attribution models to reward campaigns where CIOs are responding.
You may have a more nuanced strategy where perhaps you want to give some weight to all successful outcomes but more weight to campaigns that drive sales engagement and, at the same time, attract software developers.
Review the information by individual campaign or group the campaigns in useful ways such as campaign type (e.g. channel). Stack rank the results so you can see what is performing the best vs. what’s performing the worst and then reallocate plans and budget accordingly.”
Crater finished with a pro tip: “Don’t forget to use attribution with funnel metrics which measure your operations. Often, funnel metrics will identify an area where the team’s process is significantly underperforming, and simply tweaking the process can create enormous efficiencies.
By using attribution models in combination with funnel metrics, you’ll start to understand how your marketing is working, you’ll be in a better position to demonstrate marketing’s contributions and optimize campaign outreach.
Additionally, it’s key to connect your CRM and marketing tools together so that sales and marketing teams can work more efficiently together.”
If you’re fairly new and tight on budget, and if it’s easy for you – getting in touch with your customers to know more about them helps. This is not a scalable method but worth a try.
Sean Si of SEO Hacker says, “Ask users about the channels that they use to engage with your business and this will help you naturally see how you can train your efforts to that channel.”
If you have the right tools at your disposal, creating a marketing attribution dashboard becomes a lot easier.
Here are 4 steps you can follow to get the hang of it:
The first step of the building process is to add valid UTM parameters to each of your ad campaigns.
No matter which analytics tool you use, the vast majority of them need UTM parameters to figure out from which paid channel traffic is coming from.
Adding UTM parameters can be a bit technical, which is why you should use tools such as Google Campaign URL Builder to simplify the process.
This tool allows you to quickly connect the important information and provides you with formatted URL links with the parameters already attached.
Overall, make sure that you don’t leave out any ad campaign that you’re running (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, etc.).
Next, you should pick a marketing attribution tool through which you’ll capture the relevant attribution data.
Most tools work pretty much the same – they place a script on your website that analyzes the UTM parameters (amongst other things) to see where the traffic is coming from. Also, it captures attribution data from the landing page through the URL structure.
When a customer orders something from the website or submits some type of form, the data is automatically forwarded into the CRM (email, name, location, and other information).
By connecting Databox to your CRM and advertising tools, pulling all of your sales data can be done in just a few clicks.
Databox supports various integrations like Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Instagram, HubSpot, and dozens more, so connecting data won’t be a problem no matter which advertising source you use.
Your main focus in this last step will be to include all the relevant and necessary KPIs and metrics.
Firstly, you should start with the crucial KPIs and make sure they are the center point of the dashboard since they provide you with a comprehensive overview of your company’s monthly performance.
Next are the secondary metrics. They should be revolved around the main KPIs and be used to better explain them.
Secondary metrics typically come from Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Instagram, and other channels, and they showcase whether you are hitting your set KPIs and goals.
In case you need them, you can also include associated metrics, but more often than not, they take up too much valuable space, and it’s better to analyze them separately.
Now that you know what marketing attribution dashboards are and how to measure attribution, it’s time to move on to the best marketing attribution tools.
We asked experts to reveal which tools they use and have come up with this list:
We know what you’re thinking – “Of course, they will promote their own product. It’s their blog!”
But, hear us out.
Databox helps you to quickly and efficiently measure and analyze your ad campaign’s performance through advanced analytics features and comprehensive dashboards.
No matter which or how many data sources you have, they will all be located in one place in our cutting-edge software.
This means that you will be able to identify, organize, and share your attribution data in just a few clicks.
Shantelle P. Dedickeed of Frances Roy Agency explains why she uses Databox in their company, “Since our launch, we’ve used Databox as our primary marketing attribution tool. A saying around our agency is ‘data, or it didn’t happen,’ and it is imperative we back that up with action. Customized dashboards ensure our clients receive performance data at a moment’s notice without compromising aesthetics.”
Try Databox by signing up for a free trial here.
Major Impact Media’s Brice Gump shares, “WickedReports has proven to be a super valuable tool at our agency to take click data from Facebook and Google, sales data from your merchant processors and match that with emails from your CRM.”
The tool “gives you real customer lifetime value that you can track over years.” Of course, “you could do this with Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, but you need to be an absolute ninja with those tools. Or you can just sign up with WickedReports, and they will handle it for you.”
“Funnel works perfect for data collection turning marketing and advertising data into automated reports and helping us to make smart decisions concerning our budgets and targeting,” shares Marcus Berkovitz of Adrack.
Berkovitz also shares, “thanks to the Funnel we are able to import the data into the regular/traditional tools like Google Analytics.”
JCT Growth’s Jesse Teske shares, “the best tool I’ve used for attribution is Adobe Analytics. With a custom solution, we’re able to assign position-based revenue to organic landing pages. This helped us identify the true value of inspirational content and its impact on the bottom line. Armed with this data, we were able to outline a plan and secure an additional budget to ramp up our content efforts with a clear ROI defined.”
Marcus Berkovitz also praises Adobe Analytics as a tool that “helps to determine the effectiveness of marketing and shows exactly how your customers are purchase-ready.”
Extend the industry-leading solution for analytics and segmentation by connecting your Adobe Analytics account with Databox.
Jacob Lundy from Leighton Interactive appreciates HubSpot as one of the best marketing attribution tools. Lundy shares, “HubSpot provides our team with an in-depth look at what a person does at any given stage of the buyer’s journey. Through this tool, we can know how to help funnel them through with lifecycle stages. This can be in the form of SMART content that is dynamic.
Example: Person A signs up for your blog. Their next step? Likely a top-of-funnel (TOF) offer. That’s what they should see when a call-to-action (CTA) pops up for them. The attribution? Create a report in HubSpot that shows that Person A signed up for the blog and clicked the SMART CTA that shows the offer.
Then check if they downloaded the offer. If they did, then boom, you have marketing attribution showing that this conversion funnel path worked for the user.”
MakeWebBetter’s Vidushi Dwivedi also votes for HubSpot. “We love HubSpot because this one tool is a central hub for our company, now, we don’t have to remember dozens of passwords of separate accounts, with HubSpot Third-party integrations.
It not only simplifies our marketing efforts, but also provides an easy way to generate leads, nurture them, track visitors, and communicate them at the right time in the sales funnel.”
Rich Pusateri from Postal.io also shares how they use the same tool: “We use HubSpot every day to distribute our content and automate workflows to ensure we engage with our prospects, leads, and customers on a personal level. When it comes to attribution, all of their tools provide consistent reporting that feeds back into the main dashboards.
We can see where a lead came in from down to what they clicked on. By being able to track this, we’ve also been to optimize workflows based on click patterns. We’ve been continually optimizing our blog posts and lead capturing forms in a similar method.
As a start-up in the growth stage, we are learning new things every day. HubSpot helps us tighten this curve with their web analytics dashboard, so we can see how our decisions impact website traffic. And most importantly, are the visitors even booking meetings with our sales team.”
Get an overview of your inbound marketing and sales strategy with our HubSpot Marketing integration and HubSpot CRM integration.
Several of our experts applaud Google Analytics as the best marketing attribution tool. In fact, Qyn Bayley-Hay from Arcane Digital calls it an “all-in-one tool for digital marketing attribution.”
Here’s why: “Free solutions often lack depth, however, the deep configuration options and ubiquitous use of Google’s advertising solutions make Analytics a complete solution for our clients’ needs.
The ability to consistently track multiple digital channels’ contribution to the customer purchase path provides valuable insight into which channels are performing, where to invest resources in developing content, and where to focus optimization time.”
Your Marketing People’s Lane Burns adds you can use Google Analytics to “track last-click attribution” as well. “This way so you will be certain the cost and revenue data matches with your internal data (like Shopify).
It’s reliable and easy to track with very little overlap between channels which is why Google Analytics is a very reliable source when tracking the last click.
We also use Google Ads for tracking attribution so we can see on a granular level which campaigns are driving conversions. Something we do to compare is use Google Analytics conversion path so we can see if paid search drove the initial conversion and where the last click was captured.”
Not to forget, Google Analytics is “clear and easy to use, but best of all it’s free,” notes Abel Hegyes of eBacon. Also, “the benefit of Google Analytics is that it has access to cross-channel data, and integrates with Google’s paid channels to capture our full-funnel,” shares Bruce Hogan from SoftwarePundit.
“In addition, it comes with a data-driven attribution model that uses actual data from our Analytics account to generate a custom model for assigning conversion credit to marketing touchpoints throughout the entire customer journey,” Hogan elaborates.
Visualize any data from Google Analytics with our GA integration.
Pelicoin’s Karlee Tate specifically points out “Google Analytics’ Model Comparison Tool under their Conversions reports” as “a significant tool I use for marketing attribution.”
Tate explains, “the tool allows you to compare the three different attribution models, First Interaction, Linear, Last Non-Direct Click, to see how each channel contributes to various stages of your marketing efforts. While you can select up to three channels to compare, you can view one channel at a time, as well.
Your attribution channels can be customized to more effectively align with your advertising goals and business models. With the help of the Model Comparison Tool, you can simply track your conversion insights within each channel and test the assumptions of your campaign spending through experimenting and observing your results thereafter.”
GadgetReview’s Rex Freiberger shares Google Attribution as their go-to marketing attribution tool. “Because we often advertise through Google, we use Google Attribution 360 as our marketing attribution tool of choice.”
Freiberger explains, “it basically puts everything in one place for us. We use it combined with AdWords to check how effective our ads are.” However, Freiberger cautions, “I really only trust it when looking at the efficacy of Google campaigns. I don’t know that they would provide unbiased data about competitors.”
Carol Tran speaks in favor of Pardot as another useful marketing attribution tool. “By far, the best marketing attribution tool for me is Pardot.”
Here’s why: “I consider it to be the growth hub and it plays really well with other tools I used to help understand the company’s growth in every angle (marketing, sales, product, engineer, customer success, etc.). By having Amplitude, an analytic tool, plug into Pardot, it helps companies further understand user behavior in order to improve customer retention and drive growth.”
Pardot integrates with Databox allowing you to streamline your sales automation campaigns easier than ever before.
Marketing attribution is one of the most overwhelming marketing areas.
Considering the abundance of marketing data that companies have to deal with on a daily level, it’s practically impossible to keep track of attribution if you don’t have a proper tool by your side.
This is where Databox enters the picture.
With 70+ integrations and some of the finest analytics and dashboard features, you can track your customer’s full journey quickly and in one location.
Using Databox will not only provide you with some jaw-dropping campaign data, but you will be able to visualize the relevant metrics through dashboards and stay on top of all the latest updates.
Looking for a future-proof solution for multi-channel attribution? Sign up with Databox for free and take your marketing attribution process to the next level.
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